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“Losing” the Battle with Cancer

January 3, 2017

After I was first diagnosed with brain cancer, I felt like there had to be a reason why me. I wrote a post about why bad things happen to good people and really tried to get some meaning of this.  Granted the answer may just be that this is “karma” coming back at me. However I tend to think this is not the case, thus there must be a reason.  I stand five years out and here are my list of “reasons”:  1.  This blog  2.  Defeat Goliath 3.  Helping others who have been diagnosed with brain cancer.  Or 4, I don’t know as it just hasn’t happened yet.  I am not sure what to think about 1 and 2, so let’s talk about number 3.  Helping others is something that I truly do enjoy.  Information about brain cancer is not clearly defined and can be difficult to understand, there is not a set road map that should be followed by each person.  Many of the same treatment options have remained unchanged for 30 plus years – some scary stuff!  Doctors have different takes on what should be done and some centers recommend different types of treatment, not  because it is the best but because that is the type that their faculty can offer.  Toss in insurance issues and needless to say, it can be a bit daunting.  Providing any type of guidance, support, a listening ear, etc. is very rewarding to me personally.  If I can make a small difference, provide some reassurance or even just be able to understand somewhat the emotions of the brain cancer warrior and loved ones, then that is a victory.   The only downside is that along the way I have met people where the cancer was not controllable.  This is where things get hard, frustrating, and downright depressing.  At times I have been left speechless with nothing to say but tears rolling down my face.  My list of warriors extends outward not only through personal connections, but through blogs, tweets, and other forms of social media.  When other brain cancer warriors have setbacks or in some cases die, it is like a part of my own hope is chipped away.  My hope gets attacked a little bit and it’s challenging for me.  I look at is as if they can do it, so can I, so when someone is struggling, it’s hard and my hope fades just a little bit.  As Louis Zamperini says “Hope provides the power of the soul to endure.” Thus anything that can attack that hope is very dangerous.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change things for a second in terms of being a resource for people, despite the fact that sometimes things don’t work out how I would like them to.  Miracles do happen!  And even if they don’t, we all can be better people because of the journey of another person.  I am more often left inspired and more hopefully from others than the other way around.

I would like to think that Hope looks a little bit like this picture.  My boys snowshoeing with me this past weekend in lots of powder and super cold temperatures.  They make up my hope.



Which brings me to the whole point of my blog.  Often it is said that so and so, “lost” their courageous battle with cancer.  I think the point is to try and honor that person by pointing out that they battled hard or fought the good fight despite the overwhelming odds against them.  I completely and totally realize that by using that language, people are only trying to praise the person who died from cancer.  Heck I am sure that I have said that many times about my own Dad.  But now I see things a little bit differently, I have an issue with the concept of “lost”.  Yes a person may have died from cancer, but hey all of us will die at some point.  We all will “lose” at some time in the future.  So I feel like when we use the term “lost” to cancer, it sort of implies that the cancer somehow “won”.  I now recognize that if a person, who may have died as a result of cancer, brought people together, inspired others, showed what it means to be courageous, and never quit, then in my view they have not lost anything, but gained so much more.  Those around them also have gained a ton, they have been forever changed by the person’s spirt and will to live.  Let’s not think of things in winning and losing, but how did we grow, how were we inspired, how did we change for the better as a result of this.  We grow through adversity, how we respond shapes us all at our core and shows us who we really are deep inside.  Cancer is adversity, when it’s you or a loved one.  Cancer challenges us in all kinds of ways, from physical, to mental, to attitude, financially and more. We and those around us will forever be different because of cancer.  Really all that cancer did was speed up the normal process of life, it didn’t win anything.  Technically we all have “lost” once we are born. (As a side note, I do acknowledge that this brings up a entirely different conversation about the afterlife and heaven, but I will save that as that is not the focus of this blog post.)  Back to my point, I think to use the term “lost their battle with cancer” does not do that person the proper justice, as it implies that cancer is the “winner”.

I think about the results of my Dad’s cancer, in the end, yes he did die, but in the process, he inspired his two kids forever, he strengthened bonds of family, friendship and love, he encouraged an entire community to rally around him and his family, he restored some family connections that remain tighter today then ever, he showed what it means to be courageous, and was able to tell everyone close to him that he loved them.  That doesn’t sound like losing to me.  To me he won, not cancer.  And in many ways I won, having the privilege to see him respond to the challenge of cancer.

So if you know someone with cancer, whose body gives out, just be careful saying they “lost” to cancer.  As from my vantage point, I haven’t seen anyone who “lost” to cancer.  What I have seen is amazing people, being courageous, inspiring me, motivating me,  and in the end being victorious.

I do wish I had some other better phrase to use to honor our friends and loved ones, who died as a result of cancer, so I am open to ideas and suggestions.  How can we create a better term or phrase to truly honor a special cancer warrior, without acknowledging cancer as a winner?



7 Comments leave one →
  1. Tracy permalink
    January 4, 2017 5:34 am

    Beautiful! “Losing” has always bothered me also.


  2. January 4, 2017 5:58 am

    Love this one! Winning and losing is best left for board games.

  3. January 4, 2017 10:58 am

    Such a good point and way to think. God bless you and yours, David, and thankyou

  4. gayle thuot permalink
    January 4, 2017 11:11 am

    You said it already. Your dad passed away having faced cancer with courage, inspiring his family and friends with his strength and love and hope. As you do every day. So impressed and proud of you.

  5. January 4, 2017 6:55 pm

    We could say, “*Anita* has fought her final battle with cancer, and has now gone beyond!”

  6. Ronda Patrick permalink
    January 4, 2017 7:03 pm

    AMEN!! Exactly how I feel, the widow of brain cancer, and an ovarian cancer survivor. Thank you for putting it in words for all to hear. BLESS YOU!

  7. Laurie permalink
    January 4, 2017 8:38 pm

    Yes… You are a winner – never let cancer be the winner . Thank you David!! Inspired by your message – Laurie

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