Published On: Thu, Oct 9th, 2014

Caring Community, Positive Attitude And Aggressive Treatment Help FAU Professor Survive Two Bouts Of Pancreatic Cancer

In what his physicians have called a “miraculous recovery,” Steven Lewis, Ph.D., a visiting professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, has beaten all odds surviving two bouts of pancreatic cancer. Lewis was first diagnosed with the disease in 2007, and again almost three years later when the cancer metastasized to his liver. He has persevered major surgeries, radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

With the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, pancreatic cancer patients have less than a five percent survival rate within five years of diagnosis, and 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. with an estimated 46,420 Americans diagnosed each year. Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years. In recent years, pancreatic cancer has received considerable attention because many well-known individuals such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, actor Patrick Swayze and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti have died from the disease.

Following the surgery to remove the cancer in his liver, Lewis has been cancer free and in excellent  health for more than four years. Along with his outstanding team of physicians, Lewis credits his ability to maintain an extremely positive attitude with saving his life. As an exercise physiologist, researcher and teacher, he leads a vigorous life, exercising regularly to maintain a high level of physical fitness and health.

“A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer presents a terrible emotional burden for patients and their families,” said Lewis. “It is a better choice to face the mortal threat of this illness squarely than to react with negativity, complaint and despair. Whether individual patients survive or not, maintaining a positive attitude can help patients and their families beat the emotional devastation of pancreatic cancer.”

Lewis and his family experienced numerous health twists and turns during his long battle with cancer and he believes that if they were not able to stay positive, their emotional devastation would likely have drained his physical ability to fight the cancer. In addition to their upbeat approach to this life-threatening illness, they used CaringBridge.org, an internet blog for severe medical conditions to develop a strong emotional support community. Lewis strongly believes that maintaining a highly positive attitude can provide already weak patients with more focused energy to fight off their disease and potentially improve their survival.

Inspired by the community support he received, Lewis has just published a book called “The Ripple Effect: How a Positive and Caring Community Helped Save My Life.” He wrote the book to help others who may be facing adverse health conditions and other traumatic situations.

“Virtually everyone, at some time in life, will endure serious life changing experiences such as a life threatening illness, injury, loss of a loved one or divorce,” said Lewis. “During such trying times, a positive attitude can help us think clearly, be solution oriented and ultimately prevail.”

“The Ripple Effect: How a Positive and Caring Community Helped Save My Life” is published by iUniverse and is also available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles’ websites.

 

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