November 18, 2014: A Teacher’s Perspective

Oncology – the study and treatment of tumors.

Oncology simply defined isn’t as scary sounding as it is frightening to walk through a door with that word printed on the door plate. You don’t walk through the door thinking these people are going to study and treat my tumors. No, oncology to me equals cancer and cancer has lead to death. That’s terrifying. Studying and treating my tumors is associated with hope. I still haven’t changed my connection to oncology yet, but I pray in the future oncology will be a better word in my vocabulary than where it currently sits.

Tumor – a swelling of a part of the body, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant.

Tumor – stupid, wacky cells gone wild! Yep, that’s my definition. Tumor no longer is associated with sick because I’m not. I just have these dumb cells that ran away from home and have become these uncontrollable brats. All I can hear is this robotic video game like voice commanding my surgeon to “seek and destroy all wild and crazy cells”!

Malignant – (of a disease) very virulent or infectious

Malignant – is a bad word. It doesn’t matter how you try to slice it or dice it. I still hate this word. Maybe I hate it more because I’ve seen secondhand and now firsthand exactly how “malignant” changes everything. 

Virulent – (of a disease or poison) extremely severe or harmful in its effects.

Virulent – a new word to add to my vocabulary only wishing I didn’t have to know what it meant. This new word defines my largest tumor. It’s not just bad, it’s extremely severe. There’s nothing good I can connect to that. Harmful in its effects is an understatement considering I’m losing parts of my body because these wild and crazy cells picked my boob to host their stupid party! I’m ready for this word to be a part of my history!

Genetic – of or relating to genes or heredity.

Genetics used to fascinate me. I guess they still do. The mystery of how God created each of us so uniquely and yet so much the same. The fear comes in knowing perfection can be altered.

Mutation – the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.

So now the ugly word mutation comes into play. I mean visualize that word. Do you create a pretty picture? Maybe my perspective is just different, but my connotation is ugly! Changing perfection just sounds really stupid! Besides if my test comes back positive, I’ll have to live knowing for a fact I’ve never been perfect a day in my life – not one single day! How depressing is that to admit?

This is what English teachers do. What we force our students to do. We define words. We associate those words, or make connections, to prior knowledge. Ugh! I’m not sure I like being the student.

There have been other words. Words I thought I knew what they meant, but now they have new meaning attached to them. Words like grade, rate, and stage. These are still words I struggle to grasp, struggle to think about, and struggle to process. I just tell myself each time they are brought up that no matter how scary and bad those words seem to me now, the definitions attached to those three words for me are still followed with HOPE, and many don’t have that word attached to those words. For this I will be thankful. 

Being a teacher means you live in a constant environment of best practices for learning. I’ve been reminded to chunk new information, to break down vocabulary into terms that can be understood, and the one thing I think is desperately missing from our curriculums is time to process and fully grasp and understand what it is you are trying to teach me. I’m currently a student, and during this school year, I can honestly call myself a struggling one. I’ve been handed too much new knowledge and old words that now mean new things and new and foreign words and procedures and strategic plans and statistics and so much data that some days I want to throw my hands up and scream! (Yes, if you’re an English teacher you’re currently screaming over that run-on sentence. Ignore it. It’s a writing technique used for effect. It’s really okay. Calm. Down. Now.) Yep, it’s all going to be okay. 🙂


About courage2conquercancer

At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an account of my journey from my discovery and beyond.
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