A man holds a doorway in his heart, which glows with a bright light.

The Will to Live

I have been a patient with advanced prostate cancer for more than 12 years. How people with cancer manage to live their lives despite their illness has always fascinated me. Along with disrupting my life as a patient, cancer has had a profound effect on those I love.

When patients were diagnosed with cancer 50 years ago, coping with the disease was rarely discussed. In the past 25 years, though, I think considerable changes have occurred in this area.

Choosing to live and enjoy each day

I think health professionals are now more focused on how well or poorly patients manage their illnesses. A cancer diagnosis may endanger our lives, but our intrinsic need to live motivates us to fight for our lives.

As a positive-thinking patient, I feel I have always been better able to handle difficulties brought on by my illness. I think I have reacted to treatment better due to my state of mind. Even so, there have been situations when my condition's complexity dictated a better course of action for its success. However, this was independent of my attitude or willpower.

Thinking back to those early days, I had to reconsider my options after learning I had cancer. I made the conscious choice to live and enjoy every day. Later in my advocacy work, I had the opportunity to mentor male cancer patients.

Discovering space for happiness

The opportunity opened my eyes to the challenges men faced when it came to dealing with mental health issues. I think patients can often rediscover an appreciation of life as a result of the fear of death. It could be friendships, love, or life itself. We start to be more receptive to ideas and take chances that we would not have taken before.

Getting my head around my diagnosis and facing the uncertainties of living with my illness made my life more meaningful. A great deal of the hypocrisy in life disappeared when even the most banal pleasures increased. I discovered there was still space for happiness when anger and bitterness faded.

Patients often talk about how they plan to handle their problems. All of us, however dissimilar, have gone through a comparable psychological rehabilitation process. But following COVID-19, I think people realized how important life and intimacy were.

Never give up

Life remains stable when it contains a few constants. Whether or not you fear death, you can have the desire to live. We deserve a more enjoyable life, and we expect more from it. But, on the other hand, are we prepared to venture beyond our usual boundaries to get more out of it?

I understand that life will not always be rainbows and sunshine. The struggle to survive takes place every day. "How long can I go on?" is a question that haunts me every morning. How much longer can I endure?

There have been days when I have felt overly worn out and desperate to give up on everything. I then looked more closely at the life statement and deeply into myself. Then I saw the answer: "Never give up, never give in."

I think that's the remedy to the 'Will to Live.'

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.