Online forums are ubiquitous, as you know, and online forums that deal with medical conditions are especially popular. No matter what we’ve had – surgery, contagious disease, cancer – we love to talk about it.
I like to think that most people just want to help, but this isn’t always the case. Some seem to like to make others feel bad. Even worse, sometimes the advice/info they pass on is just depressing and not helpful. For example, if someone is facing chemo and asking about side effects, is it really helpful to recite your own horrible experience, or is it more helpful to point out that everyone’s experience is different, and offer advice for avoiding the worst?
So, following the advice of my own personal cancer guru (you know who you are!), I avoid most cancer forums. There is one I follow, which has been unfailingly helpful and supportive (and doesn’t just deal with cancer). I’ve tried to help others on the forum, and, in turn, have asked loads of questions myself.
A question was asked the other day about what we cancer people should call ourselves. Don’t laugh! Labels are thrown around all the time re cancer (especially breast cancer, which gets an extortionate amount of attention).
Should we call ourselves “cancer survivors”? Well, to me, no. Even after all the treatment, that is all you’ve survived, the treatment – as you don’t know for many years if you have actually survived cancer!
Should we call ourselves “cancer warriors”? Again, to me, no. This is not a battle, and most of us don’t feel brave. We are just getting through this the best we can, and many times feel powerless, angry and scared – it does us a disservice to insist we are brave little women/men who are fighting the good fight.
But then if not those labels, what? Well, I don’t like labels. And (to me), cancer is no different to any other disease you can have. You have it, you are treated for it, and it either goes away or it doesn’t.
So for now, I’m a patient. In some months time, I won’t be. That’s about it. If you want to call yourself a warrior or a survivor, however, I don’t mind one little bit.