We often hear the “battle” terminology used in fighting major illnesses, especially cancer. Terms like “war on cancer,” or “a long battle” with a particular disease are commonplace in speech and in the media.
For some people and their loved ones, it is inspirational language that can aid in the recovery. For others, it can add to their emotional toil as it could be interpreted as a sign of weakness if you fail to “beat the disease,” which is actually an illogical notion.
Bob McEachern, a professor of English at Southern, has launched a study to find out how often doctors use those “battle” metaphors, and how that can affect patients. He’s hoping the research will ultimately help patients and oncologists understand each other a little better.
He has his own ongoing “battle” with Follicular Lymphoma, a slow-growing, incurable type of blood cancer. He was diagnosed 13 years ago. In fact, he has a blog with readers from about 80 countries, where he talks about his experiences, and discusses research in ways that readers can understand.
The New Haven Register recently published a story on McEachern and his new study.