• Does the phrase, "They lost their battle with cancer" bother you?

    Asked by ItsMeJennifer on Saturday, January 30, 2016

    Does the phrase, "They lost their battle with cancer" bother you?

    It bothers me! When I die from cancer, does that mean that I somehow lost or failed? Maybe my attitude wasn't good enough? I've heard so many times that I'll for sure "make it" because I have a good attitude. I always smile but inside I'm thinking what a strange thing to think.

    35 Answers from the Community

    35 answers
    • TXHills' Avatar
      TXHills

      I agree that it's not a helpful way to think about this. I don't want to be a warrior, doing battle with my own body. And there is zero research showing that one's attitude has any bearing on the course of the disease. I'm not sure how I want to talk about it, but battling and winning and losing isn't it. Any ideas?

      over 3 years ago
    • Sue_2015's Avatar
      Sue_2015

      Yes that phrase bothers me and makes me so sad. It implies that they didn't fight hard enough? They lost their battle because they are now dead so they must have failed?

      Like you say, people tell us we'll "make it" because we have a good attitude or because we "look good." WTH? (which, now that I think about it, it makes me wonder, once I have died, will people say, "she lost the battle with cancer, she looked bad, yup, no way she was going to make it...did you notice how her attitude was, there at the end, she should have fought harder..." ...or whatever)

      I hope I'm not one who "lost their battle" as I intend to Live with my Cancer. I might die someday of "old age" though... when I'm in my 80's or 90's? And by golly, I'll "look good" as long as I can!

      over 3 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      No.

      First because I did not lose and
      second because it is none of my business what other people think.

      After Im dead they can say what they like but the truth of what my life was like will only be known to me and those who loved me.

      Im alive enough to not yet have time to think about my epitath

      over 3 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      BTW, it is very difficult to change a whole society and the phraseology in use.

      For example, Bush said the (to my way of thinking) the impersonal phrase "loved one" and I hardly hear anyone talking anymore about the loss of a husband a wife a child a cousin or friend. We need to remember that we are all people quality giving loving and trying to do, each of us, our highest right.

      over 3 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      It's a non-issue for me.

      Did my mother lose her battle with heart disease and diabetes? I don't think about it in those terms. Was she a fighter? H.E.L.L YEAH. Remembering what she went through inspired me during active treatment and continues to do so.

      On the day I was diagnosed I asked for fight vibes and got them. "Fighter" and "survivor" are terms that help me personally, and cancer is only the most recent context for them. I've lived by that language for decades, through multiple situations that could have killed me.

      Some day I'll succumb, whether to cancer or to something else. If someone says of me, "She lost her battle with cancer," they're not using that language for me; they're using it for them. It has nothing to do with me. Right now I spend my energy living life as best I can. I don't need to spend any of it worrying about what other people think.

      over 3 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      It's a cliché and an insensitive one at that. Yes, it does annoy me whenever I see it in an obit. As TXHills says, it's one's own body one is "battling." When I die - and I think about my death often - I won't have an obit, and I hope my survivors don't ever use the word "battle," should I die from a cancer.

      over 3 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      I'm not at war with anything. You can't kill your way out of cancer anyway.
      It needs to be stopped from the Inside so be very friendly and not angry with your immune system which is trying very hard to right the ship....Harmony and Love not war...

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      I guess we ALL loose our battle to stay alive don't we?
      We start dying the moment we are born. It's a natural part of life.

      I think it comes from that natural desire to live but i don't like the saying and I never have said it or felt it was ever an appropriate comment.

      What I have noticed is more and more often people are not putting in the obituaries the type of cancer or even that the person died of cancer. I like that. Simply say the person passed away and is really missed. A celebration of their life etc..

      When I die I will not have a funeral except for my husband and children to be present at my burial with a prayer from the priest. Done..buried and hopefully into heaven.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar
      karen1956

      I've never really thought about it....it is a strange phrase. I wonder what a better phrase would be? I've never really thought about what I want people to say about me or what I would want my family to write. I guess when the time comes I will think about it. Till then, I'm living, and thank G-d I am still NED.

      over 3 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      I'm not in any of these health wars. Around here most people say things like, He passed, he had cancer. Cancer took him. I think that wars take a lot out of us.

      over 3 years ago
    • Donnie's Avatar
      Donnie

      I do not feel I lost anything. We are losing something everyday, all of us. Every day I open my eyes is a blessing. I just look towards the future and keep on going.

      over 3 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar
      SusanK

      The phrase doesn't bother me. People say things that, unless they have battled cancer themselves, they don't really understand. A good attitude won't save anyone but having watched my parents and then going through it myself, I believe being positive and determined is valuable to the patient. Cancer claimed both my parents and they did all they could do to survive. But it is a personal struggle and each one of us handles it differently. More than once I have inwardly cringed at things friends have said while keeping that little smile pasted on my face...because I know their intentions were good. You just have to "let it go" sometimes.

      over 3 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570 (Best Answer!)

      I never thought of it before, butnow that I read your question and these answers, I do think "she lost her battle with cancer" does sound rather stupid. I know we can't rewrite society's terminology about cancer, but has anyone noticed that wehn people die from toher causes, they "passed away", "died from a heart attack", "died from injuries sustained in a car accident", the list goes on. When my grandfather died from a sudden heart attack, nobody said he lost his battle with heart disease; it was "He died from a heart attack." What I would like to know is what makes cancer so all fired different that it's seen as a war while other medical conditions are just what they are, medical conditions with no fancy frilly phrases attached. When it's my turn to go, I want to be referred to as having passed away from [fill in the blank]. I also agree that to say someone lost thier battle with cancer does imply the fault lies at the patient's feet, and that's just what we don't need, to be responsible for our having or having come through this terrible disease. Nobody wanted to join this club, and I feel safe in saying nobody brought their membership upon themselves. There is not one patient on this earth who wants to be made to feel like if something goes wrong related to their own condition, it's somehow their own fault. HUGS and God bless.

      over 3 years ago
    • Jouska's Avatar
      Jouska

      I find it problematic and it was brought to light recently with the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. My concern it is that it implies that someone could have battled more, done something differently and "won the battle". And that isn't true. We don't have control over cancer - we have control over our choices of treatment and how we live our life post diagnosis. And that is about all. I think the best thing one could say is that "they lived their life well", not that they lost their battle. All that being said - battle, warrior, etc are common words people use around cancer and for the most part I just ignore it. I just choose not to use those words myself.

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      The battle against cancer isn't a single persons battle, we all contribute to winning battles against cancer, My oncologist sees cancer in a whole new light. I have won a battle with cancer, Many here have participated in clinical trials, they have won a victory in the battle with cancer.
      I have written in my Advance directive that I am to have no obituary. Death announcements are enough just time and date of death and time and place services.
      That way there will also be not other embarrassing lies about me in print.

      over 3 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      Childof god----Presidents Reagan to Obama declared that cancer is a war, that there is a war on cancer, so people are in a war and battel. Then they lose, combined with that the 'spirit' will triumph by being positive makes it very much like Hitler's diatribes that if the Germans had the will, they would triumph and win. He blamed the loss of WWl on the loss of will to win the war. At the end of WW ll, he wanted Speer to totally destroy what was left of Germany's infrastructure, so the Germans would suffer much more for their betrayal by losing their will to fight. We know how stupid that is. We also know how stupid it is to think that if we are happy and have the will to live, that we will be cancer free. It's feel good politics. It's a good sound bite and it's politics. I think the good attitude is to make us more compliant for the medical staff. Of course, it makes it easier for our families.

      over 3 years ago
    • Sharlie's Avatar
      Sharlie

      I have come to believe that from the moment we took our first breath, we were preparing to die by some means...it's just part of the cycle. No matter when or how we go, we're kind of fulfilling our own personal prophecies. So yeah, the statement bothers me as I think about it now. But once I'm gone, I won't be reading my own obitituary so it won't bother me what someone else writes about me. Although I guess I could write my own in advance and have it talk about how I celebrated life and love to the best of my ability.

      over 3 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      It usnt exactly true that we have no control over cancer. The way we live, at current allows it to blossom. Please do not misunderstand me.

      Cancer requires a lack of oxygen to thrive (lack of clean air). We live with all sorts of ultrafine andnot so fine particulates which we breathe in. The only reason cars use gas instead of electricity is that, when the manufacturing line was developed gas was cheaper. Now we know better. This is where (IMHO) government ought to step in (but doesnt). There are lots of other industries which poison our air and, it seems, nothing will stop them.

      We need clean water. What industry has done to what we drink is a mess. They arent even made to clean up and they can dump industrial waste (flourine)into what we have to drink.

      We need fresh & clean food. Pesticides have been poisoning our food for nearly a century and we seem to be suffering because of it.

      What is called "progress" is great for a super wealthy few and downright disasterous for the rest of Earth's creatures.

      over 3 years ago
    • dianalynn's Avatar
      dianalynn

      Yes! As someone with metastatic breast cancer, it bothers me greatly. As if the fight is even fair.

      over 3 years ago
    • Sharlie's Avatar
      Sharlie

      Honestly, it's not as though we're fighting just a random illness that is communicated from one human to another; we're battling something our very own society has given to us. Through the air we breathe with all the pollutants, the water we drink that chemicals have leached into, the plastics and synthetic fibers, GMOs, etc., we don't really stand a chance. As dianalynn wrote, it's not a fair fight.

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      My sister-in-law died two weeks ago of a rare and deadly form of leukemia that usually kills within 7 years. At the time of her death 20 years after diagnosis she was the longest living person with that kind of cancer. She participated in many clinical trials. She has won a victory against cancer. Perhaps until another person passes her but then that is kind of a victory
      Well I may die of complications of cancer or I just might lose my battle against a drunk driver.

      over 3 years ago
    • Jesse0218's Avatar
      Jesse0218

      No, it doesn't really bother me. And, I never really thought about it either except that they passed away from cancer in the end. Like someone else said, people lose the battle with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other ways people die. Heck, my sister lost her battle with drugs, legal and illegal. She died 10 days before she turned 55 and had been doing drugs most of her life. I have cancer, my sister lost her battle to drugs and my brother lost his battle to AIDS in 1994. My mother lost her battle with Emphysema but my dad did lose his battle with colon cancer. Just a way of phrasing it in my mind.

      over 3 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar
      BuckeyeShelby

      Boise, I'm so sorry about your loss. Sounds like your sister-in-law was a strong lady. And I agree, we are all gonna lose the battle to stave off death one way or another. We may win battles, but as individual patients, we are not going to win the war -- that will take doctors and nurses and researchers and hordes of individual patients.

      over 3 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      I agree that it seems dumb when people say things like, "you are going to be okay, you're strong ... or ... you have a great attitude"

      But, in my opinion, we are fighting cancer. Most of us, with everything we have. So, when we die, and if it is from cancer, it seems we lost to cancer. On the other hand, you rarely hear that people who die from other diseases lost their fight. For instance, my aunt died from Alzheimers. We say just that. She didn’t lose her fight against Alzheimers ... she just died from it... Some people have heart disease for a long time, but we don't say they lost their battle to heart disease when they die.

      So... I don't personally care if people say I fought hard but died (when that day comes, hopefully in the far future) ... that will be true. For me, I believe death won't be the end, but the beginning, so I win. Cancer loses because my shell of a body will no longer support it.

      Interesting question to which I have no clear answer or opinion. I often say I am fighting cancer so I guess I wouldn't care if people say I lost the battle after I die. (But, man!!! My competitive spirit HATES the idea of losing!!! Anything.)

      over 3 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      The sad fact is many die of the complications from Chemo and not even the disease.....Where is the Cure after so many years and trillions of dollars?

      over 3 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      As I read everyone's comments, it occurs to me that one way cancer differs from most diseases is that it spreads and spreads and spreads ... invading organs and bones, etc. I guess when I think about it myself (and I obviously think about it differently than most who have responded), I see my healthy cells and my treatment drugs as soldiers on one side, working hard to stop the invaders ... cancer cells. Finally, if I die from cancer and I probably will, my own healthy cells and the drugs will prove to be weaker than the cancer cells.

      Anyway, I don't care if people say I am battling (I say I am too) or that I lose the battle when I am gone. Actually, I don't care what they say about my death, but I hope they remember good things about my life.

      over 3 years ago
    • Harley12's Avatar
      Harley12

      Just a thought on whether when someone dies the cause of their death should be listed. I think it should. I was amazed to find out how many cancer patients died in 1 week. I was sad for the loss, but it made me realize how wide spread the disease is and how we are all affected, famous or infamous. Not that I want to advertise for cancer, however, if getting the message out that all of us are affected, maybe mainstream America will sit up and take notice. And more funding for treatments/cures will happen. As I said, just a thought. God bless us every one!

      over 3 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      To be honest, no matter how I pass away, I hope they simply say that Jesus called me home. At leastt that sounds a whole lot more fitting for someone like me and comforting for those I leave behind than if I'd lost my fight and the bad guy, namely cancer, won. I never wanted to be defined by my being blind, nor do I want to be defined by the cancer; I want to be known and remembered as a caring Christian lady who loves on anyone who could use it. HUGS and God bless.

      over 3 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar
      Gabba

      I have never had a problem with the image of me fighting cancer as a battle...as a pediatric nurse practitioner I would often draw pictures for the little ones of their white cells and fevers mobilizing to fight their infections...these were mostly done as stick figures as I never presumed to be an artist...once I got over the shock of my diagnosis and met with my surgeon, oncologist and radiation team I felt the plan of action (or "attack") they mapped out was exactly what made me comfortable.
      It has been 5 years since my diagnosis. I do not feel like a warrior but I am a survivor...I have fought a battle and feel like I have won, for now. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, will I eventually lose my battle with cancer? Recurrence or new? With heart disease? With an injury from an accident? Only God knows...I don't worry about it anymore. I only know I will leave this world some day and whatever anyone says about me after I go is for them to decide. As long as my friends and family say nice things, who cares?
      Best wishes to all of you in whichever way you deal with or fight this "battle"!

      over 3 years ago
    • Sharlie's Avatar
      Sharlie

      I no longer live in D.C. but did for a few decaded and loved listening to Diane's program over the years. I've followed her story through that time and also her hustand's illness and subsequent passing. I know this is controversial but I totally believe in the death with dignity movement. If when my time comes, it's a slow and pain process, I'd like to be able to chose to end my time on this earth under my terms. I'd rather not have to starve myself as Diane's husband did. Actually I don't view death as losing, but moving on to another level in this journel. Yes, the thought of leaving behind my loved ones and friends makes me sad, especially for my only grandchild, a precious eight year old girl. I lost my grandmother when I was seven, but I hope to live for many more years and be around for many of my granddaughters' life milestones. But when my time comes, if it's not immediate, I'd like to be able to chose. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/diane-rehms-next-act-using-her-famed-voice-to-fight-for-the-good-death/2016/01/26/20c8faea-bee0-11e5-bcda-62a36b394160_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_hp-in-the-news%3Apage%2Fin-the-news

      over 3 years ago
    • fluteplayer's Avatar
      fluteplayer

      We are all fighters or we would not put ourselves through all the horrible treatment esp chemo.So in a way we all are in battle. I am going to lose my fight as insurance com. Is refusing to pay for any more xgeva shots. So some of us are doomed by our own goverment

      over 3 years ago
    • pattiep's Avatar
      pattiep

      Yes, it does. People who die or are dying of cancer have not lose..This implies that they did not fight hard enough/were not strong enough--- did something wrong! It is insensitive and ignorant to use this phrase.
      Right now to my knowledge I am cancer free... I have not won. I was lucky enough to have been diagnosed early and had insurance that gave me every advantage. Yes I followed doctors' orders and my treatment seems to have worked. If cancer comes roaring back into my life again tomorrow--did I lose or do something wrong? No.
      I don't like labels. I didn't like being a 'cancer patient', 'fighter' (especially like a girl), and I'm not thrilled with 'survivor'. I sure as XXX would not like to hear that I was 'losing'.
      This is how I see it: I am Pattie. No matter what state my health is in and no matter what good or bad is happening in my life. I don't need any other descriptors, especially negative ones.

      over 3 years ago
    • RubyFaye's Avatar
      RubyFaye

      I feel very sad when I hear that because I know they have passed but, I want to salute them because they did fight a battle and whether they won or lost, they fought. I always feel pride for them because it is a tough battle.

      From the day I was diagnosed, I was told, there is no cure and I will die. I hope someone will say "She lost her battle" (not because I want to die) but because I am fighting and I will not give up and I think by saying I lost my battle, shows I worked at winning.

      over 3 years ago
    • RubyFaye's Avatar
      RubyFaye

      I think I read an answer that said they never hear of someone losing a battle to other diseases, just cancer.
      This morning on the news I heard this statement "Maurice White lost his battle with Parkinson"

      over 3 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      He didn't lose a battle he lost his life and hopefully has a new one....
      As I said before I'm trying to make my cells more peaceful and hopefully go back into harmony. Fighting is stressful and that's the last thing We Need.

      over 3 years ago

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