Clichés of Cancer: Actions Speak Louder Than Words


Kim writes about moving past a diagnosis and taking action.

When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, you become used to sending an incredible amount of time in clinical settings. It is in those places that we see quotes, words of inspiration and motivational statements that are meant to encourage and push us.

They are meant to give the patient and families that little bit of extra oomph to get us through the hardest of days. It is those same quotes that I call “cancer clichés.” Many may say that it’s a cynical view to have, or that I am bitter because of the situation with my sister. While those statements may hold truth, I simply ask that you read the following article with an open mind.

There is a quote on the wall of The Medical Center of Aurora (TMCA) that sticks out in my mind the most. We have passed it while walking laps on far too many occasions to count. “It is not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up that matters.” In reality, it is basic math that proves it to be a true statement. If you get up nine times and fall only eight, then you are winning. What has always bothered me about that quote is that it does not explain just how hard it is to actually get back up.

It does not explain the strength and endurance needed or the willingness to stand and fight when every odd is stacked against you — to give just a little more, even when sometimes, it feels like you simply have nothing left to give.

While I’m sure that those words have come to inspire some, they are little more than a cliché to those of us affected by cancer. People never seem to know what to say when they learn about a diagnosis. For my family, people have always offered a solemn, continued prayer. While a wonderful gesture and greatly appreciated, it’s not the action that is required when it comes to dealing or coping with cancer.

We need the masses to stand up and fight. We need everybody to join in helping to get up that 9th time because it is where the strength of a patient comes from. It is the helping hand, that dinner you didn’t expect or a smile that carries you through when you are struggling. It is action, not the text on a wall that empowers those afflicted or affected by cancer. While words have an invaluable effect in this world, there is nothing stronger than action. Because for all the quotes that we read, or sentiments of hope that we hear, it is what we do after hearing or reading it that matters the most.

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