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Cancer Terminology - "Sufferers", "Victims" and "Carers"

Posted Sep 12 2008 10:35am
Lucia on her own blog, and quoted by John on NHS Blog Doctor , said

" Obviously, people will come on here expecting to read a heart wrending tale of a "sufferer battling through chemotherapy". I'm not a sufferer, a victim, or neither am I "plucky". Sorry if I don't match your requirements. What I aim to do through my blog and my website is say "Yes, us teenagers do get cancer, so lets face the facts and deal with it". Until now, my blog has been a way of letting off steam. Now it's time to make a difference."

I have been consistently using the terms "sufferer" for someone who has leukemia and "carer" for someone who looks after someone with leukemia. "Victim" is another extreme term used. I, as Lucia, am more and more unhappy with this terminology.

In 1980 when I was eighteen I left home, with relief, to go to university. I started experimenting with my sexuality. The first rumours started comng out of London of a mysterious disease hitting gay men. We didn't think much of it. I spent my second year abroad and when I came back it was a reality, although still unknown. Terence Higgins died. Friends of mine died. HIV and AIDS (let me remind you, acquired Immuno-deficiency syndrome is, in many ways, simiar to ALL) were identified. It was blamed on gay men. But then some haemophiliacs got it through blood donations, then some heterosexuals , and then it was discovered to be a worldwide pandemic ...

And the gay community said we are not "victims". I agree we are people "with" - just like you've got a cold, the flu, dermatitis, acne etc etc

I have asked Lucia, and the YOBS, to talk to me about this but would appreciate wider comments as well.
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