‘Battle’ language offensive

“And if you somehow die of the disease then you’ve lost the battle and you didn’t fight hard enough. I think that’s toxic.”

“The language that we use around talking about cancer, whether we’re talking about other people or even patients themselves, or the people treating them is really fraught.”

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“There’s this notion – which I detest…of a ‘battle'” Darren Saunders 
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“How can we say it better? ” Wendy Harmer

“And there’s this notion – which I detest and a lot of people who’ve been through cancer really detest – this notion of a ‘battle’. Or this kind of framing of the thing as like a war or a battle, or ‘You survived this thing.’

“And if you somehow die of the disease then you’ve lost the battle and you didn’t fight hard enough. I think that’s toxic.”

“How can we say it better?”

“I don’t know. Everybody has their own favourite way of doing it. I just think that particular notion, which is historical, is really for a lot of people quite distressing and upsetting.

“Because there’s this inherent implication there that the person who dies hasn’t fought hard enough and they just didn’t want to defeat the disease hard enough and that’s why they died from it.”

And that can be really upsetting and toxic for a lot of people.”

“So stop saying ‘battle with cancer’.”

“Yes. Let’s get rid of that term altogether, that would be fantastic if we could do that.”

– Darren Saunders, cancer biologist at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research talking with Wendy Harmer on ABC Radio Mornings, 6 December.

Here is the audio link so you can listen to their no-nonsense discussion about cancer.

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