Now what?


Wrote this about a week ago and thought I’d lost it in the ether…far be it from me to waste words, so I’ll just go ahead and post it.

June 27, 2013:  OK, something has shifted in the last 48 hours. I’m not holding my breath, but I think things are on the mend. Everybody (read health care professionals) said this would happen. Being a health care professional myself, I was skeptical. But given my own evidence–an actual good night’s sleep, waking up with a headache instead of fire in the chest, and less awareness of the verdammt drains–I am forced to say I might actually feel better. Kind of all of a sudden.

So now what? A friend suggests I won’t have anything to write about once my fear and anger fade. Oh well. But that brings up an interesting question: what anger? I wasn’t aware of it. Sure, I can say “screw cancer” with the best of them (after all, my dad died of it), and as y’all know, I’d rather say that than wax on about the “cancer journey.”

I’m aware of fear, certainly, and lots of it, for all kinds of reasons. But overall I’ve had a sense of the other shoe dropping. Kind of a resigned “oh shit, here we go,” given my mom, her sister, and my dad’s sister all having had the disease.

I imagine it was either fear or this anger I’m not aware of that led to the incredible case of eczema that erupted shortly before surgery. Heck, take it a step further. Maybe fear and anger I’m not aware of led to the transformation of certain cells into cancer cells. Naaah. If I believe that, I’ll have yet another fear–that things like thoughts suppressed and emotions not felt are waiting to sabotage me in the worst ways imaginable.

Christiane Northrup, an OB/GYN who has parlayed her experience into several really fat books, is on that bandwagon. Thyroid disease? You’ve choked back enough things that bother you to clobber this major organ in your neck. Ovarian cancer? Your creative potential got thwarted and instead of making babies, your ovaries are using their generative powers to kill you. Breast cancer? Same deal.

I’m paraphrasing from memory here, and that memory’s at least 15 years old, but you get the gist. I stopped reading when I got to those parts because while I agree we’re all responsible to some extent for our health, there are plenty of extents for which we aren’t. There are genetics and accidents and just plain bad luck. And there’s cancer. Barring studies that irrefutably link it to a misspent youth and prior bad acts, I am NOT going to blame myself for breast cancer.

Now I’m not dissing the mind’s great powers of persuasion. Even evidence-based medicine recognizes any treatment can be successful a third of the time thanks to the placebo effect alone. In fact, before being declared effective in its own right, said treatment must beat out placebo by greater than that 30% margin.

During my own misspent youth, I took the training & later got myself registered as a hypnotherapist. If that doesn’t put me squarely in the camp of woo-woo science, I don’t know what does. Hypnosis tries to systematically harness the power of the mind (and, dare I say it–the placebo effect), but it’s not a magic wand that can reliably cure cancer or any other problem. If it was, I’d make a mint cleaning up the mess described by Dr. Northrup. Or my dad might still be alive. Which would really be something to write about.

About An UnCool Midwife

I'm a midwife who's been up all night for most of the last 30 years. Before that, I was editor of a small town newspaper. I left that job swearing I'd never face another 3 am deadline. Now I’m thinking what I really needed was a good night’s sleep. (And they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.) But I miss writing, so I’ve decided to launch a blog to record some of the brain activity that occurs between naps. I’m a little worried about exposing my tender underbelly to the pointy public, but have decided to dive in and see how we all get along. Unexpectedly, this blog has become an outlet for thoughts & feelings that occur with my new diagnosis of breast cancer and its ongoing treatment.

4 responses »

  1. You do have a way with words Kay. I love your irreverance!! I sure am glad you are 3 weeks into (or out of ) this process. It will be better yet when it’s 3 months.

  2. Kay, I know that you were feeling a bit “better” when you wrote this. I’m guessing that better means not in constant agony, which ain’t actually all that “better”, but I wonder what things are actually like for you right now. Are you moving around? Leaving the house? Going to movies? Napping? Cursing America’s healthcare system? Skinny dipping with your foobs?

    • Today was the first day I sat up all day. Until now.
      And didn’t take any pain medication. Until 15 minutes ago. Damn, I was so proud of myself. Skinny dipping is off the plate. At least until I get the other drain out 😉 .

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