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The Big Bad "Cancer" Word
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32 / M / Tamriel
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Posted 5/8/08
Why do people treat cancer like it needs to be spoken of in hushed tones, and can't be joked about? I was at work the other day, and someone was collecting for a marathon for the American Cancer Society. She was going through the prizes, and someone said, "What do they give you for the first prize? Cancer?"
I started laughing hysterically. He got into a ton of trouble for what he said. And then someone turned on me and told me that I shouldn't laugh about it, because cancer wasn't funny, and I might offend people with cancer.
And I told him that I'd had cancer. And I'd gone through the shots, and the chemo and the radiation and the surgeries and everything else, and if I felt like laughing at something about cancer, I was going to damn well laugh at it.

But I want to know.... Why do people act so terrified of cancer all the time? What is it that makes people immediately tense up when they hear the word?
Let's look at some points here:

1) Cancer is NOT an automatic death sentence. Yes, 20 or 30 years ago, it was. But nowadays, there's a pretty good chance that you WILL live, assuming you catch it early. And even if you don't catch it early, sometimes. Certain kinds of cancer (testicular, for example) have more than a 90% cure rate. Yeah, some kinds of cancer are still difficult to cure (lung cancer, for one, and brain tumors for another). But even then, it's not an automatic death sentence.

2) Cancer is NOT the worst thing that can happen to a person Sorry, but it's not. You might be able to convince me that TERMINAL cancer is among the worst thing that can happen to a person, but cancer, as mentioned above, isn't always terminal. Seriously, I think being paralyzed, or blind, or even having diabetes would be much worse than having had cancer. Again, I'm only one person, and some cancer patients may disagree, but I really don't think that cancer itself is the worst thing in the world.

3) Even if you can die of cancer, so what? I don't mean that to sound callous. What I mean is, people die in car crashes, and from starvation, and from hangliding accidents, and hunting accidents. Why is it funny when someone accidentally shoots their friend while they're out hunting, but not funny to make a joke about a mastectomy?

4) Bear with me on this one, it may be tough to follow. People who have cancer, have cancer treatments, or survive cancer are NOT heroes, nor are they neccesarily brave. I cannot tell you how many times I tell people that I had cancer and they say "Oh, you're such a hero," or "Wow, you're so brave." NO! Let me emphasize that. NO! Having cancer means you're unlucky. Not brave. Going through treatment doesn't make you a hero. A hero is someone who sacrifices themself to help someone else. Going through cancer treatment means you don't f*cking want to DIE! Yes, perhaps doing it even though it's so challenging is a form of bravery, but when someone says they HAD cancer, don't assume that means they handled it well.
I think this is actually the first step. If we stop treating cancer survivors like they're war heroes or something, perhaps some of the awe or reverence or fear we feel of cancer will be mitigated.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm some sort of insensitive prick, immune to others' suffering. I can understand that there are places where making jokes about things like cancer are inappropriate. (And to be fair, the situation at my job was probably one of them.) But it's not one incident. It's a culture of fear. People act like if they joke (or even talk) about cancer it will jump out like a boogeyman and devour them whole.
Cancer sucks. I won't lie. But it can be funny. And it doesn't deserve this fear. Fear of something allows it to conquer you.

And now, I want to know what other people think. Are you scared of cancer? Do you joke about it, or do you get mad when people make jokes about it? Why do you think people are so scared of it?
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Nicole 
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Posted 5/8/08 , edited 5/8/08
One of the reasons behind the fear of cancer is because it's an inconvenience, and a large one at that. After being diagnosed, some of the stipulations of having said disease is all the financial and emotional burden that's placed that person's and family's shoulders.

Of course, having cancer is not always terminal, but the word itself is always associated with the thought of it. A probable cause of the way media has portrayed it. Because of this notion, the term 'cancer' puts things into perspective for a lot of individuals -- to live each day to the fullest, to be active and healthy -- it's as if it is a reminder for everyone to appreciate what they have. But, this 'reality check' is something that people often go through to some extent when they read about someone dying in a car accident or being shot overseas in a firefight.

In terms of considering cancer survivors heroes, it's all based on perspective. People who say things such as 'Oh, you're so brave' are just considering themselves in that person's shoes. It's safe to assume that they can't even imagine or even begin to imagine how taxing dealing with cancer might be and probably couldn't vocalize it in a better way than to say that they are heroes.

I don't necessarily joke about cancer, nor do I get mad at those who make jokes. It's just a sensitive issue. Sometimes people joke about it because they try to make light of a sometimes dark situation -- but not everyone sees or agrees with that. More often than not, those who get angry about it are those who are conscious of the sensitivity surrounding it, or perhaps even has had someone near and dear go through that ordeal.. or even they are possible scared of the thought of ever being diagnosed with cancer.
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Posted 5/8/08
Cancer is so common now. Hm. Maybe everyones afraid of it because it sounds like cancel. So they think if they get it then they'll get canceled.
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29 / M / New York
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Posted 5/8/08
When abstract, impersonal issues reach a real, personal level, people are obviously less likely to consider them lightly. I might be able to respect this if those people could realize their own hypocrisy, i.e. not laughing about cancer but laughing about some violence in a movie.

Anything can become negative by association with something else. Should we joke about nothing, speak about nothing out of consideration for the possible sensitivity of others? Of course not. Should we consider what we say within certain contexts? Maybe. On one hand, I think individuals should strive to have more of a resistance to mental and emotional bullying; on the other, I understand that some situations are too much for even strong individuals to take. Generally speaking, however, I don't think we should live in fear of offending others, of expressing humor we do not mean literally, of stating personal opinions. What's left of life then?
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25 / F / Philippines
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Posted 5/9/08
i fear coma more than cancer...

i have no ill feelings against those who joke about cancer... but there's a lot of less sensitive topics that doesn't concern diseases, hurting others...

People fear cancer because they can see the pain of the persons that bears this disease... the used-to-be colorful world turns a dark gray, fearing that death might snatch them anytime leaving their loved ones... but aren't these people informed that even though cancer doesn't affect them, they'll gonna die and no matter how they go into medications... nothing's going stop death from coming... i'm not saying that they stop attending their medications... but the fact of the matter is whether they've survived Cancer or not... they'll die...

i really think that fea rbehind Cancer is death...
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27 / M / over the hills an...
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Posted 5/9/08
you have no right to speak of it un less you have it
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Everywhere you wa...
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Posted 5/9/08

music190 wrote:



Well done.
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Posted 5/9/08
it's a normal human reaction. I would freak out if I had one. I think the main reason everyone's afraid of cancer is death. It's inconvenience to suffer and not to mention knowing that they're going to end up dead anyway. As you said there is a 90% cure rate..some people are pessimistic u know and they think they'll be in the 10% category. Furthermore, not everyone is brave enough to encounter death. If a broken arm requires some time to recover, imagine a cancer..or you might not recover from it at all. So expressing humor about cancer is offending. That reminds the victims how they're going to die.
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Posted 5/9/08
Ok, so someone I know, used the word cancer in front of a few other guys on a schooltrip. One started crying. His mom had cancer, and she was going to die. He had had so much fun on the trip, and there had even been moments he didn't have to think about his mom. And then someone says 'cancer' and it's all back. I had never seen this boy cry, and I really felt sorry for him.

I don't like it when people say cancer, or make jokes about it. I think almost everyone knows at least one person who died from cancer. So it can hurt a lot of people when you make jokes about it. Most of the time, people will be overreacting. But sometimes they aren't, and since I've seen that boy cry on that schooltrip, I know that I won't ever shout cancer out of nowhere. It's just better not to.
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27 / M / over the hills an...
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Posted 5/9/08

TarasS wrote:


J1nn wrote:

you have no right to speak of it un less you have it
Some 'had' it. Those that experienced have the right to talk about it <_<;



of course
Posted 5/9/08
Cancer is just a sensitive issue. Most people who had it or have loved ones had it are just emotional about it. I don't find it necessary bad to joke about cancer or aids. It just depends on the place. I think the people at the American Cancer Society were just trying to keep it a respectful environment.

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26 / F / Colorado
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Posted 5/9/08 , edited 5/9/08
Cancer is probably the most common natural cause of death. And I admit that Cancer is not as scary as AIDS. But the fact that it has the potential to kill someone or make someone suffer.. We're mere humans, and it's in our genes to fear. And it's inevitable that a lot of people would fear Cancer much less any other diseases that might send them to their death beds actually put that aside, ANYTHING that could cease one's existence, fear is undoubtedly there. And yeah, it might not be THE worst thing, but still people have their own perception of what is the worst, the worse or the bad. It doesn't really have to be someone who had or has it to have the right to fear it, for example; a little kid has a mother with Cancer, mom goes to Chemotherapy, kid sees mom in pain, mom weakens, kid sees mom in pain, mom dies, kid sees mom dead. For a kid, that is traumatic. And for anyone else to witness their loved one's journey to death. Well probably, depends, if you really loved the person. (T.T")

Yeah, there are treatments, and cancer patients DO survive most of the time. And personally, I think you are a bit insensitive with your points. It doesn't mean you're receiving treatment that it's the most pleasurable thing, or its like going to heaven when you have these treatments. A lot of these patients undergoing treatment are in pain, whether it be by the cancer or the treatment itself. Seeing as you had cancer, your insensitivity might be because you're thrilled that you're alive. Anything that has to do with life and death is a serious matter. Maybe not much for me or you, but to others. And who cares if people fear it anyway? Fear is good, it's what keeps majority of us alive. Yes, I really do think you're insensitive, contrast to what you said in your post, no offense though, but let's face it, people have issues, personal or impersonal, direct or indirect. People do not fear cancer like what you concluded, they fear what they might lose, their life, their family, their everything. Let's say, if Cancer has 0% percent potential of killing someone, and an itchy butt has 20% or more potential of killing someone, which would people fear? Obviously not Cancer, but the itchy butt. I advise you to keep your own personal immersion about this matter, because well you might make someone cry, or make them mad at you, or make them think you're an insensitive prick, inhumane, an immoral person and bla de bla. This is just one of those things that shouldn't be made fun of or thought of as a speck of dust. A lot of people who fear Cancer either had it, has it or had witnessed it. Thus, they're made sensitive when it comes to this matter. And people, especially the ones online, could turn to a rabis-infested dog any moment, and I doubt you want your time wasted by people berating you (T.T")

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Posted 5/9/08

music190 wrote:



lol
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25 / M / atlantis
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Posted 5/28/08
i think the reason why cancer is such a asensitive issue compared to say, shooting your friend on a hunting trip, is because it can happen to anyone regardless of how they live their life etc. there was another post where it was said that this guy died because he tried to act like naruto. the reason we can laugh at that is because its his own stupidity.

people cant really do anything to not get cancer, so it seems like a big threat and thats why its so sensitive.
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Posted 5/28/08 , edited 5/28/08
mmmmm hahaha well i dont know i mean i seen what it does to ppl since about half my family's died of cancer but im not really scared i mean its just normal in my family so im not really scared like i seen it alot but i still smoke so ya haha im not a bright person but hey hahaha so i mean i would hate to see my kids make my mistakes and smoke cause i been smoking for like ever and well im most likely gonna be like the rest of my family and die of lung cancer so im not really scared for me but i am scared that if i have children they will smoke too and die of lung cancer and i dont like that idea i mean cause if i have kids i want them to live a long miserable life like the rest of the world
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