Abuse of Cancer as a Metaphor

Posted by s v on Thu, Aug 2, 2018  
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“Corruption has spread like cancer in the society”. Cancer, commonly used as a metaphor to describe evils of society (hate, exploitation, atrocities to the underprivileged, corruption, divisive politics, casteism, racism, etc.) is also used to describe the degree of its pervasiveness (metastases), insinuating its repulsive nature on a deeper level.

Immoralities of the society prevail because of shameless attitude of the perpetrators. It is demoralizing to use the term to describe topography, time, lack of redemption, or any of its other attributes for any of the evils of society. The word is thrown around to describe the attributes of these immoralities which are in fact evokers of a visceral response. Surprisingly it reflects lack of savviness in our vocabularies to describe these evils.

Lack of sensitivity in the usage of vocabulary is a human trait and the word cancer is a supreme example of this abuse.

To suffer from cancer is not a shame. Using cancer as a metaphor for evils influences the way a common man sees the illness, more as a taboo, thus patronising bearer of the disease. Consequent knee jerk reaction: negative response to dis-ease. It does not do much to the ‘evils of the devils’ but in fact belittles the sufferer. Psychological impact on the dis-eased consequent to thoughtless use of ‘cancer’ as a metaphor is unimaginable. In the least, R-E-S-P-E-C-T (if that word makes any sense) the dis-eased.

Rather than thoughtlessly demeaning the dis-eased (i.e.) sufferer and their diagnosis, it would be appropriate to resist using the term ‘cancer’ as a metaphor. Let us try and be more creative finding novel ways to a solution to immoralities of the society, being watchful of the ‘words’ used to describe them. Evils of society need to be shamed but done by consciously avoiding using ‘cancer as a metaphor.’


Sonali Mrudula Vadi


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