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Let's talk Life - When cancer comes

Published:Saturday | May 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Counsellor:

I am 50 years old and have just been diagnosed with cancer. I am frightened, fearful, bewildered and anxious. I don't know who to turn to, or what to do. I was thinking that I would live to the ripe old age of 100 but now I have to treasure each day as if it was the last.

- Janet

Dear Janet:

Whenever persons are diagnosed with cancer, it is as if they are told that death is imminent. It generates an emotional reaction that says either we fight or we die. It is understandable that we should be fearful and concerned.

However, all diagnoses of cancer are not death sentences, as some believe. The lethality of cancer depends on how aggressive it is, and if the cancer has spread to the other parts of the body.

Cancer can be localised to one area of the body or an organ, but sometimes it can spread to other parts of the body. If the cancer is not aggressive, is localised and can be removed completely, there is the possibility of survival for many years.

Sometimes with medical or surgical management, the possibility of a cure exists. Speak with your doctor and gather as much information as you can about the particular cancer. In your research, you will have many questions to ask.

Emotional support is vital, and you should seek help from family and friends. In talking to others about the cancer, you will gather information on personal experiences. This will provide a guide for you on the new aspects of your life's journey.

As soon as one has been diagnosed with cancer, one has to look to explore a healthier lifestyle. Nutrition, exercise, spirituality and risky behaviours come under the microscope at this time. You will feel sad as you grieve the loss of your health.

Thankfully these days, with screening and the use of technology, as well as surgical and medical regimes, cancers can be successfully treated.

Haunted by suicide

Dear Counsellor:

My brother committed suicide during a bout of depression. He was withdrawn and apathetic and gave no indication that he was considering suicide.

It happened in 2000 but it's like yesterday. I have been grieving but there is no end in sight. My brother was caring and loving, but it seems like an impulsive action. He is survived by two children who ask for their father daily. The entire family is suffering.

- Karen

Dear Karen:

It is unfortunate that your brother took his own life. Whenever loved ones die, we all go through the grieving process. Death is painful and distressing for those left behind.

Suicide is not well understood, and there are various theories to explain this condition. Some people become depressed or anxious or psychotic and consider suicide. Many people are impulsive and, thus, consider this an option. Sometimes people have dilemmas and view it as an escape route.

Whenever people have a crisis in their lives, they should seek support from friends and family. We all have crises from time to time, and so we need to build our support system. Family members and friends need to be supportive of each other, and to be there in times of crisis. Your support system should consist of people who will listen to you, encourage you and do things for you. These days it is easy to keep in touch using the telephone and the Internet.

You will need counselling to deal with the issues that have arisen. Your family will also need counselling as well. Pray about it and ask for guidance.

Email questions and feedback to Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson at or call her at 978-8602.