Loser-630x420This week, within 72 hours of one another , Alan Rickman and David Bowie died from cancer at the age of 69.  I want to think it’s their common nationality in combination with their age. The levity is a good shield because regardless of how my feelings are towards those that entertain me, cancer is a monster that invades and kills the best of us, the worst of us, the most and the least, irrespective of age.  A common verb uses to describe those that passed from the disease, a common phrase is “he lost the battle with cancer”.  Former Republican operative Luke Londo wants to kill the phrase.

We, the collective we, need to stop using the phrase “lost their battle with cancer.” Cancer isn’t a game with winners and losers. This is a false dichotomy that insults the survivors among us as well as those no longer with us….
Chad Carr (yes, Lloyd Carr’s grandson), passed away recently at the age of 5 from a malignant brain tumor. Before his death, he inspired a movement (‪#‎ChadTough‬) that spread throughout the world of sports (and was certainly felt the strongest here in Michigan). Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to combat pediatric brain cancer. The Spartans and Buckeyes(!) football teams all wore decals in Chad’s honor, recognizing that some things transcend competition.

Did Chad lose? Is he a loser?

In 2010 Erik Martin became a superhero (Electron Boy!) for a day in Seattle, saving the Seattle Sounders from Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy. He also saved a Puget Sound Energy worker stuck in a bucket truck and rescued a group of people trapped on the observation deck of the Space Needle. His story netted thousands of dollars for the Make A Wish Foundation and brought together an entire city. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 14.

Did Erik lose? Is he a loser?

Speaking of the Make a Wish Foundation, in 1980 Christopher James Greicius (who I share a birthday wish) wanted to become a police officer for a day in Arizona. With the help of a friendly customs officer and police department, he became a police officer, rode in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and was sworn in as the first honorary DPS patrolman in state history. He passed away shortly thereafter at the age of 7. This wish became the inspiration for the modern day Make a Wish Foundation.

Did Christopher lose? Is the child whose wish resulted in the creation of the largest organization dedicated to granting the wishes of dying children a loser?

In the words of Stuart Scott, “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

Members of my family have survived cancer and certainly members of my family, numerous members, have died from the beast. My hero, Fred Thompson died from cancer.  He was 73 and led a life well-lived.  From his admirers, including myself, he was still taken too soon

To a large extent we should retire the statement, especially from common use.  Eliminating it entirely is a mistake.  A friend of mine passed away a few years ago.  I regret to say we did not hang out enough and as usual I blame myself for that.  My self-centered grief is beside the point.  His last entry on the Facebook was about something his young son gave him and how he needed and intended to beat his cancer so he could spend time with is his young children and watch them grow up.  He thought he would.  A week later he lost his battle. That is what it was.  It was a battle.  You either win a battle or lose a battle and he was fighting for his children and despite his efforts and energy and the complete selflessness of his cause, he is not here anymore.  I don’t know why. I don’t know why God took him and I will never know.  I know this: I cried like a small child.

I have a lot of things to say about that man.  He was literally a great man.  It is sort of galling that like so many great men he won’t be remembered as long as he ought to.

Does this make him a loser?  I won’t remember him as a loser.  I’ll never label him that. But there was a fight with a prize and saying that he did not “lose his battle with cancer” takes away from the holy nature of his cause and the epic struggle of his fight.  Living life takes will and effort.  If we casually flow through life then we are not living, just existing or surviving.  “Losing his fight” does not imply that he is a loser, but that he willfully fought to live for his family.