Lamprocapnos spectabilis, known as the Bleeding Heart flower
I don’t really fancy labels. I’m not speaking of the paper kind, but of the kind we affix to each other. I don’t much like them because they have a tendency to be overly general. Yes, we can be crazy one day, but then so grounded the next. Conservative when it comes to running around naked, but liberal when it comes to eating chocolate. Labels are often so sweeping, they ruthlessly gather up people who might not really deserve them. And then they keep us from really understanding each other.
Let’s consider the label cancer “survivor.” What bugs me is the implied message that those who don’t get the label, those who have succumbed to the disease, didn’t triumph. Perhaps didn’t try hard enough. There’s also something in there for me about a race that never ends, which happens to be true but I don’t really want to be reminded of it, thanks.
Cancer “thriver” is also now bandied about. (And how is that for a great word? Bandied. So light and flirty and easy to pass around, which happens to be what it means.) Thriver is better, because it doesn’t have any of the end-game feeling about it, but it seems weird to be affixing the concept of thriving next to a word that is so ugly and sapping.
So because as of late I’m being asked to provide short, pithy titles for myself, I’d like to share what label I will be using.
Aficionado. Oooh, so foreign sounding. And flamboyant. Lots of great vowels involved. It’s also close to impossible to spell correctly the first time, which makes it feel a skosh more important. I am knowledgeable (another component of being an aficionado) about breast cancer. Usually an aficionado is also enthusiastic. While I’m not enthusiastic about having had breast cancer, or that breast cancer exists in the world, I am enthusiastic about my involvement with the cancer community and how my work is helping others.
Over and out.
Sue Glader. Breast cancer aficionado.