An online article I recently read hit on several themes I plan to address in my upcoming nonfiction book, tentatively titled Beyond Your Cancer Identity.
Death rate down
Did you know that the cancer death rate has dropped by 23 percent since 1991? Chemo, radiation, and other treatments do not usually cure cancer but rather keep cancer in check. More and more people are learning to live longer lives in remission or with slow-progressing, chronic cancer.
Language of cancer
It is now (past the) time to reframe how we talk about cancer. Instead of referring to fighting a battle with cancer and other war analogies, we should rethink our language.
Instead of calling myself a cancer survivor, I prefer to say I am in remission from cancer (five years this summer!), or affected by cancer, or have cancer in my medical history.
We do not stay in the flight-or-fight mode forever after diagnosis. After the initial therapies for acute forms of cancer, we shift to a new normal, where we move between a daily world, with its ups and downs, to cancer world.
The world of cancer, which one woman in the article called “Cancerland,” is where we face our mortality up-close. It is a land we visit for monitoring tests and labs, scheduled clinic appointments with our specialists, and the occasional visit to the hospital for tune-ups or caustic infections.
These distressing times in cancer world do not remain there, though. Often what is now called cancer distress—anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress—spills over into daily life.
The article concludes with a quotation from a psycho-oncologist at the Mayo Clinic who says the distress from cancer can last a long time.
Let’s change our minds about cancer
That’s where my book will make a difference. With Beyond Your Cancer Identity, I aim to help readers overcome cancer distress through my own examples based on longstanding, validated yoga practices as well as interviews and stories from others affected by cancer.
We need to change our minds about cancer, literally. What’s that? Instead of staying stuck in cancer world, I will share techniques with Beyond Your Cancer Identity readers to help them be in the present moment, to not miss out on their daily lives.
I want others with cancer in their medical history to know, as I do, it’s still good to be alive.