The 'C' Word

November 2014

The item was occasioned by some new research conducted at Lancaster University into the various metaphorical frames used to talk about cancer both by patients and by doctors.  The commonest metaphorical frame (beloved by the media) is the war metaphor where patients are talked about as 'battling the disease' and 'conquering cancer' but this might not be the most appropriate.  There is sometimes a tendency to blame patients when they have not succeeded in defeating it.  We discussed the idea that one metaphorical frame might not be appropriate for different people at different points in the development of the illness, especially for those who have had the diagnosis of secondary cancer.  I talked about the importance of people with cancer being understood and that sometimes hiding behind the cloak of metaphor may make communication easier for friends and family (because metaphors are readily accessible and can be a little cliched) but its use comes with consequences for how we think about both the disease and the patient.

The clip is now available on You Tube.