Thursday, May 22, 2008

Positive People Vs. Cancer...who wins?

In light of the recent news of Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, I found this article. Click on the title to view it in full. This is an interesting article, and one that I felt compelled to say something about. According to this article, quote:

Research and anecdotes have shown mixed results regarding the link between a positive attitude and living longer or beating a disease. Some studies find that optimism is associated with lower risk of heart attacks, while other research shows no link between emotional well-being and cancer survival.

Well, all I have to say is this: My dad was diagnosed with the "big C" in 1998 and he stayed alive and kickin' for almost seven years even when the doctors said he only had 18 months. He went through one round of chemo and radiation during this experience, and went to his regular checkups the way he was supposed to. He stayed as active as he could throughout the last few years of his life and worked hard to make his last years good ones for himself and our family. He taught us well by example.

I guess what gets me is that the research says there's no link, as the quote has stated above. I can't believe that. Dad was a fighter, and the fact that he lived a few years past the prognosis can't be just a fluke of science. He was realistic about his limited time on earth, but he didn't give up.

Furthermore, the article states:

But does any of that mean a good outlook can help someone survive a brain tumor? A survey...of more than 1,000 cancer patients found that emotional well-being had no bearing on cancer progression and death. The results were published this year in the journal Cancer.

When Coyne spoke with cancer patients about the study results, he said, they were relieved.

"A lot of them felt badly, particularly those who had advanced cancer, that if the cancer had advanced they hadn't done enough," James Coyne, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told LiveScience. "They felt like they were letting people down."

I don't think my dad thought himself a failure when his health took a downward turn the summer before he died. That's just not the way he was. He was a mix of realism and positive thinking.

Dad's attitude about his cancer also inspired others to make changes and take action in their lives.

Dad's fight inspired my brother in law to quit smoking. Dad's fight inspired me to mend fences with my sister. Dad's example helped my mother through many of the grief phases. But Dad's attitude -- most of all -- helped him to not take his life for granted.

Then again, maybe these are just words of a woman who doesn't want to think her father died in vain and that his attitude didn't matter.

Thoughts? Anyone?