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Robert Young was a wonderful man. Diagnosed with a PSA that was over 1,000 ng/ml – he never found out just how much over – he fought but ultimately lost the battle with prostate cancer. His legacy is a site - PHOENIX 5 - that is still worth visiting despite the fact that some links no longer work.
I have been tidying up some old files because my hard drive was getting full and sluggish and came across a piece where we were trying to get some punchy one-liners that we as patients could say to a support group. These are Robert’s contributions and I think they are well worth bearing in mind for all of us, even if they aren't all on-liners :- ). My favourite is #9.
1. A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence.
2. Given the horror stories that we grew up with, fear of cancer is natural. But the more you fear it, the more it will control you.
3. Know your enemy. Get educated. But also know that it won't be easy. It will be confusing, overwhelming and depressing. That is the nature of cancer and thus the very educational process as you regain control.
4. Know that 9 out of 10 times, you have time to learn. Don't panic. You may make a decision (or let another make it for you) from which there is no return. Let the fear settle and your senses return.
5. If you don't know how to use the Net, learn it and use it.
6. Find people who are more interested in helping you to learn than teaching you what they think you need to know. Pay heed first to those who will help you to learn, e..g, how to do an Internet Web search.
7. Disregard statistics. They lie.
8. Disregard the advice that you should have a positive attitude because that is like saying you need to have a million dollars. Yes, a positive attitude is essential but that is advice without telling you how to do it. Gain control and your attitude will follow.
9. Know you will start in fear and confusion and know that every person with cancer goes through it. You are not the first. Therefore find those who went through it and learn from them what they did. But remember that your journey is yours.
10. Either start doing or keep doing something in your life that really interests you and that you can take pride in, whether it be religion, gardening or your kids/grandkids. Find it and do it.
11. Come to the cold, hard realization that medicine no more knows what causes cancer or how to cure it than they know what is the best house, diet, profession and companion for you. Each person and life is different. That is why YOUR education and YOUR choice in YOUR life is best. Make your doctor explain until you understand and if it doesn't like it, get a new one. It is YOUR body, YOUR treatment and YOUR future. It won't be easy but learn to take back control of it.
12. Cancer is going to test you as you've never been tested. If you accept the challenge, you will learn more, appreciate more and be able to do and savour more than you ever imagined.
13. Never give up or give in. It wins only by making you give up, telling you surrender. Don't surrender. Never give up.
14. There will come a time when you are not living in fear or anxiety about it. Now put some time into helping others get through it too. It may be the best immune-booster of them all.