I admit it. There have been times when I’ve felt like this ‘I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore’ boxer. Someone has said or done something that made me, at least mentally, want to punch that person. Sometimes the strength of my reaction has surprised me. I’ve asked myself, “Where’d that come from?”
Reasons for Lashing Out
There are many reasons why we might feel angry and not be sure what caused it. Here are a few of my theories about why we lash out:
We all have different triggers for what makes us laugh, cry, and smile. It could be anything:
Examples of Potential Fighting Words
Until I went on the Internet and started reading comments on various posts, I didn’t realize the strength of emotions that one word could trigger. I assumed, incorrectly, that if I thought a word was okay to use, it meant that everyone else felt the same way. I’ve learned, since then, that our responses to words are based on our personalities and the experiences we’ve had. This means, there really aren’t any wrong responses to words…only different ones.
Battle and fight seem to be two words that can cause strong reactions when used to refer to any aspect of cancer. Some people feel these words imply that anyone who dies from cancer did not battle or fight hard enough. To me, nothing could be further from the truth. I like the words. I see them as action words that paint a mental image of a cancer patient’s strong will to live. Having said that, I can understand when someone has a strong negative reaction to these words.
When loved ones pass away, their family and friends may worry that their loved ones will be seen as weak. They may want to make it clear (by not using fight or battle) that their loved ones passed away through no fault of their own. They deserved to live just as much anyone else. These strong emotions may make it seem like “lost their battle with cancer” meant their loved ones did not try hard enough.
For me, I can’t understand how anyone could blame a cancer patient for their death just as I would never say soldiers lost a battle because they didn’t try hard enough. Both in cancer and in wars, there are many factors that impact whether a battle is won or lost.
Journey is another word that people either love or hate when it comes to cancer. The most common explanation I hear from people who don’t like the word is that it makes cancer sound fun.
Personally, outside of the cancer experience, I don’t use the word journey to describe anything fun. In fact, I don’t really use the word at all. I may talk about going on vacation or taking a trip, but I would never say I was excited about going on a journey.
But what do I know? I’m only one person, so I decided to go back to basics and looked up the word journey in several online dictionaries. Here’s what I found.
All three definitions seem to reflect what I consider to be the cancer experience. None of the definitions seem to imply that a journey is fun; in fact, Oxford specifically says that a journey is often difficult. Only dictionary.com uses the word ‘trip’ in one of its definitions and that’s only after describing a journey as usually taking a ‘rather long time’, which doesn’t sound fun.
Epileptic was another word that triggered debate. While technically (based on definition) an epileptic is someone who has epilepsy, one person who commented about its use pointed out that the word made it sound like the person was defined by their epilepsy. Instead, they wanted to be seen as a person first…a person who just happened to have epilepsy. It’s another case of a word being technically correct but maybe not the best word to use outside of a medical report.
Fit is another word to describe a seizure but, although accurate, I think it’s more acceptable to use this word in some parts of the world than others. Technically (based on its definition), the word is fine to use to describe a seizure; however, in Canada and the US, the word fit would more likely be used to describe a temper tantrum when children (and some adults) don’t get what they want and not to describe a seizure. This can make saying that someone had a fit have totally the wrong meaning.
What We can Do
Let’s focus on the bigger picture. Let’s support each other and focus our energy on making changes that will make life better for people dealing with diseases, disorders and conditions of every kind.
Over 30-years of writing experience, about 10 years as a cancer survivor, and a lifetime purveyor of wit and laughter.
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