I. Pre-Listening Exercises [Top]

What exactly is cancer, and what forms of cancer are most common in your country or area (liver cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, or other)? Search the Internet to understand more about the disease and look up the most common forms of cancer treatment, both traditional and non-traditional therapies. Also, discuss whether family members openly discuss the disease and if there are any cultural norms on how people deal with cancer.

HELPFUL TIP: Cancer can cause great suffering for both patients and families. Early cancer screening can catch the disease early to improve chances for survival.

II. Listening Exercises [Top]

I. Listen to the conversation by pressing the “Play Audio” button and answer the questions. Press the “Final Score” button to check your quiz.

1. Which word best describes the man’s initial reaction right after he found out that he had been diagnosed with cancer?

A. shock

B. anger

C. self-pity
2. What did the man do after he first learned of his illness?

A. He underwent immediate surgery.

B. He retired from his job.

C. He researched cancer treatments.

3. After several months with the disease, what was the man’s main source of consolation?

A. his family and friends

B. his belief in God

C. his doctors’ encouragement

4. Who was mainly responsible for checking on and adjusting the man’s medications in the home?

A. relatives

B. his wife

C. a hospice

5. According to the story, what can we learn from such difficult and emotional experiences?

A. All people will face death, and thus, we must prepare for it spiritually.

B. Our characters can be strengthened by such adversity.

C. Families provide the best support system during such a crisis.

Score =
Correct answers:

I once had a friend that was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the news that he might only live up to six months was a great shock to him, his family, and his friends. However, in spite of the dire prognosis, he was initially determined to look into all available treatments that might cure or extend his life. I think that when you find yourself in such situations, you tend to look up every possible avenue for hope of preserving your life.
As the months progressed and his health grew worse, I noticed an unexpected change in attitude that came over him. He had also been a jovial person with an upbeat personality, but rather (than) give in to discouragement and self-pity, he took comfort his faith in God and humanity. His conversations focused on others rather than himself, and he spoke of the afterlife as something he was prepared for, believing that his deceased ancestors, including his mother and father, were there waiting for him.

During the last few months, weeks, and days of his life, he was kindly cared for by family, friends, his loving wife, who looked after both his physical and emotional needs, and workers from a local hospice came to the home to help regulate his medication and provide any other needed support. He didn’t complain about his fate, and he willingly allowed others to serve him, realizing they were the benefactors of something more.

Indeed, one might ponder why God allows death and suffering in our world, but for me, such experiences taught me to value family more and kindness for others. You often can’t learn these important attributes in the lap of luxury, and perhaps, such an experience is the greatest and final gift the terminally ill can give those left behind.

Key Vocabulary [Top]
  • diagnose (verb): determine the nature of a problem
    – This test will diagnose whether she has the disease.
  • terminal (adjective): ending in or approaching death
    – His wife has a terminal illness and isn’t expect to live through the end of the week.
  • in spite of (preposition): regardless of
    – Nathan was very cheerful in spite of his medical condition.
  • dire (adjective): awful, fearful, nearly hopeless
    – The family found themselves in dire financial conditions after the loss of their father.
  • prognosis (noun): a prediction of the course of a disease
    – With the development of new medications, the long-term prognosis for someone with that disease is good.
  • jovial (adjective): merry, cheerful
    – My sister was still somewhat jovial in spite of her medical condition.
  • upbeat (adjective): cheerful, positive
    – Inspite of all my mother’s emotionally challenges, she always tried to remain upbeat about life.
  • self-pity (noun): a feeling of sorrow for personal sufferings
    – Although she was suffering from cancer, the woman felt there was little time for self-pity and devoted the rest of her life to service.
  • deceased (adjective): dead
    – Both of my parents are deceased, and I only have one brother who is still living.
  • hospice (noun): a program providing medical and emotional care for the terminally ill and their families
    – A local hospice came into our home to care for my grandfather while he was terminally ill.
  • benefactors (noun): someone who helps other people
    – Many benefactors have contributed goods and money to the poor in our area.
  • ponder (verb): reflect or think deeply on something, meditate
    – When you find yourself in dire circumstances, people often tend to ponder the purpose of life.
  • attributes (noun): qualities or characteristics
    – There are so many attributes I admire in Mindy, my sister.
  • lap of luxury (noun): a condition of wealth and comfort
    – Some people live in the lap of luxury while others live a relatively simple lifestyle from day to day.