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Writing a Book on Cancer

Guest KMolloy1

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Guest KMolloy1

Hello everybody!

I just wanted to tell you about a project I am doing.

I am writing a book on the psychological and emotional challenges and experiences that people go through when they are diagnosed with cancer.

The book is based on interviews with cancer survivors (and those still going through treatment).

The book idea started out when I watched my good friend cope with his diagnosis of cancer, and then I realized that for the most part, in America (and elsewhere), not many people are willing to talk about cancer, and popular culture equates a cancer diagnosis with a death sentence. Therefore cancer becomes something that provokes extreme fear - and is not seen for what it is: a disease with, in many cases, options for treatment. This is exactly what happened to my friend - he was more crippled by the fear that cancer caused him than the actual disease itself (now after 9 months of chemo he is clean).

The book will contain the stories of others who have been diagnosed with cancer and have had to contend with this fear. My hope is that others, recently diagnosed, will realize that they are not completely alone and isolated, but that others have walked down a similar path.

Currently, I am looking for anyone that was diagnosed with lung cancer and would like to learn more about the project (and myself) and might be interested in being interviewed. I haven't had any luck so far finding any participants with lung cancer, and lung cancer was #1 on my priority as it is the #1 killer out of the cancers in the world. Also, I have watched a lot of my friends become pack-a-day smokers, thinking that lung cancer could never happen to them. Therefore it is of special interest to me. You can contact me via email at KMolloy@operamail.com.

Thank you very much for your time!


Kevin Molloy

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I just wanted to thank you all for such a great response from the board!

And to answer your question Katie, I would love to mention LCSC in the book...I will have a resource section and this board will certainly be listed there!

Thanks again!


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I think that you have a great idea and the oportunity to do some real good if you do it right.

You will find that when dealing with lung cancer there are all of the normal emotions you would expect being faced with such a devistating diagnosis and lung cancer has another full set of emotions to deal with.

The word cancer stirkes terror into the heart of anyone who hears it but add the word lung and you will find a fear and life change so sudden and terrifying that the world seems to tip on it's axis.

One of the biggest problems that cause those emotions is attitude. Not only is a person told that they have a disease that it considered deadly but they are asulted time and again by questions and suggestions that it is somehow their own fault. That they asked for what they got. The first question asked is "do you smoke" and the remark they hear over and over is "oh you must smoke". There is always that insinuation. Often if a person says they don't smoke or never did they are all but accused of lying.

That isn't bad enough there is so much more. Everyone who sees them look at them as if they are dead already. Doctors treat them believing that they are going to die from lung cancer. No matter how good a doctor is or how hard they try if they don't say it in words they do with body language and looks. Facing a disease that makes you short of breath and treatments that add to that feeling are bad enough but add anxiety that is one of the most constant side effects and that shortness of breath gets worse. Imagine yourself being told that you are going to die because you won't be able to breathe then having to live with that feeling of breathlessness. Can you even begin to imagine the fear that can cause?

Then there are the treatments. Most treatments consist of pumping poison in the veins to kill cancer cells but they in turn kill other cells that cause more problems. Radiation has it's own set of problems. Not to mention the fact that other drugs are given without the consideration they would be given in any other disease. Dangerous things are mixed that any other person would never be given. It all goes back to that same attitude that lung cancer is a death sentence. Well look at this board and you will see that people do survive. Yes they have the hardest fight of their lives to face but it can be done. It would just be so much easier if they only had to fight the disease and not that attitude.

Lung cancer not only affects the patient. The caregivers and other loved ones have to live with it too. We have to watch the devistation the diagnosis causes. We lose sleep and miss meals. We drive to appointments and tend to every need the patient has. Our world is just as shattered as theirs is. In one split second the rug is pulled out from under you and you will never feel secure again. You watch your loved one as he or she faces all of the suffering both physical and emotional and it tears your heart out. Not only do you have to watch what the cancer and treatments do to them but you have to see the indignities they face from that attitude that runs through every person you deal with. You do all of those things while trying to keep your own fear in check.

If the person you are caring for dies the roller coaster ride doesn't end. The plunges just get steeper and more twists and turns are added. You have to live with the "whys" and "what ifs'". You suffer a guilt that is not only unreasonable but unstopable. You question every move you made and every decision that was put on you. No matter how little time you had you beat yourself up because you didn't do more research or you wern't more insistant about some things. Constantly you face regrets for what you did and didn't do. They can eat at you night and day. Words that you said that would have been forgotten in any other situation are magnifed. If only I hadn't said that! Did something I said cause fear or make him feel like I didn't care. Did he think I was mad at him or that I had given up on him? Those questions haunt you every day.

Then you realize that your security is gone. While caring for your loved one every pain or sigh caused the fear that a new problem is coming. Once they are gone that fear is bounced back on you. Is the cough I had this morning a sign? What about that pain in my side or my leg could that be cancer? Those are the things that we live with. You face the pain of losing someone who is one of the most important people in your life. Your security is gone. You start to see death in a different way. If the person you lost is your soul mate you no longer have any dreams or hopes. You don't fear death any more you almost anticipate it. Still you fear what leads up to that death. You have just seen the things someone can be subject to and fear that for yourself. Above all you fear the fear.

So if you are going to write a book about cancer and the emotions that go with it do it right. Put some teeth into it and go for the meat of the problem. Show the harm that attitude can cause. Present people as humans facing something that no one should ever have to face. Show not only the devistaion that it causes but the hope that people try to give to eachother. Show how it makes us more compasionate and how we reach out to others trying to support and ease their fears. But don't forget that cancer especially lung cancer is not a personal disease. It effects everyone who comes into contact with it. Maybe that is the reason that people are so afriad of it. Why they try to ignore the disease and in the process forget that the ones fighting it are just as human as they are and at one time felt as secure as they do. That those people lived normal lives until in one brief second their world was changed forever with two words. Lung Cancer.

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Wow, your words certainly are powerful and true.

When I posted on a Melanoma board a few months ago, I got overwhelming responses about how other people blamed the people that were diagnosed, as if they had sat in tanning booths every day for years and thus deserved it. What you said about people autmoatically thinking that a lung cancer victim was a chronic smoker just shows the fact that in America (and elsewhere), popular culture remains ignorant about lung cancer, and cancer in general.

I believe this is because people have not yet made the change from believing that cancer is always a death sentence to believing that cancer is a disease with options for treatment, in many cases. Because people do not talk about cancer, someone who is recently diagnosed becomes isolated and alone, separated from those they care about, because no one around them is dealing with cancer!

You also mentioned another point that I realized after doing just a few interviews: cancer affects so many other people besides the person who has it. I was so taken by this that I changed the format of the book to accomodate the opinions, experiences and challenges of people who were close to a person who had cancer, instead of basing the book exclusively on interviews with people who had cancer.

The great thing about writing the book is that it is based on other people's stories - my role is simply that of a "facilitator." One reason that this is good is that each new person I interview adds another viewpoint, another opinion, and ultimately shapes and progresses the book. The interviews have been so incredibly interesting, to hear the similarities in people's reactions to different types of cancer, yet also to discover significant differences between the types of cancer. And ultimately, each new interview and opinion widens the scope of the book and sheds light on new issues.

Thank you for your response, it was very thought provoking and powerful. Which is what I feel the book needs to be, as well as a comfort to those recently diagnosed who hear another person's stories and realize that somebody else has been down a similar path. Thanks again for the feedback!


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