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Wonderful Essay about Living with Cancer

Posted 7/19/2014

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  Many of you may have heard or read about Stuart Scott's acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards a few days ago. It was wonderful indeed, but this essay by Eliza Berman in Slate is even better. Eliza's mother, Harriet Berman, was a dear friend of mine and probably known to many of you as the Program Director at the Wellness Community in Boston. She died of ovarian cancer in April 2012.

Eliza's insight and eloquence absolutely nails it. Here is a quote and the link. Please read it.

The Most Moving Thing about Stuart Scott's Speech at the ESPYs

By Eliza Berman

Cancer is a “battle.” People with cancer are “fighters,” and if they don’t die from the disease, they are “survivors.” These are not just the words this video uses, but the words most people in our culture use to talk about the disease. So what’s the problem? The problem is one of language. We have a tendency to foist heroism upon people with cancer in a way that might, at first glance, seem generous and celebratory. But it can also be damaging.

I have never had cancer. I come at this from the perspective of someone who has lost people close to me to cancer, most notably my mother. I make this argument because it is the one she would be making to me on the phone today, if she could. I’m sure there are people with cancer who appreciate the gladiatorial allegory. The everyday struggles people with cancer face—from the incapacitating side effects of treatment to the occasional proximity of death—may share more than a bit of common ground with actual soldiers fighting a war. And when I watched my mom face the disease, the word “fight” did, indeed, often strike me as an apt description of her efforts to get out of bed or eat a spoonful of yogurt.




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