Optimism can be a potent weapon against cancer

April 8, 2013
Sunniness vs. cancer

Thank you, Joel Achenbach, for sharing with us your mom’s congenital sunniness [“Cancer as a non-tragedy,” April 2]. I sincerely wish we could bottle her indefatigable spirit; her magic elixir would be a bestseller! And I agree that her attitude is a gift to be cherished. I’m afraid so many of us do not muster such an approach to the joys of everyday life, much less to the reality that death comes to us all.

As a former oncology bedside nurse, nurse educator, hospice nurse and “caring clown,” I treasure your mom as a teacher. Thanks so much for giving us her guidebook to help us on our own journey.

Deborah Price, Clifton

As a two-time lung cancer survivor, I totally agree with and adhere to your mom’s belief system: I do not get sick.

When I got cancer, some of my friends found my attitude far too casual as I laughed through chemo and radiation. Losing my hair (twice) meant saving on shampoo and beauty salons. Sure, I got tired from treatments, but that provided excuses to nap. My voice is a bit affected, but singing was never my forte.

Thank you for acknowledging her strength and allowing her to handle this experience in the way she finds most comfortable.

Peggy A. Miles, Clifton

Your article made me laugh with joy. Thriving in her happy life, your mom understands a different (and better) reality than one that could be hijacked with endless doctors, chemo treatments, etc. Spending her years outdoors in the beauty of nature has given her the deep wisdom of “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose . . . .” She’ll “know” when the sun is setting and when it will be time for a final cold beer. I encourage you to follow her lead.

My mom had the same attitude. Everything was “wonderful!” She died a couple of years ago, on her terms; she was trained as a nurse but wanted nothing to do with the medical-industrial complex that imprisons so many older folks when they are sick.

JoAnn Lamphere, Washington

Drink tea in moderation

I read with interest the excellent article “Tea grows a reputation for healthfulness ” [April 2], which discusses the benefits of tea on the body.

At a time when I was drinking four to five cups of green tea per day, however, I developed a severe case of generalized urticaria (hives). This development was particularly frustrating because I am a physician, and I made numerous inquiries and visits to other doctors to determine the cause. We finally figured out, by the process of elimination, that green tea was causing my reaction.

Upon stopping the tea, my hives completely disappeared within a few days. After two years with no green tea consumption, I resumed drinking one or two cups maximum per day and have had no recurrence of hives.

While researching the etiology of hives, I discovered that green tea has been associated with acute and chronic urticaria. It should therefore be considered in the diagnosis of hives and consumed in moderation (or not at all) in susceptible people.

Susan L. Abbondanzo, MD, Silver Spring

Can one be too clean?

“Hyper-cleanliness may make us prone to getting sick” [March 26] does not mention a 2012 report by the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene.

As the report summary clearly states: “There is no evidence to show that reducing hygiene would have any impact on rates of chronic inflammatory and allergic disorders, but there is a significant amount of evidence that it would increase the risks of infectious diseases.”

Hygiene and cleaning products should be used responsibly and appropriately throughout our daily lives. This fixation that we’re somehow “hyper-clean” doesn’t really reflect how most of us live.

Paul DeLeo, Senior Director, Environmental Safety, American Cleaning Institute, Washington

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