When Liron Rosin was eight, he was diagnosed with an inoperable liver cancer rare in children. Though he was given only a few months to live, he told his family he’d prove the doctors wrong.
Now 11, Liron’s done exactly that. He’s been in remission since 2013.
Liron’s mom Malindy Rose said hearing the news that her son would die was a horrendous blow, since he had initially been diagnosed with a curable cancer. “He was given a few months to live and the only treatment was palliative care,” she said. “How do you tell your child he’s only got a few months to live?”
But when she spoke to Liron, his reaction was not what she expected. “He told me he could be a miracle, that he didn’t have to be a statistic.”
Liron’s attitude rubbed off on everyone around him. Friends, family and neighbors all supported Liron in his quest to beat the odds.
In November 2012, after about five months of chemotherapy, Liron’s doctors discovered the tumors could be surgically removed. Within weeks of a surgery where 80 percent of his liver was removed, Liron was in full recovery mode. His liver had regrown to a normal size, and he continued with chemotherapy, until in February 2013 the family was told by the oncologist that he was in complete remission.
“His words to the oncologist were: ‘See, I told you I was gonna prove you wrong’, Ms Rose said.
Learning from Liron: creating a survivor mindset
If there is a single lesson we can all take from Liron’s experience of cancer, it is that the mind matters. When Liron determined he’d prove the doctors wrong, he created a survivor mindset that acknowledges the active role we all can have in healing the bodymind.
Through the enactment of his healing, Liron gained the support of family and friends whose collective strength of belief negated the earlier prognosis of his oncologist. In short, Liron reclaimed his life on his own terms.
The survivor mindset has been researched in 15 women with breast cancer . Participants revealed that cancer survivorship is not just an attitude but an identifiable process shaped by time, the perception of support, and gaining acceptance of one’s situation.
The process of survivorship continues when the person with cancer:
- assumes an active role in self-healing
- gains a new perspective
- creates a new mindset and moves this to a new normal
- develops a new way of being in the world on one’s own terms
- and experiences growth through adversity
A different perspective
People who adopt the survivor mindset appear to universally recognize that cancer is not just a disease, but rather a turning point in life and the stimulus for change . But what do the medical staff at the coal face think?
A qualitative study that looked at cancer survivorship from the perspective of 21 oncology nurses in Korea found similar results . Two main themes for survivorship were identified, with one being that survivors take an active role in their care, and the second requiring oncology nurses to provide comprehensive psychosocial intervention as part of the standard of care.
Surviving cancer, especially locally advanced or metastatic cancer, requires a survivor mindset. This requires you to assume an active role in your own healing and look for ways to support a new belief that what you think and do matters above all else. This may require you to let go of other beliefs, habits, relationships or things in your life that no longer hold any purpose or meaning, and finding new (or forgotten) purpose and meaning.
Imagine that for every person like Liron, there are another 100 people who buy into the expert testimony of their doctor and attach themselves to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Now imagine what would happen if all 100 people challenged the experts and instead sought their own answers. Some people think they do this when they swop their doctor’s toolkit of drugs and surgery for their own toolkit of dietary supplements and herbal medicines. That’s fine if it helps to build a belief in your survival, but remember always to look inward to find the intangible, ineffable power of you.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends. And remember to leave a comment below.
1. Sherman DW, Rosedale M, Haber J. Reclaiming life on one’s own terms: a grounded theory study of the process of breast cancer survivorship. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2012;39:E258–E268.
2. Chang H, Park YH. Cancer rehabilitation from the perspectives of oncology nurses in Korea. Nurs Health Sci. 2012; Oct 29. [Epub ahead of print]