When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like you’re suddenly thrown into a fight. The mental toll of the cancer fight weighs heavy, and you soon decide to choose your own words.
When you envision a fight, you see two gladiators with swords drawn or two people with their fists bared, not your head over a toilet throwing up for the fifth time in a day. You don’t picture yourself bawling like an infant on the bathroom floor or screaming at night because the pain in your bones feels like it’s crushing you alive.
So why do people say cancer is a fight? Why do you often hear that cancer treatment is your life’s fight? Yes, the treatments are meant to keep you alive, but what if they don’t? What if you sit in that chemotherapy chair week after week and, by no fault of your own, it’s just not enough? Why do we call this a fight?
Finding Out About The Fight
How could this happen to me? This is one of the very first thoughts many cancer patients have when they are first diagnosed. You think about how much you stay physically active, eat healthy, and get tons of rest. You think you should be in the prime of your life (depending on your age).
The words go in one ear and out the other until you hear, “You’ll just have to fight as hard as you can, and it will be okay.” It gives you immediate pause.
What Is A Fight?
Merriam-Webster defines a fight as:
Verb: to contend in battle or physical combat, especially to strive to overcome a person by blows or weapons
Noun: a hostile encounter
Based on this definition, it doesn’t sound like you will be in a fight — right? When a person decides to undergo chemotherapy or radiation to sustain life, you have very little control over the outcome. Your tumors may shrink or disappear altogether, but they might remain and not respond to treatment.
When you undergo surgery to remove remaining cancerous cells in your body, you have no control over the surgeon’s ability to get it all during the procedure.
Would the cancer community think the fight was too much for you if you lost your fight and life? Would you be letting them down? But it isn’t only about the lack of control.
At times, you might find yourself sleeping for 18 hours a day, experiencing frequent vomiting, hair loss, and a sensation of