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article imageApril Cancer Research Month Brings Out the 'Can' in Cancer Help Special

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 4, 2009 in Health
Cancer is a word that strikes fear and takes most people a sentence to express. But it can be expressed by a single word: "can. Some professionals in the medical and support groups are proving that right now.
John Hopkins Hospital is one of those places where researchers and medical personnel are supporting the "can" in cancer. The goal of a nurse-managed research and treatment group is to provide intervention and support for cancer on many levels. They are doing innovative studies to examine cancer-related differences in diagnosis and treatment across different racial and ethnic groups. They are looking at new ways to identify women at risk for breast and cervical cancer. In addition they are examining alternative treatments like mind-body connections to increase the quality of life for individuals with cancer. Other researchers are supporting these efforts through looking at end-of-life issues as well.
The "can" in cancer approach emphasizes what can be done as opposed to the melancholy orientation that focuses upon the bad things and makes fatal pronouncements early, sometimes too early, some might say. This approach in support is oriented towards helping people deal with cancer, not being blamed for it, and for dealing with some of the side effects in ways that allow people to be as comfortable as they can be.
Research is trying to determine what it is about certain ethnic groups that make them susceptible to specific forms of cancer. For example Korean women in America have high rates of both breast and cervical cancer. This is one example of looking at ethnic differences along with other factors in the assessment of the causes and treatment for this disease.
Cancer brings fear into people's lives. There are community support groups, as there are in Natchitoches, Louisiana for example. The Internet also has resources, some that have special information on dealing with fear and helping people understand and cope with the disease.
Carolyn Harrington in Natchitoches is a cancer survivor and strong advocate for the "can" approach. She told me "I am ordinarily an optimistic type of person anyway." She believes faith is important but that a can-do attitude combined with an optimistic spirit can help an individual overcome fear. Families and friends need to help the cancer victim. At one meeting of a local cancer support group members talked about close associates not wanting to talk about the cancer and some even shunning family members or friends with it. Harrington finds this hard to believe, as it is so critical to have a platform of support from those who care.
She also told me that having a network of communication is important.
The "can" in cancer may not seem like news to many people; but it is far different than the approach that only deals with traditional treatment methods, medical intervention and a one-size-fits-all approach. It also does away with infusing guilt on patients. So this new way of people taking charge of their lives, assisted by those in the "can" community might make a real difference in the understanding and treatment of cancer.
More about Cancer survivors, Cancer research, Cancer treatment
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