The Changing Relationship between Cancer and Hope

I recently talked with CCSN’s President & CEO, Jackie Manthorne, about misinformation and cancer care.

With all the fake news and uncertainty around research results, treatment and survivorship, Jackie made the point about why some people will take misinformation to heart. Often people are told that their cancer is incurable, and that they will die. In her experience, she said that some people accept it, and look to get their affairs in order. Some, however, embrace misinformation. They reject what their doctors say, and look to alternative “cures,” which at best leads them to ineffective treatments, or worse,outright scams. Their hope is used against them.

With the passing of Never Give Up Day, it is certainly something to think about.

Cancer research and treatment is constantly evolving. Treatments in Canada are slowly approved, new ones are being discovered, and while the drudgery of regulatory approval is beyond frustrating, many new drugs and treatments are coming to Canada each year and saving lives.

But hope is not necessarily seen as welcome. Some say that false hope prolongs suffering, waiting for drugs and treatments that never come. Some will claim that their cancer is incurable, or that the treatment is worse than the disease.

But looking at the state of cancer research, it’s hard not to feel hopeful. The stats back this up: The Canadian Cancer Society says that 5-year survival for all cancers combined is 63 per cent today, up from 55 in 1990. That translates to thousands of people living longer. We have even talked at length about early screening through blood tests that will allow for early detection, which is key to successful treatment.

CCSN believes in survivorship, and to become a survivor, one at least needs to hope that things can get better. We know that this is not an idealistic fantasy; survivorship is attainable, and it’s based in fact. It may not be attainable for everyone right now, but that doesn’t stop us from aiming for better, making improvements and working towards a better tomorrow.

So, while the outlook may look grim for many, we are not here to let cancer get the better of us. We are here to survive, and to survive, one must not give up.

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