I know what you’re thinking. No Micki, ‘disease’ is not a four letter word (in fact, it’s a seven letter word!) But sometimes it feels like ‘disease’ should be a four letter word. Its presence can feel like an outright curse, and often out of our control. Sometimes it seems as if the universe is saying, “and now you are cancer,” much like a nasty stranger may label us a bitch or asshole for no good reason. And much like being unfairly labeled (we humans are sometimes very judgmental), I don’t think I can name a single friend, or even acquaintance, who has not had chronic illness unwarrantedly sneak its way into their life in some way or another.

If ‘disease’ is a four letter word, it’s the cruelest one I know.

However, much like a four letter word, disease does not condemn us nor does it define us. If someone were to call you an {insert explicative of your choice}, the chances are very slim that you would 1) accept that person’s label as your new identity, and 2) change your core being and who you are as a person to meet the expectations and role of that particular label. Having cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or any other disease, does not dictate who you are as a person and how you choose to live your life. Furthermore, the particular name of a disease is not a label that will determine how you as an individual will react, cope, and heal.

disease 4 letter word pic

Most importantly, the label of any particular disease, just like all other four letter words, will always arise and be used in response to a unique situation. That is, actions and situations that may cause a person to be labeled by another as a {choice explicative} will vary tremendously depending on the people and scenario, and may never be exactly replicated, no matter how many times that same four letter label is thrown around. This same concept applies to the diagnosis of diseases. It is of utmost importance to recognize that no two people are the same, nor will there ever be the very same interaction of genetics and environment seen in two different people. So even when the labeled name of the disease is the same, treatments, options, and reactions will vary greatly between individuals.

The key, when any sort of label is applied, is to examine the situation, realize which interactions and reactions did not go favorably (and why) and then change course to improve later outcomes. It never feels good to be called a bitch, and, in many instances, being labeled can lead to a bit of introspection and reflection: how can I change either my habits and interactions with others, or the company I keep (some people are just judgmental and mean) to avoid this label in the future? Similarly, when labeled with a particular disease, the questions must be asked, how can I change my environment or my body’s interactions/reactions to different stimuli so that I do not continue to have the symptoms that lead to this label of disease? Every person and every situation will be different.

The bottom line? Disease, just like any other four letter word, does not have the power to put you in a box.