CANCER UNITED: Facing our own mortality can be a gift

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BEING diagnosed with cancer is a major shock for anybody but it can help to open our eyes on what things in life we should cherish, writes Jan Sheward, found of Angmering-based Cancer United.

It is indiscriminate and there seems to be a cocktail of reasons as to why we get cancer – our particular genetic make-up, old trauma, lifestyle and habits; all have been linked to the condition.

This week the news broke that Hollywood A-lister, Angelina Jolie had taken the brave decision to have her ovaries removed because of her genetic predisposition to both breast and ovarian cancer.

In a column for the New York Times, she wrote: “I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt.

“I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren

“I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity.

“You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.”

Any of us who have had cancer might recognise those feelings, so eloquently put by Angelina.

We learn something that many others don’t often have the chance to experience – the gift of facing our own mortality.

Angelina had the chance to make choices based on early warning signs – a blood test which indicated the possibility of ovarian cancer, the disease which killed her mother.

To be honest, we are lucky that there are even such things as early markers.

But there is help out their for those facing cancer – whatever the stage of the journey they may be at.

We have mounting evidence about what can support us through and after treatment, and one of those things increasingly in the limelight is how we look after our body.

More and more evidence is emerging about the value of exercise as well as emotional support in changing lives.

Cancer United’s CU Fitter scheme offers both and operates in line with the NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG’s aim of reducing the number of deaths from cancer.

Our trail-blazing approach improves the lives and health of people living with a lifelong condition.

The encouraging thing that we know is that when faced with illness, there are things we can do.

We will be giving details of what we mean by exercise, and hints and tips in next weeks column.

If you want to know more before then, and would value some support at any point in your journey through and beyond living with cancer, give me a ring on 07957 829505 or click here