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Where are the good stories?

Did you know that according to Cancer Research UK, the survival rate for breast cancer cases is 79%? Did you know that 7 types of cancer have more than 50% survival rate? I didn’t know. Probably because most of the stats we hear on a daily basis sound like this: “157,275 people died from cancer in 2010 (Cancer Research UK)” or “40% of Britons are likely to get cancer in their lifetime (Macmillan)”. We hear such stats all the time. Fine. But what do they really tell us? That there’s a problem. We know cancer’s a problem, do we really need these facts to remind us what we already know? I don’t. I’ve got enough examples of people fighting cancer to illustrate the fact that the disease is wide spread and difficult to beat. What we don’t hear much is the other type of stats: the ones telling us how many people have had successful treatment and have managed to win the battle over cancer. Why do I believe this is important?

Imagine being told an asteroid is about to hit the Earth in 3 months time. Thinking that you’ve only got 3 months left, you start preparing for the end and try to do as many of the things you have always wanted to do as you can. Now imagine you are told of a hidden place underground, which could give you the chance to escape the danger and survive. Would you not go there, would you not try to save the lives of the ones you love and yourself? Chances are you would.

Hearing the positive news could change your attitude towards the problem and possibly save your life. I don’t know the science behind this but my personal experience showed me that sharing successful stories with those around you who are going through similar difficulties does help. I don’t know if it is simply due to exchange of useful information or whether it goes beyond that and into the ways of thinking and approaching the problem, but it certainly makes a difference.

In April 2010 my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 66. In Bulgaria you need to be pretty lucky to get a doctor who will explain thoroughly what the diagnosis means, what the treatment options are and what could happen. Very often patients are not provided with enough information and so they reach out to people they might know who have been diagnosed with cancer or they live with their pre-existing beliefs about the disease. In the case with my grandma she didn’t know anyone in a similar situation so she approached her diagnosis in the second way. A bit like being told about the asteroid hitting the Earth. You know it is going to come, you know approximately when and you start preparing for the big crush. Having always lived with the understanding that cancer is a terminal disease, she treated it like such. Convinced that she couldn’t possibly do anything to fight cancer anyway, she originally refused to try chemotherapy and other treatments. A few weeks later I spoke to the mom of one of my best friends and mentioned my grandma’s situation. She had been through cancer herself and was shocked to hear how easy my grandma gave up. She told me the hospital where she went and the treatment she had. I remember her words very clearly: “Oh well”, she said, “I lost my hair once or twice but here I am, living a normal life, going to work and taking care of my family.” She inspired me. I told my grandma what I had heard. I told her my conversation in details. And it was amazing watching the reaction. Imagine drinking a glass of water after being thirsty for a whole day. It was as if I gave her something. Not just words. Strength. Hope. She smiled and said “Let’s try this then, maybe it will help”. Hearing that someone else close to me had managed to fight the disease was as if for the first time she heard proof that this was actually possible. She wanted to start her battle, she was ready to experiment. Except that by that point it was too late.

I’ve heard good stories and bad stories. The good ones however, are good enough to make me want to spread them. I am sure you’ve heard some too. At the end of the day it is the good ones that keep us going and the ones that give us and those around us hope in the hardest times. I’ve been lucky to hear them but hopefully Can-Did will let you hear them yourself. Do you have one?


8 Comments

  1. Avatar of gen gengen says:

    Finding you have cancer is a shock, i was told on the telephone and my first reaction was “ho my God no” and then straith away i thougt i will deal with this and became calm……. I had chemo and radiotherapy, 5 weeks of gruelling war, i can tell you that the last week was the worst…… I was hospitalized twice in between but i neve lost courage, it was tough, make no mistake, but i was determined to do the whole therapy, my son had to take me thee every day because driving was out of the questions…. But i won, cancer can be beaten, especially if found early, if you feel your body is telling you something, dont leave it, thinking it will gi away, it will niot, it will get worst…. Go for tests, pluck up the courage to go to therapy and WIN….. Because you can….. Never give up, if you believe in God, and I do, miracles do happen even today, take it to him in prayer and believe. sure, you will have highs and lows, but at the end you are here for a purpose and this might just reveal what that purpose is….. be positive is the key word, my sons never thought i would give up, mom is the though one….. That helped too…. best wishes to all out the…. I am a survivor

  2. Avatar of Can-Did Can-Did says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Gen! This is exactly what the aim of Can-Did is: to show examples of successful battles with cancer and to help those that might be going through something similar. I admire the strong determination you had while going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy and the fact that you refused to give up in any way! It would be interesting to hear what kept you going during the tough treatment process and if you had any specific techniques to take through the low points your mentioned?

    It’s great to have you as a Can-Did member! If you know anyone else who would like to share their story or connect with like-minded people, then please feel free to invite them to join.

  3. Avatar of gen gen says:

    Thank you for the lovely welcome, and thank you for starting this sharing pages, I hope many people will find comfort and a better understanding of this scary illness, I have always been a realist and I have always tackled thinsgs head on but this was a real scary thing….. the way I dealt with the lows, i tried everything, praying, counting the days in rerverse, saying only 10 more days, I would not count the actual day of the treatment, that was over even before it started, while I was hospitalized in the cancer ward, the first time, i was not as sick as the second time and i went around saying hallo to the people and tryiing to cheer them up, i met many people that were sicker than me and still were positive, and it gave me courage…… And I prayed to GOD for them, and that helped my low….
    And also the fact that it if you really dont give up you find the strength to go on…… you must choose life and i did, and now i am all clear…. since thursday this week…. I am still coming to grip with it….. it feels scary in some strange way, because i feel i have been gjven a gift and i better use it well…. Ok, scary may be the wrong word, but after waiting for 6 months for the results i am so grateful i dont know how to show it….. So this is my start, to share it with you all……. You can do it, its possible….. Choose life, the lows will pass and the radiation burns DO get better, keep calm and all will be as it should, have faith……. God bless

  4. Avatar of gen gen says:

    Today I was brave, or at least I felt brave, my hair is growing back and it is dark, and I went to see a friend without a hat…. it might not mean much but it meant a lot to me… perhaps by Christmas I will have my lovely curls back… no, wait…. not perhaps… I will have my curls back, but if it is strait, it is just fine…. I am really getting there…. Jay Jay…

  5. Avatar of JONBOY JONBOY says:

    Well done Gen, you were brave and im sure you will get there by Christmas (straight ot curly). Keep up the positive mind set.

    Jonboy

  6. Hey, everybody! Gen, I would say that I really appreciate your strength and the power you have. But this is so trivial…that I am sure you know it, and you have heard it so many times.. That’s why I am just saying that the fact that you spread your story impressed me as much as the actual story. You try to convince more and more people that there is a chance for them and that there is a point to fight. Because maybe for people suffering from cancer it makes a big difference if a real winner in the fight with cancer tells them that they CAN because he or she is the living proof instead of listening to “encouraging speeches” from their relatives and friends, who have never had anything in common with the disease. I have read all your comments and I noticed that you say “Never give up, if you believe in God, and I do, miracles do happen even today” Yes, it’s necessary to believe in God, to know that there is someone who helps us, but also it’s so important that you were believing in YOURSELF! I don’t know if you noticed or not, but in all your comments there is ellipsis so many times.. you can’t even describe what you have experienced and what is the feeling to know that you’re a winner! You try to help more and more people to get the same feeling! Keep spreading your story, encouraging people, they trust you, they can trust themselves!

  7. Avatar of gen gen says:

    Thank you for your reply, if I can help somebody to go another day, than I am happy, I have met some great people in the cance ward, we are all scared of the word cancer, some dont even want to say the word or read about it, it is just so strong a word, but somehow, when you are diagnosed with it, you find the courage to say it and then fight it…. And WIN….. Because you can….. God bless

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