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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blind-sided by my reaction: The role of attitude in surviving cancer

Richard Haimowitz, 62, a lawyer in Queens, New York who was found to have pancreatic cancer in January 2007, thought of himself as a warrior, fighting with all available ammunition.

"The day of my last treatment, people congratulated me, but I felt blind-sided by my reaction," he said. "I thought, 'Oh my God, I have nothing left to fight with,' and I felt angry that there was nothing left for me to do." Statistics to the contrary, he has had two clean scans, is back at work and takes spinning classes. As he soldiered through treatment, he did not fear death, even though he did not want to die.

Many studies published in oncology and mental health journals have looked at whether attitude is a factor in survival or recurrence rates, a core belief in many cultures and faiths. Some studies say Yes; others say No. They all have their critics.

Advice to friends and families of cancer patients: Try to empathize with them regardless of their mix of feelings.

Read another story about the role of attitude in recovering from cancer.

Thanks to Jan Hoffman for the source article in the June 1 issue of the NY Times.

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