“Healthy” does not necessarily mean absence of disease. During a home visit with medical students I recently saw a patient who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 11….
He is now 86 years old. Despite the diabetes, he did very well throughout his life raising a family of four and contributing meaningfully to the society. I would say he had a healthy life. Similarly, I feel humbled and inspired everyday by the cancer survivors I see in my oncology clinic, who despite the struggles that survivorship can bring, have a smile on their face, compassion in their hearts, and the will to prosper. I think they probably lead a more healthy life than many of us do.
So how does one define healthy? Webster defines healthy as someone enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit. I think the latter is critical as it is freedom of mind and spirit that can help us cope with any illness, and can actually help us flourish. Fortunately, the MGH cancer center provides a nurturing work-up environment to our patients to help them thrive and become “healthy”.