Stop Using The Phrase “Someone Lost Their Battle With Cancer”

Today I leaned that Stuart Scott, an ESPN anchor, passed away after living with cancer for several years.

I am already seeing headlines all over about him “losing” his battle with cancer. People need to stop using this phrase. It’s basically saying that this person was in a win/lose scenario and they didn’t come out on top. It’s like saying that if they would have fought harder, they wouldn’t have died from cancer.


Cancer is a brutal disease. I know. I had stage 3 colon cancer. I have been cancer free for over 12 years. Does that mean I beat cancer? I guess some could say that but what does that say about all of the other people that had the same thing that I had, did the same treatment I did, but died? Does it mean they lost but I won?

Cancer may have cut some people’s lives shorter than they would have been without having cancer. It may have prevented them from doing certain things while still living. Cancer may take away the joy we have from having these people with us on this earth longer than if they didn’t have cancer.

Don’t minimize someone’s battle with cancer just because they died. Some people fight cancer with everything they have, every day that they take a breath. Don’t put that in a win/lose scenario.

The following was written by Randy Southern, about a friend of one of my son’s who passed away a few years ago. It’s so beautifully written I am going to share it here. Please take a moment to pray for her and her family. She was a great kid and I think of her and her family often. I think of this eulogy every time I hear someone saying the “lost” phrase and I think this sums it up perfectly.

“I just received word that Lindsey Eyles lost her battle with cancer. That’s how it was phrased to me: she “lost her battle with cancer.” I say that’s nonsense. I know Lindsey Eyles. I’ve watched her for years—competing on the soccer field, laughing with her friends, hanging out with her family. I know what she’s made of. Cancer never stood a chance against her.

I know it wore down her body. I know it exhausted her strength. And I know it took her life. But cancer couldn’t dim her smile. And what a smile it was! Everything good, everything wholesome, everything pure about childhood was found in her smile. But there was more—a hint of mischief, a sense of self-confidence, an unmistakable kindness. It was the kind of smile that drew people to her.

That smile was there the first time I saw Lindsey. And it was still there the last time I saw her. The ravages of cancer, chemo and radiation could not wipe it from her face. If anything, her smile was brighter and more joyous the last time I saw her. Cancer was helpless against it.

Lindsey was doubly blessed with beauty—inside and out. Cancer could do nothing to diminish either. When chemo robbed her of her hair, she sported some of the coolest headwear you’ve ever seen—looking good all the while. Even more striking than her physical features, though, was her inner beauty. It was a beauty that shone through her eyes and smile every day of her life. Cancer tried to take it from her, but failed miserably.

Cancer couldn’t steal Lindsey’s popularity. To know her was to love her and to root for her. We should all be so lucky to have as many friends as Lindsey Eyles did. She touched more people in her short time on earth than most of us could in 100 years. From her doctors and nurses to her coaches and teachers to her friends and classmates, no one entered Lindsey’s orbit without being inspired by her. Cancer was utterly helpless to interfere.

Cancer was unable to break Lindsey’s spirit. Her zest for life and competitive fire burned brightly to the end. Her confidence and adventurousness were undimmed. She took everything cancer could throw at her and kept going. She endured pain that would have hobbled the toughest adult. She found energy in the face of draining treatments. She maintained a positive outlook in the bleakest of situations. Where was cancer’s victory in that?

Cancer ripped a hole in the lives of everyone who loved Lindsey Eyles. Cancer left us devastated and heartsick. Cancer robbed the world of someone who would have done great things—someone who would have made a difference.

But cancer did not beat Lindsey Eyles. It never stood a chance.”

So let’s stop saying that someone “lost” their battle with cancer. Don’t give cancer that kind of victory.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

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