The word cancer comes from the Greek word karkinos for crab. Cancer has been around for centuries; Hippocrates coined this term in the BC years. Some say that how the disease spreads through finger-like projections evokes the symbolic shape of the crab and its claws. Others claim that malignant tumors feel hard like a crab’s shell, or that the pain of malignant cancer is reminiscent of a crab’s sharp pinch. Regardless of what Hippocrates might have thought when he named the disease, the name stuck (Dr. Howard Markel, The Origin of the Word ‘Cancer’).
Because we tend to think of cancer as a disease for adults and the elderly, the label of childhood cancer can be particularly jarring. This crab-shaped sand toy evokes the disease of cancer while simultaneously reminding us of the purity of the beach, the innocence of youth, and the simple bliss we often associate with childhood.
In part, this cover design was also inspired by the song Sandcastles by Zach Sobiech (which I choreographed and danced to in the past). It is incredible to me just how much this teenager with osteosarcoma’s music has stuck with me.