Why do we glorify cancer patients as being brave or heroic?

I've seen many images like this circulated

Why do we glorify cancer patients as being brave or heroic?



Don't get me wrong, cancer is a horriffic thing that I would never wish on anyone, but I don't understand why having it (and getting treated for it) would make someone brave or heroic. Heroes are people who help others and help others like those who develop treatment and cures for deadly diseases or firefighters who risk their lives to save others. And while going through chemo and radiation is undoubtedly a grueling experience, when the only alternative is dying, it's hard to call it "brave" in any way. And contrary to popular belief, cancer doesn't let you die a peaceful and quiet death; it can cause you all the agony that chemo and radiation does and more. So why do we use this kind of rhetoric.

Updates:
If you're just going to give me this cliche "agree to disagree" line don't waste your time posting.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • it's easier for people to anthropomorphize their illness. i'm battling cancer. i'm fighting depression. i'm going to beat my addiction. that's much easier than thinking about cancer, depression, addiction on a biological level and realizing that you really have no control over what happens to you at all.

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Most Helpful Guy

  • Personally, I agree with you.

    The same holds for sports "heros." In what way is a grown man, running around in tights, playing a children's game, a hero?

    A hero is someone who voluntarily risks something - usually their life - for a greater purpose. Like this guy. Arland Dean Williams Jr. (September 23, 1935 – January 13, 1982) was a passenger aboard Air Florida Flight 90, which crashed on take-off in Washington, D. C., on January 13, 1982, killing 78 people. One of just six people to survive the crash, he helped the other five escape the sinking plane before succumbing to his injuries. In the words of a clergyman, "His heroism was not rash. Aware that his own strength was fading, he deliberately handed hope to someone else, and he did so repeatedly. On that cold and tragic day, Arland D. Williams Jr. exemplified one of the best attributes of human nature, specifically that some people are capable of doing anything for total strangers."

    The 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River at the crash site was renamed in his honor.

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What Girls Said 6

  • That's it. It causes them agony and pain. Until it happens to you, you won't ever know what cancer does to a person. So please, don't judge something you've personally not been through.

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    • Because it causes agony and pain doesn't make them brace or heroic if they had no choice in the first place.

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    • What do you mean I have no sense of perspective, I'm just looking at this objectivley

    • And this isn't a matter of opinions, it's a matter of definitions and implications.

  • Because they surrive something difficult!

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    • As I explained, that wouldn't mean that they're brave or heroic

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    • first, depression and cancer are diseases and you don't fight diseases, you get treated for them. But as I stated before, it wouldn't make them brave if they never had a choice in the matter.

  • Its a horrible, terrible, scary thing to experience, and thinking of cancer as this "force" to fight or battle puts it in terms that are easier to face, rather than the completely clinical reality of it.

    I do agree its odd to say someone is brave for dealing with a problem they have no choice but to endure regardless of how they handle it, but it makes us all feel a little better, it appeals to our hopeful nature as a species. So why not.

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    • Because it's plain and simply wrong.

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    • Not watching the vid and what's childish is being heartless and cruel towards others bc you have mommy issues

    • The videos only four seconds and I'm sorry if some people find truth offensive -_-
      I don't

  • Because cancer is a painful, scary, horrible thing to be diagnosed with. People call cancer patients brave, because they're fighting it. Same with sufferers of depression, people who have been in accidents, etc. Cancer patients, and those who are suffering from deadly illnesses, fight more than those with any other disease.

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    • You don't fight diseases you get treated for them

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    • You call me an idiot but I'm not the one calling people brave (much less heroes) for just trying to save their own skin :)

    • Go ahead, say you're done, i'll just do what I do elsewhere on the web

  • It's usually in the context of the individual person's positive character traits while in a horrific situation.

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    • What do you mean by that?

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    • I don't really have a dog in this fight, but my point is that most adjectives like brave, nice, beautiful, good, etc don't have a factual definition. They're subjective. Saying someone is nice isn't like saying someone is volunteers at the soup kitchen or that they are 6 foot tall. There's no definitive answer to what makes someone nice, because it's not really a fact.

      Why does this buy you so much, if you don't mind? I'm curious.

    • *bug, not buy

  • The difference is the sick didn't choose the illness. To go through that horrible illness, in my book makes a person a hero because I know how it goes, can go and the effects personally.

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    • Why does it make them a hero?

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    • 1. No one made you post
      I speak about this with regard to everyone's well being the same way I speak about why soldiers were killed and mutilated in BS wars like Iraq. Yeah, telling the soldiers who were maimed and the families of those who died that they didn't die for freedom or justice but just to swell the wallets of the rich oil tycoons. They always tell me how "insensitive" I am and that "You have some nerve speaking about such a sensitive topic with no regard to how it might effect the person or people actually went through that." My response is as such: I hope that I never have to go through that and I hope that no one else has to go through that. But if we pretend that every war, no matter how fallacious the pretense is is a "just cause" we're begging for more to be maimed and killed. How is that applicable here: jmarx said it best: people praise them like that for selfish reasons as well. Mainly that scary thought in the back of you're head that says "what if that was me?"

    • And that's the problem with the kind of rhetoric that I mentioned in my post. If we pretend that it's a brave fight fought by a heroic few as opposed to a tragedy that can happen to any of us at any time, then more and more people (at some level) get lulled into thinking that it's something that happens to others not them. It's a repackaging of the whole it doesn't happen to me because I don't have genetics or I don't smoke or whatever BS reason. Trust me, I'm all to aware that it's something that can happen to me.

What Guys Said 5

  • I think it might be more for helping the patients. While you can't heal a bullet hole just with positive thinking it's still a powerful force for the sick. Praising cancer patients might help their outlook and thus they'll be more likely, even if it's a small amount, to survive. With that being said no I don't think they're exactly heroes. But people praise them like that for selfish reasons as well. Mainly that scary thought in the back of you're head that says "what if that was me?"

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  • It all boils down to opinions.

    "Heroes are firefighters who risk their lives to save others."

    Whilst I agree with you here 100%; people have their own opinions also.

    So if some 10 year old kid came up to you saying "John Cena is my hero" nothing you can say will make him think any less of Mr. Cena, same thing goes with cancer patients/survivors.

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  • i dunno, people like dramatize things.

    it makes a great story to the jounalist or the producer? show buisness killed unbias view of the world

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  • Honestly I don't knowm. We call my grandpa a hero because of his service in Vietnam, that's why he has cancer. He got it from this orange stuff they dropped to clear foliage. He was soaked in it multiple times

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  • Because they chose to fight the disease rather than opting out (suicide).

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    • But that's not bravery, that's instinct (fight or flight)

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    • Again, as bad as chemo is, in the process of taking ones life cancer can cause you all of the agony that chemo does and more, thus rendering this point moot. And you don't know how having cancer will impact the lives of those around you or make them live better lives.

    • Taking you own life and chemo incases could be equally painful, but the pain experienced by loved ones' is worse. When someone survives the cancer a loved one will consider them a hero because they survived, saving them the pain of having to deal with their death. I have also asked myself this question, but in the end it is subjective. You can view a victim of cancer as someone dealing with a disease or someone battling a disease. In truth the real reason the people are considered brave and heroic is that having cancer is a scary thought for most, and unless a cure for most/all cancers is found then the subjective use of the terms will continue.

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