Tina Turner Overcame Cancer and Abuse
- Singer Tina Turner was able to overcome intestinal cancer, a stroke, and domestic abuse with her Buddhist faith: “We all have the potential to overcome problems.”
- Intestinal cancer make up only 1% of all cancer diagnoses, and it’s important for those fighting it to push for the best diagnosis and treatment possible.
- Turner is one of many survivors who have found hope and strength in faith, which can be a powerful weapon against cancer.
“I’ve always felt the most important thing isn’t what happens to us, it’s how we choose to respond,” she told the Guardian. “I release negative feelings by taking to heart the importance of forgiveness and self-reflection rather than blame.Read More
The “Queen of Rock N’ Roll,” recently spoke publicly about how ex-husband Ike Turner had been physically and emotionally abusive towards her during their 1962-1978 marriage. The abuse was so severe that she, in her own words, “became so hopeless that I attempted suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.” Turner divorced Ike in 1978.
Her battles weren’t over: she suffered a stroke in 2013 and had to relearn how to walk. Only three years later, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and kidney failure, with her husband Erwin Bach donating his kidney to her in 2017.
“I know that my medical adventure is far from over,” she said in her 2017 memoir Turner Turner: My Love Story. “There’s always another test, another doctor’s appointment or biopsy to get through,” adding, “we’re both still here, closer than we ever imagined and that’s cause for celebration.”
But rather than falling into despair, Turner’s new book Happiness Becomes You captures how she choose faith and hope, diving deep into Buddhism to find gratitude and joy in the complicated mess of life.
What is Intestinal Cancer?
Intestinal cancer accounts for only 1% of all cancer cases diagnosed in the United States every year. The rarity of the disease combined with other health conditions – in Turner’s case, kidney failure – means that patients must be willing to push for greater clarity about their diagnosis and best treatment options.
“From a doctor’s perspective,” Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Siani Medical Center, explains in a previous interview, “every problem should have a diagnosis, a treatment, a plan for follow-up, and a plan for what happens next if the treatment doesn’t work.”
This may require patients to be pushy and demand that their medical team advocate for them in every way possible, Dr. Murrell says.
“Even if it requires multiple visits or seeing additional providers for a second opinion, always be your own advocate.”
Having Faith, Fighting Cancer
In her book, Turner attributed her resilience in the face of such overwhelming challenges to Buddhism, saying her faith helped her survive – and thrive – in the face of abuse and cancer.
“Over the years I have summoned up my inner lion and overcome each health problem,” Turner writes. “Illness has given me a greater appreciation for health and reminds me to live each day to its fullest.”
For many survivors, faith helps them stay positive in the face of daunting medical challenges and inspires them to fight on.
Peggy Bell, an ovarian cancer survivor, leaned on her faith in staying calm and positive about the future through her battle, always confident she was in God’s hands.
“God is always in control so I’m not going to worry or stress about events that we can’t impact and always stay prayerful,” Bell told SurvivorNet in a previous interview.
Beverly Reeves, another ovarian cancer survivor, told SurvivorNet that faith, along with support from friends and family, helped her get through treatment. She tells people going through difficult cancer battles to stay connected to faith groups and the critical support they offer.
“If you’re connected to a faith community, get your faith community, and get your family,” she told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “Let them know what’s going on and let them help you.
Having a positive outlook and support system like Reeves benefits more than just the heart — it can actually help patients live longer. Dr. Murrell told SurvivorNet in a previous interview that he’s “pretty good at telling what kind of patients are going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who have gratitude in life.”
SurvivorNet has interviewed hundreds of survivors who’ve shared similar stories of how faith has helped them persevere through their battles with cancer.
Whether it comes from faith, family, community, or another source, strength and positivity are key to overcoming cancer. SurvivorNet‘s medical experts urge those fighting cancer to talk to their doctors and loved ones to develop a support system for their battle.
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