In his Nexflix series, “After Life,” Ricky Gervais mines the dark humor that resides in grief. Gervais plays Tony, a man who has lost his wife to cancer. “There’s a line where he says, ‘I know she’s nowhere — but I’d rather be nowhere with her than somewhere without her,'” the comedian notes. “He’s given up. He doesn’t want to live without her.”Read More
Tony’s deceased wife (played by Karry Godliman), figures prominently in the series. "Her part's really important," Gervais explained, "because you know he used to be fun."
Gervais is careful not to complain about the pandemic, “not when there’s nurses working 14-hour shifts, risking their lives.” But life under quarantine has made him miss his own mundane
Dr. Dana Chase, gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology, asks patients, “What brings you joy?”
pleasures: “I can’t wait to buy a newspaper and sit outside at a cafe,” Gervais notes, adding, “You want your life back.”
What Brings You Joy?
The mundane pleasures Gervais references in “Afer Life” can also have a positive impact on cancer outcomes. Studies of patients in cancer treatment have shown that emotional health and social support networks can positively impact survival rates. SurvivorNet spoke to Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at Arizona Oncology: “Quality of life is associated with
ABC news anchor Amy Robach was afraid to make future plans after her cancer diagnosis, but learned to “turn that anxiety into something great.”
better survival, better outcomes,” says Chase. Oncologists agree that patients should pay attention to their own happiness. “Definitely working on your emotional health, your physical well-being, your social environment…working on those things and making them better are important and can impact your survival,” she says. So how do you take care of
your emotional health? Chase invites patients to figure out what brings them joy. “I will talk to a patient about making [a] list of the top ten things that bring them joy. And trying to do those ten things…to make at least 50 percent of their experiences positive throughout the day.”
Social Support Networks
Social support is also crucial. A loving community can offer emotional shoring-up, while also assisting with day-to-day needs like meal-prep, childcare, or transportation to appointments.
- Friends and Family – While this may be the immediate source of community for most women, Dr. Chase is quick to recognize that not every woman can lean on friends and family for social support. “Some women just do not have access to that,” she cautions.
- Patient Advocate - Patient advocates are your partners in the treatment process and help direct you to all the resources in the hospital, as well as providing comforting support throughout the experience.
- National Support Networks - such as the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, which provides local chapters of women with ovarian cancer that can provide support for one another, as well as a large volunteer community
Patients, caregivers, and even grieving spouses have to know that “there’s a social network out there for them if they don’t have it easily accessible,” she says. All in all, taking care of your emotional health–whether that’s your mental well-being or social network–will definitely help you live happier, and may even help you live longer.