Monday, September 14, 2009

Cancer Lingo

I was an English major and took a lot of classes in Linguistics. I wish my college had offered a major in Linguistics, because I actually enjoyed those classes more than the literature ones. Therefore, it is interesting to me to study people's language.

This past weekend I went on a cancer walk for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children called William's Walk. We knew most of the families there, so it was a great time to touch base with a lot of the parents and children we have come to know through this cancer journey.

There are certain terms that appear in everyday conversations for cancer parents: port, platelets, hep-lock, scans, flush, fever spike, resection, protocol, OT (off treatment), clinic day, Zofran, triage nurse, ER run, counts, admission, wish trip, G tube, night drips, bolus feedings ...

I have come to appreciate all the wonderful people I have come to meet since my daughter's diagnosis. Sadly, I feel completely comfortable in this world. In Linguistics classes, I recall discussing the role of "lingo" in defining groups. People who understand and use the "lingo" are "in" the group and people who don't are not "in" the group. This concept applies to all groups ... professional, social, etc. The lingo unifies the group.

Do I have to be in this group? The question is moot because I am in the group and cannot escape. I feel compelled to lend my support to any fundraising effort I can to help finance research for better treatments. I have bonded with many of the parents I have come to know and genuinely care for the children we have met. Catherine has befriended many of the children who are in the same boat she is in, even though she doesn't even understand what the word "cancer" means. I am "in" the group for good.

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