• Diagnosed a year ago today. Still hate the word "journey" to describe this experience. Anyone else?

    Asked by gwendolyn on Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Diagnosed a year ago today. Still hate the word "journey" to describe this experience. Anyone else?

    At the one year mark I think I can consider myself a veteran of sorts. I still cringe when I hear someone describe having cancer as a "journey." I especially resent the way people tend to say it in a sing-songy voice as if having cancer is some kind of an interesting adventure. Maybe this euphemism makes some people feel better. I know it is very commonly used by individuals and accepted by the ACS. Personally, I feel it downplays the experience. I've never met anyone who feels the same way.

    34 Answers from the Community

    34 answers
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde (Best Answer!)

      Gwendolyn. You call it whatever you want. Its your trip, task, test, albatross, stone, siren, disease, illness, horrible act of mental and physical violence inflicted on you by a higher being, the government, chemical companies, your parents or mother nature (depending on your preference of blame).

      I will support you in hating the word. I don't, but I'm not you. Its just a word and as much as I respect semantics, I respect you more so from now on, I will never use it in reference to you.

      My pet peeve in all this is when someone hears you have cancer (or hears someone else does) the voices drop, it gets funereal, the grave is mentally dug and they all start divvying up the spoils.

      Congrats on your first year. (I am not mocking you, I totally get it.)

      over 4 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear gwendolyn,

      I guess it's a matter of semantics and what appeals to each person. Besides being a Medical Librarian (in my previous life), I'm a professional writer. I've used the word "journey" because I feel that the Cancer "sidetracked" me and took me off my "normal path". I haven't worried about whether I like the word "journey" (I haven't worried about whether it sounds Pollyannaish and I don't feel it downplays anything) because it's the Cancer that troubles me, I don't think of it as an "interesting adventure." It's more like a scary adventure that I've learned to cope with (with some good people to support me (oncologist, s.o.'s, family, friends, the folks on this site) because we don't know the outcome (though for now I'm at the start of my 7th cancer free month, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed).

      I haven't looked at myself as a Veteran, because though Veterans are brave and courageous (my late Dad was a WWII Vet), I'm more of a pacifist, I use my intellect more than "fight" to get through this situation. That's me! Everyone is different and has to use whatever metaphor works for them.

      I think that it's the experience that sucks more so than the way we choose to describe it-that's just a personal choice. Either one is valid.

      I hope you're doing well, however you regard this experience.

      Warm wishes,

      over 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      congrats on 1 year....wishing you many more years of living life!!!! I was going to say its your journey and you can call it what you want, then realised you didn't like the word journey...so just going to say you're the boss of you and you can call it whatever you want!!!! you go girl!!

      over 4 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      I use the word journey sometimes. I don't think there are any appropriate or fitting words to describe the experience from the time you discover something is wrong through it's final outcome.

      It doesn't mean a good journey like a vacation. It could be a journey through a storm. To me a journey simply means a road of time, space, circumstances and events that you're travelling, with your mind on an intended destination, on which you always have new things popping up that you need to deal with. You experience hope, disappointment, sadness, worry, small victories, challenges or difficulties. I think anyone going through it understands the weight of the situation, and does not intend to downplay it. It's not a journey or process that anyone wants to be in.

      What word would you choose?

      over 4 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      I think of all of life as a journey or a ride, with a beginning, an always-changing middle, and a destination. That includes not only the best parts of the experience of life, but the worst as well.

      over 4 years ago
    • myb's Avatar

      Wish I didn't have to be here, but I am. I am a survivor and have accepted this story of my life as just another challenge to prove my worth. You turn around what you went through and you try to help someone else and most certainly raise awareness. I was that person who went for the colonoscopy at 50 and ended up with stage 3 colon cancer with no symptoms. It's been a XXX of a ride since Feb 2012!

      over 4 years ago
    • kjd's Avatar

      Couldn't agree with you any more!!!!!I have similar thoughts.Other women with BC keep saying that you have to find the positive aspects out of this experience.Can;t see any!

      over 4 years ago
    • mcowett's Avatar

      I hear ya, congratulations on the 1 year mark. I am almost there. . . I never liked "journey" either yet have not come up with a term I like better that encompasses the en mass of it all. The other phrase that we hear alot and drives me crazy is. . . "everyone is different" ahahahaha!

      over 4 years ago
    • ValerieR's Avatar

      OMG I feel the exact same way... This in no way is a journey....its like a bad trip. I think that you definitely learn a lot as you go. Yeah, the first time I heard that expression it bugged me. I think that lots of people feel like we do.

      over 4 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I have used "Journey" quite often when replying to a question, etc. Most often I will refer to the experience as being in a "Twilight Zone" in the cancer world -- removed from the world where family and friends are -- or I will refer to it as a "Battle" against an evil and elusive enemy -- or I will refer to my experience as a bad dream or nightmare! I think that the wording depends on whom you are talking to and the point that you are attempting to make. I do know that it is difficult to convey our experience to family and friends. They try to support us but they lack the understanding of our feelings -- we have cancer -- they don't. It is our friends on WhatNext and other Survivors who truly understand what we are all about now. Cancer is definitely not an interesting adventure and to be honest, I don't know if there is really an accurate word to describe our experience!!!!

      over 4 years ago
    • Msreje's Avatar

      Good morning Gwendolyn, you REALLY got me thinking this morning and you know what? I do not use the word journey but the word road. I feel that a road is good, bad, bumpy, broken, etc. and that is how I feel my road has been for a year. I too was diagnosed about a year ago. All I can do now as I come to the end of my treatments is wish and pray for a smooth road for my years ahead. I wish all of us a happy travel down this difficult road.

      over 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Journey is not great, but i like it better then fight or battle. Life is a journey, so in many ways our cancer treatment is part of it. If I figure out a better way of describing what I've been gong through I will let you know.

      over 4 years ago
    • MarianneT's Avatar

      "Passage or progress from one place to another" is one of the definitions. However we all like different things and it makes sense that this is one of those that certainly could bother someone. We who have been through this would by no means intentionally downplay cancer. There is nothing wrong with feeling as you do. For me, I do use the word once in awhile in reference to my cancer. Now, I do travel quite regularly domestically and internationally and interestingly enough I have NEVER referred to my vacations/trips as a journey. Congrats on your year

      over 4 years ago
    • MMarie's Avatar

      Thank you! I don't like the word "Journey" either and don't like to hear "Everyone's Different". Have you come up with something that sounds and feels more fitting?

      I have heard "this expensive, inconvenience from XXX" come out of my mouth a few times.

      What do you think of battle and considering yourself a Warrior?

      over 4 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      Funny how stuff bothers us -- I HATE when people say it was a GIFT getting cancer. WTF? No! Journey doesn't bother me --- this is definitely part of my journey. It isn't who I am or what I'm going to focus on after treatment is over.

      over 4 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      I'm neutral on *journey*- I never use it, but it prickles only slightly.
      What really bothers me are the bellicose words like fighting, battle, warrior.
      And my kids already know when I die, I die, or am dead.
      I absolutely refuse to pass. What am I, a butter dish?

      over 4 years ago
    • Ddancer's Avatar

      Hi Gwendolyn,
      This is certainly a "journey" I don't want to experience again, or go there, or return, or keep pictures of, or scrapbook. . . . . I am with you. I also don't use the word survivor, or soldier and the like. Who I am is a dancer with cancer and I'm fighting back. My body is my tool, my career, and all I have. Nothing sing-songy about what is going on in my body. BUT don't get me wrong, I'm a very positive person, (have good and bad days) like everyone, but I am determined to TRY and do what I want with my life when I am strong and let my body heal when I am weak. My response is simply having a good day or bad, good week or bad, like everyone else and will get through this the best and quickest way I can looking forward to being close to normal again. To each their own so they can get through it too.

      over 4 years ago
    • muffyt's Avatar

      I prefer to compare my experience as the "March of the Penguins". Those wonderful creatures just keep putting one foot in front of the other....always moving forward.....never looking back..... never stopping.......getting to their goal. I loved that movie and fell in love with the spirit of the marching. They were so cute, loving, and supportive of each other. It makes me strong and it makes me smile. Might be silly but for me it is a positive image and reminds me that looking back is not going to be helpful.

      over 4 years ago
    • HeidiJo's Avatar

      I do use the word journey, I did discover a lot of things through my journey, good and bad, I choose to count the good things that happened, yes there were some, I had many people reach out to me, many friends and family took care of my children through out. I also believe laughter is the best medicine, so we had many good laughs.
      I think I would just be too bitter and angry if I didn't see the good things

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      You have just met one. I hate it too. They don't seem to understand how scary it is to get this disease and how it does affect us mentally after we have had successful surgery or treatment. They don't realize the battle involved when a person has to go through chemo or radiation treatments. Oh, and I get "You had cancer and the doctor's got it all you should be happy and not worry about it anymore." They don't realize that fear never leaves us. It is always in the back of our mind, "What are they going to find at my 1 year exam?" That is what I am going through right now. My surgeon said that he got it all, but they can never get all the breast tissue so there is always a bit left behind. So chances of breast cancer again, even though they are gone, is still there. Sometimes I just want to slap them and tell them to shut up that they don't know what it is like to have had cancer and what we go through with the fear and they should not be sing songing their little bits of advice about a "journey" they have never taken. So you are not alone in your feelings believe me. I'll bet there are others on this site that feel the same way you and I do. So don't feel bad if you get mad. It's okay to get mad and throw a fit if you want. That is why I like this site so much. You can vent your anger or feelings and no one will condemn you for it.

      over 4 years ago
    • laurie2025's Avatar

      Journey no. This is not a journey to me. This is more like a really really bad dream that I can't wake up from. Don't get me wrong, I am a positive person and am feeling good. But the word journey seems diminishing to me as well. So I'm with ya Gwendolyn!

      over 4 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      I think you are entitled to whatever feelings you want. I suppose I use the term journey for lack of a better term for this experience. I definitely have had far more enjoyable journies in my life but I've also had a few that were worse (at least so far). I have found that I have learned a lot from this experience as well as all the other traumatic experiences in my life, but as I often say to God, "could you not have found another way for me to learn this?" --maybe not. I'll never be able to say I was glad I got cancer, but when I am dying of old age 40 years from now, I'll be able to say I grew from the experience. So call it whatever you want and don't feel the need to apologize

      over 4 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      PS--congratulations on the one year mark. May you have so many more year markers that you can't remember what number you are on.

      over 4 years ago
    • leslie48240's Avatar

      THIS is exactly why I love this site. There is no where else we can spew all these feelings out and not have people look at us like we are really idiots. Love Muffyt and HearMeRoar's answers. Penquin march...crackin' me up! At one year you are entitled to be angry sometimes. You'll find the stupidest things can set you off. Not meaning that this is stupid...but what I mean is; there will be times you want to smack a co-worker for complaining about her crummy new lipstick, or your friend for griping that she has to rake the leaves...while we are just wishing we had the strength to go out there and enjoy the fall air and rake those leaves. Changes your perspective on everything...for better or worse. Call it what you want...and let others do the same. I protest in my own way by never capitalizing cancer. It's such a little thing...but makes me feel better.

      over 4 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar

      I buse the term journey because that is what it is called here on WhatNext and the censor here, for good reason, would XXX out what I would really like to call it. I have learned over the years to not get to upset about what anything is called as the name is not important and worrying about it is not worth my time. Congratulations on making it a year and hopefully you will be cancer free soon and end the journey at a happy place!!!!!

      over 4 years ago
    • debra223's Avatar

      Mine was a yr in March and I felt exactly the way you do-in the beginning I forbid my family to use that word. I'm kind of over it now but I agree-cancer is not a journey which to me would be an adventure too. Glad to know I'm not the only one who felt that way!

      over 4 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      I understand these commonly used terms get on our nerves.. Because they become cliche.. I would get ruffled when some of my pals at the gym called me their hero because I was working out during Zumba.. believe me.. I didn't feel like anybody's hero! LOL But, this certainly is not an interesting adventure, but more of a wake up call! It had taught me to be less stressed..I even started a sales job and everytime I have to get up my nerve to make a call or visit a client, I say to myself, once you've had someone tell you you have cancer and they want to stick poison in your arm every 2 weeks.. making that call is really pretty easy.. So, I have learned to use this bad experience to guage how I will react to anything and everything in the future.. and most things seem to pale! Funny, it's all about perspective. BTW, I'm not on a journey either, just learning to deal with the ups and downs of life.

      over 4 years ago
    • EAGLESOAR's Avatar

      For the past 6 years I have been living the "journey" with my beloved husband. We are in this "fight" together and have weathered many "adventures" with several cancers.
      I rather think of what we've experienced as "chapters" in our lives. Each chapter is how we've survived cancer. We haven't come to the end of the story yet, so for now I just will tell you that we are living "happily ever after."

      over 4 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      Congratulations on your one year anniversary...I wish you many more years to come up with lots of words to describe your experience!

      over 4 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      Congrats on the one year.

      I wish none of us had to be here. I know exactly what you mean. Shortly after my DX my church started this effort to collect and make up little sackets of tooth paste, tooth brushes and other little things to give to "Cancer patients" . I was so offended and outraged. like we are invalids from a third world country. I was so angry over the implication of these little sackets like we all of a sudden became these weak little people who needed little tooth pastes. Oh my goodness.

      No body gets it. And I mean this in the most real and positive way but even Breast cancer folks don't get it when it comes to the rest of us with difficult cancers. We don't have the services, we don't have the funding and we certainly don't have the 5 year survival rates either. its a different ball game. At times when I read the gushing BC stuff I get angry.

      But one of the things I really took energy from was the Bonnie J Addario April 2013 living room webinar. She gave me permission to not think about cancer today. Something about how she talked about her feelings about not letting cancer take up her thoughts gave me permission to not let it take over my days either.

      There is nothing about cancer that's good..For anyone to see children suffering with cancer and think that this vulgar beast is good needs to have their heads examined.

      Are we strong enough to not let it get the best of us..Yes we are..but its a plague, an absolute beast that takes too many and causes pain and suffering to not only the person with cancer but also their entire family and friends.

      Does it bring faith closer to us..it can but not always.. It has for me but not everyone will enjoy or embrace this as a positive. And I would have preferred some other way to encourage my faith.

      over 4 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      I really appreciate all the thoughtful and sometimes humorous replies. Many of the posts really caused me to think. If I think of a better word I'll let you know.

      I want emphasize that my reaction to the word is about my personal sensitivity, and not the person using the word. I know even chirpy talk show hosts don't intend to minimize the cancer experience, and certainly everyone on this site fully appreciates what people with cancer are going through.

      I respectfully disagree that breast cancer is not a difficult cancer. Behind all the pervasive pink sisterhood hoopla are people with a serious systemic disease who may be facing a very grim prognosis.

      over 4 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      I could not agree with you more...sometimes I think if I see one more pink "anything" I will scream, especially in October when everyone jumps on the bandwagon....there is no easy cancer, it all sucks (can I say that or will it be redacted?) continue to enjoy you anniversary...fondly

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      I am coming up on my one year mark this June 15. I was biopsied June 12, wedding anniversary was June 13 and June 15th I was told I had DCIS. I just had an MRI done on Friday and it's XXX waiting for those results. Even though I had a double mastectomy the doctor said that they can never get all of the breast tissue so here I sit wondering what that MRI is going to say. I have to admit that I am scared and worried. Probably will be until I get those results, but I believe in God and he tells me I am okay so I am okay. That is my faith talking and I want it to be okay. I am scheduled for my final reconstruction (implants) surgery on the 24th and I don't want anything messing it up. I want this all to be over with until my next check up next year. I don't want to sound like a baby, but I am even worried about this surgery and afraid that it won't come out right and I will have uneven, lumpy breasts. Has anyone else had that problem with implants under their DIEP flap? I didn't have enough stomach fat to make full breasts thus the implants and he said they were going up under the flaps. Well, all I can do is hope everything turns out right because I am facing more surgeries for other things. I have trigger finger in my left hand in the thumb and forefinger. I have to have a hysterectomy according to my gyn because of the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer and I have to have my right knee replaced. I am sorry to complain about things that are not related to cancer, but I have already had 3 surgeries that were cancer related and facing more for any reason causes me concern of another bout of acute kidney failure. I hope that I haven't offended anyone by complaining, but I have no where else to go. The Aunt I would talk to about this stuff passed away recently and my husband says, "Don't think about it just be thankful that they got all the cancer and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself." And, maybe it will. Sorry guys, but thanks for letting me vent.

      over 4 years ago
    • wildrose's Avatar

      I was also put off by the word journey to describe the most difficult thing you have to face. It's more of a "hike" than a walk in the park...that makes us some pretty strong "HIKERS" climbing some pretty big mountains.

      about 4 years ago

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