Why I don’t say, “Lost their battle to cancer”

Short backstory before I begin:

I’ve never been diagnosed but cancer is not a stranger to me. It has affected my life greatly since I was 11, when my mother was first diagnosed.  My mother passed away when I was 16 after battling for 5 years. Since then, my sister and close loved ones have also had to endure the fight against cancer.

I’ve come to terms with the influence it has on me and how I live my life.

I often hear the phrase that someone has lost their battle with cancer. I can’t help but get defensive when it comes to the term “lost.”

I can never say my mother [nor my loved ones] lost her [their] battle. I believe she won. She lived, she fought and she loved.

I had a conversation with a friend about my feelings towards this term. It wasn’t until I said the words out loud that I realized why I didn’t like it so much.

Is it cancer they are losing to?

There’s another “C” word that makes my heart drop just as much as cancer…Chemotherapy. For some, it can be the reason they are cancer free. Its goal is to cure, control or palliate cancer cells. For others, it could be why their bodies are not as strong as it used to be. The way my mom explained it to help me understand why her body was so weak during treatment was… “Chemo not only attacks the bad cells, but it attacks the good cells too.” On top of that, she had multiple side effects that caused her pain and discomfort. And with that came more medication and more side effects.

Her body went through so much. It struggled to eat, sleep and breathe day to day. How often do our bodies have to struggle in this matter to live each day?  Who are we to say she lost just because she passed away, especially when we don’t have to fight as hard to live? Please realize that I am not condoning chemotherapy. I have seen it in both lights, good and bad. Everything is a variable with chemo and that is what determines its success rate. My belief is if chemo is not successful, it’s chemo that lost the battle to cancer. Not my mom.

We are the ones that lost.

We lose so much more when a loved one passes away. I am a believer of God and heaven. I believe when someone passes they are now in paradise free of pain. They won the ultimate gift. But we are still here; learning to live life without them. It’s a battle within itself and it’s hard.

They win in so many other ways.

My mom received a card while she was going through treatment. It read:mums

These were all things she had and kept close to her heart. Passing away doesn’t take any of these away.

One of the major things I notice they gain is all the support surrounding them by family and friends. I am forever grateful for every single person that helped my mother and our family during this time in our lives. A negative situation like cancer brings out a lot of kindness and compassion in others.  It takes a community to help fight, because when they get tired there will be someone there to fight for them.

When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer.

 “When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you. “

-Stuart Scott

Mr. Scott was “as cool as the other side of the pillow” and I couldn’t agree with him more. He battled cancer multiple times and never let that defeat his spirit. If you’ve never heard his Jimmy V Award Speech I encourage you to watch this video. He explains it so admirably and it may change your view on “losing” to cancer.

Here’s where I can be a bit hypocritical and I’ll admit it. If someone I know beats cancer, I will be so happy to say, “You beat cancer!” My sister beat cancer. My cousin beat cancer. My friend beat cancer. My loved ones beat cancer. They fought and continued to live. They win because they no longer have to suffer the pain and discomfort that comes with cancer. They eliminated that deadly disease from their body and that is a reason to celebrate.

Losing a loved one to cancer is something I will never get over. But the years I did spend with them is something no one or thing can take away from me. I will cherish every moment we ever spent together. I reflect on the way I hear others talk about my mom; I can see how much they loved and admired her. To be remembered in such a positive and beautiful light is truly winning the battle.

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