I had mentioned earlier that personally and professionally cancer has been a part of my life.
I read about cancer a lot; I learnt most about it by reading the posts by cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, or advocates. I learn how it may feel to be diagnosed by this disease, how the patient or the people around them feel, think, wish, and do. Or cannot do. How they are treated. How they wish to be treated. What treatment options do they have? How do they go through this individual journey? What works? What absolutely do not work? What is palliative care? How is it different than hospice care?
In Canada, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 45% of the population will be diagnosed by cancer and 25% will die because of it.
These numbers are huge.
It can hit you.
It can hit me.
It can hit someone next door.
We know that there are some factors associated with it; for example genetics in some cases (such as BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations), or environmental factors, such as smoking or viruses. Science serves its purpose here.
What we do not know is how it affects persons and how we can understand and support those individuals or ourselves as individuals, society, or government and non-profit organizations. How would you support yourself or others if you did not know the needs and experiences of the patients, their caregivers, and others?
As a matter of fact, why do we not know about these? Seriously. For such a common disease, why is this lack of awarenesses? Is it because we prefer to filter this information out (it is scary I know and we may not want to think about it), is it because it is not even out there?
So far, I have seen only one channel of information valuable and constantly growing; the voices of cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and others affected by cancer. That is why the blogs, posts, tweets by these individuals are so important. They are doing this huge work to get the words out. Listen, understand, and support if you wish.