I’ve started calling cancer “the C-word” because I’ve found that to most people it is a very frightening word. Almost all of us have had a friend or family member who had a terminal, aggressive cancer. Even if it was our best friend’s great-aunt that we didn’t really know, we have this impression that cancer is a painful, wasting disease that is incurable. We also have the impression that the treatments are painful and sometimes only make the patient sicker.
That is what we think of when we hear cancer, and the thoughts are frightening. We don’t want to think of anyone we love going through it. The fear can be huge and hard to deal with for everyone.
Well, sometimes cancer is like that, and sometimes it isn’t. If you believe anything I have written here, please, believe this: Not all cancers are the same. Cervical cancer is not the same as breast cancer. Neither is the same as small cell lung cancer. None of the above are the same as ovarian cancer. Treatments vary even more because they are different for each cancer, and they are different for each person! Weight, height, age, health – it all plays a factor in how your body reacts to the cancer and to how you will be treated.
Don’t assume that because you or someone you know has cancer that they are incurable. Some of the most common cancers have treatments with high success rates (some are 90% or above in early stages [Six Highly Treatable Cancers]. Even more aggressive cancers can be successfully treated. And some people react better to treatment than others. My treatments went very well with few side effects, and I had a stage III cancer. I’ve heard of others who continue working full time through their treatments.
The point is that even with the same cancer, each person’s response to the cancer and the treatment will be different. I know of two women of similar age who were diagnosed with the same type and level of breast cancer in the same year. One woman’s treatment went fine with few complications, and the other woman had all manner of complications before the cancer was finally defeated.
So please remember: Every cancer and every person is different. Thinking of the biggest, scariest example of cancer you know is not going to help anyone when you’re dealing with a different person and a different cancer. Not all cancers are created equal. I know it’s hard, but stress doesn’t help healing. Running horror stories through your mind of other cancers and other people only builds more stress that you don’t need. You’re dealing with this cancer and this person. They’re not the same, and frightening yourself does not help anyone.