Coping With Cancer And Cancer As A Chronic Illness



Join us on this hour of “All Sides,” as we take a look at cancer as just as a chronic illness, not a death sentence. We’ve gone far with research but, will we ever have a cure?


  • John Kaplan (photojournalist and documentary filmmaker)
  • Dr. Charles Shapiro (Director, Breast Medical Oncology at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute)

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NOTE: This is a repeated segment of “All Sides” that originally aired Aug. 31, 2011.

Join The Conversation

  • Dvmjill

    I’m always saddened by the way a lot of folks choose to talk about dealing with cancer in combative terms. Calling it a fight or a battle implies that the best or strongest of the warriors will win. Often people who “beat” cancer are even regarded as more meritorious, more courageous, more determined, etc., than those who’ve “lost their battles”. I think talking about living with cancer as a chronic disease is a much healthier approach. It allows those with cancer to continue to be seen as the individuals they are. So often it seems that a cancer diagnosis usurps all aspects of a person’s identity. Nobody would say, “My friend, Bob, who has arthritis, will be coming over for dinner tonight”. My guess is that those living with cancer would prefer to be thought of as so much more than their diagnoses. But perhaps the converse is also true – maybe we should remember that everyone we meet is likely dealing with some chronic condition, be it medical or mental health, stress, fatigue, etc. 
    When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, he basically put his life on hold while he focused on fighting the “battle”. His death six months after his diagnosis was not unexpected – he was given less than a ten percent chance of living longer than that.  But rather than living with the cancer and continuing to live his life, he basically quit living on the day of his diagnosis, in order to focus on “fighting” to be one of the ten percent who might live. I can’t know if my grandfather would have lived those six months differently if the cancer had been regarded as a chronic condition. But I will always wonder if, by cheering him on to “beat this thing”, those of us who loved him in fact robbed him – and ourselves – of the last six months of his life. 

  • Karen L Young

    Sorry I missed this topic.  After being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 I had to come to terms with what my life meant to me and what my life would mean as I walked on.  I never felt sorry for myself or wanted anyone else to.  It was a wake-up call to improve my life, make something more of it than I had initially thought possible and to find strength I didn’t know I had.  It will always be with me and my job is to live as though I can beat it every single day–and I’m doing just that.  It’s been a real catalyst for me that I probalby wouldn’t have had the courage to find my muster without having.