Almost three years ago, I surveyed cancer patients and survivors on a few key areas relating to daily life. The theory behind my project was that a cancer diagnosis clicks "real life" into focus, and we see what's really important in our lives. The other day I was looking through the results of that survey and found that the insights were still so poignant and relevant today.
I've never suffered cancer myself, but I created the survey along with a local cancer organization in order to provide a few self-help tips to myself as well as many of my friends who were trying to figure out what's really important in life - we were all stuck on the work treadmill and wondering why we were not too happy in our professions and daily pursuits.
Some of the thoughts and opinions expressed by the cancer patients who took part were:
* The majority of participants (59%) agreed that “To love, and enjoy the act of living” was the meaning of life.
* 87.8% of respondents agreed that positive thinking makes an enormous difference in our quality of life.
* “Have the courage to be yourself” ranked first (42.4%) when asked “What advice would you give your old self (before diagnosis) about life?”
* “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” was the most popular choice among various phrases/philosophies/book titles which provide the best advice.
* “Living in the moment” was recurring advice in various areas as being beneficial for living life, and Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now was the third-ranked book that helped patients through tough times (The Bible was number 1).
* Stress was the highest ranked variable when participants were asked if they believed any behavioural/life-specific factors contributed to their illness.
* 94.1% of respondents agreed that life was better with lots of “love” (rather than “money”, at 2.9%).
* In response to the question "What does success mean to you?" one participant wrote: "Nothing. Both “success” and “perfection” are concepts that side-track us from living."
* For those of us who complain about the "daily grind", one cancer patient offered this piece of advice: "The opportunity to continue to grapple with ‘the daily grind’ becomes a ‘blessing’ when confronted with the imminent possibility of death."