Watching a friend deal with cancer

Breast cancer awareness month is upon us, so it feels important to write on the subject of cancer and treatment. Writing about cancer is a difficult subject for so many obvious reasons, and so much has been written about it. I have been putting off writing this blog for a good couple of weeks… I have been feeling the fear of writing about this because although two people in my life have been touched by cancer, it feels difficult to write about something as an outsider.

This blog is my personal take on what I have witnessed, learnt and read about. It seems to me that when a person is diagnosed with cancer, suddenly everyone has an opinion. From their Dr to a stranger on the bus, people always want to share their experiences; They have read something; they have a friend who has had a miracle recovery or they know of someone who didn’t take the Dr’s advice and the cancer has returned. All of these opinions are given with the best of intentions and love, but it must be incredibly overwhelming for anyone who has been given a diagnosis of a life threatening illness. How on earth do you make any decisions about your health when you are struggling with such fear.

It seems to me that whatever decisions you make about your health, whether it is cancer or any other life threatening illness, it is important to have as much trust in the process and decisions that you make for yourself as possible. At this time especially, it is not about pleasing others or feeling pressurised to do something that you are not sure about. Whatever conventional treatment you are offered, or have, and whether you combine it with complementary therapy or opt for a more conventional approach, it seems to me that it is important to play a proactive role in your healing.

Personally I love this book Radical Remission, Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. This book is an observation of people’s stories about their cancer journey written by Kelly Turner Phd. Through these stories she has observed 9 key factors that people have used to help themselves.

They are:

1. Radically change their diet

2. Taking control of your health.

3. Following your intuition.

4. Using herbs and supplements.

5. Releasing suppressed emotions.

6. Increasing positive emotions.

7. Embracing social support.

8. Deepening your spiritual connection.

9. Having strong reasons for living

One thing that is abundantly clear to me is that a diagnosis of cancer requires a lot of connections with friends, family and health professionals. Watching people I know deal with cancer was incredibly humbling and to witness how many people are willing to help someone at their most vulnerable moments was very moving. Allowing others to help can also take a great deal of bravery, especially for people who have always been strong and independent.

 Photo credit: Wendy Conibear

Edit: Carla Moore