If There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Battling Cancer with Your Willpower

February 03, 2021
In addition to being in the doctor’s good hands, the power of the mind can be an important factor in the battle against cancer. Having hope, together with the power of will and resilience can contribute to the success towards the road of recovery.  On this year’s World Cancer Day, Horizon Regional Cancer Center at Bumrungrad Hospital declares our will to care for cancer patients and take part in strengthening the willpower to align with the motto “I Am and I Will''.  Hope, together with the power of will, is a force unlike others.

Apart from advanced medical technology, willpower is one of the most effective weapons in the battle against cancer.  It takes enormous willpower to be courageous enough to take a body exam, as well as to be diagnosed, let alone to go through obstacles during the treatment.  It takes willpower to take in the account the love from family, beloved people and turn it into resiliency.  As Plato said, over 2,000 years ago “Because they are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.”, referring to the deep correlation between the body and the mind.  It can be said that one’s good health is a result of an intertwined combination of a healthy mind and a healthy body.
The ‘Will” to Brave the Examination
Statistically, there are almost 18 million new cancer cases worldwide in a year. Despite the shocking number, over 40% of cancers are preventable with a high survival rate.  Taking care of one’s health and having regular checkups go a long way for early diagnosing and to nip the cancer right in the bud. For example, breast cancer is easily detected by a mammogram and, if found within an early stage, have a 5 years survival rate of 99-100%.

The “Will” to be Resilient
The mind can work wonders and have a tremendous effect in combating cancer, with the help of modern medicine.  The first step towards recovery is the resiliency of the patient in choosing to live with hope.  As Professor Tin May Lwin of University of Computer Studies from Yangon, who has been combating for over 20 years said “Our state of mind is extremely important to the treatment process. If we believe that we will be cured, we will be cured. Believe me, if you think that you won’t make it, you won’t. I chose to live a happy life. Even though at the time I was also suffering from heart disease and diabetes, I did not allow them to rob me of my joys.”
This resiliency nourishes the will to thrive, even when the cancer comes back to the beloved ones in the family. This happened to Srey Ly, a Cambodian businesswoman who went through a full recovery of nasopharyngeal cancer, only to find that her brother has it. “What will be, will be. If something has happened, we can’t make it un-happen. We just have to fight our way through it, and keep moving on. If the cancer happened to my child in the way that it happened to me, I will do everything to make it go away.” says Srey Ly.

The “Will” to Fight for What You Love
When your mind suffers, your body feels it; belief it or not, stress does have physical symptoms. It is believed that being hopeless can actually worsen the condition further, and likewise, being hopeful and having the will to live can drastically improve the condition, even more than the doctor expects in some cases.  For many people, this will to live comes from no other places but the love from family.  Razia Nasreen Sultana, a 62 years old breast-cancer survivor from Bangladesh, had only one intention during her cancer treatment: to see her family again. “Even though chemotherapy is full of suffering, with its headaches, its nausea, its inability to keep food down, there is one thing that keeps me going; being able to go back to my daughter, and to see my grandson. They are everything in my life. They are the reason that I was able to persevere through the suffering of the treatment” says Mrs. Razia.

While the love for others could strengthen the will to live, the love we have for ourselves could also drive us to combat cancer.  Miss Nguyen Thi Man, a 53 years old real estate woman from Vietnam whose singing is her passion, demonstrated this. “I had heard that if the tumors were disturbed in any way, they would immediately spread all over my body, so I refrained from making an immediate decision on treatment. However, when my mother passed away from the cancer, I decided I cannot let myself become another casualty to cancer like her, because I have a family to take care of. Another thing that I could not bear to lose was my ability to sing, because singing is a true love of my life. I have even won prizes at singing competitions.  I’m so happy every time I go on stage to sing and have a good time with my friends,” Miss Thi Man, now free of cancer and joining the singing competition, states.

As mentioned above, the psychological and physical elements of the body are vitally linked. Especially when battling a disease, the mind needs strengthening in order to brave the body through the storm.  On this year’s World Cancer Day, Horizon Cancer Center declares our will to care for cancer patients and take part in strengthening the willpower to align with the motto “I Am and I will”. Hope, together with the power of will, is a force unlike others.
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