Nothing quite prepares you for the moment.
That moment when three doctors approach your hospital bed and one of them sits down and takes your hand.
You know it’s not going to be good news.
You’d be right.

That was back in October. The 17th, to be exact. Exactly 26 years to the day that I passed my driving test.
I was 43 years old then. I turned 44 in January.

The news was this: stage 3 lung cancer. BIG news.

My reaction was… it’s not easy to describe.
Nothing quite prepares you for the moment.

The next day I sent an email to some close friends. In it I was determined that my language be certain about what the facts were, but that my underlying consideration was of how they would be receiving this news. So I used a distinct tone of optimism. It’s the one thing that I could take control of, to ensure the narrative reflected what I needed.
And so that’s the approach I adopted, and continue to adopt.

The thing is, I discovered that the words other people imposed upon me – because of my situation – were around my ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ and how I would ‘survive’. None of these fitted my optimistic narrative. And, it turns out, my prognosis.

I’m going to be fine. I’m free of cancer, although I’m still receiving treatment to ensure I can get as close to a cure as medically possible. That’s not the language of war, it’s the language of a partnership between me, my mind, my friends and family, and the medical professionals treating me.

It’s why I got involved with Hilary Gallo, author of Power Of Soft, when he wanted to do a project around the use of the ‘war’ metaphor in everyday language.

That’s how Make Words Matter came about. It’s a fledgling thing at the moment, as we work out exactly what this will become. But it’s real. You can get involved. You can help to shape it.

Go there. Take a look. Ask questions, join us, or tell your story. We don’t own this, and it will only really come alive the more than people take on the idea and run with it, share their thoughts and bring their own ideas to the table.

And if you’d really like to help people who find themselves in my situation, or similar, then make a donation to the Royal Marsden Hospital. And consider your language. Stop telling them they’re fighting a battle.

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