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Old 12-09-2013, 04:25 PM   #21
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I disagree. Cancer treatment either works or not, and it doesn't make a particle of difference to the outcome whether the patient is a pessimist, a pollyanna or somewhere in between. IMO this emphasis on attitude, and the whole "cancer as battle" metaphor are forms, albeit unconscious, of blaming the victim. They put incredible pressure on the person with cancer to maintain an unnatural attitude in the face of extremely negative circumstances, and indeed can demand near-detachment from reality.
I have to agree with this. The pressure to be *happy* and *positive* when you've got a terminal illness is not always a good thing. Both my parents and my brother died of cancer. My brother was fully positive he'd beat the the odds (despite having a terminal diagnosis from the beginning). He felt that sheer will power would cure him. He died 4 months after his diagnosis. His affairs were less in order because he felt that admitting his mortality would be conceding... that he'd be giving in.

A good friend lost her battle with cancer a few years ago - that was the hardest part she had was people telling her she should stay upbeat when she felt justified in being ANGRY about her diagnosis... The "friends" who would tell her not to get angry didn't seem to get that it is perfectly reasonable to be angry when you have your health pulled out from under you. And being in denial and perky doesn't change the diagnosis.

That said - dwelling on the bad is probably not good for overall happiness... but it's unreasonable to try to force people with bad news to stay positive all the time.
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:43 AM   #22
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Sorry to hear about your friend, Calmloki. I think the replies to this thread are very valuable. I just want to add my thoughts on what you can do to give support to your friend ( based on my own experiences dealing with a few major surgeries though not life threatening but immobilized and depressed me). Don't wait for her to call but do call her regularly. If possible, skype her. Since you mentioned you can't be physically there for her, send her little gifts not only for her but her children too. I remember I loved gifts of nourishing food and fruits the most because I was not able to cook my own food or go to the market. I had my food catered and it was really boring food. So, whatever my friends brought me were little treats.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:41 AM   #23
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I have to agree with this. The pressure to be *happy* and *positive* when you've got a terminal illness is not always a good thing. Both my parents and my brother died of cancer. My brother was fully positive he'd beat the the odds (despite having a terminal diagnosis from the beginning). He felt that sheer will power would cure him. He died 4 months after his diagnosis. His affairs were less in order because he felt that admitting his mortality would be conceding... that he'd be giving in. A good friend lost her battle with cancer a few years ago - that was the hardest part she had was people telling her she should stay upbeat when she felt justified in being ANGRY about her diagnosis... The "friends" who would tell her not to get angry didn't seem to get that it is perfectly reasonable to be angry when you have your health pulled out from under you. And being in denial and perky doesn't change the diagnosis. That said - dwelling on the bad is probably not good for overall happiness... but it's unreasonable to try to force people with bad news to stay positive all the time.
I agree pressuring a person fighting any serious disease to be positive or happy is not the best approach. However, it does help to get their mind off their disease occasionally and bring some laughter into their life. It won't help fight the disease, but laughter does ease the pain for the patient and the family. I'll never forget some of the "good times" spent with my mother as she lay in her hospital bed. My last memory of her was a smile and laugh while reflecting on better days. When my wife underwent chemo ten years ago we talked about the things we needed to take care of, but we also had some good times. The other patients getting chemo often joined in sharing their own stories. My wife is still with me and we still have fond memories of the time we shared during her treatments.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:40 AM   #24
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The difference is that you, as a currently healthy person, are making the effort to be cheerful and distracting, not expecting the sick person to do it.

I feel that when we pressure sick, unfortunate, or demented people to snap out of it and be positive, we are sapping what little energy they have. In a way, we're almost asking them to help us feel better about their trouble.

When we distract them by being cheerful, ourselves, we're creating a little oasis for their small remaining fund of energy, so they can stay with us longer (or get better, if that's in the cards).

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However, it does help to get their mind off their disease occasionally and bring some laughter into their life. .
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:33 AM   #25
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I disagree. Cancer treatment either works or not, and it doesn't make a particle of difference to the outcome whether the patient is a pessimist, a pollyanna or somewhere in between. IMO this emphasis on attitude, and the whole "cancer as battle" metaphor are forms, albeit unconscious, of blaming the victim. They put incredible pressure on the person with cancer to maintain an unnatural attitude in the face of extremely negative circumstances, and indeed can demand near-detachment from reality. Based on the ACS statistics linked above, it's much more probable that calmloki's neighbor will die sometime in the next five years than that she'll survive. To acknowledge this as fact isn't "defeatist", it's simply realistic. If this most probable outcome is what eventually happens, to say at that point that she "lost her battle with cancer" is to imply that if she had "fought" harder, she wouldn't have died. It's to say that people die of cancer not because treatment was or became ineffective, but because of defeatist attitudes and not fighting hard enough.

I am also currently in treatment for stage IV cancer, and although the statistics for me are not as dire as those for calmloki's neighbor, chances are I won't survive the next five years either. I do try (not always successfully) to avoid getting into an emotional down-spiral, because despondency is a miserable state to be in, even briefly. Staying out of the black vortex of despair will make my life better, but I don't believe it will make it any longer.
Kyounge - you popped into my mind the other day and I had been meaning to look for posts from you. I want to thank you for your post. I had never thought about how the words we use such as "fight" , "battle" etc feel to the person who has the illness. Your post was very eye opening and I will certainly be more attuned to using these words and metaphors in the future.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:37 AM   #26
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Colon cancer develops slowly, taking some 5 to 10 or more years to become deadly, from what I've read. As the above link to 5-year survival rates shows, early detection greatly improves the odds.

So, get that non-intrusive stool sample test annually!
I agree with getting the stool test annually. I have a friend who died from colon cancer. She had a clean colonscopy 3 years earlier. While colon cancer usually develops slowly it doesn't always do so.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:56 AM   #27
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I agree with getting the stool test annually. I have a friend who died from colon cancer. She had a clean colonscopy 3 years earlier. While colon cancer usually develops slowly it doesn't always do so.
The stool test is so easy and cost effective that everyone should have it done annually. And men who get the prostate exam -- well, the doc has the sample right there and should use it.

That said, it is not perfect. I had some visible symptoms occasionally. My iron was also getting low. But the fecal occult test kept coming up negative. It was just "bad luck" that any bleeding was in between.

Luckily, my bleed was from a big non-malignant polyp (found upon colonoscopy). The polyp was bad enough that I have to have another scope after only a year.

Just saying get the stool test ... but if you see anything suspicious despite any negative stool test, go for further consultation. It may be more than hemorrhoids.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:11 PM   #28
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The difference is that you, as a currently healthy person, are making the effort to be cheerful and distracting, not expecting the sick person to do it.

I feel that when we pressure sick, unfortunate, or demented people to snap out of it and be positive, we are sapping what little energy they have. In a way, we're almost asking them to help us feel better about their trouble.

When we distract them by being cheerful, ourselves, we're creating a little oasis for their small remaining fund of energy, so they can stay with us longer (or get better, if that's in the cards).

Amethyst
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:16 PM   #29
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Kyounge - you popped into my mind the other day and I had been meaning to look for posts from you. I want to thank you for your post. I had never thought about how the words we use such as "fight" , "battle" etc feel to the person who has the illness. Your post was very eye opening and I will certainly be more attuned to using these words and metaphors in the future.
That's just my personal view of the matter. Some people with cancer like the metaphor of treatment as a war, with cancer as the enemy. In fact, some people think that their attitude influences how well their treatment works. As far as I know, however, there is no evidence in support of that particular belief.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:18 PM   #30
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I agree with getting the stool test annually. I have a friend who died from colon cancer. She had a clean colonscopy 3 years earlier. While colon cancer usually develops slowly it doesn't always do so.
OK OK, I have been really remiss on this one. Two close relatives (father and brother) have died of colon cancer. I've had colonoscopies on the recommended schedule for people with family history of colorectal cancer, but haven't kept up to date with the occult blood check.

Note to self: pick up test kit after doctor appointment today.
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Old 12-10-2013, 03:06 PM   #31
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The thing with Colon cancer is it can be aggressive if it occurs in someone young... my brother had an all clear when he was about 36 and he was dead before he turned 41. At same time I have heard colon cancer in older people is "slower" and its tough to lump even all types of colon cancer into one category- each person's cancer treatment is very individual from what he told me.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:32 PM   #32
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I feel that when we pressure sick, unfortunate, or demented people to snap out of it and be positive, we are sapping what little energy they have. In a way, we're almost asking them to help us feel better about their trouble.

Amethyst
Patients respond in different ways. Their response also may be different depending on their stage of cancer, mood, time of the day, .... There will be times when people around a patient needs to be cheerful, sympathetic, act normal, be harsh, ..... One size does not fit all in this case.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:44 PM   #33
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I agree with getting the stool test annually. I have a friend who died from colon cancer. She had a clean colonscopy 3 years earlier. While colon cancer usually develops slowly it doesn't always do so.
I just talked to my Sister today, she has just been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was detected by a colonoscopy. She hasn't informed our other siser of her diagnosis yet. After she does, we will talk about the need for annual stool tests. My Dr. does them right with my prostrate exam. I'm not sure hers would have been detected with a stool test, as it was found in a pallup that was removed.

Her Dr. thinks it was caught very early. But she will have to have a section of her colon removed. There's no family history of anything except skin cancer.

I encourage all to have the annual tests and regular colonscopy. Some might fear the latter, but it's nothing, the preps not fun, but cancer treatments are much worse than a day spend in the library.

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Old 12-11-2013, 03:55 PM   #34
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I am also currently in treatment for stage IV cancer, and although the statistics for me are not as dire as those for calmloki's neighbor, chances are I won't survive the next five years either. I do try (not always successfully) to avoid getting into an emotional down-spiral, because despondency is a miserable state to be in, even briefly. Staying out of the black vortex of despair will make my life better, but I don't believe it will make it any longer.
Very sorry to hear this. You have a positive yet realistic attitude, which I think is important. My sister made it 6 and a half years with breast cancer that mestatized to he liver. She originally was given 6 months to live.......she sure was happy they were wrong, and packed more into those 6 and a half years than most people will do in a lifetime. She knew she was living on borrowed time so she made the most of it, and died with few regrets...........
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:20 PM   #35
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I am so sorry to hear this bad news. I have lost several loved one to it.
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Old 12-11-2013, 04:31 PM   #36
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I just talked to my Sister today, she has just been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was detected by a colonoscopy. She hasn't informed our other siser of her diagnosis yet. After she does, we will talk about the need for annual stool tests. My Dr. does them right with my prostrate exam. I'm not sure hers would have been detected with a stool test, as it was found in a pallup that was removed.

Her Dr. thinks it was caught very early. But she will have to have a section of her colon removed. There's no family history of anything except skin cancer.

I encourage all to have the annual tests and regular colonscopy. Some might fear the latter, but it's nothing, the preps not fun, but cancer treatments are much worse than a day spend in the library.

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Hopefully early detection will allow for a successful treatment and long life.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:59 AM   #37
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Cancer is a terrible disease that does not care if its patient is rich or poor, a nice person or an ass, fat or thin, good-looking or homely... It happens more among older people, but plenty of young people get it. Treatment results also vary widely. There's so much we do not know about it.

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I just talked to my Sister today, she has just been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was detected by a colonoscopy...

Her Dr. thinks it was caught very early. But she will have to have a section of her colon removed. There's no family history of anything except skin cancer...
You did not mention the stage of her cancer. I guess they will not know until the pathology report to be performed after the colectomy.

I saw several statistics that showed that in the past Stage II patients survival rates were lower than that of Stage III patients! It was suggested that perhaps Stage III patients were treated more aggressively with post-surgery chemo, and that helped.

Another thing I saw was that the staging by CT or PET scans, and even pathology examination are not 100% accurate when they look for affected lymph nodes for cancer staging. Perhaps many patients were understaged, hence undertreated.

And regarding published survival rates, it is noted that as many of cancer patients are old and may suffer from multiple illnesses, their eventual death is not necessarily from the cancer itself. Younger patients should have a better chance as they tend to be of better health. They can also undergo more rigorous treatments.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:46 AM   #38
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You did not mention the stage of her cancer. I guess they will not know until the pathology report to be performed after the colectomy.

I saw several statistics that showed that in the past Stage II patients survival rates were lower than that of Stage III patients! It was suggested that perhaps Stage III patients were treated more aggressively with post-surgery chemo, and that helped.

.
Thank you for that information. Yes you are correct, they won't be able to tell the stage till post-op.
Very interesting about stage 2 survival vs stage 3. That rational makes sense, I've never met anyone that wished they could sign up for Chemo. I'll pass that information on at the right time.

Wasn't trying to thread jack, just wanted to emphasize the need and benefits of screening. After my silly vertigo issues are taken care of I will be updating my Dr. on family history.
Thanks also to the folks that sent positive posts. This is a great forum, with great folks on it.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:05 AM   #39
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Found out a friend and neighbor was just diagnosed with this 11/25. First doctor wanted to just send her home to get her affairs in order, a second operated and the neighbor now has a bag around her waist for elimination. Chemo may by started Monday if her healing is adequate. Several spots on her lungs, liver double normal size, fist sized tumor removed as well as some lymph nodes. Blood work fairly normal. Young woman, 3 year old twins and a 6 year old.

I get the feeling stage 4 isn't something one survives very long but don't know. We've told her to call whenever she wants to talk; can anyone offer up their thoughts on what is going to happen and guesses on when? Suggestions on what to say or what we can do? Kind of rocked by this - an outstanding little family that we greatly admire.

PM if you wish.
Sorry to hear this. I cannot offer advice on what will happen but I had a great friend die 3 yrs ago from cancer and his wife told me how some of his
"friends" disappeared. I think that is the worst thing someone can do.
I would call her to check up on her and see if she would like company or if
there is errands, bring food etc. that you can do.
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Old 12-13-2013, 12:28 PM   #40
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The thing with Colon cancer is it can be aggressive if it occurs in someone young... my brother had an all clear when he was about 36 and he was dead before he turned 41. At same time I have heard colon cancer in older people is "slower" and its tough to lump even all types of colon cancer into one category- each person's cancer treatment is very individual from what he told me.
Not always. The friend that that I spoke of that died of colon cancer 3 years after a clear colonoscopy was 75.
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