Once again the season of gift giving has arrived, so what better time could there be to tackle this topic? Some cancer survivors believe and proudly proclaim that their cancer was a gift. Without a doubt, this is entirely their prerogative. Everyone certainly has the right to his/her own cancer experience viewpoints. I am not judging anyone else here.
But as for me, I refuse to call a cancer a gift. It’s not.
During a recent visit to a relative’s home, I was shown a newspaper article featuring a woman who had “come through” her cancer “journey” and was calling her whole ordeal a gift. Regrettably, I copped out a bit simply smiled, nodded, read the article and said something like, oh how nice for her.
I have since decided I will not be so quiet next time this topic comes up, and undoubtedly, there will be a next time because calling cancer a gift is something that is said or alluded to more often than you might imagine.
Calling cancer a gift makes a nice feature story for a magazine or a newspaper article, but it’s not reality – at least it’s not mine.
Perhaps it’s all just semantics, but as I say over and over again, words matter. They matter a great deal.
I will never ever be calling cancer a gift. Such words will not be coming from my lips.
I think I might know what people mean when they call cancer a gift. They are grateful for their new outlook on life. They are grateful and appreciative for every new day. They are grateful for new discoveries, new choices, new life-styles changes and for the new people they’ve met. They are grateful to be alive. They are grateful, period.
I’m grateful for all that stuff too. I really am, but I am not grateful to cancer. Cancer is not the gift. The gifts are those things, those people, not the cancer.
It’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that killed my mother in a very slow and painful manner. It’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that has taken others I care about. It’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that has taken so many that others care about as well. And it’s impossible for me to be grateful to a disease that might yet swallow me up as well.
It’s unfathomable for me to be grateful to cancer in any way, shape or form.
No, cancer is more like a thief. You don’t thank a thief do you?
Another issue I have with this cancer is a gift line of thinking is that as I mentioned in my You Can’t Go Back Post, it often seems as if there’s an unspoken expectation to “come out of a cancer diagnosis” a better person. Somehow, one is supposed to be miraculously transformed into a new and improved version of one’s former self. The next logical step is that one should “thank” cancer for this.
I don’t think so.
People with or without cancer are just people, no better or worse – all of us flawed.
Even with the flaws, maybe even partly because of them, each life is a gift.
People are gifts.
Cancer will never be.
What do you think?
Is cancer a gift?
Check out this post via the Cancer Culture Chronicles for her thoughts on the “gift of cancer.”