How can we maximise our quality of life? HNC patients might have eating and speaking difficulties and some disfigurement. The treatment is traumatising to some and depression, even PTSD, can kick in. 

I’ve lost the ability to eat socially and it’s a big loss. When you already live alone, it’s another factor in your isolation. But there are tonnes more things in life that I can enjoy, including coffee – a sociable drink. It’s also  possible that my life has been more meaningful since my last big cancer op. I’ve had to make a real effort to socialise and I might have more empathy.

This brings me to the whole cohort of HNC patients who have suffered various degrees of trauma and loss. How can we help each other lift those aspects of quality of life that are still in our control?

A friend has just pointed me to the Maori health model written by Sir Mason Drurie in the 80’s. Four pillars of health: physical, mental, family/community and spiritual. 

 Taha Tinana = physical health; Taha Wairua = spiritual health; Taha Whanau = family/community health; Taha Hinengaro = mental health

You could say that our Facebook group helps with social health because we offer community.

As a person with not a religious bone in her body,  I’m still interested in the spiritual pillar by which I mean connection with the world, with nature, having meaning and purpose.

Can the physical defects that affect our physical health be counteracted by strong mental health and spiritual pillars?

Maureen Jansen