Monday, February 4, 2013

By Michael Sieverts

Michael Sieverts is a brain cancer survivor since 2000.  He is the instructor for CSC’s qigong classes in the parks.  Roxbury Park classes meet every Tuesday & Thursday from 10:30a.m. to 12 noon and at Clover Park every Monday and Friday from 9:30 to 11:00a.m.  Free to all those affected by cancer.  Call 310-314-2555.

This is an incredibly important moment in the history of cancer treatment, and we appear to be at an inflection point in terms of understanding the multitude of diseases we refer to collectively as cancer. A good deal of the excitement has to do with scientific breakthroughs in new imaging refinements, a greater understanding of genetics and the merging of math, chemistry, biology and physics. Young scientists aren’t staying in one discipline any more, instead they take up careers such as, “computational biologist,” and collaborate across disciplines.

But the other area of enormous progress, which is emerging as we speak, is the voice of the patient—our voice. As medicine becomes more collaborative, as we access our own information on the web and through other sources, and as we start talking to EACH OTHER and acquiring a collective intelligence, we have within our grasp the tools to take the entire enterprise to a whole different level.

This is not merely consistent with the mission of the Cancer Support Community—it IS the mission: that by becoming an active participant in your fight for recovery, along with your healthcare team, you’ll have a better quality of life.

One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that THIS IS A NICE PROBLEM TO HAVE—because by definition, having chemo brain is an indication that you’re alive. This is not a small victory, considering how many of us are here tonight despite having illnesses that not so long ago were characterized as “invariably fatal.” What a luxury, at one level, to have the focus shift from “how do I stay alive” to “how do I have a good quality of life?”

Michael’s Tips and Tricks to Recover Your Life

Even though these tips and tricks are divided into categories, there are actually no real divisions. When you go to a support group, for example, you acquire important and relevant medical information about your illness. When you go to an exercise class, you get support from the other class members and improve your cognition. When you meditate, you gain calmness and increase your focus. And so on.

If I had to limit myself to one sentence of advice, I’d be hard-pressed. But here goes: pay close, moment-to-moment nonjudgmental attention to what’s happening in you and around you, get and stay healthy, get support, claim your strengths without obsessing about what you perceive as your failings, and be grateful and peaceful whenever you can manage it.

I highly encourage you to seek out people to support you in the process, people who have gone through what you’re going through—their advice and support is invaluable. If your illness is so obscure or rare that you can’t find other survivors locally, use the Internet to locate others—just about every disease has its own community at this point. That’s how you’re going to find the right treatments and right doctors—the good doctors get better results.


CSC’s Brain Tumor Group—for patients & family members—meets the 1st and 3rdMonday of each month from 7-9pm.  No RSVP required.  1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 100, LA, CA 90025.  310-314-2555.  CSC validates parking.  This blog originally from 'Your Brain After Chemo'  http://www.yourbrainafterchemo.blogspot.com/

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