Thursday, 31 January 2008

A Place to Vent...

One of the hardest things for me about having cancer is feeling it is my own fault somehow, that perhaps I keep creating this in my body for some reason I am missing and if I could only figure out why then perhaps I could stop getting it. Am I being punished? Logic tells me no but some secret space inside of me keeps whispering 'you must deserve this' and 'well, come on, where is your wisdom - heal yourself', and 'oh the first 3 lots weren't enough for you to learn whatever it is you need to learn so here we are with it back in your body, only now you are running out of options, now it is looking very like this will actually kill you - soon'. Things along this vein keep coming up for me and I do struggle with it. I have often wondered about the way people that go into remission call themselves 'survivors', as do others around them, even their Doctors, as though they deserve a huge pat on the back, as though they have done something so wonderful and wise, if this is indeed the case then it indicates that there is control involved, a choice whether to have cancer or get rid of it and not what must be the more likely truth that cancer is rife in our Western world, it is on the increase too, some research indicates that it is connected to our way of living, fast food, pollution, stress, food additives, flavor enhancers, preservatives, colors, numbers, hormones, the way our fruit and vegetables are not ripened on the vine or tree anymore - they are picked green and gas ripened and in doing this we lose vital nutrients that only appear during the natural ripening process (this has been proven by the way), the vitamins and minerals we used to get from eating one peach would now require us to eat about 50 to get similar levels and even then not quite as good, and on and on the list grows. Logic tells us that it is these kinds of things that cause cancer as it is not nearly as common in third world countries. Oh I wish I was better at clarifying my thoughts - it has always just kind of bothered me that people label themselves 'survivors' in the context of they did something, they are more evolved or have more wisdom or are just better than all the millions of people that don't survive in spite of all that they try. How about a little humility, a way of saying that the cancer has left your body thanks to modern medicine and all the support of friends and loved ones, perhaps thanks to God, a way of acknowledging how lucky you are instead of implying that you beat cancer due to some special strength or power that you have and yet others don't. This cannot be true, it is not fair, some people that do not survive fight just as hard if not harder than those that do survive. I believe this attitude fosters low self esteem in people that are not 'surviving' or 'beating' the cancer, I know this because it happens to me, even though I do know logically that it is not that I am less than anyone else. I am courageous, I am aware of not letting my stress levels get to high by using relaxing techniques, I try to think positive thoughts, I focus on things I am grateful for and happy thoughts - there is probably more I could do and I will no doubt try some new things this time but I just want to make very clear that if I survive this or go into remission again, it is not because I am so wonderful, it is because I am lucky. I also need to acknowledge to myself that if I don't go into remission again, which is likely as I have had to many cancers in to short a time according to stats, that this is not my fault, it is not necessarily anything I did or didn't do, it is certainly not because I am more or less deserving than anyone else on this journey. I have so many thoughts swimming around in my head at the moment, clamoring for space, I am so glad I have this space to write my thoughts and feelings and also to share how I feel. Thank you to my dear friends that encourage me and lift me each time they leave me a comment. It is like a hug from across the Universe, really quite powerful. More soon.


  1. Jen-
    Two thoughts
    No it is not your fault. Your cancer is not a punishment, not a lesson to be learned. It just is. Something. Awful. To be dealt with. There is no reason, no greater meaning to this so don't take that on. You nailed it when you said it was about luck. Its not fair. Its not a merit system. You know that, I know but I get how hard it is to internalize and swallow.

    Yes you too are a survivor. You are survivor because you are here right now, raising your son, raising your voice, raising your head to the sun and shouting. You are surviving because you have your sense of humor, your sense of compassion, your sense of joy and gratitude even when facing difficult difficult issues, even when in crippling pain.

    Sending love to you

  2. Jen,

    I am so sorry that your cancer has returned. Originally when I was diagnosed I was confused about when to use the term survivor. I was told that we are survivors from the first day of diagnosis. Your blog really got me thinking. I looked up the word survivor: to remain alive, to carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere, to remain functional. One who lives through affliction. I have thought about the day when and if my cancer comes back. I am not going to criticize your feelings because I am not sure how I will feel. I do not know much about you but just by hearing that you have had cancer - I know that you have fought and persevered. I guess when I call myself a survivor I do not differentiate between those that survive cancer and those that do not but that we are all in this group together, those whose lives have been forever changed by cancer. We do not wine about the small stuff. We know what can happen if we get too stressed out and tired. We have seen what it can do to our kids and people who love us. We do not know why we have been chosen to battle this horrible disease, it is NOT our fault. I am sure that you have and will continue to be an inspiration to all who read your blog and who know you. Please keep fighting.

  3. Hey MB, I hear you, I do. You know what, I don't know what I am at the moment, except a ball of pain, worry, and yes, although I hate to admit it, fear - afraid for my sons, especially my 6 year old who still needs me. When you put the dictionary meaning of 'survivor' down I can understand a little better why people with cancer call themselves 'survivors', however, I still believe a little humility goes a long way, I don't like the connotation that seems to go along with the term, it seems arrogant to me. I guess the dictionary meaning and the meaning that I hear some people living with cancer use are a little different. I totally agree with your way of being a survivor where all of us whether we make it or not could be termed survivors purely because we have tried to keep going in the face of adversity, that I can deal with! It's another meaning of the word that I don't like, a sort of self congratulatory term. I don't know, I think I am having problems explaining myself and I probably should leave it until I am feeling a little more clear, perhaps I will do a follow up post after giving it a little more consideration. Either way thank you for taking the time to comment I appreciate it. I would like to be able to contact you if possible, I can't seem to get your profile up from your comment.

  4. Dear Jen,
    Thank you so much for your comments on my reiki blog. I've been learning a lot with you since I visit your blog. It's true. I'm learning to be courageous, stronger, positive. In this journey in life we must be open to learn with each others and to give love. It's been really greatfull what I'm learning from others in this life, this opportunity to share. I'm profoundly happy to know that you are going to look for reiki treatments. It is an important tool to our own healing. Everybody need to be healed from something. We are all in the same "boat", this beautiful planet, to reach a safe port. Reiki teaches me to be more open to others, not judging and be more conscious in life and about the actions I do everyday. I'm in a process of healing myself from my own attitudes and the way I lead my life and most important I'm learning to forgive! Sometimes it's hard but I already feel the joy.
    Love a warm hug.

  5. Jen,
    If I were sitting with you I would give you a high five. YES. You are using your voice and speaking truth.
    some people fight for their lives and die from cancer, others fight it and go into remission. Some people give up and beat it. There is no "reason".
    But oh how we want one, to assure ourselves that if and when it is our turn or our turn again, we would overcome. It is the desire to protect oneself that brings us to "blaming the victim".
    I just don't buy it that we get cancer or other illness because we did not do something right or "heal" something. In fact, I find it an insult and it makes me angry.

    That illness is a part of life is a terrible and painful reality. And it is an equalizer. Our bodies break down, even as we wish it were different.
    And we are not the enemy, which is where this thinking takes us, this idea that if we are a survivor we earned it.
    Keep speaking your truth. It encourages me to to do the same. It startles with its honesty and wisdom.
    I send you my love.

  6. Jen
    Although you do not know me, I have been reading about your incredible journey. Your honesty helps me to attempt to understand what you are going through. I am a caregiver, my mom has breast cancer. And I completely understand what you mean about the word "survivor". Although she has done the radiation and the chemo it's only been one year and she is still getting treatments (Herceptin) - is she a survivor? She never says that. I guess I'm not really getting my point out to well. I just think I get what you are saying.
    And I'm truely sorry to read of the return. You and your sons are in my prayers and thoughts. Thanks again for sharing.

  7. ear Bete (NR) you are a wonderful, generous soul. Thanks for reaching out to me so often during my journey, I also want to thank you for sharing your information and experience with Reiki. I love your honesty when you say everybody is healing from something and you are healing from your own attitudes and the way you lead your life, you are obviously a wonderful, brave and authentic woman I am honored to know you. Take Care xx

  8. Dear Bella, I just love you, you totally 'get' it and you always inspire me to truth and to be unafraid to speak it. Illness certainly is an equalizer it shows no prejudice the fact that very young innocent children get so ill and even die speaks the truth of this. Thank you for being so tuned in and such a 'warrior' yourself. I am honored to know you also. Hugs xxx

  9. Dear Laura, I am happy that you came out to comment, YES your Mother is a survivor in the authentic sense, not the arrogant, self congratulatory sense. She carries on in the face of adversity so no matter the outcome, she is a survivor in my definition of what that truly means. I am also very touched that blogging some of my journey has been of benefit to you in some way, that is precisely why I decided to 'come out' so to speak! I wish you and your Mother all the very best for the future. Remember, as a caregiver, you need to also take time to care for yourself in order to be able to keep caring for your Mother. I truly hope you have opportunities to relax and do some lovely things for yourself, I know how vital this is so please do not feel selfish in any way for taking 'you' time as it actually benefits those around you because you will have more to give when refreshed and filling your reserves back up. Take care and please feel free to talk to me anytime, you are more than welcome to email me also, my email is on my blog. Hugs, you and your Mother will be in my prayers. xxx

  10. Dear Meg, once again you are spot on and your comment resonates with me. I LOVE your description of why I am a survivor, this I can deal with, this is true, the fact that I try to keep on raising my son, keep my sense of humor, sense of joy and gratitude is real and these are the things I like in myself, I see that these things do in fact make me, and anyone else continuing on in the face of adversity, a survivor. Thank you for bringing such clarity to this issue. You are one switched on woman and I am so very proud and grateful to be able to call you a dear friend. I will email you soon no doubt for some more in depth chats. Love and Hugs xxx

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