Those of you who know me and know my work are familiar with my struggles with breast cancer. You may also know that I am very open about the subject of cancer in general. That is by design.
Many people, though less so now than in previous years, still refer to cancer as "the Big C" or sort of whisper the word when it comes up in conversation. I refuse to give it that kind of power. I discuss it openly because it is not taboo. The mere mention of the word does not have any control over me. Quite the opposite... by discussing cancer freely, aren't we taking our power back?
We are not defined by our diagnoses, whatever they may be, so why do so many people still cringe at the word? When I tell people I am a cancer survivor, I am met with a variety of reactions ranging from the sad face, the head tilt, a look of absolute horror/panic to total hysterics. Often times I find they cannot even bring themselves to speak the word. If they can bear to say the word, they barely speak it above a whisper. What is it about cancer that freaks us out so much? Are we afraid that if we dare speak its name, we will be summoning it somehow? I think we are all reasonable enough people to know that is absurd, so I say we get away from all that nonsense and start taking the power away from the word cancer!
The reason I feel strongly about this issue is that every time we whisper the word "cancer" or look around the room before saying it like it is a dirty word, it is almost as though we are suggesting there is something wrong with having cancer. The fact is, those of us who have or have had cancer haven't done anything wrong. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and there should not be a stigma attached to our situation (on top of everything else). It is just something we are dealing with and there is no shame in it, so why should we whisper or talk about it like it is taboo in some way. We don't have anything to feel uncomfortable about, so why not embrace it, stare it down and beat it!