Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On not winning and not losing.

I, as a person who got cancer, went through treatment, and am still here to talk about it, I did not do it because I am a strong person. I did not do it because I am a hero. I did not do it because I am a role model. I did not do it because I have a positive attitude. And I did not win (because if we as a society say someone lost their fight with cancer when what we really mean is this person died of cancer then that means I must have "won").

I did all of this the same way you get through your life. I wake up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other. Granted, I did have some choices. I could have refused treatment and I guess just laid down in my bed and waited to die? But, really, do you know anyone who has done that? Even those that chose different treatment options than me. They did something (even if it looked different than what I did).

Our society likes to hold those who have been through cancer up as heroes. Or as exceptionally strong people. We are "fighters", who have fought a tough "battle" and come out as "winners".

Except, with cancer there is no winning or losing. Some people, with the same diagnosis and the same treatment will have different outcomes. Some will continue to live. Some will not. That does mean those who pass away from cancer are weak. Or have a bad attitude. Or are losers. Not at all. Not one little bit.

I get it. It's a language thing. I don't think it's what we really mean - most of us don't actually think someone is a loser. We are simply using the language we've heard for so long. But some how, some way we must come up with better ways to talk about it, better ways to frame it. We must do this to honor those we have lost. And we must do this in a way that doesn't put people who have had cancer in an awkward position (Seriously, go on, ask people - most feel extremely awkward being called a hero or a role model, some even struggle to use the term survivor).

When it comes to cancer, there simply are no winners. And there are no losers. 


  1. Brandie....I love this post. Great job for writing it. After going through my little bout of cancer I find it hard to call myself a survivor. I've done it but it has felt strange. I think part of that is because it is hard to believe I ever had cancer and by saying I'm a survivor then it means I did. It is also strange because "what does that really mean?". I don't always feel like a survivor. I mean....how do I know for sure that it is gone?? The same thing goes for when people ask me..."are you cancer free". I choose to believe that I am but I don't really know. I don't feel inspirational either. I fought cancer and did what I was told to do to beat it but it doesn't feel inspirational. The only thing I hoped others might learn is to cherish their lives because we are all way more fragile then anyone believes. Hugs to you Brandie!!!

  2. Anonymous12:38 AM

    Brandie - you are so courageous and you are truly an inspiration to all of us. You have continued to put one foot in front of the other, tackling all the huge obstacles in your way, and so generously sharing it all with us. May your kindess and goodness come back to you tenfold. Loved this post. xo Chris, San Diego

  3. It is tricky to know a different verbage, though. I mean, I agree: it's not because you are superwoman that you are still with us today, but it definitely helped that you are a strong person. That being said, I know that millions of VERY strong and determined people do not survive cancer. I don't believe it's "God's Plan" or that everything happens for a reason, either. THAT kind of wording actually pisses me off.

    If you can figure out a way to word it that is less offending to people, I would love to help you spread it around.

  4. Big kudos for this post. I'm sometimes irritated by the language I hear used around this because it feels like it loses the *person* behind the cancer. And it's a person affected, no matter what happens next.

  5. Whatever the verbage...I'm glad you put one foot in front of the other!

  6. So very inspiring!


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)