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Unread 04-22-2004, 11:17 AM
Help With Words for Magazine

I met a girl at my young adults support group (through the Wellness Community) who is putting together a quarterly magazine (fully bound, to be distributed to waiting rooms and cancer centers) for younger cancer patients.

She asked me to help with her mission statement and some other things, so I am trying to do that. In her existing mission statement, she uses the words "victim" and "afflicted."

I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on more positive words that can be used to describe someone who comes down with cancer. I came up with these, but I'm sure you will all have better ideas:

Dealing With.
Living With.
Came Down With.
Actively Fighting.
Undergoing Treatment For.
Completed Treatment For.

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Unread 04-22-2004, 11:46 AM
Victim and afflicted

These are really negative words. I like simple words: patient, living with, currently treating... They use correct words but nothing that negative. And of course "survivor" for those in remission or cured.
Unread 04-22-2004, 01:05 PM
Help With Words for Magazine

Cancer striver or cancer thriver. We all aim to do and be both.
oxox karenann
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Unread 04-22-2004, 02:17 PM
Yikes; I Hate Victim and Afflicted!

I've never used either of those two words in the almost five years since my diagnosis. I assume the mission statement is going to include something about wanting to help individuals who have been "diagnosed with cancer." So I would vote for that language over victim and afflicted, which, to me at least, have such a negative connotation.

I also use the phrase "cancer journey" quite frequently, so perhaps she could say that the mission is to provide information and assistance to individuals who have embarked upon their cancer journeys.

Unread 04-22-2004, 03:12 PM
Help With Words for Magazine

I like MoeKay's suggestion about the "cancer journey"....although it often feels more like a treadmill! And I also agree that "victim" and "affliction" are a little one the negative side.....I've come to think that I am a woman living with a cancer diagnosis, not a victim. It's also nothing I "came down with"; that makes it sound like the flu.

Please tell your friend to avoid anything that sounds like "blaming the victim"--I have in the past read articles that made it sound like someone's diet was wrong and that's why she was dxed with cancer--as if environmental toxins or heredity or whatever things one has NO control over didn't come into play.
Unread 04-22-2004, 05:03 PM
Help With Words for Magazine

I agree--don't use "afflicted" or "victim" and don't put in anything that implies that the cancer patient somehow "caused" her own illness. There are so many things that we have no control over! I, too, walked every day, ate a healthy diet (avoiding processed foods, cooking meals from scratch, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables), looked healthy and was not overweight...and here I am, a cancer survivor, visiting the doctor's office every three months for a check-up. I like the term "cancer journey." I've learned so much on this road and made special friends through it all, and there have been many positives! My DH and children are thrilled about my recovery. And my students, who thought I was going to die, are learning that cancer is not always a death sentence. I'm glad I have the opportunity to educate others (including my younger sisters!).

TAH/BSO for endometrial & endocervical cancer/complications--ruptured bladder Dec.02
Unread 04-23-2004, 09:29 PM
Help With Words for Magazine

How lovely to put together such an information package for the younger ones - she is to be commended and you for helping!!!

Yes, I too agree that the words "victim" and "afflicted" are not conducive to healing and recovery.

A "victim" is a casualty or fatality or someone destroyed, denoting defeat.

I like your list and those of the many others. Such words as "Survivor", "Cancer Journey" are proactive, positive expression.

Also "Coping with", "Managing", .... words that inspire hope is very important when dealing with anyone but especially the younger ones - they must have hope in order to survive.
Unread 04-24-2004, 11:18 AM
Help With Words for Magazine

What a wonderful opportunity! A standing ovation for the project, and for the girl you met, and for you, for helping her with it!

So here is my little brainstorming session -- hope it helps:

The metaphor of cancer as a journey works really well. It avoids all the 'victim' related words, and especially for young people, relating it to a journey they're going through really makes a lot of sense. I mean, you don't hear of people being "afflicted by" puberty, for instance! All our lives, we are going on different types of journeys. The cancer journey is one that not everyone goes through, so in a way it is a "special" journey.

So I would work in a lot of these words or phrases whenever possible:

Journey with cancer (since not everyone gets to go Through and Survive)
but Journey Through Cancer also can work.
Quest for health (or cancer-free life, or whatever)
Traveling companions (other people with cancer)

I don't like "victim" or "afflicted" or any of those negative-sounding words.

Specifically to describe someone who has 'come down with' cancer:

Diagnosed with cancer
Dealing with cancer
On a cancer journey, or even, "Going through a journey with cancer," like what MoeKay suggests: " ... individuals who have embarked upon their cancer journeys."

Monalees uses this metaphor when she says, "I've learned so much on this road ... "

So I am trying to think of journey-related words and phrases, like "road," "along the way." In my journal here at hystersisters, I started using a train metaphor, but I think that was kind of situation-specific. In general, the cancer journey seems more like the kind of journey that involves "walking." If it's a quest, seems like it's a quest for a cancer-free life or a "quest for health." I can't help but think of the Lord of the Rings (the books) where there are characters who help them along with the quest, like doctors would. And they often come along when least expected (Faramir helping Frodo in Ithilien especially comes to mind.)

Most of the popular books for kids involve some kind of a journey. The Redwall series by Brian Jacques (usually a quest of some kind), the Magic Treehouse series for the younger kids -- they always go somewhere to learn something. Just a couple of examples. Classics, too -- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series. So I really do think this "journey" metaphor will resonate with the kids.

I wish I could just provide you with a list, the way you did in your post. But maybe my little "brainstorming session" will give you or another sister the words for that list!

Hope what I've said has made sense...

I think this is just such a wonderful project! I'd love to help in whatever way possible. I'm usually good with words even though this time I didn't succeed in what I set out to do (make a list of words).

Best wishes!
Unread 04-24-2004, 11:27 AM
Help With Words for Magazine

Monalees mentioned that cancer isn't always a death sentence---it reminds me of something a breast cancer patient once said to me: "Cancer is a word, not a sentence."

And I always like to remind people that normal life doesn't necessarily stop when cancer is diagnosed. For so many of us, life finally BECAME normal, and not a chase after overworking and overachieving, after we learned that "cancer" was on our medical charts.

I agree totally that "afflicted" and "victim" are not good choices. Survivor, thriver, journey--much, much better.

Even "patient" is a word that is etymologically connected with "passivity" and I'm not comfortable with that...people who've been diagnosed with cancer, no matter what the prognosis, need to know and feel that they still have choices to make that are life-affirming and life-enhancing.

Unread 04-24-2004, 11:37 AM
Help With Words for Magazine


How nice of you to be helping others this way!!

I agree that those words are too negative. My favorite statement about having cancer is this:

"The moment you survive the diagnosis you become a survivor. The moment your cancer has been detected, your sucess story begins." (Vickie Girard)

Good luck with the project.


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