Phil Froats is on medical leave from his job as an award winning data journalism editor with two of Canada's leading business magazines. He has created the blog www.cancerslessons.com as part of the healing journey from his second cancer encounter.
From 2010 three of my friends and I have racked up cancers of the tonsils, lymph nodes, bowel, intestines, prostate, lungs, liver and bone. So why with all this recent health crap do we still look happy? There are many reasons, but three stand out.
Issac Newton said that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. While this may be true for physics, it certainly does not carry over into interpersonal matters. Often the gentlest of gestures, smallest of actions or the quietest of whispered kind words will have an avalanche effect on the lives of others.
After watching four commercials for Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) products in one hour on the news, I began to wonder how much this organization spends to entice people to gamble. How many extra CT machines or dollars in cancer research would there be if marketing expenses were sliced back?
The second line of the serenity prayer is "to accept the things we cannot change." This sounds really easy but in reality can be quite difficult. A prime example of this is cancer. For those of us who contract cancer, we cannot change that fact. Once cancer is accepted, our attitude toward it changes.
Serenity is priceless, especially when you have a life crisis like cancer. During these times, fear can be overwheming and your thoughts are a ceaseless series of awful possibilities. Our modern day world is not conducive to serenity. Even at the best of times, we are inundated with responsibilities and information.
I never was comfortable with being called a cancer survivor. To me it gives too much power to cancer and not enough to the person. I like the term cancer veteran. Veteran is a much more active and participatory term than survivor.
What do you do when you find out that a friend has cancer? This is the type of news that can make you feel awkward in the relationship. Here are some suggestions from what I've learned with two encounters with my own cancers.
Charities are a big business and this business is becoming more competitive and costly each year. There are over 85,000 organizations on the Canada Revenue Agency's Charities Directorate. They employ a lot of people to chase more than $8.3 billion dollars in donations as reported by Statistics Canada. When you make a donation with your hard earned money, you want it to go to the cause. It is understood that some of the donation will be used for administrative costs and fundraising but one hopes that a large percentage will reach the people you intend to help. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
During cancer treatments there are other, often less thought of expenses, that can really add up. Take hospital parking. Over a course of treatments this really adds up. Full parking charges, twice a week for six weeks can cost you up to $276 at Sunnybrook on top of the cost of getting your car to the hospital.
When you look at the numbers alone, it boggles the mind why there have not been more measures taken to curb or eliminate smoking altogether. One of the main reasons is governments' addiction to tobacco taxes. At times, they show their true colours and flash this addiction for all to see.
The more you realize that your cancer is that stupid, the more you can believe that you can begin to have more authority over it. It is a two-trick pony that cannot do anything other than grow and transfer itself to other areas of your body. You can re-frame your thinking of cancer by looking at it as a mindless blob rather than a deadly force.