When a disease comes to one’s family, it is always a very big tragedy. The people who you love suffer from pain, and if the disease is serious enough, they can even die. In my case, such a situation happened when our family learnt that Cheng, the husband of my aunt Chunhua, has a lung cancer. It was a blow for us as Cheng has always been a very cheerful and active person; he was jogging every morning and preferred healthy and balanced food. Smoking was probably his only bad habit. My aunt Chunhua often quarreled with him about cigarettes, but that did not help at all. However, the news about his disease made Cheng understand that it was smoking that led him to the brink of death. It was a troublesome and painful period both for Cheng and all his family, but, in my opinion, his case is a very good illustration of how it is necessary to cope with the disease.
Lung cancer is almost impossible to notice at the first stages of the disease development. It does not cause severe pains or inconveniences. As most smokers, Cheng sometimes coughed, but in general his health was absolutely normal. However, during the regular medical check in a hospital doctors diagnosed this terrible illness. At first, it was a shock. It certainly disrupted the family’s equilibrium. My aunt’s family has always been a place of harmony and understanding, but the news about Cheng’s cancer seemed to put an end to these perfect relations. Aunt Chunhua blamed herself for being unable to persuade her husband to give up smoking, and Cheng was not ready to calm her down as he was feeling extremely bad himself. However, surprising as it may seem, this initial crisis caused a significant improvement later.
Cheng is a family man. Given that, it was impossible for him to bear the sight of his wife’s suffering. For him, his disease was less important than harmony in the family, and he started thinking of how he could cope with his cancer for the sake of the family. It was a very powerful motivation for him.
One of Cheng’s good features of character is that he is not afraid to ask for help or advice. Therefore, he did not consider consulting with specialists. Scientists say that in many cases patients fear to show their inability to cope with the illness. It is true that the psychological problems created by chronic illness are particularly difficult for people who would never ordinarily seek counseling. Luckily for Cheng and all our family, he managed to find a good center where people could receive advice and professional psychological help. Several visits to one of the center’s expert helped Cheng to build a new system of behavior and adjust his principles to his new condition.
Together with medical treatment he received at the hospital, he started a project that he called “5 Steps to Our Happiness”. When he pronounced that title, he always stressed the word “our” as he did not draw any dividing line between his health and the happiness of the family. He understood that these notions are closely interconnected. Therefore, to cure his illness and restore the lost harmony, he formulated the following rules:
· Never hide anything;
· Talk to others;
· Don’t become your disease;
· Remember that your only enemy is your illness;
· Help others.
These rules really saved their family. They helped Cheng not to fall into bad moods and depression. These ideas have one significant thing in common – all of them are focused on open communication with the surrounding people. As a famous American expert Dr. Phil says, “Talk through the fear. Don't keep a stiff upper lip”. This may seem obvious and easy, but, in fact, communicating with the outside world becomes a huge and tough challenge for a person who suffers a serious disease like cancer. The world does not change when a person falls ill, but the life of this person is changed in many ways. It is very difficult to accept this situation, but Cheng exerted every effort not to become gloomy, aggressive and quarrelsome.
Another thing that is sure to have strong positive influence on the effectiveness of his treatment is that he trusts the doctors and believes in success. He is in the middle stage of his long treatment scheme, and it is not possible to tell anything about the results, but, in any case, his psychological optimism has a good impact on the whole process. Besides, his optimism also influences the other members of the family, and they are not afraid of hurting his feelings. They communicate with him the same way as they did before, and it creates an atmosphere of stability within the family. Consequently, Cheng, his wife Chunhua, and all our family have more faith in his recovery as the modern science combined with positive thinking is certainly able to do it.
The Chinese have a very good proverb, “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song”. This saying is about our situation. We do not know the future and we do not have any answers whether Cheng’s treatment will be successful, but we have our “song”. We can simply be happy any moment of our life, be nice to our family and friends, and it may be one of the best ways to fight any illness from a mere cold to cancer, AIDS and others.
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