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Overcoming Cancer with a Full-Court Press

by John Krejci

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I don’t like the metaphor of “fighting cancer,” or even the never-ending “War on Cancer.” Less so, empowering cancer by personifying it as “The Beast.” Most people are uncomfortable with these violent, combative modes of dealing with this illness. Let me suggest another metaphor, an alternative to war and violence.

Picture a basketball game, and imagine a perpetual full-court press. The full-court press doesn’t seek to annihilate the cancer. Rather, it organizes all the resources of our body, mind, and spirit to keep cancer at bay. Keep it in its place, in the backcourt. Limit its ability to cross the midcourt line and score. Sometimes treatment accomplishes this. However, metastatic cancer is difficult to cure, to eliminate. What we can do is keep cancer in its place. Keep it in the backcourt, wherever in the body it may be.

Sounds good. But how can we accomplish this or even have a chance? In addition to treatment, there is more that can be done. I try to encourage my “players” to get booster shots, multiply their numbers, and do strength and aerobic training. I do this by choosing a positive attitude, following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping my stress level as low as possible, meditating, praying, improving my family relations, and participating in other therapeutic activities like journaling, traveling, doing things I enjoy, and taking time to care for others.

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It is not necessary to go to war, to elevate our stress, to let depression bring us down, to feed cancer with unhealthy foods, to retreat to a couch potato mode and let cancer break through our defenses and score an easy layup. We don’t need to be violent, but smart. Keep cancer in the backcourt, and use a delay of game strategy.

Let’s make cancer less a war and more a game. A war causes collateral damage and unintended consequences. A game challenges our mind and imagination, energizes us, requires us to be creative, motivates us to hone our skills and be better players. We should “play like a champion,” wear down the opponent, and make it clear that the players of “team cancer” have no choice but to stay in the backcourt.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

John Krejci is a prostate cancer survivor living in Lincoln, NE.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2009.