Fight Cancer?

 My most recent struggle with the verbiage around cancer treatment occurred today in the 


waiting room at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute, where I go three days every week for 


blood work, and every two weeks for chemotherapy. The featured magazine there is called 


Conquer, a glossy, upbeat publication with articles about nutrition and health, hopeful accounts 


of remission, and advertisements for head covering. It is not the kind of magazine you would 


wish to find in the seat pocket on an airplane. Sky Mall is much more fun to read.


I take issue with the title, Conquer, as in “conquer this horrible disease.”


Is that what I am supposed to do here?  Why the emphasis on aggression? Am Isupposed to 


feel empowered by a patient featured in a recent Sloan-Kettering ad, who


 “kicked cancer’s ass?” This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a radical new cancer 


treatment called Cyberknife. Even in childhood, I remember the discomfort and confusion I felt 


when president Nixon declared a “War on Cancer.”


Today, I have no energy to fight.  My body is already in a struggle, and I am exhausted. I am not 


looking for euphemisms, i just see little value in applying such negative terms to a treatment 


system whose ultimate goal is to bring my system back to wellness and equilibrium.