Taking the Fear Out of Cancer Awareness
What would happen if we gave equal weight to the word “awareness” as we do the word “cancer?” Behind the lack of awareness is fear. It’s illogical and causes procrastination. But it exists, and as long as some cancers are still lethal, it always will. So let's address the fear.
Thinking outside the box
Just because one person can surmount their fear, get a check up or treatment, or develop a better life style, does not mean we should pay any less attention to the person who doesn’t. Changing someone’s attitude or lack of attention to risk often takes time and progress is slow. Admittedly not such a good thing since cancer is time sensitive. But if you’ve tried everything else what’s the alternative?
For someone who is so afraid they don’t even discuss cancer, ever, brief but frequent stress-free, conversations, informed by basic information and a calm cool head, are important. Many cancers are curable, or chronic rather than lethal. Tremendous strides have been made in cancer research. This may take the edge off a topic that some see as only having negative talking points.
Discussing your own routine cancer check-up, helps create a concrete possibility for someone else. How you made the appointment, traveling there, the conversation with the nurse, feeling relieved afterward, all help the other person live the check-up vicariously through your experience. They are now thinking about what it’s like to get checked. Get them to go with you to your next appointment so the experience becomes more familiar and non-threatening.
Whatever it is, if it’s feasible, do it. Maybe they’re afraid they have one particular type of cancer and researching it for them will ease their mind. Or maybe they’re willing to get tested for other types of cancer and then down the road address a specific test they’re afraid of.
Discussion itself is not the point. We need to think outside the box to find ways to help people overcome their fears. We need to be more cognizant of how big a roll fear plays in getting checked for cancer and in healthy life styles.