Of the peeves I have in the chronic illness community I’m sure the word cure tops the list. Let’s be literal here for a moment. The definition from Merriam Webster Dictionary defines cure as –
something (such as a drug or medical treatment) that stops a disease and makes someone healthy again
something that ends a problem
the act of making someone healthy again after an illness
This implies without question that a cure is a treatment for a disease or disorder that ends the symptoms of said disease/disorder with no need for continuing care. To throw this word around in a community which is defined by it’s members ongoing health issues is an inexcusable cruelty!
Its drags out false hope in the name of profits and control only to end in inevitable disappointment and potential for harm when a true cure by definition is not achieved. If the FDA does not allow supplements and vitamins to carry this claim why do people feel the need to exalt such to others who are suffering? I don’t intend this to mean that we shouldn’t share experiences and information out of optimism it may help someone else. But no one should ever dangle a word as enticing to the chronically ill as “cure” in front of their faces.
I believe the first issue is that people truly do not care to understand the meaning of the word. As simple as it is to look up they don’t. How can you proclaim something as massive as full remission of symptoms with no ongoing treatment if you don’t comprehend the meaning of four little letters strung together? The second issue is indulging in plain blissful ignorance. I know firsthand what its like to live every hour of every day battling multiple illnesses that have minimal if any treatment, no cure, and next to no research happening to find either of the former. Its not easy but indulging ignorance is not a healthy way to cope with that.
That ignorance is not only harm to ones self but when one spouts their ill informed theories to masses on the internet it can be of grave harm to others as well. Ill people crave the boundless optimism that the word cure implies and if something is paraded before them in the many dark desperate moments of the day sometimes they will jump into that blinding optimism without thought.
Though I don’t have experience with all of these products some of the frequently referenced items I have seen touted as a “cure” are Plexus, Culturelle, Diatomaceous Earth, copper infused garments, essential oils, and Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice. Its not that these products are fraudulent or of no use but they are not cures! They are some of a multitude of management strategies. None of these or many other products can promise you anything other than a reprieve or reduction of symptoms. Once you take them if they work for you cannot simply stop and expect your symptoms will never return.
That is the meaning of a cure, a course of treatment that renders further care unnecessary. You can cure a urinary tract infection, you can cure pneumonia, you can cure a yeast infection. Once properly treated the issue is resolved and if it is to recur it is a separate event not a continuation of the original issue. You cannot cure my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, you cannot cure my Reynaud’s, you cannot cure my Gatroparesis. Dangling what are perfectly legitimate symptom management strategies as a “cure” is an atrocious crime all to frequently committed with often the best of intentions however misguided.
So please think before dangling that word before the suffering souls. Who could be at the fragile end of short rope that may just snap under the weight of another failure. There are deeper consequences that you can ever imagine.