Cancer is not a death sentence. Cure rates continue to improve as new medicines and treatments are discovered. Some types of cancer have better prognoses (outlooks) than others, but overall, people with cancer are living longer than ever before.
Doctors cannot predict how long a person will live. They can only make an educated guess based on what they’ve seen in other patients in similar situations. Even when a person’s outlook is poor, encouraging test results, new research discoveries, and treatments that can help control the disease can give hope. Love and support can also provide hope.
Regardless of the prognosis, this time is a chance to do things you’ve always wanted to do and spend quality time with family and friends.
Kay, cancer survivor: “My children have been my greatest motivation for staying healthy. I think they are more compassionate and sensitive individuals from having to deal with my cancer. I pray that they have learned to take care of their own health and take preventive actions to ensure their own survival. I am a 13-year survivor of breast cancer …. I’ve had doctors tell me how lucky I am to be alive, considering how extensive my cancer was. I have to admit that my immediate thought was that I was going to die – and soon. I would like every person who hears this dreaded information to know that they don’t have to be a statistic. Just because the statistics say something, well, there are always exceptions. I’ve also had basal, squamous, and melanoma skin cancers and cervical cancer. I’m still here to watch my children grow, and I plan on seeing my 6 year-old have children of his own.”
Keep the focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Lead an active life and have a sense of purpose. These things help most people cope with cancer. It’s not always possible to do things you did in the past, but there are ways to make each day count.
Cheng, cancer survivor: “Always carry a good laugh inside, as humor is the foundation for successfully facing life’s challenges. Funny things do happen in the most desperate circumstances. We just have to take the blinders off. Of course this doesn’t mean that cancer is a laugh-a-minute experience because it certainly is not. We just need to be receptive to all parts of our life and not only the bad.”
Last Medical Review: 06/26/2014
Last Revised: 06/26/2014