You will hear people ask if you smoked and we do know lifestyle choices raise your risk but the perception is that you are to blame for your cancer. How many times have you heard, that there is a war on cancer- that meaning their will be a winner and a loser. The power of those words that a person lost their battle to cancer fails to portray a positive image. We also hear that screening doesn't save lives for those that have cancer. One of the ones that are often heard is, " at least you caught it early or you are down with treatment now go and live your life."
When there is a recurrence, it is better to say that we are restaging the disease rather than it is back again. Fear of recurrence is always there and usually hits about six months after completion of treatment. After you have completed your treatment it is hard to go back to your every day life. There may even be a period of loss as your support systems through treatment are gone and your safety net removed and you may not come back for 3 months. Your friends no longer see a critical element in your cancer as you have completed your treatment so now you are supposed to be NORMAL. There is another word that can give you pause as what exactly is normal? As a team, we as healthcare providers need to be aware of the words we use and also to be consistent and use words that they know and use every day. Using medical jargon can also put the patient on defense as they may be too intimidated to ask.
My husband used to tease my that my dog was not very smart and even though he was joking, it hurt me(even though it is a dog) that he referred to him as stupid. The power of words! So when you are talking with someone dealing with these issues, think about the words that you use and sometimes just sitting and listening may be the best medicine of all. So with that I will sign off for today and say,