If ever there was a word that elicits the darkest of emotions and downright mortal fear in people, it would have to be "cancer". From it's seemingly innocuous and humble Latin meaning of "crab", the word now packs far more evil and morbid connotations.
Cancer a: a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis b: an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors; something evil or malignant that spreads destructively (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
It's sort of like the word "bomb". Who could forget Ben Stiller in the film Meet The Parents where his character has an altercation with the flight attendant after daring to utter the word "bomb" whilst aboard an aircraft. "It's just a word ! Bomb, B-bomb, bomb, bomb !!!!
This past week has seen me making the rounds of family and friends to inform them of this latest turn of events. To be honest, having to do this is what instills dread in me. For most people hearing the word "cancer" is completely devastating and utterly shocking under any circumstances.
I find myself strategizing about how I think each person will react, thus tailoring my delivery to try and ease the blow. But really, everybody reacts differently and ultimately no one really knows what to say. I mean, what do you say ????
Well you know what folks ? The fact that you don't know what to say is a-okay with me, because I'm not really looking for a response - I just want to let you know this bit of information because you're an important person in my life. I don't really want to sit and talk about my entire medical file nor do you want to listen to the boring details of my cancer. What you and I both really want to do is move on and talk about something far more interesting like Danielle's latest exploits on The Real Housewives of New Jersey or the latest developments in your love-life, or those new shoes I just bought, or when we are going out for dinner next.
Like the b-word was to Ben Stiller's frustrated character, the word cancer is just another word to me. It's use does not crush my spirit nor does it fill me with blackness. In fact, I think it just spurs me to keep living an otherwise wonderful life and focus on what is truly important.
So folks. It's just a word. I'm dealing with it, and if I'm not I'll let you know.
Cancer Schmancer !
- Talking with Friends and Relatives About Your Cancer American Cancer Society