There’s No Such Thing As “First Place.”

There are certain words and phrases being used in numerous contexts that has become largely antiquated and conjures false perceptions. In light of recent news with regard to Alex Trebek’s diagnosis, I wish he didn’t use the word “fight” in his brave confession to the public. I understand and respect why such terminology was necessary, as it has become a common catchphrase with the disease, but the reality is that “fight” and “cancer” don’t go together. AT ALL. Cancer is not like a board game, a game show, or a sporting event one participates to achieve the ultimate accolade. Cancer is an entity casted upon humans for no goddamn reason, and it’s up to each afflicted person how to go about living in the realm of this inequitable force.

Cancer should never be viewed as some sort of “battle” on the Jeopardy Championship round. Because of the likes of Komen, et al., there are over 40 years of deceptive marketing that steered the public’s thinking using various keywords like “cure,” “battles” and the infamous “fight.” These keywords are nothing more than props to lure in millions of dollars each year for revenue for Big Pharma and the Komen ilk. I have read through numerous comments about Trebek’s announcement on Twitter, and I was immediately infuriated over the public’s ignorance with the disease, the keywords, and the meaning of “stage 4.” Rather than get into a shouting match with humans who will insist on winning their petulant fight, I decided to take my frustration out with this post, while hopefully encouraging the masses to STOP USING THAT FUCKING “FIGHT” word.

I take this matter very seriously. I have known too many people very close to me succumb to the disease. From personal experience, I have heard “s/he lost her battle to cancer” one too many times. That person didn’t lose ANYTHING, first and foremost. Cancer is the type of disease that does whatever the fck it wants, with some cancers are more aggressive than others. When someone receives a stage 4 diagnosis, more often than not, it denotes that it has metastasized. HOWEVER…..stage 4 DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN it has spread to other parts of the body. The “stage 4” is also indicative of where it is in the body. For example, if a tumor is found in or around the lung, but nowhere else, it is diagnosed as a stage 4 by DEFAULT by oncologists. Additionally, Trebek didn’t specify whether he, himself, is a stage 4…..or the CONDITION. There is a difference, but it breaks my heart that the masses have quickly rushed to judgement prematurely and displayed very low expectations for Trebek’s perseverance. Good job, America, for publicly displaying your rush to judgement and your low expectations for Trebek’s 10-year survival post-diagnosis.

It’s important to note that while Trebek will have to endure an unfair, cruel journey, I am confident that he will long surpass the expectations of his contract, as well as the public’s perception with the disease. If his doctors are smart, they will give him humane and PROPER treatments that he will (most likely) have to undergo for the rest of his life.

Immunotherapy and targeted therapies have shown great promise, but the problem remains with funding for research. I’m sure any of the Big Pharma executives can donate a large portion of their six-figure salary to research. Right? /sarcasm

I will admit that I am nervous…..what if he doesn’t meet those contractual obligations over something he doesn’t have control of by any means? What if that jerk of a man we call “God” decide it’s time before nearing the end of his contract? People and the media will rush to offer condolences and say “he lost his battle…..” and we’ve casted a highly unjustified picture that he simply gave away his will to live. I can envision the fake news streaming in that he has become mentally weak, and that he willingly bequeathed his strong sense of “fighting” spirit to Lady Death. Whenever I hear those words, “they lost their battle,” they have inadvertently painted a
declaration of blame that it was HIS FAULT that he simply gave up, threw in the white flag and proclaimed, “I surrender!”

So what should we be saying instead? In these circumstances, it would be appropriate to say that he was stolen from this world. It depicts a more accurate description: it’s a disease that pops up out of nowhere, and the patient has to permit inhumane treatment regimens that may or may not prove successful. Yep, “stolen” would be a very fitting description.

Nobody volunteers for cancer like they would a pick up game. Nobody asks to be a contestant on a game show like they would for Jeopardy. It’s a disease that is FORCED on humans that continually leaves them in a whirlwind of physical and mental anguish.

So, STOP downgrading the person’s bravery and dignity with cantankerous terminology as it relates to causes of death. And most importantly….DO NOT ASSUME THE WORST just because you hear “stage 4.” Ass/u/me.

Further reading:

Cancer is Not a War

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