Macmillan survey finds people with cancer reject terms like ‘hero’ and ‘stricken’
Six out of 10 people with cancer do not want to be described as a fighter, while many object to the suggestion they are battling the disease, a survey suggests.
A new poll from Macmillan Cancer Support found many felt that battling or fighting words were inappropriate to describe them – but equally they do not want to be called a hero.
Many just want factual language to be used to describe themselves and the disease, rather than being considered cancer stricken or a cancer victim.
The survey of more than 2,000 people who have or have had cancer found that words such as hero, cancer victim and cancer stricken were inappropriate as they were disempowering (42%), isolating (24%) and put people under pressure to be positive (30%).
People with cancer most hated being described as cancer stricken, followed by being a hero and then a cancer victim.
When it comes to death, 64% said people should be described as having died from cancer, with others preferring passed away.
Some 44% thought it was inappropriate to say someone had lost their battle while 37% objected to the idea they had lost their fight.
Most said this was because it implied somebody was defeated by cancer while many thought it undermined a person’s strength and courage.
Almost one in three people living with cancer said they struggle to find the words to talk about the disease.
Meanwhile, 28% have difficulty talking honestly about their feelings about cancer.
Karen Roberts (pictured), chief nursing officer at Macmillan, said: “We know that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ person with cancer, so it follows that people will prefer different ways of talking about it.
“We hear from people every day who face this problem, that at its worst could even stop people getting the support they need.
“By drawing attention to this we want to encourage more people to talk about the words they prefer to hear, and stop the damage that can be caused to people’s wellbeing and relationships.”
The charity is launching a new campaign called: Whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.
Mandy Mahoney, 47, an outreach support worker from London, is living with incurable breast cancer.
The mother of two said: “I think cancer speak can be quite negatively loaded – the brave, fighter, warrior and survivor standard descriptors put an awful lot of pressure on the newly diagnosed.
“I prefer clear, factual language, so I describe myself as ‘living with incurable cancer’. I’m not brave or inspirational, I’m just trying to live the life I have left well.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Macmillan Cancer Support.