“Your today is our yesterday.
My today is your tomorrow.
Your tomorrow is going to be much better.”
We’ve heard a few different versions of this phrase over the last five days that we have been in Shanghai sitting in on support groups and getting a feel for the perspectives on cancer in China.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation campaign hasn’t begun here yet, so part of our job is to document the way people feel about cancer in the Chinese culture, to set the stage for their anti-stigma and empowerment work.
So far, we’ve seen that a lot of people don’t want to talk about cancer because they believe that it is the result of bad luck, or that they did something bad in a past life to deserve the cancer. They also believe that talking about cancer can bring on that bad luck and cause cancer. Because of this, having cancer is something patients believe is shameful, so patients often don’t even tell their families often they have been diagnosed. It also seems to be common here that patients and survivors believe they just need to learn to live with their cancer, and try to come to terms with it, instead of fighting against it. There also seems to be a lack of resources for information throughout China. Once patients are diagnosed by their busy oncologists, they have nowhere to turn for more information or support and are left alone in their fear.
However, we have also witnessed some really empowering support groups over the past few days, and I am confident that when the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s campaign does kick off, they are going to be able to continue the amazing work that is already happening in China.
“Cancer has no boundary;
it can happen to anyone.
There is help and there is hope.”
-June Chan, a Livestrong consultant