How Hard Is It
The label, cancer, can be denied but it is hard to ignore. With it you enter the world of serial decisions that you are asked to make, that are as hard as they are unwelcome. In a bewilderingly short time you pass through a maze of clinics, medical offices, scan machine rooms, and waiting rooms where you pick up a swelling number of brochures written to give you the information to help you make decisions, that will change your life. Forever?
If you must add metastatic to your label, the plot thickens. When you are told mainstream Medical science cannot cure your disease at this time, the bottom falls away. Next comes your prognosis. Modern Medical practice then predicts the statistical time when you will probably die. It is hammered home. It’s human nature to walk out of the Oncologists office thinking they can’t mean me. The interventions, the blood tests, the scans, the biopsies, the whole artificiality of the process dehumanizes your experience, and makes taking decisions in your best interest harder you could ever have imagined. And the decisions to be made just go on and on.
Ian Gawler is an extreme case of athletic determination. See some of his background at the ABC’s George Negus Tonight show:"Complementary Cancer Treatment"
As a young, ambitious, humanitarian professional, he had to wear his cancer externally. His leg was gone to primary cancer, and his chest disfigured by metastases, it was there to remind him every waking moment. Denial of further mainstream intervention motivated him to pursue some extreme alternatives and prolonged meditation. That he came through it must stimulate the highest human emotional response, verging on the miracle moment. All his decisions were extreme, but with his Veterinary knowledge and training, his determination as an athlete, and his research ability to source information he was well placed to make hard lifestyle decisions.
I might represent nearly the opposite end of the scale. With an internally hidden deformity, feeling well, looking normal, pain controlled, with only the mirror of a CT scan to remind me that all is not right within. I had five years of ‘surviving’ before I copped my new label, time to adapt. I can say I kicked the coke and burger habit thirty years ago, and am mystified and annoyed as to why such a healthy man can get cancer. I know why. Diet is only the tip of the iceberg, when you are inescapably surrounded by the materials and gases that have been mostly invented in the last one hundred years.
At 62 I can say “I’ve had a good life”, and I consider myself as well read up as you can be on such the vast topic of cancer related issues. I consume the usual assortment of supplements and berries, suggested by my friends and well wishers, after they have passed my “why not” test that is. Sometimes I forget to put the VitC on the shopping list when I run out. They may turn out to be the difference between putting my immune system into turbo charge or not. How will I know. I take them as I might a placebo in a Clinical Trial. Who knows that they won’t work?
My decisions are made in a vastly different climate to Ian Gawler and everybody else in between. If I was 83, like my father aged to, it would be different again. Easier? I think it would be. The more time to adapt. Making decisions takes time, which is in limited supply.
Time available, your position in life, your health, your education, your determination, your despair, your emotions, and damned near everything, shape the climate of your decisions. We all come out differently. The missing common ingredients are good information and emotional support. They are out there in quantity, sufficient for our needs, we just have to work at it and get connected. Or not.
Plenty are in denial by choice, but it seems to me a temporary state, delaying the inevitable. Choosing to be ignorant of the information that helps us to make up your own minds on our Quality of Life. I deliberated on leaving this judgmental sentence in, but here it stands. ( I can always Edit it out later – thank you Felix 🙂 ) But trust me on the Information.
A bit heavy on the Recurrent/Advanced theme I know, for all you primaries and survivors. But if you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say. If you’ve got a ‘poor prognosis’ do we have a group for you, which is currently running a membership drive. Come and see what we are talking about via Kate at http://www.cancerconnections.com.au/groups/recurrentadvanced-cancer-online-support-group I can't believe that there are only 6 of us out of 1533. Come and find out what you are missing out on? Inside information!
If this made any sense I suggest you check out another site on the theme of lots of good information equals good decisions "Re: A Sense of Despair” posted by borderline - 29 Sep 2010 - 23:35 http://www.cancerconnections.com.au/blog/sense-despair#comment-7064
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.