Bringing up Taboo Subjects


©Survivorship Media Network, LLC All rights reserved.

One of the things I love to discover is quotes. I am constantly looking for inspirational words of wisdom or words that just make me smile. This week, my professor said something that really stuck with me. He said, “In the beginning was the word, then the thing. Words make things happen.” As an aspiring writer, I loved this. It is so true. He referenced the bible and how God said “let there be light” and there was light. The word “light” brought light. The word made something happen.

I am not going to get into religion, but I thought the example was perfect. Words create reality—the two are connected. We continued our conversation in class about Greek mythology and the connection between words and reality. Eventually, we got to the subject of avoidance. There are some things that every person, every family, does not talk about. It’s the taboo subject that no one wants to bring up, in fear that speaking of it will make it real again. It’s the “family secret” we all try to avoid.

I immediately thought of cancer when I heard this. Most of us are uncomfortable talking about cancer, or any sort of disease for that matter, because we fear that talking about means we are acknowledging that it is real and something that can happen to us. It’s too scary. There are many things in this world that I am afraid of and don’t like to talk about. We are all like this. It’s the mindset that, if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.

When it comes to cancer, my family will talk about that for days. I wouldn’t say cancer is an enjoyable topic of conversation, but it’s one we feel needs to be brought up. Cancer is real. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. It’s something everyone fears, so why not bring it up? The best way to overcome fear is to face it. This is something we are taught from childhood. So talk about it. Bring it up, acknowledge that it is a legitimate fear, and tell someone how you feel. Cancer will not go away on its own. In order to find a cure, it has to be discussed. In order to beat the disease a patient, a family, a friend, and anyone else involved needs to talk about it.

On the patient and family aspect of cancer, it is vital to discuss what you are going through. What scares you? What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What is a bilateral mastectomy? What exactly does chemo treatment entail? These are all questions that arise when a family member is diagnosed with breast cancer. For me, my mom’s diagnosis was scary because I knew cancer was bad. But I didn’t know why or what it meant or what was going to happen. It was too easy to be afraid to ask, to be afraid of bringing it up in fear that I might upset someone. But I needed to know what my mom was going through, and so I asked. It made everything less foreign and gave me a sense of what my role would be through my mom’s treatment process. It made me feel like I had some control.

If you have questions about cancer or just about life in general, ask them. Chances are that everyone around you is wondering the same thing. Of course, be respectful, but don’t take on the mindset that if you don’t talk about it, it can’t be real. Remember that words make things happen. They can make fear go away. Or at least make the source of the fear easier to bear. They can put you in control.