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Many patients say that facing the uncertainties of living with an illness makes life more meaningful. The smallest pleasures are intensified and much of the hypocrisy in life is eliminated. When bitterness and anger begin to dissipate, there is still a capacity for joy.


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Being outdoors, feeling the sun on my skin or the wind blowing against my body, hearing birds sing, breathing in the spray of the ocean. I never lose hope that I may somehow stumble upon or be graced with a victory against this disease. Unfortunately, and quite understandably, many patients react to the diagnosis of cancer in the same way that people in primitive cultures react to the imposition of a curse or spell: as a sentence to a ghastly death. In modern medical practice, a similar phenomenon may occur when, out of ignorance or superstition, a patient believes the diagnosis of cancer to be a death sentence.

However, the phenomenon of self-willed death is only effective if the person believes in the power of the curse. In all things, you have to take a risk if you want to win, to get a remission or recover with the best quality of life. Just the willingness to take a risk seems to generate hope and a positive atmosphere in which the components of the will to live are enhanced. There are many other ways of strengthening the will to live.

Getting Involved The best thing a patient can do to strengthen the will to live is to get involved as an active participant in combating his or her disease. When patients approach their disease in an aggressive fighting posture, they are no longer helpless victims. Instead, they become active partners with their medical support team in the fight for improvement, remission, or cure. This partnership must be based on honesty, open communication, shared responsibility, and education about the nature of the disease, therapy options, and rehabilitation.

The result of this partnership is an increased ability to cope that, in turn, nurtures the will to live. Helping and Sharing with Others — A way to strengthen this partnership is to extend the relationship to others. The emotional experience of sharing and enjoying your family and partnerships supports your love for life and your will to survive. As you make the transition from helpless victim to activist, one of the most important realizations is that you have everything to do with how others perceive you and treat you.

You are in charge. You can subtly and gently put your family, friends, and coworkers at ease by being frank about what you want to talk about or not talk about and by being explicit about whether and when you want their help. Sharing your life with others and receiving aid or support from friends and family will improve your ability to cope and help you fight for your life.

Cancer as Metaphor

A person who is lonely or alone often feels like a helpless victim. There is a need to share your own problems, but helping others find solutions to or cope better with the problems of daily living gives strength to both the giver and the receiver. There are few more satisfying experiences in life than helping a person in need.

Patients can also take part in psychological support programs, either through private counseling or through group therapy. Sharing frustrations with others in similar circumstances often relieves the sense of isolation, terror, and despair cancer patients often feel. Of all the ingredients in the will to live, hope is the most vital.

Hope is the emotional and mental state that motivates you to keep on living, to accomplish things, and to succeed.

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A person who lacks hope can give up on life and lose the will to live. Without hope, there is little to live for. But with hope, a positive attitude can be maintained, determination strengthened, coping skills sharpened, and love and support more freely given and received. Even if a diagnosis is such that the future seems limited, hope must be maintained. Hope is what people have to live on. Take away hope, and you take away a chance for the future, which leads to depression.

When people fall to that low emotional state, their bodies simply turn off. Hope can be maintained as long as there is even a remote chance for survival. It can be kindled and nurtured by minor improvements or a remission and maintained when crises or reversals occur. There may be times when you will feel exhausted and drained by never-ending problems and feel ready to give up the struggle to survive. All too often it seems easier to give up than to keep on fighting.

Frustrations and despair can sometimes feel overwhelming. Determination or dogged persistence is needed to accomplish the difficult task of fighting for your health. The experience of cancer not only is destructive in a physical way, but can be a major deterrent to your fighting attitude and will to live.

But even during the roughest times, there are often untapped reserves of physical and emotional strength to call upon to help you survive one more day. These reserves can add meaning to your life as well as serve as a lighthouse that leads you to a safe haven during a turbulent storm. Hope has different meanings for each person.

It is a component of a positive attitude and acceptance of our fate in life. We use our strengths to gain success to live life to the fullest.

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Circumstances often limit our hopes of happiness, cure, remission, or increased longevity. We also live with fears of poverty, pain, a bad death, or other unhappy experiences. You may worry so much that you lose sight of the possibility of recovery and lose your sense of optimism. On the other hand, you may become so hopeful and confident that you lose sight of reality. Your main challenge is balancing your worry and your hope. Hope is nourished by the way we live our lives.

Achieving the best quality of life requires settling old problems, quarrels, and family strife as well as completing current tasks. Problems that have not been resolved need to have completion. New tasks should be undertaken. If the future seems limited, you can achieve the satisfaction of knowing that you have taken care of your affairs and not left the burden to your family or others.

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By doing so, you can achieve peace of mind, which will also help strengthen your will to live. With each passing day, try to complete what you can and have that satisfaction that you have done your best. Be bold, be venturesome, and be willing to experience each day to the fullest to enhance your enjoyment of life. As long as fear, suffering, and pain can be controlled, life can be lived fully until the last breath. Each of us has the capacity to live each day a little better, but we need to focus on both purpose and goals and set into action a realistic daily plan—often altered many times—to help us achieve them.

A parent, a relative, a friend … The news never gets easier to take in each time. With 35 to 36 people handed a cancer diagnosis each day 1 , cancer is becoming a much less taboo topic to discuss. With every diagnosis comes a long and hard battle which may at times seem never ending. The good news however is that more cancer patients are surviving for a longer time, both in Singapore 2 and around the world 3.

"Critical to read if you know anyone with Cancer”

That in itself is an important fact to hold on to, especially in the face of a disease that has taken the lives of many. And if you are walking this journey with someone you know and love, or if you are reading up for your own knowledge, we have gathered the best estimates we can find for the common procedures and treatments. These figures are not meant to intimidate but to help you better prepare for a future that is not beyond the realm of possibility in this day and age. The actual cost of treatment will depend on:.

The numbers are scary. But arming yourself with this knowledge also means you can prepare - and even prevent yourself from contracting this disease. You can protect yourself and your family in both the best and worst case scenario. Genetic factors may mean you could be more likely to get cancer, but they are not the most important thing. On the flip side, it does not mean you have immunity against cancer if no one else in your family has had the disease. Cancer is caused by gene mutations, which can also happen through exposure to smoking, radiation, cancer-causing substances such as asbestos and even viruses.

According to the World Health Organization, making these lifestyle choices increases your risk of getting cancer:. Of course, the converse is also true - avoiding these 10 risk factors reduces the risk of developing cancer. One thing to note: the single biggest risk factor for cancer is tobacco use.

If you do light up, the idea of quitting may be daunting. But that does not mean it is impossible - research has shown that if you stay smoke-free for 28 days in a row, you are five times more likely to quit for good. It may be tempting to put off vaccinations and health screenings because of your packed schedule, but it would be wise to schedule it in and turn up.