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Archive for the ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’ Category

The time has come to make some space at home. This means that the Their Cancer – Your Journey books we had printed have got to go. I decided the best way to accomplish this was to give them away to be of use to others. Because of the cost of shipping, the most economical way to do this seemed to be to send the books out to local cancer support groups, hospices, cancer information centres and anywhere else with the ability to distribute them to those in need in their local area.
The only cost is for shipping – £6.99 to UK addresses for a pack of 20 books, other countries please ask for a price. To read more about this offer or to order books please visit the Families Facing Cancer website.
Offer available while stocks last.

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Would you like to change the definition of a celebrity?

I wanted to share this interview with you, which I was asked to do by a website called Celebrity Dialogue. It made me think, not only because the questions were very probing, but because of the name of the website. I’ve never thought of myself as a celebrity, or had any desire to become one. But it seems the definition used by this website includes people aiming to put something back and make a contribution – and I’ll definitely put my hand up for that.
Now I’m wondering, what would be your perfect definition of a celebrity – in an ideal world? Originally the word meant, ‘one who is celebrated’, so maybe we can go back to that. Is there someone whose life you’d like to celebrate? Tell us something about them and we’ll celebrate them too.

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Recently I’ve been thinking about how the stages of grief relate to cancer. And how this is not only the case after someone dies. We can experience grief stages when we first hear about the person’s cancer, for loss of the life we envisioned or for their reduced abilities and health, if it becomes clear the person will die, or after their death. The person who has cancer may also experience grief stages as they face the end of their time here. I thought it would be helpful to share what I wrote about the stages of grief in my book Their Cancer – Your Journey. (There are several versions of the stages of grief, including the Elizabeth Kubler Ross stages of grief – these grief stages are a slightly simpler version)

Grief – Stages Of

“According to research conducted by psychiatrists J. Bowlby and C.M. Parkes, there are four stages of grief that people commonly experience. You may find that one or more of these phases describe where you are in your grief at any time. Your progression from one stage to another may not be smooth, and where you are can vary from day to day. The four stages are:

  1. Numbness. This is where you may be in shock, feeling disbelief and cut off from reality.
  2. Yearning, pining. Here you find you wish to bring back the person, long for them. You may feel much anger and disappointment at this stage.
  3. Depression, disorganisation and despair. Now you find it difficult to function in your everyday life. You may struggle to concentrate or not be able to bear thinking about the future.
  4. Recovery and reorganisation. At this stage more positive feelings begin to surface. You are ready to take the first steps of moving forward with your life, and adjusting to your new reality.

When you first reach the stage of recovery, it is likely to be fragile. You may start by catching fleeting glimpses of how life may be. It is tempting at this stage to slide back into guilt, thinking “How can I be thinking of the future when he or she is not here?” Guard against this temptation. Guilt serves no one, especially not your loved one, who has left already.
Describing these phases of grief makes them seem passive, as though you have no control over your route through them. There is a benefit to taking your time. No one can tell you how long it should take you to move from one stage to another. There are many things that affect your ability to adjust and move on through this unfamiliar landscape.
A more ‘active’ way of looking at grief comes from William Worden, who described a series of four tasks that are involved in mourning.

  1. To accept the reality of the loss. This shows that you can make the choice to face this reality with courage, and resist the temptation to deny it.
  2. To experience the pain of grief. This task is where you dive into the pain. When giving birth, a mother is encouraged to flow with the pain, rather than resisting it. If you give yourself the time and the space to do this with your grief, you will allow the emotions to flow rather than become stuck. Self-medicating with alcohol, or anything else that prevents you truly feeling your emotions, would be avoiding this task.
  3. To adjust to the environment where the deceased is missing. The loss of someone close to you changes the scenery of your every day. In fact the build up to death may have changed
    your life beyond recognition, so that it revolved around caring for the person with cancer. When they die, this is a huge adjustment. Your task now is to create the new landscape of your life, metaphorically moving the furniture to at least partly fill the hole that they have left.
  4. To emotionally relocate the deceased and move on. This task involves making a space for your loved one as a memory rather than a current relationship. Keeping them in your heart in this way allows you to look forward to a future without them and not feel bad about yourself for doing so.

You will find a way through these phases and tasks. The human spirit is resourceful and resilient. In the early stages it may feel as though your world has ended. And so in a sense it has. However, there is a new world for you to step into, when you are ready.”

This is an extract from the book ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’, which you can get as a cancer ebook or as a paperback through Amazon UK or Amazon.com

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Childhood cancer is an emotive issue, which will make this post a little more emotional, too.
My son is very aware of the issue of cancer because of the work I do, and has been ever since I began writing my book, ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’. It sometimes causes him to have fears for his own health, and I reassure him by letting him know how rare childhood cancers are.
So I was shocked yesterday when he came home and told me that a boy who was in his class last year at school is being treated for cancer. This had hit him especially hard because the boy shares the exact same birthday as him. It is still true that cancer in childhood is much less common than it is in adulthood, but the impact is so great when it does happen.
Today, my heart goes out to the families who are facing this struggle of childhood cancer. The fact that treatment and survival for cancer in children have improved greatly over the years is wonderful. Survival varies across the different types of cancers, and is very high for some (as high as 95% survival after 5 years for some cancers, and most who reach that 5 years have no further problems). But any threat to your child’s life is bound to produce great fear, and no survival rate less than 100% seems ok. Over 3 times as many children are seriously injured or die in traffic accidents each year than are diagnosed with cancer, but once the diagnosis is made the threat becomes real for your child.
If this nightmare is happening in your family, there are resources that can help, so I wanted to share a few of those here:

  • For information about cancer treatments and integrating complementary with orthodox medical treatment : CancerActive
  • Support for children and young people with cancer and their families : ClicSargent
  • Download a booklet answering first questions about a cancer diagnosis in your family : Families Facing Cancer
  • Information on cancer for teenagers : Teen Info on Cancer
  • Holidays for young people in the UK affected by cancer or other diseases : Youth Cancer Trust

If you need any further help, or want to share any advice for others, do email me, visit our forum or post in the comments below.

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To hear Anne talking about her book ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’, and why family and friends need support through someone else’s cancer, here is an interview on The Bay Radio :

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