I am Fighting


I wrote here a couple of days ago about my aversion to using war metaphor to describe cancer. Judging from the number of comments, retweets and blog stats this is an issue that clearly resonates with a lot of people, both those who have/have had cancer and those who have not.

Thank you to all of you who have retweeted my post and got in touch via Twitter.

I  like a discursive argument as much as the next person. But sometimes the thing needs saying in the shape of a story or a song. This is what I have tried to do with the poem ‘I am Fighting’, below.

When my chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma finally came to an end in 2006 I slowly began to re-engage with reading and writing poetry again, not having been able to concentrate on more than the sports pages for six months.

Until I had and was treated for cancer I had unconsciously accepted the war metaphor so readily used in the culture. After six months of encouragement to ‘fight’ the disease my feelings changed.

I wrote ‘I am Fighting’ in the first batch of poems after I was officially told I was better. You can find it in my book of poems, Riddance, at the front of this website, and also at Worple Press, my publishers.

I am Fighting


I am fighting

we are talking

in a room

across a table


You are waiting

I am fighting

down a corridor

in an armchair


You are reading

in a ward

across the bed

where I am fighting


I am sleeping

imagining dreaming

flying running

I am fighting


I am waking

stretching yawning

on the sofa

you are crying


We are walking

through a doorway

I am sitting

now I’m lying


I am sleeping

you are sitting

we are waiting

I am fighting


  1. Absolutely…. exhausting just being… not even a day at a time, or an hour, sometimes a minute or even a breath…


  2. Anthony, I was very touched by your post about ‘the ‘war’metaphor’ and it had been on my mind since I read it. Having been touched and grabbed by cancer in a number of different ways, I’m inclined to agree with you about the issues relating to ‘the war’metaphor.’
    With very best wishes from Ireland.


    1. Hello Jean Thanks for your comment. I am glad the post resonated with you. I have met many people for whom ‘fighting’ cancer was the only way they could frame the disease and their experience of it. I respect that, and have more of a problem with the Race for Life people perpetuating that discourse when many of us feel very much the opposite. As ever with thanks Anthony Anthony Wilson

      Love for Now, my memoir of cancer, is availablehere

      Riddance, my new book of poems, is availablehere



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