National Cancer Survivors’ Day is an annual, treasured celebration of life that is held in hundreds of communities around the world on the first Sunday in June. It is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community.
We have always been fascinated by the power of the will to live. Like all creatures in the animal world, human beings have a fierce survival instinct. The will to live is a force within all of us to fight for survival when our lives are threatened by a disease such as cancer. Yet this force is stronger in some people than in others.
The mind’s role in causing and curing disease has been debated endlessly. Speculation abounds, particularly in the case of cancer. But no studies have proven in a scientifically valid way that a person can control the course of his or her cancer with the mind, although patients often believe otherwise.
Many individual cases attest to the power of positive attitudes and emotions. One patient with high-risk cancer had a mastectomy at the age of twenty-nine. At thirty-one, she had advanced Stage IV cancer with widespread massive liver and bone involvement and, subsequently, extensive lung metastases. She also had an amazingly strong will to live.
Their “will to live” means that they want to live, whether or not they’re afraid to die. They want to enjoy life, they want to get more out of life, they believe that their life is not over, and they’re willing to do whatever they can to squeeze more out of it.
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. If you can accept your condition and hold self-pity at bay, others won’t feel sorry for you. If you can discuss your disease and medical therapy matter-of-factly, they’ll respond in kind without fear or awkwardness. 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. A person who is lonely or alone often feels like a helpless victim. There is a need to share your 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 group therapy. Sharing frustrations with others in similar circumstances often relieves the sense of isolation, terror, and despair cancer patients often feel.
Those who must live with cancer can live to the maximum of their capacity by
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. 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.
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 can 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. These resources are the foundation of the will to live. Only by using the power of the will to live—nourished by hope—can we achieve the sublime feelings of knowing and experiencing the wonders of life and appreciate its meanings through vital living.
Today, most people with cancer are treated as outpatients, meaning they don’t have to stay in the hospital. During this time they often need help, support, and encouragement.
Many studies have found that cancer survivors with strong emotional support tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and often report better quality of life. Research has shown that people with cancer need support from friends. You can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer.