Shannen Findlay

The reason you shouldn't say someone "lost their battle with cancer"

The reason you shouldn't say someone "lost their battle with cancer"

Showing support to a person affected by cancer is usually a well-intentioned gesture when using words to describe their situation such as “battle” or “fighting” – but thousands of cancer patients do not like hearing these euphemisms.

Almost half (44 per cent) of people affected by cancer do not like the phrase “lost their bottle" and 37 per cent of people disapprove of the phrase “lost their fight” according to a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The majority surveyed say they prefer factually accurate statements saying someone has simply “died” from cancer.

Of the 2000 men and women surveyed, all present or past cancer patients say phrases like “battle" and “fight” insinuate someone can be “defeated” by cancer, undermining them as a person.

The survey results showed a dislike towards calling a cancer patient a “hero” or referring to them as “cancer stricken” or a “victim". 

42 per cent of people found these phrases disempowering, 24 per cent found it isolating and 30 per cent felt phrases like “victim” or “hero” forces a patient to be positive.

The charity’s aim to show the impact the vocabulary and phrases used towards people living with cancer was done via a video of people with cancer reacting to well-meaning but ultimately isolating comments.

Macmillan wants to empower those with cancer to speak about their experiences with their friends and family about the type of language they’d prefer when talking about cancer. 

For more information, visit Macmillan’s site.  

Do you agree with the survey's results? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.