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Red Devil

I have never been a cancer patient but I have taken care of many. I mostly try to put myself in a patient’s shoes when it comes to teaching them about their chemotherapy and its side effects. I must admit that I have thought to myself about how I would feel if someone referred to my potentially life-saving medicine as the red devil. Truthfully, I don’t think I would like it nor would it make my uncomfortable situation any more comfortable. Where did the name red devil come from anyway? Who thought this was a good nickname?

Red devil is the nickname for one of the most popular and effective chemotherapeutic agents that we use in oncology. It’s also one of the hardest to tolerate and it has a notorious reputation. Now, I’m not saying the medication can’t be a “devil” but I am saying I don’t like referring to it as such. Not only could it be anxiety-provoking but it just sounds terrible to tell a patient, “you’ll be getting the red devil today.” That doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy so imagine being the cancer patient receiving this information.

As an oncology nurse practitioner, I’ve witnessed many courageous people battle and defeat the “red devil”. At our practice, I provide chemotherapy education visits. I’m careful to never call Adriamycin or doxorubicin, (the official name of the chemotherapy), the “red devil”. I hate that nickname. I also hate anything associated with a devil. Cancer is the true devil.

Adriamycin (doxorubicin) can be used to treat many types of cancer but is likely most commonly used for certain types of breast cancer. Yes, it is red. Yes, it may make you feel like you’re fighting the devil but my goal is to make patients more comfortable not less comfortable. The message here is this. Speak to people with your goal in mind. Speak to people like you want people to speak to you. If you were diagnosed with cancer, which is life-changing, to say the least, would you want to be told that your treatment is a demonic creature? Probably not.

What are your thoughts about this subject? Are you familiar with chemotherapy? Are conscious of the power of your words?

Click the link below for the CANspiration Journal. It is a journal especially for people fighting cancer.

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