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.