Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone. Imagine you are suddenly in the grip of cancer. You thought you knew how the world worked or at least the parts of it. When cancer cells slowly started eating your cells, you stopped trusting your thoughts and beliefs.
Perhaps you realised too late that you should have listened to people when they talked about steps to avoid getting sick.
Patients who beat cancer have a great positive attitude and this is what really differentiates the survivors from the dead. Terminally ill patients are told umpteen times about staying positive. Not all can keep smiling in the face of nerve-wracking pain and tedious treatments.
Cancer is diagnosed in different ways. Some have a family history and their doctors monitor them for years. Others show persisting symptoms and a definitive diagnosis is more of a terrible confirmation than a shock. Another group goes on with their busy lives till one day they check in for a routine appointment to receive the bad news.
All these people must have had the common symptoms of cancer like pain, weight loss without reason, fatigue, recurring fever, changes in skin tones, sores that don’t heal, cough or hoarseness that doesn’t go away.
According to WHO, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. The most common in 2020 were breast (2.26 million cases), lung (2.21 million cases), colon and rectum (1.93 million cases), prostate (1.41 million cases), skin (1.20 million cases) and stomach (1.09 million cases).
Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution are risk factors for cancer (and other noncommunicable diseases).
We should have more hospitals, medical researchers, doctors, nurses and nutritionists to keep us safe from cancer.
This is what I want to tell a terminally patient with no hopes and life is a daily grind of pain and fear. Keep telling your body that you want to live, perhaps not very impossible. Repeat the same to your doctor who tells you to start the final countdown. You have to remember the simple fact that generally happy people do not get sick. Even anger or frustrations can turn into cancer. So you need to get rid of those feelings, or they will kill you.
It is hard to imagine the life of a person who loses father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister to cancer after suffering for long. Only time can heal the wound. We should get on with life to let nature take its course.
(The author is physician, medical innovator and writer)