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Video: 'You Say You Had Cancer But You Really Didn't'

This article is more than 11 years old.

Medical semantics? Cancer hermaneutics? Whatever you call the topic of the 3-minute video above, it is a typically painfully hilarious response by author and Xtranormal virtuoso Laura Zigman to a recent New York Times piece.

The Times story raised the knotty question: Is the term "cancer" overused? Might some potentially benign conditions better be called something less scary, like just "weird cells?"

“Cancer” is used, these experts say, for far too many conditions that are very different in their prognoses — from “Stage 0 breast cancer,” which may be harmless if left alone, to glioblastomas, brain tumors with a dismal prognosis no matter what treatment is tried...Now, some medical experts have recommended getting rid of the word “cancer” altogether for certain conditions that may or may not be potentially fatal.

Laura recently marked the 5th anniversary of her own breast cancer diagnosis — except that according to the incredibly obnoxious character in this video (there's a reason her series is called "Annoying Conversations") she doesn't have the right to say she had cancer at all.

The Laura-surrogate purple bunny: "The radiologist said, 'Don't let the word 'carcinoma' fool you — it's not cancer...But my surgeon kept using the word cancer. So I told her what the radiologist said. The surgeon was like, 'Duh, it's cancer."

"Cancer shmancer," the obnoxious interlocutor responds. "I don't buy it. The article said cancer is only cancer when it's invasive, which means your cancer, which wasn't invasive, wasn't cancer."

Readers, strike a chord? And don't you think Xtranormal, which helps even longtime prosaists make easy videos,  should provide a user function that lets you blow up the characters that annoy you most??

This program aired on December 2, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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