Health, to me, is defined as state of overall well-being. This could be mentally, spiritually and physically not having illnesses. I approached this from an educational, personal and religious view. As humans, we are able to verbalize if we are in pain or in a state of being content. We focus on how we are feeling. If any of these factors are not altered in anyway we “feel okay”.
In contrast since we have this ability, we are to seek assistance if we think something “is feeling weird” we often then visit churches, hospitals or personal healing. Illness can be defined as ones health being altered. For example, conditions or diseases not limited to such as depression, spirit possession, and cancer. These factors can view educationally from what we are told through school, media or a health care profession. However, we ourselves know when our own body is experiencing changes that are abnormal.
Cancer is considered an illness. It is a progressive disease that can be acute or benign that can affect anywhere on body. Sometimes, it can be heredity such as a mutation that can alter a gene that causes cancer that was received from a parent that carried the trait. However, it can be self afflicted such as lung cancer from smoking. Cancer can be a physical change of the body. Often this disease can be seen thought various factors weight loss, moles on the skin, or constant fatigue. However, this illness can sometimes be unknown until the late stages where chemotherapy and surgery cannot change the state of the progressive cancer.
The second condition I chose was old age, I personally don’t believe is an illness. If there is a problem during old age it is probably because of the abnormalities that acquire with old age such dementia, aching bones, vision loss etc. Old age happens regardless if the person wants it to happen or not. It’s just the way the human biological/physiological system decreases. Although, old age happens there are still ways to ways to stay healthy so that may of the symptoms of progressive age does not have to happen.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Falicia Captain says:

    I completely agree that cancer is indeed an illness. Cancer is a chronic, progressive condition that can be treated in order to restore proper health. In American culture, cancer is often caused by smoking, sun over exposure, or genetics. However, there are many different types of cancers and therefore many different causes as well. Cancer is one of the illnesses that is a feared diagnosis in American culture, being that it can be fatal. Sometimes just referred to as the “c-word”, conversations about the illness are in hushed and even sometimes shamed tones. But the diagnosis is always upfront and honest. Immediately after diagnosis, the patient and family begin treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery. The support of family and friends during the treatment process is custom in American culture. The patient is showered with love and support every step of the way through the illness towards recovery. In other cultures, cancer is perceived and treated very differently. In a 1984 survey of physicians from regions such as Africa, France, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Spain, it was found that only one-third of physicians in their countries told patients they had cancer, although almost all told some member of the family. In the United States it is a legal matter of honesty and privacy, as well as proper etiquette within the culture. In many Asian countries, revealing the diagnosis depends on if there is little hope for a successful treatment. Korean gastroenterologist Hie-Won Yvonna L. Hann M.D. says she considers several factors “such as the person’s demeanor, emotional stability, and intellect” before deciding to discuss cancer with a patient, but she will “never quote statistics about how effective certain treatments are” nor will “tell a patient directly that he is going to die” (Benowitz 1999). Hann attributes differences from American practice to cultural disparities. “I think that Americans are more straightforward, more vocal, and want to plan ahead,” she said. “ Americans are more realistic. The first thing an American patient usually asks me is, ‘ How long do I have?’ ” (Benowitz 1999). The discrepancy in treatment and diagnosis of different illnesses across cultures is very important when understanding the medical anthropology across those cultures.

    Benowitz, Steven. “To Tell the Truth: A Cancer Diagnosis in Other Cultures Is Often a Family Affair.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 91: 1918-1919. (accessed January 1, 2014).

    • Nikki Silva says:

      Falicia, this is a really interesting point about how cancer is viewed across cultures. I think it is interested how we treat diagnoses of cancer in the U.S. It is a public disease, people often sharing with others what they are going through. There is a really interesting documentary called Pink Ribbons Inc (Here is the link:, which talks about consumerism and breast cancer. It also talks to women who have breast cancer, but disagree with the practices of the Susan G. Komen foundation and who also are not keen on sharing their diagnosis with others. It’s on netflix if you want to check it out.

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