What Does The Word "Overcome" Really Mean?

What Does The Word "Overcome" Really Mean?

Last updated: May 2018

Most of us have seen articles or news reports about people who have overcome their Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis to go on to excel at some sport or another type of endeavor.

Maybe I am just stupid, but what exactly does “overcome” mean in this case? Does it mean they have beat it, and it will never return? Have they overcome their inflammatory bowel disease into remission? I guess it could mean a person has achieved excellence despite or while battling their chronic illness, but I suppose that wording is not as gripping for readers/viewers.

I just feel like it sends the wrong message to the public. If I had no prior knowledge of what inflammatory bowel disease was, I would think that overcoming IBD is a mental game; which it absolutely is not. Being positive and a fighter definitely helps but no one can just think happy thoughts and suddenly their disease and all the complications that have come from it go away.

I do rationally know that people want to hear uplifting, motivational stories, like the Olympic swimmer who overcame her Crohn’s Disease to excel at the summer Olympic games recently. However, to caregivers, friends, family, co-workers, and other people in an IBDer’s life, these kinds of stories have the ability to be dangerous and lead to more frustration for the patient. With a disease that is already so misunderstood and hard to explain to others, the way the media portrays inflammatory bowel disease is just appalling sometimes. It does more harm than good in many cases.

I am not saying we don’t want the name out there being discussed, hopefully researched by more people, with the possibility of others opening up about their experiences because of it. Of course we want the name “Crohn’s” talked about! But, do we actually want it talked about and have it be misunderstood or have it be a story that exacerbates people’s opinions/myths that IBD is nothing more than an emotional disorder with gastrointestinal manifestations. Or, a lack of following a proper “inflammatory bowel disease” diet - I am only kidding; there is no such thing.

What do you think about the word “overcome?” Do you think it sends the wrong message or am I over-reacting to it? Is there another way you think the media could portray someone who is excelling at an event despite living with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis?

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