Memorializing the Warriors

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, a holiday that originated to honor fallen soliders, warriors who gave their lives defending what they held dear.

What better time, then, to reflect on that other battlefield that permeates our cultural discourse?  Our bodies. Can somebody please tell me when and why it became a good idea to use military metaphors to describe the healing process???  I’m talking here, about cancer.

The war on cancer. Warriors in pink. Cancer fighting foods. Attacking errant cells. Cell death. Fighting cancer. Cancer fighters.  She’s got a fighting spirit, she’ll beat this thing. Winning the battle. Keep fighting.  I’m tired of fighting. I’m in a fight for my life.  War, fight, battle, killing . . . on and on it goes.

Here’s what I think:

1) That healing happens when we make peace, not war.

2) That being feisty and wanting to live are different than wanting to kill something.

3) That cancer is something that happens to many of us, we all will experience pain and illness in our lives; but to voluntarily put your life on the line for your country is something else entirely.  Can we reserve the fallen soldiers metaphors for actual fallen soldiers?  (In which case, I realize, they wouldn’t be metaphors)

I am one cancer survivor who is declaring all-out pacifism against cancer.  This doesn’t mean that I’m about to friend cancer on Facebook, I definitely do not “like” cancer.  But I have experienced and witnessed first hand in my Yoga for Survivors classes that love, community and support are what heal.  Imagining my body well and healthy feels so much more ease-ful than having to marshal the troops for World War III.

What are YOUR thoughts on “getting well” vs. “fighting and illness”?  I’d love to know!


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  1. Kari

    I love this, Laura. So beautifully written and a perspective I’d like to see more often.

  2. Emily

    Yes! Love, community and support are what heal. XO, Em

    • Laura

      Thanks Emily! You are a shining example of this 🙂

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