Every July when the Tour de France rolls around, Lance Armstrong mania rides uphill to another peak. Part of the Lance mystique is the status as a cancer survivor who beat the odds, of course, and the mythology generally credits his survival to his conviction to beat cancer. Yes, if only you have the will to survive, cancer doesn't stand a chance! Right? Wrong. What newly diagnosed person doesn't hope to beat the cancer? Propagation of the Lance Armstrong mythology spreads the idea that cancer can be cured only if the patient has enough will power—from which we can infer that those who succumb to cancer just weren't trying hard enough.
This is crap, of course. Lance achieved a cure because his cancer cells were susceptible to the treatments used. If he'd had a more virulent type of cancer, or if he'd used less effective treatments, it's possible that all the will power in the world would have been no more effective than slapping a Band-aid on his tumor site.
The eloquent writer known as Cancer, Baby gets into this issue in depth in herlatest post. For those who haven't read her blog, she's currently undergoing treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer, and she's done some reading on the whole "will to beat cancer" concept. Read it. Share the link with people you know.