Stand up to cancer. Grab cancer by the balls. Cancer, we’re coming to get you.
Noel Edmonds, presenter of Deal or No Deal, was accused of insulting every cancer patient with his comments regarding the illness. Type his name into google and the first thing you’ll see is “cancer”. He suffered prostate cancer and attributes his survival to something we are all capable of utilising – a positive mental attitude. It is this very opinion that has tarnished his reputation. Edmonds’ view that defeatist attitudes and negativity can kill a cancer sufferer were viewed as insulting by the media and swept aside when they should be taken more seriously.
It has been proven that a positive attitude can help us live longer. It has been proven that tackling adversity and disease head on can help us beat it. If you have an exam or a job interview, you tell yourself “I can do this”, you trust yourself and you promote self-assurance, emitting confidence. Positive energy helps us to achieve our goals. Why, then, in the face of illness and disease do we not always exhibit the same success?
We fear death. We are terrified of cancer, of anything that shortens our already small existence and thus allow ourselves to become a victim of the concept. I remember in school learning about a man who was told he had an 80% chance of surviving brain cancer, when in actual fact he had a 20% chance. The confidence instilled by these false chances was enough to help him beat cancer, a phenomena which has stuck in my brain. If a positive mental attitude and an “I can” outlook can defeat cancer, what else can it do?!
Every one of us suffers some kind of affliction at some time in our lives. Be it disability, sickness, cancer, grief or mental illness, we are all victims at one time or another. We are victims, not because of the affliction but because we allow ourselves to be. We call cancer “the big C” because we are scared to give it its true name. Would you call a pedophile the big P, or a rapist the big R? No. We call these things exactly what they are because they don’t deserve a nice mask and we should do the same with illnesses.
Labels allow us to treat something as it is. “The sniffles”, or “a wee cold” is named so because it is deemed minuscule and easily defeated. When it comes to cancer, however, we become terrified and immediately shy away from it. We come up with gentle names for it other than CANCER because it helps us cope. However, there is nothing more life shortening than fear. Breast cancer charities have spent millions on promoting a positive, fight back attitude for the very reason that a change in outlook can impact our chances of survival. The same should be applied to any illness – physical or mental. We can be a victim or a warrior depending on which one we choose to be.
I believe that by owning our illness we can take the first step in this. I have Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia doesn’t deserve a nickname. It could have killed me because I concealed it and felt ashamed by it – mental illness is perceived as a weakness by society and is very taboo. But the minute I called the condition out for what it is, the minute I owned it and talked about it I began to recover. I stopped being afraid of anorexia and started to fight it. By simply labelling it I took back control and was able to have a positive, “I can” attitude towards my recovery.
I refuse to conceal my anorexia or give it any nice names. I beat my condition every single day and will continue to do so because I am better than it. Through positivity and discussing how I feel openly I will always win.
By writing this now, I’m exposing anorexia and stopping the silent killer in its tracks.
I am kicking anorexia’s skinny ass.
The moment we call our condition out for what it is, is the moment we stop being a victim and become a survivor.