Stating a Person Lost Her/His Battle with Cancer Is Insulting!

Many people are tired of all the war metaphor usage that goes on in Cancer Land. I am weary of it, too, and avoid it whenever I can. I realize all the fighting and battling words and labels work for some people and that’s fine.

But one war metaphor that really needs to go is when a person dies from cancer, and it’s then stated in the obituary and elsewhere that she/he lost her/his battle with cancer.

I mean, come on. Surely we can dig a little deeper and come up with something better than this to say!

There are lots of cancer language traps, but surely we can avoid this one.

The overuse of this one boils down to just plain laziness, does it not?

Whenever I hear a journalist, or anyone for that matter, say something like, so and so lost her courageous battle with cancer, it literally makes me cringe. Again, this is one war metaphor that really needs to go.


Primarily, it’s the winner/loser connotation attached to these words that is so troubling and many others have written about this already, but it comes down to the simple fact that dying from cancer does not make you a loser.

When you really stop and think about this, it is offensive is it not to say someone lost her/his battle with cancer?

Even if it’s not offensive to you personally, it’s likely understandable to you how it could be so construed by others.

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As I’ve written about before, the phrase bothers me so much partly because one of the last conversations I had with my mother was about this very thing. She was really sick at the time and pleaded with me not to say in her obituary that she lost her courageous battle with cancer. I promised her we wouldn’t and we didn’t.

At the time I didn’t think too much about why it mattered so much to her. I’m not sure if it was the courageous part or the lost the battle part that bothered her so much. I should have asked her, but I didn’t.

Clearly, for whatever reason, it bothered her enough to start a conversation about it at a time when she no longer did a whole of talking about anything.

When a prominent person or celebrity dies due to cancer, how many times have we all heard journalists, news anchors and the like write or say, ______lost her courageous battle with cancer?

Talk about tired and worn out phrases…And these are supposed to be “word people”.

And when an “ordinary” person dies from cancer, it’s the same thing. If you read obituaries, time and time again, you will read that so and so lost her/his courageous battle with cancer. 

Why not just ditch the winner/loser messaging altogether?

Why not just say, _____ died from breast cancer, lung cancer, heart disease, injuries sustained in an accident, or whatever the cause was? And yes, even when talking about suicide, I would go so far as to say it’s okay to come out and state,  _____died of suicide, self-inflicted wounds, or whatever a family feels most comfortable with. Being forthright might eventually help reduce the stigma that suicide often brings to families.

I find it fascinating that we use and reuse some words and phrases over and over and at the same time we work really hard at avoiding other words. We go to great lengths to avoid using the ‘d’ words; death, die, dying, dead.

Maybe we shouldn’t work so hard at avoiding them.

Maybe just stating the simple, clear and honest truth would be better.

I think it might be.

What about you?

Does this particular cancer language trap bother you or not?

What would you suggest be said instead?

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Stating a person lost her/his battle with cancer is insulting!

65 thoughts to “Stating a Person Lost Her/His Battle with Cancer Is Insulting!”

  1. I agree with you. We all die. That is not losing, it is part of life. Some people live longer than others. I hate that cancer takes so many people out of life before they have a chance to do all they wanted to do in life. But our Western medicine approach here contributes to the problem. If we would not see death as defeat, but simply traveling somewhere else…oncologists and doctors in general in Western Medicine also largely see death as defeat. They are part of the culture of not accepting mortality. Doctors feel like they have failed if their patient dies. That’s why we have so many people being kept painfully alive far beyond the time when they could gracefully accept death. I also think that if people wrote their own obituaries before they died it would be much better. We avoid thinking about death and planning for our deaths, something that is inevitable regardless of health status. I also get irritated with things that are cliché. I often read obituaries and think, if I read another “lost battle” analogy I am going to puke… I guess I also write this hesitantly being a person who is privileged to have never had cancer.

    1. I think it is degrading to express it as a fight. This implies that if we do it the right way we will win and not die. All illnesses are challenging. I have heart valve disease and it doesn’t go away. I live with it. There is pain-surgery-treatments-long term affects on my body. We live until we die so enjoy each day.

      1. It also suggests that those who died didn’t do it the right way. My husband died of head/neck cancer after almost four years of chemo and radiation treatments. He did absolutely everything he could do to live, but his cancer was particularly aggressive. I just finished my last radiation treatment for breast cancertoday, and have every reason to expect that I will survive. Not because I fought harder or more valiantly or was braver or more determined than he was, but because my odds are better. I also hate that expression “lost his battle.” Tom was a hero and an inspiration in every way to me.

        1. Nancy, It suggests exactly that. Unacceptable. I am sorry your husband died. And then you were diagnosed with cancer, too. Cripes. Enough! Good luck with things from here on out. Thank you for sharing about Tom, your hero and inspiration. Again, I’m sorry for your loss.

  2. Nancy, you are right, the military context is in appropriate. I have cancer too but my close calls have been with heart failure. First one came from my bad genetics combined with catching a virus from my trades apprentice. We didn’t engage in any battle, we just shared lunches in the work van on cold days. Nothing front page about that except she was a good apprentice I enjoyed working with and I haven’t seen her since.
    Second heart incident went right to the end. In Isolation with all organs failing I just stopped breathing. Resuscitated a while later I was placed in a coma, patched up and survived without even a rude word exchanged.
    None of this was fun but it wasn’t a battle between me and my heart–we like each other:-) Plus I’m conscientious objector to war and don’t even own boxing gloves.
    Alene, I think you got it for doctors feeling like they failed–they did something, it didn’t work and the finality of the result leads to overstatement. Also in a culture that emphasizes the individual to epic proportions, are we not required to be brave and not wimp-out and “give in” to death?
    We should recognize the end of a person’s LIFE and celebrate their life.

    1. Scott, Personally, I don’t care for the military metaphors that are used in Cancerland. I realize, however, that they do work for some people. But I think most people would agree that saying a person has lost her/his battle with cancer is inaccurate, hurtful and for some, offensive. And yes, your experience with your heart incidents, those weren’t referred to as battles I bet. Your points are well taken. Thank you.

      1. Nancy, maybe the lack of military metaphor for heart failure comes from the end being quick and not very complex to understand? Cancer is a mysterious creature that lurks in us and often doesn’t show. People in the waiting room at the cardiac clinic look awful and on the wards disappear daily. At the cancer clinic people almost seem adapted to misery that can drag on through cycles of hope and despair. Weirdly, we might even imagine a cancer patient having enough time to invent a way to recover.
        As pointed out by everyone here, we aren’t good at processing death as normal to humans. It throws our thinking off, seems unfair and causes us to find some reason for it.

  3. Love this! I am a nurse practitioner and I worked in oncology and palliative care for years. I always hated this metaphor. Cruel and mean, I thought. Living with cancer is such hard work without making it a battle! I always tried to frame cancer as a chronic illness, that you live with as well as you can on any given day at any given moment.

    My other pet peeve was triggered by doctors saying “I’m really happy/pleased blah blah blah”. I don’t like the notion that it is the patient’s duty to “please” or make a doctor “happy”.

    1. Katen, my favorite doctor comment recently; “I’m so pleased you’ve learned to be polite.” Suppose he would have expected an apology from me had I continued being sick. What I should have said: “Think nothing of it doc, it was nothing you did.” Sadly, the term “asshole” came to me first.
      One thing I HAVE learned though is to get the nurses on your side FIRST. Because nurses, (male or female) are actually trained beyond simply being fond of themselves they make great caregivers.

    2. Katen, Cruel and mean for sure. And your other pet peeve is pretty interesting. What an excellent point you make there. It’s not like it’s the patient’s job to please the doctor. I hadn’t really thought of it in that way before. Thank you for reading and adding to this discussion.

  4. The battle language is pervasive with cancer. We don’t see someone “losing their courageous battle against COPD/CHF/Diabetes/ALS”. At least, if we do, it’s very rare. We don’t see someone who passes away from dementia as losing their battle against Alzheimer’s, or someone who drifts away peacefully of old age losing their battle against life.

    The process of cancer treatment or any kind of grueling medical treatment, especially for chronic conditions, can feel like a battle. It’s a struggle some days to get out of bed and keep moving. But that’s the battle, in the little things, and that’s where the winning takes place. It’s not in whether or not you die. Everyone dies. People just die from different things, and it doesn’t make Person A more or less courageous against Person B based on the cause of death. Person X doesn’t ‘lose’ when they die any more than Person Y does.

    If we win or lose with death, then we can also give up. I don’t know of any MBC patient who ‘gives up’. Even agreeing to transition to hospice is NOT giving up. It’s making a conscious care on heath treatment based on quality of life. Choosing assisted death is not giving up. It’s still making a choice weighing quality of life against quantity. A person doesn’t give up and surrender to CHF or COPD any more than they surrender to cancer or depression. These are illness, and there is a point for everyone where the body and mind will no longer function. We don’t get a say in it. Everyone dies. Life is the most chronic, fatal thing there is. Death is not a failure. It’s simply part of living.

    1. Susanne, Many people with cancer do take on the war metaphor mantels by calling themselves fighters, warriors and such. I’m okay with that if it works for them. But saying a person lost the battle to cancer, that doesn’t feel right to me. Death is not about giving up or losing. Your last sentence is right on. “Death is not a failure. It’s part of living.” Thank you for reading and commenting.

  5. The death of Stuart Scott started me seriously thinking about the words we choose to describe the cancer experience and how our death will be characterized. I know it’s almost as trite as the other way around, but I want it said that cancer lost its battle to me when I die. Like Stuart said, it’s about what we make of life in spite of cancer. And I don’t mean marathons or adventure trips, just maybe laughing, even on the day I die.

    1. Jane, I think Stuart Scott’s death made many people pause and hopefully think about a lot of things. Thank you for your heart-felt comment. Nothing trite in there at all.

  6. Nancy, as you know, I am no fan of war metaphors either.
    Forgive me for getting preachy, but if anyone is really determined to use war metaphors in my obituary, they had better not say I lost the battle to cancer. They had better say instead that I victoriously flew to Heaven when God called, leaving cancer behind and DEFEATED!

    1. Elizabeth, I do know you are not a fan of war metaphors. I love the way you put that and you could never sound preachy. Thank you for chiming in on this particular cancer language trap.

  7. I’m not personally concerned about the words used to describe how we fight or deal with our disease. I’ve used certain words at certain times, depending on the circumstance or how I’m coping. War metaphors while living with my disease don’t bother me as long as I’m the one saying them while addressing my own situation. However, the one phrase that makes my hackles go full on alert is “lost his or her battle to this or that cancer.” Like you, I cringe when I read it. I don’t understand why society feels it’s necessary to label anyone who has faced terminal illness a loser. Although I truly don’t think people have that in mind, it just seems to be the death phrase of the terminal disease right now.

    I totally agree with you about using direct and straightforward speak when dealing with death. When I die, I just want it said that I died from breast cancer. Or breast cancer killed me. I may have fought some, I may have battled at times… but I’ll never be a loser, me and cancer die together, no winners there. I’ve written about this a couple of times the past years, once in my stupid cancer post. My family knows my wishes, and are in complete agreement of course. I’m so glad your Mom was able to express her wishes to you before she died, you are such a wonderful human, you listen, you care, always… much love to you.

    1. Carolyn, I am with you all the way on this one. Thank you for adding your thoughts to this discussion and for your lovely and very kind words. I’m not that wonderful, but I do try to listen and I do certainly care. Much love to you too. xoxo

  8. I don’t have cancer. Maybe I’ll get it, maybe I won’t. When I die, I just want my obituary to say I died on whatever date. No reason stated. Then at the after-party, you all can have a fun guessing game. Whoever guesses closest, drinks.

    But seriously folks, I have thought about how to state cause of death in obituaries for family members (see systir up there in the comment stream ahead of me). I am a writer, and I come up blank. Why give the disease publicity or any piece of the final limelight? I know, people want to know. I just don’t want to tell them. (Then I wonder why I’m thinking about this before they’ve even died. Maudlin or what?)

    1. Julie, Well, you do like a little mystery I guess… People do want to know, so why not just state the simple and honest truth? That’s what I propose instead of dancing around the ‘d’ words. Thank you for reading and chiming in. Lovely to hear from you two sisters. Made my day!

  9. You know this is my biggest cancer language issue. I hate it so, so much! Of all the cancer language war metaphors, the “lost their battle” is the absolute worst in my opinion. If I don’t say “died” I will sometimes say someone was “taken” by cancer….Great post!

  10. I agree that the phrase “lost her/his battle” is insulting and it is really time to lose this way of talking about people who have died from cancer. I imagine that someone who is dying would want to be remembered for how they lived, and not at all for their “battle” with an illness and certainly would not want to have their illness cast as the “winner”. And besides, most who are ill with cancer or anything else want healing from their disease and/or regaining of strength and well-being–that doesn’t sound anything like winning a “battle” to me.

    1. Lisa, Yes, the “lost her/his battle” phrase really needs to go and this small change seems so doable to me. Like you said, why would anyone wish to depict cancer as the winner? Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  11. There are some people who do look at their experience with cancer as a fight or as a battle. The semantics and implications that there are losers and winners can be looked at in many different perspectives. Some rejoice when they make it into remission and look at it as “defeating” cancer. Well, at least for the moment. Some claim they will fight to the end. Fight what? Well, that’s different for everyone. Fight against their disease, their fate? This isn’t just about other’s referencing someone else’s fight – this is about people referencing their own situations. Some look at their battle being against the knife, radiation beams of destruction, and chemical warfare – not so unlike some military battles. Some are in an introspective (fight or battle) or emotional way to come to a place of acceptance. I personally have internalized fights with myself on a daily battle. So – yes, as evident by your post, some people find reference to fighting or battling a disease or chronic condition as relating to winning and losing. But for some – everyday is like engaging in military warfare. They don’t necessarily win or lose by dying – they are living and existing in discord with themselves or the world.

    1. Susan, I agree that each person looks at her/his cancer experience in a unique way and has every right to use any kind of language she/he chooses. My point in this post is that the ‘lost the battle’ cliche is one phrase that is bothersome to many people because it’s a trite and simplistic way to ‘announce’ someone’s death IMO. Why not just say the person died of cancer or whatever it might be? Ditching the ‘lost the battle’ is so easy to do and takes care of the issue. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  12. Sorry I’m late to the discussion, but better late than never, eh? I totally agree with the whole “lost the battle” when a person dies. I agree with this post on so many levels. It’s placing blame on the person who died rather than communicating the truth: the person fought to live as hard as anyone else, but unfortunately he/she died of the disease. There should be NO blame. I prefer “So and so died of cancer.” Or just so and so died if loved ones don’t feel like sharing the cause of death. Great post!

    1. Beth, There is no such thing as late here! And yes, why can’t we just state the clear and simple truth when a person dies. Thanks for chiming in, Beth.

  13. I’m a little late to this topic but as former Marine who has seen war and courage, I have never personally met anyone that has show more courage than my wife with her cancer and treatment . But I have to agree with you I will not put that she lost her battle of fought courageously against it ,I will simply state that she passed away on which date and will be missed. I thank you for making your opinion public and allowing people to respond either way.

    1. Carl, There is no such thing as late here! I am sorry about all that you and your wife have been dealing with. And I do understand the war analogy usage, but still… saying someone loses her/his courageous battle just rubs me the wrong way. Thank you for reading and for sharing about your unique situation.

  14. Hello Nancy,

    This post is in keeping with the current trend to condemn military metaphors with regards to cancer. While I can appreciate why you and many others take issue with it, I don’t agree with blanket condemnation of this nature.

    In particular, I don’t understand the need to police language for all by labeling particular phraseology as lazy, tired, unnecessarily euphemistic, and downright offensive. Stating that one has ‘lost his/her battle with cancer’ does not automatically reduce him/her to a loser, i.e. someone who failed and thus ought to be pitied.

    When the doctors gave my mother 6 months to live, she fought hard against brain cancer. For the next few years, she toughed it out. In spite of her unbreakable spirit, she succumbed to the disease. She lost her life and we lost her forever. Yes, she died – but merely saying that doesn’t do justice to the way in which she died. I want the world to know about the courage she showed in her final years, and war language allows me to articulate it.

    This accusation that specific language is insulting takes into account only one side of the story.

    1. Meg, I stand by my words. Obviously, this is my blog and I share my opinions here, this is not policing; it’s called free speech. I do not expect, or even want, everyone to agree with me and I always welcome different viewpoints. Personally, I have no time for the military metaphors, but of course, I certainly appreciate your differing opinion. Thank you for sharing it.

    2. The issue is not about policing language to make people feel better about harsh realities. It is more about how we create false realities through the language we use.

      Saying someone “lost the battle” implies winning was a possibility (not always the case), especially if one “fought” harder. The “cancer as war” metaphor that is embedded in our language has a lot of similar implications.

      Someone who thinks of cancer as a war will have a different experience than someone who sees it as a sailing on stormy waters, for example.

  15. What bothers me about cancer language and specifically saying “losing the battle” is it implies that the person might have had a choice and if they had made another choice or took another action, they might have “won the battle”. That isn’t true and it certainly isn’t fair. I prefer to focus on how someone lives – did they live their live well? If one lives as well as one can despite a horrible cancer (or other) illness, then they can never lose.

  16. Survivors have enough to pay for without filling the pockets of the newspapers, with mention of battles in rambling obits. If it must be discussed publicly, how about.. She did what she could, to maintain a life with quality, eventually saying NO MORE. She chose not drain Medicare, or give her retirement savings to the medical community. Doing it her way, she let mother nature take over, dying with dignity in peace, not battle.

  17. Hello Nancy,

    I hope you don’t mind my late comment on your article. My wife Natasha was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer in September 2011. She passed away in October 2013. Not only is it wrong to say someone wins/loses their battle with cancer, I believe it’s downright irresponsible.

    Our children were 12 and 13 when their Mum passed. Through her entire illness I was told by my wife and her family, I could say nothing to them other than their Mum would be fine. I studied her illness for 2 years to the point where our local GP stated I knew more about my wife’s illness than she did. Not being able to be honest with my kids put a terrible strain on our marriage. Finally, way too late, I explained to my children their mum was going to die soon. The cancer had spread to her liver, brain and lungs. It was the second hardest thing I have ever done. The hardest thing was telling them 10 days later their mother was dead.

    We had been at the hospital when Natasha had fallen into a coma. I asked the children if they wanted to stay and they said no, it’s too much, so the 3 of us came home. 2 hours later the phone rang and and she was gone. She was surrounded by family and friends. The 3 of us were alone.

    Since then, those same people barely have any contact with us at all, if at all. It is because they all thought my wife would “win” her battle with cancer. It’s been 3 and half years and nothing. To me there might as well be a news item stating a pedestrian “lost” their battle with a fully ladened semi at a 100mph. My kids are now 16 and 17 and are doing the best they can without their mum and her family.

    To this day, I have never said, my wife lost her battle with cancer. It was never a battle to begin with. I get angry at the media and celebrities and other ignorant people who talk about winning and losing. Its wrong. She did not lose. To imply that – is to imply she was a loser. She was not. My wife was the strongest, bravest person I have ever known.



    1. Mick
      I understand your comments I lost my wife about 2 months ago and did not put in the paper that she lost her battle with cancer. I have lost friends in the service but by far my wife was stronger and braver than I ever could of imagine. I hope time will heal the distance between your wifes family and yours.

      1. Carl, I am very sorry about your wife. Good for you for not stating she lost her battle to cancer in the paper. I hope people took notice. Again, I’m sorry.

    2. Mick, I am very sorry about your wife. I appreciate hearing from you more than I can express. The battle language is so over-used, hurtful and potentially harmful. I loathe the ‘lost her/his battle’ phrase most of all, for the reasons you stated. I agree, when someone states such a thing, it’s irresponsible and as I said in my post, insulting. Thank you for sharing; you are most definitely not too late. Again, I’m sorry.

  18. Thank you Carl. My best to you and your family.

    I’ve just noticed an error I made. My wife was diagnosed 2011 not 2010.

  19. Hi Nancy, Carl and Mick, the more I think about the “fighting the battle” analogy the more I realize our society really doesn’t have a way of expressing the upset that death causes us. We want to say we are sorry but have no a place in our minds to process the injustice of someone taken away without any reason. We want things to make sense and to offer comfort in some way that explains it with tenderness and care and we choke up and use words that are normally used “at times like these”. And yes, we probably don’t want to “intrude” or, really, to be drawn into the core of the sadness–it frightens us.

    This is a quote about coherence in life from a book I’m reading.
    Coherence is defined as: “…a global orientation that expresses the extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic feeling of confidence that one’s internal and external environments are predictable and that there is a high probability that things will work out as well as can be reasonably be expected (p. 10)” Antonovsky A. “Health, Stress and Coping” San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1979

    Someone was there in person and in your heart and then they were gone and you should know why and how this happened but you don’t.

    1. Scott, Thank you for sharing that quote. Food for thought. Your last sentence says a lot. I still don’t get why there’s any need to say a person lost her/his battle to cancer. Why not just say the person died from breast cancer, a car accident, or whatever the case might be? I still don’t get why so often people turn to the war metaphors.

      1. Agree completely. Have already made some notes in my secret journal .Ann has died on ____________ after living many years with MBC. No battle references at all.
        I think it works

  20. Nancy, the war metaphor may be cultural and tied to the American way of imagining epic struggles. (Though this way of describing the circumstances around death is used in Canada too). I think there’s an attempt to bring a kind of causality into the purely unthinkable, and for sure unfair, death of a wonderful loved one. There’s just no sense to this piece of your life being torn away…
    Really though, coming up with an explanation for why people use the battle metaphor is senseless in itself. The truth of someone dying just is and goes beyond our ability to adequately “fix” with words. Someone’s life ended but their story stays within in us. So, have they ended? Are they truly not here? Maybe the tragedy of the battle metaphor is that it tries to finish a story that doesn’t end?

    BTW was in the small library at the Cancer Institute in Edmonton and they had a copy of your Getting Past the Fear and the volunteer said it was quite popular.

    1. Scott, Thank you for the additional thoughts. And thank you for sharing that about my book, Getting Past the Fear. Nice to hear others are finding it helpful.

  21. I’m just now realizing that I didn’t even include my wife’s cause of death in her obituary. I just summarized that she died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones and wrote a little poem describing her. Looking back, I think I did it this way because I also find much of the language around cancer to be tasteless and didn’t want a word that ugly in her literature.

    Total agreement here. People who had and happened to die of cancer are not losers. Apply the language to a freak accident and see how insane it sounds.

    “Regrettably, so and so lost his battle with not crashing into other cars on the highway and died yesterday. We’re told his driving style was, above all, courageous.”

    1. Theresa, I am very sorry for your loss. And yes, the military talk just doesn’t cut it as far as I’m concerned. Thank you for sharing and again, I’m sorry.

  22. I give you the poem I wrote for my sister’s funeral. The title is “Fuerte”

    “They say she lost her battle; they do not understand.
    She battled on with heart and hand, with every tool at her command.
    Now on the darkening field the foe stands ragged, impotent, alone.
    She did not lose her battle; she won
    And now turns, bravely, home.”

  23. Nonsense.

    Offense is about intent, not appearance, and the clear intent in saying someone has “lost the battle with cancer” is to express both empathy and admiration of someone who had to go through an excruciating physical ordeal – in a context in which words are going to inadequate in any case. So maybe *complaining about how other people express empathy and grief* is a method some other people choose to express their own grief, but it’s an unwarranted and unethical attack on others, therefore it’s full-on rotten to the core.

    When I read these criticisms – and I’ve read others elsewhere by “reputable” commentators – I’m reading a classic case of psychological projection: imputing one’s own perceptions onto the motives of others. It’s a rather disgusting case of people adopting a superfluous stance of “moral superiority,” apparently for self-aggrandizement reasons – at the expense of grieving people whose intentions are invariably sincere and heartfelt. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Every person who’s dealt with the cancer death of someone close to them is already going through their own personal hell – how dare some pompous fool get in their faces with the claim “your expression of grief is offensive to me!”

    If anything is cold, heartless, cruel (and yes, insulting,) it’s precisely that.

    1. Ellis, Your points are well taken, however, whenever I hear the phrase, lost her battle, I do feel it’s insulting. I’m not calling your views nonsense. I don’t believe mine are either. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Having lost a husband to cancer and being a two time survivor of cancer i have no problem with the phrase. Believe me, my husband fought that disease with all he could and so am I. It IS a fight, I think so I have no problem with saying that he lost his fight and I am still fighting.

  25. You are absolutely ‘spot on’ on how annoying the trite and insulting metaphor is.
    First of all, it is NOT a battle with cancer (and I went through male breast cancer and 14 years later am A-ok). If someone has you on the ground and is bludgeoning you with a baseball bat (in other words with clear control and advantage), that is NOT a battle,, you are being beaten up. Pretty much what cancer is.. Being swung at with a ‘baseball bat’ just doing everything one can to ease the blows and suffering – that is NOT a battle, as cancer doesn’t even provide a ‘fair fight’.

  26. I feel exactly the same way about the “losing” bit, for all the reasons stated here. But I have another gripe, which irritates me to the same degree, with the “battle” part of the expression.
    A person develops cancer (or any other debilitating disease), and chooses to receive treatment for it or not, if treatment is even available. Many considerations go into that decision. There is no “battle” — you receive treatment or not, and you live with the disease and possibly the treatment, and it either relieves you of the disease or it doesn’t — there is no battle. A person either survives the illness or simply dies as a result of the disease’s impact on the body.

  27. I wholeheartedly agree. Just say “Linda died of breast cancer” or whatever. Let me people know what I died of, not that I fought it (although God knows that one does fight.) And don’t say I’m courageous. I think this is ever more infuriating to me. I am what I am. I did what I felt need to be done in order to be well. I didn’t think I was showing courage. That’s fine if you want to think that about me, but don’t patronize me by telling me that. Thanks for all the good words!

  28. I agree with 100% with Ellis W. Furthermore, the liberal PC attempt to change a culturally acceptable statements or words of consolement based one’s limited definition of the word Battle. To be hung up solely on the generally accepted first definition of the word battle as a physical fight or engagement between two or more people or forces; rather than the second definition of ‘fight or struggle tenaciously to achieve or resist something’. I am watching my wife of 26 years losing her battle with cancer. Yes, it is a battle; major surgery, Non stop chemo, radiation for the last two years, the cancer is winning; and, she is still fighting. There is no glory in fighting, no moral points for giving up. The true friends of Linda Boberg will, hopefully not, one day say she died from from cancer and that’s ok. The day my wife dies…she lost the battle. Nancy, at the next funeral if your doubt of offending someone: say nothing, sorry for your loss, or better yet, stay home with your views.

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