I wrote a post the other day to highlight a book which aims to help people let go of their fears following a diagnosis of cancer. The comments I received in response were notable for their honesty and also for the understanding shown about serious illness. I believe that cancer has been a taboo subject for far too long and that people would really like to talk about it more. Here is a link to a very powerful statement on living with leukaemia, which started me thinking.
Practically everyone knows somebody affected by cancer so I thought it might be an idea to ask the readers of this blog to stop and think about cancer for a moment. What does the word ‘cancer’ mean to you? Are you a survivor? Does the very word fill you with dread? Did cancer change your life? Please feel free to voice your thoughts here in as many or as few words as you like. You are welcome to remain anonymous, it’s your choice. I’ll start the ball rolling with the first comment below.
UPDATE: This is your space to say what you feel about cancer. I will not comment on your contribution unless you specifically request me to do so. Thanks 😀
Cancer is… the worst and the best thing that ever happened to my family. The worst… because my brother died in a hospice after a long and traumatic battle with oesophageal cancer and it was heart rendering to witness my ageing parents losing a ‘child’. The best… because the loss of my brother really taught me how precious life is and it was a wake-up call to the whole family to treasure one another. Where communication was once lacking, it’s now flowing and has helped to ease the journey of both parents through dementia.
I didn’t comment on the other one because cancer has touched my life and I have a very negative view towards it. My father died from metastatic liver cancer after a good prognosis from a bowel resection. . .12 months later and after an all clear, things went pear shaped. He wasn’t in a great deal of discomfort but very sleepy. His quality of life was severely hampered by his chemo which clearly didn’t work. His passing is missed by all of us but it hasn’t cemented any relationships, it hasn’t changed anything . . .the death of my husband at 35 on the other hand, had a profound effect on my brother particularly. His wasn’t cancer related though. I’ve already resolved that if I am ever diagnosed, I will do the things I want whilst I can, then just seek palliative solutions. I’m not interested in chemo, radiation and the prolonging of my life if it’s going to be a constant drudge of tiredness and an inability to look after myself. Sorry Steph, I’m not a good patient!
Thankfully I have never lost anyone to Cancer. I am so lucky for that grace. However, I know friends who have and indeed I almost lost a very young friend to cancer a few years ago. It really opened my eyes to it and the pain it causes. I just wanted to say that I think the Blog is great and read and recommend it daily.
Baino – thanks for that!
I’m not going to comment on individual contributions to this post unless someone specifically ask me too. It’s too personal a space.
Liz – thank you so much for your lovely compliment.
I have some very loyal supporters of this blog who pamper me in my attempts to make sense of the world but it’s also extra nice to have my efforts acknowledged by someone who has been lurking quietly. Thanks for coming out of the ether to rub my ego 😀
For me my heart sinks when I hear about ‘cancer’ in the media. More people die of other common conditions which aren’t funded properly in the NHS because they aren’t cancer, and to be even more specific, not the media friendly acceptable type of cancer.
It’s an incredibly difficult and emotive subject as you say, and I worry that playing on people’s fears of cancer has led to much poorer treatment for those with other conditions, for example how can we possibly justify aromatherapy and massage for cancer patients whilst those with say lung disease or a degenerative neurological condition can’t even access the doctors they need.
It’s a nightmare of a situation either way, sigh, BG
BG – I feel compelled to answer your comment here.
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s a very valid point and fits in nicely with my cartoon. Cancer care receives a huge amount of funding while support for other crippling and life threatening conditions, is often severely lacking by comparison.
Thank you for that! 🙂
Unfortunately not all cancers get a lot of funding the commons will because a lot of people have it but less common rare ones like bone cancer get hardly any funding and statistics haven’t changed for 20 years. It’s bad any disease doesn’t get much funding.
It’s an illness, like any other. Some survive, some don’t. (Some may get hit by a drunk driver.) How we respond to cancer, or any other illness, is a matter of attitude and life experience. Moreover, I think cancer, like any other life trial, brings tremendous lessons. Nothing happens without a reason and it is through lessons that we gain insight and grow.
I think the thing that makes cancer more of a dread disease than any other is the perceived death sentence it brings with it, along with the prospect of pain and suffering – and, more significantly, much of the stress is caused by the nature of the treatment of the disease, which is, I believe, barbaric.
I’ve lost my mother in law, my grandmother, my grandfather, two aunts, an uncle and my father to cancer – in varying forms. My best friend has survived what should have been terminal cancer. A cousin survived thyroid cancer, another cousin is currently having chemo and radiation treatment for an undiagnosed form of cancer. Two other friends and colleages were diagnosed with breast cancer not that long ago, one underwent a mastectomy, the other a lumpectomy. D lost his best and oldest friend to leukaemia just a month ago.
Because of a family history of cancer, I’m supposed to go for annual mammograms – frankly, I have serious doubts about the frequency of that procedure – a precaution that causes long term damage… hmm… And last week I was told I had abnormal cell growth and needed to have a repeat pap smear in three months.
“I don’t want you to worry,” said my GP.
“I’m not,” I replied. And I’m not.
One deals with the things life throws our way and takes each day as it comes.
Besides, our human lives are but a small part of the far greater cosmic whole of which we are fundamentally a part of – our souls live on but our bodies grow frail, old and die – that’s in the nature of the human contract, part of the human journey.
I might simply say – I am not my body, I am not my mind – I am soul.
By now everyone knows that cancer has played a role in my life. At one point I was a full time carer for my husband on his 6 year journey with prostate cancer and metastatic bone disease, while at the same time helping with my friend and neighbour as she struggled with ovarian cancer.
In my friend’s case she was misdiagnosed and treated for a full year as a gall bladder patient! A locum seeing her for an urgent appointment while the regular GP was on holiday, realised that urgent help was needed and thanks to him she was seen and had surgery within three days. She was taken along the road of Chemo. It was difficult at times but it gave her some time in remission to do the things she wanted. On difficult days I washed her feet and massaged cream into them, this she found very soothing. On days when I was not available others did it for her and we all found it helped us to bond well.
Closer to home my most difficult time of caring was on a day when Jack, my husband, needed extra pain control. I phoned at 9a.m. and left a message for the Dr to call me explaining why. The Dr called at the house on his way home 7.30p.m. in the evening. He said that if I saw that Jack needed the medication increased I should have done so!!!! Morphine – I don’t think so. I was not medically trained. Had I done so and it went wrong, I doubt I would be sitting commenting on blogs today.
Cancer told us that time was limited and precious. We had some difficult days but we also had some very special days. We had the opportunity to say all the things that we wanted to say, and to prepare for what lay ahead. Cancer taught me great patience and to live for the moment. I began to realise what the really important things in life were. People not material things.