Language shapes our world

I have thought a lot about how I talk about my cancer. I use the possessive a lot. This is MY cancer. I don’t distance myself from it. I talk very candidly, giving other people permission to use the c word because I use the c word. It’s not even the fun c word.

I think way too much about language anyway. “Patient” comes from the Latin: one who suffers. Such a harsh reality that we create for anyone who goes in for medical treatment. Patience is suffering in silence, without complaint. The silence and powerlessness is implicit in the word. That’s how it feels too; it’s all very passive. Everything happens to you: treatment, diagnosis, chemo. You go and things happen to you. You are the recipient, not the actor. The only thing I do is relocate my body. And I don’t struggle when they put the IV in. I’ve been told not struggling is important.

The aftermath is also very passive. This last chemo kicked my ass. I have never been so passive. I was able to walk home from chemo, and go back on Saturday for my neulasta shot (it HURT–I definitely suffered), but Sunday I was awake for only two hours.

Maybe I could reframe my experiences with language to make it better. I am not a patient. I’m a fero (enduring) or a vinceret (conqueror) or arcent (surmount) or vici (overcome). Even at it’s best, it’s not really a fight. It’s enduring anyway. Minimal “suffering” I would say, but a lot of just outlasting. I just have to remain. Humans became an apex predator not because we are faster or stronger; we can outwalk anything else. We used persistence hunting.

Actually, I like that. I persist. In latin, it’s sounds so immutable: Permaneas. We shouldn’t be patients suffering: we should be permaneas just outlasting the disease. I’m not going anywhere.

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