Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Win, Lose or Draw?

I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard that Leroy Sievers, the journalist battling cancer and the blogger of “my cancer”on died on Friday.  I looked forward to Mr. Sievers’ commentary on the radio.  He wasn’t melodramatic.  His story wasn’t being told by a celebrity, but by just one more person facing a huge health challenge.

Yesterday’s radio program talked about how Mr. Sievers didn’t like the war analogy for fighting an illness.  He was concerned about what happens when you die…do you lose?  He didn’t feel anyone with the courage and determination to take on their illness should ever be considered a loser.

This got me thinking because I’ve often used the war analogy for fighting illness.  I sat and thought about being a warrior, fighting a war, having to be a victor or a victim and I came up with some interesting revelations.

The biggest is that the war analogy for me is about an archetype, the warrior, taking onhuge challenges no matter the odds.  When I think about someone facing a health challenge engaging in battle it’s not always for survival, they may be fighting to keep their dignity in the process or maybe they’re fighting for self-sufficiency, no matter what each person does experience a traumatic event.

Then I got to thinking about what happens when you die from an illness, did you lose the battle?  Another meditation and I realized that the battle is an epic battle.  It’s the battle that preserves your own story.  I believe that if you die you didn’t lose to your disease.  I believe you lose when you don’t live whatever life you have in front of you to the fullest extent possible.  The problem is that sometimes there is no win or lose because people surrender, so is it a draw?

Use whatever framework will take you out of the victim role and give yourself every benefit to regain or maintain your health.  There are enough analogies in this world that I’m sure you can find one that fits your psyche, your soul, and your intellect.  Don’t use another person’s yardstick to measure your own level of success.  Success in health is as individual as the disease.  Whatever you do, do it with gusto, bravado and love!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

One thought on “Win, Lose or Draw?

  1. I agree in the overuse of the war analogy – particularly as it applies to autoimmune illnesses. We are only battling ourselves by fighting and no one is the winner in a situation where it isn’t really a war, but just a huge misunderstanding. We aren’t battling outside forces – our immune systems are doing their jobs, but just being overzealous in their efforts.

    I believe cooperation with our bodies allows forgiveness, patience and personal understanding that might help our systems rather than fire them up further with a battle cry.

    Thank you for your posts- I enjoy them all.

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