Saturday, January 31, 2009


Cancer, according to recent reports, kills more people than do road accidents and air accidents put together. Cancer has become the single most dreaded killer disease, striking more and more people. World over there has been a whopping increase in the number people being afflicted with Cancer. While in the US it is mostly Colon,Breast and Lung Cancers that afflict people most, in Australia ,Skin cancer too joins the list. In the developing countries like India, Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer and Liver Cancer dominate, along with Oral Cancer because of the large number of Tobacco-chewing people.
Cancer patients are on the rise, but the heartening factor is that great advancements are being made in treating cancer. New effective drugs are being used, new pain alleviating methods treatments are in place and advanced surgical techniques are being deployed. This phenomenon of great developments in Oncology (the study and treatment of Cancer) is spreading throughout the world without exception. The far-reaching and beneficial results of the untiring research in the field of Oncology, are definitely going to reach out to the suffering millions of Cancer patients, imparting them hope and alleviation.
Cancer is a double-edged sword. It strikes a patient physically and it causes untold mental trauma. They say Cancer is curable if detected early. Early detections do occur but these constitute an abysmally low percentage of the total number of Cancer cases detected. In developing countries like India, routine health checks are unheard of. People approach the hospital or the doctor only when they fall sick. Here most Cancer cases are detected only at an advanced stage, with metastases already in progress.
Cancer gives one the stark realization that an incurable affliction has struck entailing huge treatment expenses with negligible chances of survival. On top of this the concern that the surviving members of the patient's family would face serious financial issues, wreaks mental havoc on the patient as well as the family. But still the treatment has to be somehow undergone. The initial shock at being told by your doctor that you have Cancer, is followed by dejection and self-pity. It is very hard indeed to accept the fact that one has Cancer. Then follows the protracted courses of treatment -Chemotherapy, Surgery and Radiation, not necessarily in that order.
Cancer treatment is indeed traumatic,both physically and mentally. The cost of treatment apart, the treatment itself leaves long-standing scars on the mind as well as the body. The Chemo Injections have a wide range of side-effects like loss of hair, nausea and lowering the vital blood count, leaving the door open to infections. Continuous care and monitoring are vital. Surgery of course ,means removal of the affected part. Radiation too leaves scars and permanent discomforts to the patient's body, the most prominent being the unbearable burning sensation on the skin.
Cancer patients have to somehow generate the will to survive and withstand the traumas of treatment. Keeping the mind diverted during the treatment helps. Listening to Music, Listening to Cancer patients who have survived the crusade, Reading -all these things help. Everything helps- the kind words from a well-wisher, the soothing prayers of the believers, the constant attention by the nurses and the doctors- every little thing helps.
Cancer patients, best of all , have to believe in themselves. But thanks to modern medicine, new cancer-fighting drugs are available. It has been found that in the case of even advanced Breast cancers , hormone treatments are providing miraculous recoveries. Transplants are too helping the cause, like liver and lung transplants. Even the dreaded Leukemia which meant certain death, today is being treated with a great amount of success. New medicines, New technologies, New treatment approaches are working together to rid humanity of this great malignancy that is Cancer.
Cancer care today lays the emphasis on treating not only the patient, but the patient's family as well. The goal is to get patients home as quickly as possible, for as long as possible, helped by home nursing aides. The philosophy is to let the patient have a say in his own treatment, to the extent it is medically safe.
Cancer treatment has shown that the key is not to lose hope at any time. It may sometimes seem that life is going to ebb away. You may come perilously close to the edge. But do hold on. Have faith! In God or the Doctors or the people around you. It doesn't matter who it is that you are banking on. All that matters is that you hang on!
Cancer today is becoming curable. Is this not enough to help.

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