I just learned about the death earlier this month of Montreal musician Catherine Potter. While Googling to find more info about her, I came across this article in The Gazette:
Musician Catherine Potter fused East, West and the first paragraph caught my attention:
The world beat music community is reeling from the death of Canadian artist Catherine Potter, who dedicated her life to the creation of a unique musical identity based on the fusion of classical Indian and western (jazz) music. She lost her battle with breast cancer on Dec. 3, at the age of 52.
It’s me who made that bold, because this expression “lost her battle with cancer” is something we hear every day, when news breaks out of a famous person dying of a disease. I think it’s totally unfair to say that someone lost a battle with cancer, it’s like blaming that person for giving up, almost presenting them as a looser, while us, the rest of the society, we have nothing to do with what happened. If civilians are killed in a war, we don’t say that they lost the battle, the same way we should not use this expression for people succumbing to a medical condition.
I had family members and friends who died because of cancer and let me tell you, I can say anything about them, but not that they were losers.
Since the English language seems to be so attached to this expression, let’s see who are the real losers in the battle with cancer. First of all, I would point to the medical science community, that still could not find a cure to many forms of cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame them, we’re talking here about a battle, about war and in war sometimes you just can’t win; it’s not your fault, but you can’t, at least not easily. But I’m optimistic, I’m sure with time, doctors will learn more and more and as a society we’ll get to a point where cancer will be curable.
Another loser in this battle, who unlike the medical science community, it often prefers to shy away from responsibilities, is the Government. We don’t have to search far back in the past, let’s just take what happened yesterday, when the Conservatives refused to commit to increasing the size of the warning labels in the cigarette packages. They’ve spent 3,6 million on a research to find out the current labels designed back in 2001 are outdated. Big surprise!! What will be their next focus? Fighting contraband cigarettes!
According to this Health Canada page, in 2001 the Canadian tobacco industry employed 2,135 people. It really looks like an important field, who’s interest should prevail over the general health of Canadians.
I’m curios what will be the numbers, when we’ll find out how much the Government has spent to educate us about the dangers of smoking contraband products. Next time you hear someone “has lost battle with cancer”, think a bit beyond the surface of the words.
Let me finish it on a more positive tone, here is an excerpt from a performance of Catherine Potter from 2007.