Sunday, June 8, 2008

war, what is it good for?

ah, the sun is finally shining and where am i? inside, writing. still writing. a business plan is a long and complex project. each part seems to have a sticky place, a veil of fear i must screw up my courage to part it and walk through. so i am, walking through. getting it done.

a friend called me this week to say she'd just been given a cancer diagnoses. she wanted to see what advice i had. there was about 1,000 things i could have shared, of course. but to start, it all boils down to: do you trust your doctor? and find the best possible care your insurance will cover. hope for the best outcome, plan for the worst. surround yourself with experts.

oh, good god we live on a poisoned planet! it makes me want to scream! and it's not just the air, soil, water, either. it's poisoned mindsets and hearts. we live in a culture of war. have you noticed that whatever our leaders declare war on - it gets worse?

see the war on drugs, the war on cancer, the war on terrorism.

the language of war is everywhere. the cancer world i've been living in is full of it. it is a fake and forced-cheerful language rife with violence and hate. from fuck cancer hats to i made cancer my bitch t-shirts to daily stories of celebrities who are fighting a battle with cancer. cancer has become the ultimate enemy, the thing we do everything in our power to kill, kill, kill. all of the traditional medicine solutions to cancer treatment work to attack and kill it. and just like any war, there are civilian casualties as well. surgery, chemo and radiation kill healthy cells too.

the body pays a price.

as i recover from treatment, i've been feeling the weight of that price. not that i regret radiation so much, but it was like choosing between two regrets. i knew i would wonder
did i do the right thing? either way, in the end, i decided i would wonder more if i didn't do the radiation. i am recovering nicely, by the way. each week brings better energy and a feeling that i am more like myself.

a thoughtful reader of this blog, who has since become a friend, noticed early on that i didn't use the language of war in writing about my experience. she sent me a great book, "
speak the language of healing: living with breast cancer without going to war". it's written by four women with breast cancer and offers an alternative way to relate to the disease -a loving way to experience any kind of disease, really. i always assume that when bad things happen to us, there is a possibility it can teach us something. if we are open to learning. of course, there is a danger that we can view things like cancer as being "taught a lesson" by life, or god, or whatever is greater than ourselves.

a recent article in the new york times, thumbs up is no comfort, talks about our cultural approach to serious illness and what pressure there is to go into battle, suck up your negative feelings and flash that thumbs up to reassure people you are ok. even when you are not ok. i found the link through one of my favorite blogs, aiming for grace. she has an eloquent response to the issues raised in the article, do take a moment to go and read it.

turnip for me has been a place to fall apart all these months and you out there reading have allowed me to feel, process and become ok with how i experience breast cancer. everyone has to find their own way through illness and difficulty in this life. it's been such an incredible blessing for me to have you helping to hold this space of healing. it's been a while since i said thank-you. yet i think it daily, how grateful i am for you, following my story.

thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. these shabby words can't say it strongly enough.

this is a ramble today!


Sondra said...

Great Thoughts, Tay. Not rambling at all. In fact I would like to send this as a comment to NPR's
cancer blog by Leroy Sievers. May I have your permission? Do you want me to credit you at this site?
He has discussed this "language" issue also but continues to use battle words. But I think he would appreciate your view.
Sendin Healing Love and Light to you today,

Tay said...

Hi Sondra,

Thanks for the affirming comment! Of course you have my permission to forward the post to anyone you wish. I am flattered you think it's worth sharing.

you are a gem, my dear. Thanks for always being out there, listening.