Saturday, 14 March 2020

Fear; part four prostate cancer and coronavirus

From Information is Beautiful
The Coronavirus has already saturated the news but I wanted to look very briefly at what the medical staff are saying about prostate cancer and a wee look again at fear. Like many, I still haven't got my head around all this, so these are some rather random initial thoughts...

I have seen that those of us with cancer face an increased risk regarding the virus on top of the risks associated with age (i). Cancer Research UK advises anyone receiving treatment for cancer that 'It’s especially important that you follow NHS advice’ (ii). 

Having just come out of radiotherapy I was slightly heartened to see that the radiotherapy, while impacting on the immune system, does not put me in the highest risk groups with cancer; those with prostate cancer, who need to look out more, are: 

  men having chemotherapy, or who’ve had chemotherapy in the last three months

  men having clinical trial drugs that affect the immune system, such as olaparib (Lynparza®) or pembrolizumab (Keytruda®).

You can see more on the Prostate Cancer UK website here with info about how to support ourselves (iii). See also here the general statement from One Cancer Voice (representing 19 cancer charities). 

Update 17.03.20: Public Health England issued advice that lists conditions with an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus and then also there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness. That list includes people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Fortunately I have just finished but I am aware that the immune system can take some weeks to rebuild - see here (viii). Taking hormones (as I do) is also an issue. Dr Crawford at Prostatepedia (ix) notes that "some people that are on hormone therapy do have some risk factors that evolve from the hormone therapy, including increased risk of cardiovascular events. So, I think, yes, they need to be more careful."

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancocksaid yesterday (x): "In a few days’ time – by this coming weekend – we will need to go even further to ensure that those with the most serious health conditions are largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.” Plus useful perspective here (xi) from someone who has a chronic illness. Thoughts with all whatever your situation.

The Coronavirus is certainly testing us all around fear. Fear is one of the viruses key symptoms and as I’ve covered in previous blogs, fear is a killer in itself (iv). We know fear weakens the immune system and thereby makes us all more susceptible to illness. The levels of fear being induced are to such a level that they are feeding mass panic. 

It was therefore good to read an article by Paul Levy, who describes himself as a wounded healer. He gives a refreshing take on how we can see this pandemic. He writes;

 “...the coronavirus is the medicine that can help us get over ourselves and realize that the most vital and urgent task for humanity is to see through what Einstein famously calls an 'optical delusion of consciousness' - the illusion of the separate self… 

When fear is collectively mobilized, due to its psychically contagious nature, it takes on a seemingly autonomous and independent life of its own, feeding mass panic that easily turns into a collective psychosis. To see through the illusion of the separate self is at the same time to take away the power that fear has over us (as well as to empower ourselves), for the experience of separation and fear (of “the other”) mutually co-arise, reciprocally reinforcing each other. Genuine compassion (which strengthens the immune system) is the result of this realization."
Kelly Gores, from the HEAL Documentary, quotes Dr. Wayne Dyer,  who said: When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” She then goes onto say: "While many of us are in an anxious cycle of fear, please remember we can shift our focus and our thoughts to gratitude right now. We can close our eyes, connect to our breath, turn within and sit in silence until we drop into our parasympathetic nervous system. That is how we create peace of mind, we flood our body with healing chemistry, and we give our immune systems a nitro boost. Let’s shift our focus from the helplessness of the unknown to the confidence of what we DO know and CAN do. Let’s break the cycle of panic, accept what IS, and change the way we look at things. This might require taking a break from all the negative, fear-driven news and shifting our attention to positive and inspiring content".

Another great article comes from Maff Potts of the Association of Camerados (vi), he concludes; "Let’s see this for what it is: a big, frightening, very serious H.G. Wells kind of a story that teaches us something by revealing how we relate to each other, how we need human contact and connection and maybe when this is all over maybe we’ll know that we have to “look out for each other” and not just because Boris Johnson told us to!"

Brother Richard

This wonderful poem below that is being circulated widely on social media is by Capuchin Franciscan priest-friar Richard Hendrick in Ireland (vii). Brother Richard captures something of the same essence that Paul Levy does; perhaps this virus will really help us all come together as one. Certainly there are beautiful signs of neighbours coming together locally...

Lockdown (March 13th 2020)

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other 
across the empty squares, 
keeping their windows open 
so that those who are alone 
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know 
is busy spreading fliers with her number 
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples 
are preparing to welcome 
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able 
to touch across the empty square,

Support in Stroud area 

And in terms of connecting with neighbours locally there are many of us in the community coming together to support each other and help people at more risk. You can read more on the new website at:

And on Facebook:

And to finish with another thoughtful poem - this one by Lynn Ungar (March 2020);


What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Centre down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Update 24/03/2020: Latest NHS guidance for management of cancer patients:



(vii) See more in Richard's blog at: 


  1. Guardian article by a prostate cancer surgeon:

  2. This was useful from US prostate Cancer Foundation:

  3. Great video about role of elevated emotions in breaking the stress response from Joe Dispenza:

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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