Stigma in Cancer Patients- Shoudnt we be concerned?

The term ” stigma” means “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”. Well, this is what you get when you search for the meaning on google. But for a cancer patient, stigmas are much more.

source: http://www.stigmaconference.nih.gov/

I was recently chatting with a cancer patient on a popular forum.He was sharing his feelings with me and I was disturbed after what I learnt from the chat. It begins from the time of diagnosis. The attitudes that prevail range from denial to a drop in self-esteem. A general feeling that other people may probably now see the patient as less than what he was, or probably even avoid. A few other people pity so much that the patient himself  may start looking down upon himself, with a feeling that the greatest misfortune has fallen on him.

Ok I do agree cancer is a dreaded disease. But hey, don’t you think it’s better to look at it this way, of fighting it out and being confident of overcoming the disease?Why succumb to it in your mind?

I distinctly remember when dad was diagnosed with cancer, it quite became the talk among our immediate community. People gossiped and questioned about his lifestyle. Probably it would have been nice if these very same people could have walked up to him, cheered him up and helped him mentally to fight the disease out. The stigma is more in patients with rectal cancer with a colostomy bag. It’s not really considered pleasant to mention it to anybody.

I actually attribute this “Oh My God, It’s Cancer !!” attitude to the lack of information among people. The awareness is low and attempts by those affected arent really helping. We need to raise it at a larger level in our society, so that the fear and stigma associated with the disease could be reduced a great deal.

I often stress on one point … Fighting cancer is a game of the mind…. And this game is not only played by the patient, but requires a lot of help from loved ones and the society too.

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  1. My friend, who has lung cancer, has the double stigma- the immediate question she is asked is “did you smoke?” So does it mean that, if she did smoke (she didn’t, and her cancer may be related to 9/11 smoke exposure) the cancer is all her fault?

    1. So true Alana…. Most people think the cancer is all the patients fault. This is the mindset that must change.

      Thanks for your comment. Cheers!!!

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