Professor Geoff Beattie was on BBC Breakfast on the 5th November with Katherine Marsland who had recently been diagnosed with secondary cancer. Prof. Beattie discussed the importance of finding the right metaphor to capture the experience of the condition. 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.
Prof. Beattie also 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. Additionally, it was discussed 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.
You can watch the discussion here