The New York Times probably got a shock -- I know I did -- when the comments section accompanying its photo montage Picture Your Life After Cancer began to fill with the malaise, grief and anger of survivors.
If I get one more mailing/solicitation involving PINK RIBBONS I’ll scream!Life after cancer
-- Rosanne Soifer
I cannot forget what I went through, both physically and psychologically, although I do not dwell on these events. They are more like the glasses through which I see life. --Jay Kalish
"I told myself a story," my grief-stricken friend said, "that J was sick, sure, that she had cancer. She was getting treatment and she would get better and we would see her again." This did not happen. We did not see J again, we were not able to say goodbye. But it is reasonable to tell oneself that story: 11.4 million Americans living and working among us have survived cancer.
Some, like Raphael Pope Sussman, use the Internet to tell their stories. I titled this post with a nod to his blog The Audacity of Pope. There are hundreds of cancer stories online; his attests to his youth and sense of humor.
Before my diagnosis, I never found my life to be wholly funny or wholly serious. And that hasn't changed at all.What can change
We all want serenity, right? "To accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."
I believe we can affect change in at least two important areas of public policy. One is to promote prevention research that examines the cancer-causing potential of environmental toxins. You may have news stories about it last week: the president's Cancer Panel agrees.
The nation needs a comprehensive, cohesive policy agenda regarding environmental contaminants and protection of human health -- Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk (a 240-pg PDF)
The second important change needs to come in treatment research. This week I watched an amazing video produced by the American Association for Cancer Research. It cites a study that found 85% of patients were interested in clinical trials. Only 9% received information about them and only 3-4% end up participating. Not good enough.
What changes do you think are most important in our approach to cancer?