The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Some thoughts on Roger Ebert "losing his battle to cancer"

I found this extremely thought-provoking post through Twitter. It was written by Michael A. Wosniak, a cancer researcher, who points out the absurdity of the phrase "lost his battle to cancer". No one is said to lose a battle to heart disease after they die of a heart attack, he points out. When his mother died of respiratory complications from H1N1, no one said she lost her battle to a virus.

I agree one hundred per cent with Dr. Wosniak. This metaphor of cancer as a war that is waged between the disease and the patient has got to go. It does nothing but harm. In a war, there are battlegrounds; in the war against cancer, the battleground is the patient. In a war, anything goes in order to kill the enemy, regardless of collateral damage; in the war against cancer, the collateral damage is to the patient.

We need to find a more useful metaphor, one that gives us new ways of looking at this disease, that will perhaps trigger different, and less harmful, treatments. How about the alternative where we look at the cancer cell as confused? A cell that has lost its connection to the whole that could perhaps be taught to return to normal. A cell that forms in response to environmental stress in an effort to try to ensure the continuity of the organism that could perhaps be taught to die. Any other suggestions?

(BTW I've covered this ground before, in a post called "Is fighting cancer the right strategy?")

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