Science & Resilience Matters
- Seeing Actor Jamie Foxx and music icon Madonna on the road to recovery after dealing with health battles is an inspiration to anyone fighting disease – especially seeing how resilience the two have been.
- Building resilience can be done through patience and steady exercise of the skill. Some lessons learned from other cancer warriors SurvivorNet has covered include being willing to learn, spending time with people who inspire you, allowing yourself to grieve, being flexible, and leaning in to your community for support.
- Additionally, where you decide to undergo treatment is also important in combatting disease. For some cancer warriors, community oncology provides great treatment options. But for others, and particularly people with rare cancers, more specialized care may be required. In that case, the most effective place to find a specialist is often at academic centers and comprehensive care centers.
- At a comprehensive cancer center different specialists work together as a team to help you find the best course of treatment for your specific kind of cancer, and its clear that the outcomes are often better for people who get care managed in this way.
Foxx, a 55-year-old oscar-winning actor, recently took to Instagram to open up about his recovery from an undisclosed medical condition, which he recalls made him go to “hell and back.” Meanwhile, his fellow entertainer Madonna, 64, has also opened up about the “serious bacterial infection” she was hospitalized with last month.Read More
“I want you to see me laughing, having a good time, partying, cracking a joke, doing a movie, television show. I didn’t want you to see me with tubes running out of me and trying to figure out if I was gonna make it through.”
The comedian credits his daughter, Corinne Fox, his sister, God, and the medical professionals for helping him push through the hard times.
More Inspiring Stories About Resilience
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“To them, to God, to a lot of great medical people, I’m able to leave you this video. I cannot tell you how great it feels to have your family kick in in such a way, and y’all know they kept it airtight, they didn’t let nothing out, they protected me, and that’s what I hope that everyone could have in moments like these,” Foxx explained.
Foxx has been spotted in Chicago in recent weeks, where he had undergone medical treatment at a facility that specializes in rehabilitation care for patients with physical impairments, brain or spine injuries.
He admitted his “road to road had some potholes” in it but he’s returning to work and life as he previously knew it.
“I love everybody and I love all of the love that I got â€¦ If you see me out from now on and every once in a while I just burst into tears, it’s just because it’s been tough, man,” Foxx concluded. “I was sick, man. But now I got my legs under me, so you’re gonna see me out.”
— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) July 20, 2023
Despite the challenges Foxx has been through, he took to Twitter a few days ago to share that “BIG things” are soon to come.
As for Madonna, who has been a staple of the music and entertainment industry for decades, and whose top hits include “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Papa Don't Preach,” and "Everybody,” she recently spent several days in an intensive care unit after developing a bacterial infection.
Weeks after her brief, yet shocking, hospital stay, Madonna had taken to social media to thank her fans and all who have helped her as she heals.
“Thank you for your positive energy, prayers and words of healing and encouragement. I have felt your love. I'm on the road to recovery and incredibly grateful for all the blessings in my life,” she said in a heartfelt statement shared on her Instagram post.
"My first thought when I woke up in the hospital was my children. My second thought was that I did not want to disappoint anyone who bought tickets for my tour. I also didn't want to let down the people who worked tirelessly with me over the last few months to create my show. I hate to disappoint anyone.”
— Madonna (@Madonna) July 10, 2023
She continued, “My focus now is my health and getting stronger and I assure you, I'll be back with you as soon as I can! Thr current plan is to reschedule the North American leg of the tour and to begin in October in Europe.”
Although more information isn’t available on Foxx or Madonna’s health battles, their experiences show us how science (finding the doctors and medical care you need) and resilience matters.
Resilience Through Adversity
SurvivorNet specializes in covering the lives of people who overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Often, seeing the positive helps them maintain their resilience.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, an oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, spoke to SurvivorNet about the role of a positive outlook on survival rates: “I'm pretty good at telling what kind of patient are going to still have this attitude and probably going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who, they have gratitude in life.”
Meanwhile, resilience is an important trait, but not the easiest to build. When building resilience, the ultimate goal is not to avoid tough times, but to be able to bounce back from them. And yet, when they are faced with an overwhelming, life-changing situation, how do people shift their view? How do they learn to see the problem as temporary, rather than permanent, and figure out a solution?
It's complicated, because building resilience is more about your mental and emotional fortitude than anything else. According to the American Psychological Association, “the resources and skills associated with more positive adaptation (i.e., greater resilience) can be cultivated and practiced.” In other words, resilience is not something you're born with, which should be encouraging. Instead, after every challenge in your life, you build more and more resilience to those hard times.
Building resilience is down in the same way you build muscle through patience and steady exercise of the skill. Some lessons learned from other cancer warriors SurvivorNet has covered include being willing to learn, spending time with people who inspire you, allowing yourself to grieve, being flexible, and leaning in to your community for support.
The Importance of a Second Opinion
You should always consider getting a second opinion if you feel like your doctor has missed something or your symptoms are being dismissed. And after receiving a cancer diagnosis, it's important to remember that you can, and should, talk to other cancer specialists about your disease.
“If I had any advice for you following a cancer diagnosis, it would be, first, to seek out multiple opinions as to the best care,” National Cancer Institute Chief of Surgery Steven Rosenberg told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. "Because finding a doctor who is up to the latest of information is important."
As we highlight in several areas of SurvivorNet, highly respected doctors sometimes disagree on the right course of treatment, and advances in genetics and immunotherapy are creating new options. Also, in some instances the specific course of treatment is not clear cut. That's even more reason why understanding the potential approaches to your disease is crucial.
At the National Cancer Institute, there is a patient referral service that will "guide patients to the right group depending on their disease state so that they can gain access to these new experimental treatments," Rosenberg says.
Furthermore, getting another opinion may also help you avoid doctor biases. For example, some surgeons own radiation treatment centers.
"So there may be a conflict of interest if you present to a surgeon that is recommending radiation because there is some ownership of that type of facility," Dr. Jim Hu, director of robotic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet.
Other reasons to get a second opinion include:
- To see a doctor who has more experience treating your type of cancer
- You have a rare type of cancer
- There are several ways to treat your cancer
- You feel like your doctor isn't listening to you, or isn't giving you good advice
- You have trouble understanding your doctor
- You don't like the treatment your doctor is recommending, or you're worried about its possible side effects
- Your insurance company wants you to get another medical opinion
- Your cancer isn't improving on your current treatment
Bottom line, being proactive about your health could be a matter of life or death. Learn as much as you can from as many experts as you can, so that you know that you did your best to take control of your health.
Getting Care from Academic Centers and Comprehensive Care Centers
For some cancer warriors, community oncology provides great treatment options. But for others, and particularly people with rare cancers, more specialized care may be required. In that case, the most effective place to find a specialist is often at academic centers and comprehensive care centers.
In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, Dr. Kenneth Miller, director of outpatient oncology at the University of Maryland's comprehensive cancer center, explained what differentiates a "comprehensive cancer center" from other treatment providers.
“Pretty much automatically, there's going to be a team approach [to your care]," Dr. Miller said. "Surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and all the support servicesand also wonderful pathology and radiology."
Dr. Miller added that at a comprehensive cancer center, all of these different specialists work together as a team to help you find the best course of treatment for your specific kind of cancer.
"We call it a tumor boarda group to go through all the details of your caseâ€¦ so you get a group of very smart people coming up with a plan together that is hopefully optimal and gives you the best chance of doing well."
Getting the Emotional Support You Need
Dealing with a cancer journey or any type of health battle can have a big impact on your mental health. If you are not sure where to turn during or after your cancer battle, social workers can be an incredible resource, and they are there to help.
One of the primary roles of a social worker is advocacy, according to Sarah Stapleton, a clinical social worker at Montefiore Medical Center. Social workers help with a variety of issues that arise with cancer treatment. They can connect you with financial resources to help pay for treatment, work with insurance companies and provide emotional support for those who need it.
"If there is any barrier that you are finding, financial, transportation or otherwise, a social worker is going to help advocate for you to try to do the best we can to eliminate that and make sure you get your treatment," Stapleton said in a previous interview with SurvivorNet.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff