OK, I’m in a decidedly prickly mood today. This may be a reaction to having one person too many gaze at me with wet eyes and the “poor doomed you, Cancer Victim!” look on his or her face. Usually, these well meaning people give oodles of advice on all the alternative treatments I should be trying, be they spiritual, material or behavioral.
While I am getting closer to sixty, an age that used to be referred to as, “elderly,” I do not delight in conversation about medical conditions; mine or anyone else’s. And, particularly if I just met you, I probably really don’t want to dwell on the subject of cancer. A brief mention is ok, then on to other things.
One thing about me remains unchanged since B.C (Before Cancer): I’ve never subscribed to “black or white thinking.” Meaning, I believe neither in all things AMA nor all things holistic. It’s not that I don’t have some hope for surviving my disease longer than the stats dictate. It’s just that I’m trying to achieve a little serenity by not obsessing about an outcome that is ultimately out of my control.
When I was 19, I lived for about a year in a commune in Palo Alto. Everyone in the commune, with exception of me, was a vegetarian. Most of them were vegans, although that term wasn’t widely used in 1973. There was absolutely no meat allowed in the house. Of course, when the other commune-dwellers were gone for the weekend, guess who bought herself a nice big steak to throw on the broiler? I was very careful to air out the house after grilling my steak; I’d never have dreamed of inflicting the sight and smell of that charred, bloody goodness upon anyone’s delicate mung-bean-loving senses. But, I never tried to turn myself into something I am not: a vegetarian. I’m willing to try a mung bean or two, but do enjoy a little animal based protein along with any vegetation I ingest.
Neither am I drawn to relying only upon macrobiotics, mega-vitamin dosing, treatments at some allegedly miracle clinic in Mexico, magical tea or other ‘alt’ treatments. That isn’t to say that I only believe in what is prescribed by the American Medical Association. I believe in the power of faith, prayer and meditation, at least to comfort and sustain. However, when and if my health deteriorates to the point that there are no AMA-backed treatments left to try, I’d be open to participating in a clinical trial or two. I do believe in scientific process. Even if the scientific process doesn’t specifically save me, it’ll save someone in the end.
Of course I appreciate the caring all that wildly varying advice shows. My would-be advisors want to fix what ails me. And…maybe they want to assure themselves that cancer might be curable after all, just in case they get it, too. Meanwhile, I accept that I have lung cancer, that it may eventually kill me. Worrying about what comes next will not take up the rest of my life. Better to stand firm; throwing my energy into living rather than running away from death.