Stress blog

Resiliency: A lesson from cancer patients

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. April 29, 2010

The other morning I had the privilege of connecting with five cancer patients who have complex health issues compounded by family, financial and insurance challenges. Yet, each of them is resilient and has the "bounce back factor." Each one is facing life with composure and dignity.

On the way home that evening I reflected on what  it is about these patients that gives them the inner strength to endure the challenges life has thrown at them. The word "pepper" came to mind. Let me explain why:

  • P for passion. They have a zest for life. They have the energy to reach out to and care for others.
  • E for eliminating distractions. They know what they have to do to for their health and eliminate things that would drag them down.
  • P for patron. Each patient has someone who encourages him or her during the dark times and shares in victories during the happier times.
  • P for positive. They surround themselves with people who are positive and upbeat.
  • E for energy. They know they have just so many useful hours and they don't waste them on things that aren't essential for their physical and spiritual well-being.
  • R for realistic. They have realistic expectations about what is possible. R also stands for following a regular routine.

So whenever we add pepper to our food, it might be a good idea to think about how "pepper" can also enhance our lives. What can you add to this conversation?


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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Apr. 29, 2010