Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Struggling to stay alive..." ? Who? Me?

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One of my Facebook friends has just complimented me on my "struggle to stay alive".  This expression, or some variation of it, keeps turning up in the context of terminal cancer. "After a long battle with cancer" seems to be the way to start public notifications of this kind.

I have many times stated how inappropriate this expression seems to me. I guess it must be true for some people whose entire life's purpose may have to revolve around dealing with the pain and unpleasantness of cancer and, indeed, of the various therapies proposed by the white-coated ones who spend their lives carrying out an absolutely amazing battle of their own.

But for me, this is not a helpful way of thinking about my living and dying. In one of my recent videos I stated quite explicitly that I don't want anyone using that kind of language to describe my relationship with this wretched disease. I think it's in this one but possibly it's here. (Maybe I should have a bucket list of short videos worth making....)

Anyway, here's what I said to my Facebook Friend:

Now, now, Michael, you must have read my views on expressions like "struggling" with reference to life and death. I am not having a "struggle to live". I have a serious cancer but I am accepting the generous help of the Health system (within limits!) and am just getting on with living. I don't even have a "bucket list" (well, I would like to get our Village's sound system working properly before popping off - nobody else around here has much idea about it...). And, selfishly, I would like to have some opportunities to speak more about the choice for a decent death. That's plenty to live for right now! But when death comes I'll be ready and the notification won't say "after a long struggle with cancer" if I can help it!! Cheers!

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