Monday, 7 December 2015

Cancer: are the military metaphors appropriate?

Many people are convinced that when someone close has cancer, they ought to encourage them to fight, but this tweet by Dr. Margaret McCartney, author of "The patient paradox", refers to an article published in the BMJ, defending a critical attitude to this position. The reason is simple: the moral struggle is not associated with an improved survival rate (Petticrew 2002).

The philanthropic organization Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has launched a campaign asking for volunteers to post fighting selfies on Twitter. We want to see the most warrior-like face. We want you to fight with us until we achieve total victory over cancer. Admittedly, military-style proclamations dilute doubts and nuances and focus on the fight against the enemy. But how about the people who do not think of themselves as fighters? asks Dr McCartney. Many of them think the overly hopeful attitudes offered by many doctors’ leaves them little room for expressing fears and sorrows. Despite many treatment successes, we must admit that many cancers are not curable, and this forces thousands of people to live with the enemy until death. No one should be coached on what attitude they should take towards their own illness, let alone the advertising agencies.

Jordi Varela

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