Sunday, 27 April 2008

A Cancer Personality?

Amber Smithwhite sent me a copy of an article in this month's Mensa magazine, entitled: 'Is Life Really So Wonderful?" (Ghislaine Vaughan in Mensa, May 08)

Yes, it is - and it is to be hung onto and treasured for as long as it is given to us. But the comment on what may or not constitute 'a cancer personality' struck me with the force of truth.

Ghislaine Vaughan writes: "I once read a book about cancer in which the author, Bernie Siegel, a surgeon with many years' experience of talking to, operating on and generally supporting people with the disease, had come to the conclusion that people who get cancer have a certain type of personality. He even went so far as to suggest that you could tell whether someone was a likely candidate for cancer by asking them the following question, which he had found to be the bottom line: "If a friend asked you a favour and you didn't want to do it, would you do it anyway?" Apparently, if you say 'yes' to this question, you are far more likely to develop cancer than if you say 'no'.
It became clear from this idea that those with a cancer personality are in general far more likely to give up their own wishes in favour of those of somebody else. Bernie Siegel gives many examples of how his patients recovered or had long periods of remission when they were encouraged to pursue their dreams and aspirations, including one young man whose prognosis was bleak until he began playing the violin. He had always wanted to study music but had been pushed into a career as a lawyer by his family. As soon as he gave up law in favour of the violin, he got better."

All of which strengthens my resolve to keep up my studies in singing and piano and take my music diploma next year. I got ninety three percent in my last theory assignment, which was a boost to the morale in a week when I had an abnormal (well, 'borderline') smear result. I now have to have something called a colcoscopy - ironical, really, since the reason for putting off the smear test for so long, while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, was that I thought I really couldn't cope with any more humiliating poking and prodding. Well, now I think I can. And I will. Because it is worth it - it is. It's a wonderful life.

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