World Cancer Day 2019

Although World Cancer Day may officially be over, millions around the world continue to deal with their new reality after hearing those scary words “it’s cancer.” For some, those words may be followed by a hopeful prognosis because it was detected early and can be treated effectively.

Loss and Grief
But for others, the prognosis is poor. Perhaps the cancer is at a very advanced state and has metastasized, or it may be a recurrence. Cancer is not just one disease; there are many types. And unfortunately, some types of cancer are lethal.

Many families have lost loved ones to cancer. And they will continue to need support as they grieve the massive loss. Sometimes, they may feel like the world has moved on but they can’t. Not yet anyway.

No Cure…But
Then there are those in that gray area in the middle: there’s no cure for their cancer diagnosis but they are able to remain on long-term treatment and live with cancer. Only they can tell us what it’s like to live in their shoes, and the media is sharing their stories. Here are a few:

  1. The popular TV show originally created and produced by Shonda Rhimes “Grey’s Anatomy” recently had an episode addressing cancer (disclosure: I have not watched this episode).

It was written by and based on the real-life experiences of Elisabeth Finch who also explains more in the articles below:

Why My Cancer Disability Became a Storyline” and

Why the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Cancer Storyline is based on my life

Because few people ever really talk about cancer. Not the raw, honest way people with cancer talk to each other.

—Elisabeth Finch, USA

2. Meanwhile in Kenya, a Member of Parliament, Kenneth Okoth shared his cancer survivorship experience in a Standard News feature:

I cannot be cured but I will manage my cancer

He describes leaving Kenya to seek advanced treatment in Europe with the support of his family. And that he will be taking medication to manage cancer for the rest of his life.

Though World Cancer Day is over, we will continue to learn from and reflect on the words of those affected by cancer and who continue to redefine what it means to be a cancer survivor.

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society partnered to develop a resource call Springboard Beyond Cancer which is:

a mobile-friendly tool that enables and empowers people with cancer to play an active role in the management of their health.”

How to use it: You can create an “action deck” which has different actions one can take to manage various problems and a customized resource list. This is a great tool to recommend to patients and their loved ones.

Resources and References:
American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute

Patient Education: Springboard Beyond Cancer

Ministry of Health, Kenya. National Cancer Control Strategy 2017 – 2022 Nairobi, June 2017 available here from the Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association.

Image courtesy of Pixabay