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Cancer Care Chronicles
October 8, 2020

On Trauma, Resilience, and Survival—Lessons From 15 Years of Pediatric Cancer and Remission

Author Affiliations
  • 1Research Program on Children and Adversity, Boston College School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. Published online October 8, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.3392

As I approach the 10-year anniversary of my second pediatric cancer diagnosis, I feel poised to share some lessons that I learned as a cancer patient, social worker, and public health practitioner over the past 15 years. First, on survival, there is the strange tendency of Western societies to approach cancer as some sort of perverse sporting event, where survival = winning and death = losing. Does it not deeply disturb you to read the obituaries of patients who died of cancer, overwhelmingly introducing their notice of death with “[Patient] lost their battle with cancer”? As though they just did not fight hard enough?

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