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Editor's notebook: Dum spiro, spero

Editor's notebook: Dum spiro, spero

[Editor's Notebook]

Dum spiro, spero ~ While I breathe, I hope.

This saying could well be the motto of cancer survivors and researchers alike. In this issue, we meet just a few of the people at Queen’s battling this disease. Some of them are expanding our knowledge of how cancer operates and creating more effective treatments. Some of them are banding together, calling upon the expertise of colleagues in disciplines quite different from their own, to tackle questions about cancer in new ways.

In this issue, you’ll meet people coordinating an international trial that could signal an end to early-stage lung cancer. You’ll meet people advocating for themselves and their fellow patients; raising funds and awareness to support cancer research; clarifying complex guidelines for survivorship care; and making medical breakthroughs. The fight against cancer continues, as it has for decades. It takes a long time, it takes many forms, and it takes the efforts of many people.

[Andtrea Gunn]
Andrea Gunn, Alumni Review editor. (photo by Garrett Elliott)

In every issue of the Review, I can only offer you a sample of stories that address a much larger topic. For this issue, I have focused on the positive stories, of hope and progress, of collaboration and success. There are so many other stories though, of frustration, despair, pain, and loss. I hear some of those stories when I talk with family and friends of Queen’s alumni and faculty members who have lost their lives to cancer or other illness.

But when I talk to the bereaved – whether they are spouses, children, parents or classmates – our conversations quite often then turn to the positive. They tell me about the wonderful memories they have of the person they lost: his or her accomplishments, idiosyncrasies, and sense of humour (so often found in Queen’s grads and faculty members) and the love they had for their family and friends. I have been privileged to be part, in a small way, of the celebration of their lives.

And just as the individuals who lost their lives to cancer were not defined by their disease, the same is true for those living with cancer. They have a lot to deal with, after their diagnosis, during their treatment, and even post-treatment.

You’ll learn a little more about survivorship care issues in our talk with Marian Luctkar-Flude. But people living with cancer are not their cancer and they are not to be mourned prematurely. They may need a little more support from you. They may, as Karen Nicole Smith tells us, be a little more frank than usual about what they need from their friends, their colleagues, and their health-care providers. Be there for them if you can.

Andrea Gunn


[cover of Alumni Review 2016 Issue 3]