Opinion | Readers react to David Lopeik on cancer fear

It may seem questionable to tell people not to be afraid of cancer, but many readers of Monday’s essay “Why Our Fear of Cancer Is Outdated and Harmful” by David Lopeik , claimed it was outdated. In more than 800 comments, many readers suggested that cancer is indeed scary and that treatment is expensive and painful.

Below is a sample of reader testimonials. Comments are edited for clarity, brevity, and style.

Dollars 23: Fear of cancer is justified. I’m (slightly) scared of being shot by terrorists, but that rarely happens. Dying in a car accident is (slightly) scary, but in reality, it rarely happens. The correct point is that what is understood to be worth fearing should be feared, and what is not should not be feared. People naturally extrapolate, and when they hear about something that can cause cancer, they believe and extrapolate that such exposure is dangerous. That is the homeopathic approach to risk. It is believed that a small amount of something bad can cause an overwhelming tragedy. Of course, the general public has no understanding or respect for testing, so if a test shows that something abnormal is not a risk, they will assume it must be a risk simply because it is abnormal.

Much of organic farming is based on this false belief. People avoid anything with a chemical symbol, believing it to be deadly and unhealthy. I am careful to avoid pesticides and herbicides in my home garden, which are considered dangerous. But being afraid of chemical symbols is nonsense. Be careful with H2O!

colorado blue spruce: By definition, a “phobia” is an irrational fear. It is not unreasonable to fear the inconvenience, pain, disfigurement, hair loss, nausea, and/or potential death associated with any type of cancer.

puppy breeder:I understand what the author wants to say. But I just attended a memorial service for a lifelong friend who passed away from uterine cancer, and I’m feeling a little raw. If she had had more regular check-ups and tests, she probably would have had a better chance of survival. She is very sad thinking about her loving family and friends. She is a great loss to all who knew her.

Sharon, Southern Worcester County, Massachusetts: My best friend passed away at age 58 from stage 4 stomach cancer. He had no symptoms until it was too late. 14 months from diagnosis to death. Our daughter was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer in August. Doctors noticed the growth in her pancreas about 18 months ago when she underwent an MRI scan to figure out why her kidney stones weren’t passing. They ignored her pancreatic cancer because she was 40 years old. She is currently recovering from surgery to partially remove her spleen and pancreas. Her longtime friend’s son died of colon cancer when she was 23 years old. A friend of our daughter died of intestinal cancer at the age of 35.

Recent studies predict that early cancer rates will increase by 31% and cancer deaths by 21% by 2030.

But don’t worry. What a joke!

Vikamarda 2: Five years ago, before I learned about the horrors that cancer had inflicted on my wonderful wife and how little progress was being made for her even with the most advanced and sophisticated treatments, I would have thought this too. I think we agreed. It changed me. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why my older relatives were so scared of cancer that they wouldn’t even say the word, like Voldemort. I understand now. It’s more scary than scary.

therapy:I told my doctor that I knew it was irrational, but I believed I would never get cancer. So far, so good. And I will celebrate my 80th birthday in March. At this point, if I ever get sick, I think I’ll stop all the harsh treatments and go to palliative care. I’m not alone in this plan. Many others in the retirement community where I live say and do exactly that.

Divided We Fall_: I know that having cancer is no longer a death sentence for anyone. The first related word that comes to my mind is “torture”. This is like unnecessary torture with aggressive treatments (often with short-term or long-term potentially fatal side effects) that prolong life (sometimes for a short period of time) at the expense of quality. is. Give us all the facts and let us choose what works for us as individuals.

Offun PR: Mr. Lopeik wrote: “We know that tens of thousands of common breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers that are detected early do not cause any harm.” Of course, that’s good news. The only symptom brought me to the doctor. A few months later, I was surprised! Stage 4 cancer. And yes, it’s a common cancer and most are not terrible. Except it isn’t. And it really, really sucks.

alaska mountains: Early detection is more difficult than you might think, and as there are usually no symptoms, you must rely on scans, blood tests and sometimes biopsies. Scanning is very expensive in the US.

Camelio: Why do I keep being pushed to get tested for low-risk cancers, but sometimes can’t get tested for high-risk cancers? Example: No one on either side of my family has colon cancer. Not a single person has gotten cancer. Additionally, I hadn’t eaten red meat in decades until recently. However, my father died of prostate cancer, and I am on medication that increases my risk. When I asked them to show it more often, they said, “Once a year is fine.”

I have management certifications that include risk analysis. Cancer risk analysis in this country appears to be completely meaningless. We are tested for the risks that average people face, but we are not tested as individuals.

Captain Ken: There are some benefits to being more careful with screening, but as a cancer survivor who caught it early and was aggressive with treatment (so far), I disagree with this headline and premise. . I have many friends who didn’t get infected right away or didn’t receive adequate treatment because of their doctor’s advice. They suffered greatly because they ended up with a much more invasive treatment with longer downtime. Despite my doctor’s advice, my early diagnosis and quick action made little difference to my life and overall health.

I can’t bear this title because probably 20 to 30 percent of my friends have cancer. (I’m not old; I’m in my late 50s.) At this point in my life, this is the only thing that has caused the death of a friend. You should be worried. You should act proactively. It’s your life and Cancer wants it.

Jaylot: The majority of us with heart disease know exactly how we got it. Almost all causes other than genetics are diet and exercise. A friend of mine is currently dying of pancreatic cancer. She feels okay, but there is no cure for her. It will kill her. She has no idea how she got it. That’s why cancer is so scary. The authors say we test too much, and for most people, cancer is not a death sentence. Perhaps because it is detected early, not as many people die.

SD Bark: Cancer prevention starts with diet and exercise, but exposure to cancer-causing substances depends on income and geography. People who unfortunately live near highways and various factories are at risk. Yes, we need to continue cleaning our environment and promoting healthy lifestyles. A recent article about colon cancer on the rise among young people has sounded the alarm against diets that include ultra-processed foods. We have much to learn and do. I survived prostate cancer, but my two brothers did not, despite efforts to get them early treatment. Screening is important, but the quality of care varies.

moosalamoo_rnnr:What an irresponsible essay. It comes on the heels of two recent articles in the Post about how breast and colon cancers are on the rise, especially among young adults. Add to this the fact that even basic screening is out of reach for many people, as our health care system is reactionary and does not focus on prevention or early screening. Let’s fix the way we practice medicine and care for people. That would probably cure all the ailments he mentioned.

Tunny Martin: I am a retired hospice nurse and my son died of colon cancer at age 28. I understand what Lopeik is saying, but after years of being at the bedside of cancer patients, I think we need to enable the fear, not end it. So that people with symptoms can receive early treatment. Many people are afraid of cancer because they are afraid of the huge costs and delay cancer testing and treatment.

DC51 status current: The fear of being diagnosed with cancer is also driven by the prohibitive cost of its treatment, especially in the chaotic U.S. health care system. Overcharging and exorbitant fees are currently rampant in U.S. hospital systems.

Pandion Harrietus: We operate on an insurance/business model for healthcare. A perfect medical society, which is not the United States, does not even recognize health disparities, such as those who do not have transportation to receive medical care, even if they are enrolled in Obamacare.

Last week, the Post published an article about people in Washington, D.C., who don’t have access to health care. They have no future when it comes to fighting cancer. Health systems are building cancer care infrastructure. We don’t have a cure yet. We are undergoing maintenance. Millions of people have filed for medical bankruptcy trying to cover their medical costs because we know that insurance companies determine the type of care we receive.

We have all buried loved ones and watched them suffer. Cancer is very real, and most of us have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will get it too.

top quality carp: Cancer is still scary and unbeatable. I’ve seen too many people die from this disease and it’s uniformly horrifying. There are at least three cancer survivors in my city, all of whom have suffered permanent damage from treatment. My spouse has survived cancer once and is currently undergoing treatment for a second type of cancer. Although I am grateful for treatments that have allowed me to enjoy a relatively normal life, this essay was decades premature.

yellow dog redneck 2: Perhaps the reason we still fear cancer is because we live in a country where surviving cancer will bankrupt us and our families. That means death or bankruptcy. There are many reasons for fear.

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