Cancer / life crises

In 1984 I was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer. From the very beginning I opted for not resorting to conventional cancer treatments. My struggle with the disease marked my life for more than a decade. Now I have been symptom free for many years, but I do not pretend that I found the cure for cancer. Whether I have been simply more lucky than those of my fellow travelers who fell away at some of the crossroads on the paths of the disease, or I'm a living example of the efficiency of a holistic approach, I don't know and will never be able to find out.

Still, my personal experience gave me a secure ground to stand on even professionally in so far the psychological aspects of cancer, the importance of complementary circles of self-help groups for patients, relatives of patients and personnel in the oncological care, and, most of all, how to remain or even become a person in charge of her or his own life and choices instead of being reduced to a patient with a diagnosis.

Over the years I had many occasions to make this combination of professional knowledge and personal experience useful in different contexts, like the continuing education of oncological personnel, or my work as a psychotherapist with cancer patients or people with other types of life crises, and their relatives. This work can span from supporting people in making their choices to accompany them in the terminal phase.

During the whole year of 2005 Hungarian sociologist Miklós Hadas pursued taped conversations with me. Part of the many hours of recordings became in his sensitive redaction The Cancer Monologue of Péter Szil, originally published in October 2006 in the Hungarian Social Science Quarterly Replika.