Cancer Survival


This article applauds the improvements in median cancer survival over the last 40 years from one to six years. It also recognises that there are some cancers where very little improvement (calling it ‘woeful’) has been made eg cancer stomach, pancreas and lung. It reports a 17 fold improvement in colon cancer survival and 10 year improvement for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It notes however, that for 9 cancers the median survival is 3 years or less and that in forty years there has really been very little change in survival for those with lung, brain, pancreatic, stomach and oesophageal cancer. 


However, the article erroneously states that doctors will now be able to answer the question ‘how long have I got?’ Doctors have already been using 5 year survival figures to provide guidance in answering this question but the fact remains that these figures apply to a population and not an individual. Telling a patient the median survival is 3 years does not tell the patient if he is in the half that dies before 3 years or in the half that lives longer than 3 years. The figures only provide a guide but do not specifically tell one patient where on the timeline he will fall. 


Whilst it is good to acknowledge progress made in cancer survival figures, we must not become complacent especially given the significant numbers of cancers where there has been no significant improvement and the fact that cancer now affects 1 in 3 people. Not only do we need to look at ways to treat cancer but perhaps we should be taking a much deeper look at how cancer arises in the first place. The WHO recognises that the majority of cancers are ‘largely preventable’ by avoiding smoking, drinking, having a healthy diet and other lifestyle factors. 


From an esoteric perspective, we need to look at the whole life lived and all the choices made in that life in order to get to the root cause of cancer or indeed any illness or disease. ‘The best form of medicine is our way of living’ (SB). How we live every day, the choices we make regarding the foods we eat, the sleep we have, whether we remain centred or emotional, whether we react or respond to life’s situations, whether we live in harmony with ourselves and others or in disharmony – all of these things and much more have an impact on the physical body that results in illness and disease including cancer. 


‘The body is the marker of truth’ (SB) and speaks more truth than the words that come out of our mouths. The body has lived all of our experiences and reveals all of our choices. By listening to the body and it’s messages we can develop a way of being and living that is more harmonious, more loving, more joyful and thus less likely to develop cancer or another ailment. This way of being and living is based on the true nature or essence of the human person that is Love. Thus being self-caring, kind and gentle towards self in all ways is very important. This means paying attention to what we ingest and how it affects the body, endeavouring to live a more centred and less emotional way and listening to and honouring what we truly feel rather than overriding it with the mind. 


Perhaps one day we will able to take joy in the fact that cancer incidence has dropped not because of a new drug or so called medical breakthrough, but because people are learning how to live self caring lives aligned with their true nature and who they really are – Love.  That day however, seems a long way off given the current levels of self-abuse (eg through drinking alcohol, smoking, over-eating) and lovelessness that permeate humanity. That said, having emerged from such behaviours, I know it is possible for all to do likewise.  It is never too late to begin the journey of healing.

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