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Why ‘battle’ shouldn’t be associated with cancer

Why ‘battle’ shouldn’t be associated with cancer

“He/she lost their battle with cancer.”

That statement infuriates me.

I know it’s not meant to be offensive and it’s actually meant to be a form of adulation, but it still makes my blood boil. It implies that maybe he/she didn’t fight hard enough. That perhaps, if they would have fought just a bit harder, they would have won. It is complete nonsense and to me very offensive. If you have ever met someone who is battling cancer, you know they are fighting with every part of their being. They are doing everything humanly possible to survive.

The moment anyone is diagnosed with cancer, they instantly become a warrior.  They keep that status until they die, whether it’s from the cancer or not. Do you ever hear anyone say, “he/she lost their battle with heart disease?” or “he/she lost their battle with diabetes?” I have not. On the other hand, I always hear it when it comes to cancer.

There aren’t “winners” or “losers” in the cancer world. Sure, there are people that do not survive this disease, so does that make them a loser? It’s almost like they are being judged about how hard they fought: “She lost after a very long battle with cancer.”

To me, that sounds like: “She just didn’t fight hard enough, therefore, she lost.”

This disease is relentless, it shows no mercy. The medical world cannot answer why some people live and some people die from it. There are people who survive cancer when all the odds are against them and then there are people who do not when everything was pointing in the direction of survival. Why? If that answer existed, we would have a cure. However, we need to stop making it about winning and losing.

I am a breast cancer survivor; did I win? No, I don’t think so.

If this beast of a disease ever comes back into my life and I end up passing away from it. My only request is that nobody says I lost.

Warriors never lose.

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  1. You know I never really thought about it but how true this is Jeannine. Warriors never lose!

  2. Thanks for inspiring so many, Jeannine and for always sharing such great insight that so many can relate to.

  3. I totally agree, to say someone “lost his or her battle with cancer” sounds totallly condescending.

  4. I disagree. Cancer is a battle! Some survive and some die. Please explain how there aren’t any winners…

    • Hi John!
      It’s your absolute right to disagree with me. I however, don’t agree with you & I’m pretty sure I explained it in the above blog. Just because I survived cancer doesn’t make me a winner & someone who didn’t survive a loser. I never said it wasn’t a hard battle, (a battle I fought, by the way) I just said it shouldn’t be defined as “winners” & “losers”.

      • Jeannine, while I understand where you’re getting with your reasoning, I still you’re a winner. And while some people may “lose the battle” I never see them as a loser. I see them as winners too because they fought so hard to try to beat the disease. While they may not have survived, I think fighting to survive makes you a winner. Maybe I’m just a little too optimistic…

        But I get what you’re saying because there are some pretty heartless people out there who say things like “they should have fought harder”. So I totally understand your view on this.

  5. I agree with you Jeannine. I hate when I read “she lost her battle with cancer”. Saying someone lost the battle implies s/he didn’t fight hard enough … and just as bad, it crowns cancer as the winner!!! Many cancers don’t fight fair to begin with!!!

  6. I’m sorry Jeannine, I disagree. Get angry at something that matters, other than a word. I watched my 15 year old brother die from cancer and it was a battle to the very end. From what it was doing to his body, to the different “solutions” the doctors were trying that didn’t work. He was a trooper! But he lost his life in 5 months. He fought and battled that disease every day until the last hour. I was not and am not concerned with a word.

    • Hi Ann! Like I have stated before, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have no problem with that. Of course your brother fought, that’s not being disputed, he fought with everything he had from what you said. It still doesn’t make him a “loser” because he passed away. I’m not arguing the fact that it’s a battle. I’m arguing that we should not say anyone loss or won the battle. And as far as getting angry at something that “matters”, it does matter to me. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy.

  7. Jeannine,
    I have been “battling” breast cancer for 2 years. I guess when I was first diagnosed I did use the word “fighting” breast cancer. But recently with my reoccurrance I can honestly say I am “BATTLING” breast cancer. It never occurred to me that anyone would consider me a “loser”, if God Forbid, I lost my battle. And I would never want the many supporters in my life to feel they offended me. It is not offensive to me. Supporters already have a difficult time knowing what to say, especially when it becomes an advanced stage metastatic disease that is not considered curable. So I accept the word “battle” and know in my heart and soul that anyone who supports me would never consider me a “loser” hopefully in the far future. So supporters keep supporting the loved ones in your life and know that we are in a fierce battle and that we will keep on battling. And if we lose our battle just know it was a hostile encounter between opposing forces, it was difficult fight, and we did everything we could to win. And we know you don’t consider us a loser, just we simply lost the battle.

    • Hi Maureen,

      First let me tell you how sorry I am that you’re facing this battle again. I just want to clarify, it is a battle, it is one of the hardest if not the hardest battles of someone’s life. I think the title of my blog is completely misleading. My issue as I have stated time and time before is putting a label on it. That’s all. You mentioned that supporters already have a difficult time knowing what to say & I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s actually why I started blogging about my cancer journey because of the things people would or wouldn’t say to me. Bottom line is this is such a personal journey, and it’s different for everyone. To me, saying I lost my battle (if God forbid I died from cancer) is offensive and to you it’s not. Neither of us is wrong. I’m sending you nothing but positive energy and prayers.

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About the Author

Jeannine Canino Bieda
Jeannine Canino Bieda

Jeannine Canino Bieda has worked in the Options industry for the last 14 years and cannot imagine doing anything else; she enjoys all the craziness, the good, the bad & the ugly! She is a breast cancer survivor. She is married to the love of her life and does not have any children but hopefully that will change one day. She is a proud Southsider but lives in Evanston now because it’s where her husband is from; she learned quickly, you can take the girl out of the Southside but you can’t take the Southside out of the girl! She is highly addicted to reality shows & gossip magazines and is not ashamed of it.