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Fighting Fear with Information and Knowledge

April 2022 Vol 8 No 2
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer,
Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Developer of Work Stride—Managing Cancer at Work
Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

Hello to all of our CONQUER magazine readers!

This April 2022 issue is filled with many personal stories about cancer, steps you can take to improve your health during and after treatment, where more work needs to be done to undo health disparities, and a lot more.

A thread that you will find throughout this issue is how emotions are driven by fear, and how fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, until you empower yourself with information so that you are able to understand your cancer better and the options that lie before you and find hope. Here is a quick summary of some of the articles you will find in this issue.

An experienced Navy man compares his experience on a submarine with being diagnosed with prostate cancer, how he feared telling his wife about it, and how he approached the decision-making process regarding his treatment options.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more deadly forms of cancer today, and there isn’t yet a way to screen for it so it could be detected at an early stage. Read about one patient’s experience with this diagnosis, his fear and stress, and how he dealt with his care with courage and conviction.

Another person describes his journey with colon cancer and emphasizes the importance of not delaying diagnostic evaluation when symptoms appear, no matter what else is going on in your life.

There is also an article about survivorship that has a clever title—“Stepping Out from Under the Umbrella of Fear.” You can see, again, how fear is a theme in this issue. But there is also a story from a woman who is “Anchored in Hope.”

Serving as a caregiver is one of the most challenging jobs anyone can be thrust into at any given moment. It comes unannounced, and the length of time you may be needed is also frequently unknown, especially if you are caregiving to a loved one with advanced disease. This daughter’s experience as a caregiver is quite common and worthy of thinking about long after you read this article. Initially, there is a lot of support from family and friends, but then, as time passes, that support wanes. Keep this in mind if you know someone who is serving as a caregiver to a person with cancer. Don’t just show up at the beginning of the journey. Show up again and again, because one day it will likely be your turn to be a caregiver, too.

The world remains riddled with health disparities among different patient populations, and this includes the areas of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Read the thoughtful article here about the struggles of the LGBTQ community in the United States and the unique obstacles they face as people needing care for, or even just screening for, cancer. Their fear is related to being treated differently from other people.

We all underestimate the benefits of exercise and its value during and after cancer treatment. (And even its value for reducing the risk of getting cancer.) This article truly demonstrates the benefits of exercise and how to approach it, without making you feel that you have to join a gym.

Finally, read the poem written by an oncology patient navigator who also is a cancer survivor.

Now that Spring has finally arrived, take advantage of getting outside more, enjoying nature and taking nature walks, checking in on others who are dealing with cancer or are supporting a loved one with the disease, and focus on things that you can control, rather than chronically living in the land of uncertainty.

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