by Liz O’Riordan MD, Cancer Survivor
As a breast surgeon, I was always vaguely aware of World Cancer Day, but the significance of it passed me by. And then I got diagnosed with breast cancer myself, and I went from being a doctor to being a patient, having the very illness that I was an expert in. I never thought breast cancer could happen to me, and I didn’t check my breasts regularly – which goes against everything I tell my patients. But I did get cancer, and I got the full works when it came to treatment. Five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and implant reconstruction, followed by further lymph node removal and then radiotherapy. The finishing touch was an instant chemical menopause, which was not what I had planned at the age of 40.
by Pat Taylor, CKN Editor
For me, an AYA (adolescent and young adult) cancer advocate for the past 20 years, World Cancer Day conjures up feelings of passion, patience, persistence and perseverance.
Passion for all those AYA cancer awareness organizations and individual advocates around the world who have campaigned to have the voices of the AYA cancer community recognized, heard, acknowledged and sustained – from prevention education, through diagnosis, treatment, short and long term effects, metastic/advanced stages, palliative care, end-of-life and beyond.
by SarahRose Black, MMT, MTA, RP, CKN Music & Creative Therapies Editor
Human beings live and move through the world in a musical way, from the rhythmic pulsing of our hearts and blinking of our eyes to the cyclical processes of our physiological patterns. Regardless of any training or predisposition to the arts, we are naturally musical beings. Because of our inherent musicality, our lifelong associations with music, and the cultural significance of music around the world, engaging in music can be stimulating, energizing, comforting, or relaxing. In some cases, music can change our physiology by slowing our breathing patterns or stimulating a neurological release of dopamine or a reduction in cortisol. The benefits of music are boundless, and the impact of music can extend throughout the lifespan, and at any stage of illness or wellness.
by Dennis Maione, Cancer Survivor, Advocate
I am no stranger to cancer; in fact you might say I know him pretty well. As a carrier of one of the Lynch Syndrome mutations, I have had two encounters with him, one in 1992 and the other in 2007 (yup, 2017 marks 10 years since the last time I personally encountered cancer). And with every year that passes, I have a diminished desire to know him any better. Sure, when I was in the throes of diagnosis and treatment I wanted to know everything about cancer: why I encountered him, how we were going to get rid of him. And when we found out that my son has the same genetic mutation that I do, we wanted to know how to reduce his chances of having an encounter with cancer.
by Karen Ladner Haas, Childhood Cancer Advocate
Going into 2017, I have mixed emotions about cancer. I feel optimistic about my son’s battle with the disease itself, but I am frustrated about the long term side effects of the treatment he endured. It seems that with each passing year, we find out about more long term effects. I know from discussions with other parents, and from our personal experience, that survivors face numerous issues. Long term effects of cancer treatment are a complex problem that can involve or lead to physical, cognitive, and mental health issues. Regular follow-up is necessary, and for many of the issues this means trips to the hospital. These trips can be physically, financially, and emotionally draining.
Sharing the Stories of Cancer
by Sharon Bray, Ed.D.
She’s lived in my memory for sixty years.
Death steals everything except our stories.
These two final lines of Jim Harrison’s poem, “Larson’s Holstein Bull,” tell of a young girl and her death from a bull goring. The poem is short, descriptions lean, but the impact of the final line is profound: “Death steals everything except our stories.”