I was diagnosed with colon cancer in August of 2009, had an operation in September 2009, and have followed Chemo treatments since. 18 sessions of FOLFIRI, which I am told is pretty invasive. I lost a lot of my hair, though not all of it, suffered from bouts of fatigue, hand and nail discolouration, cracking nails, and nose bleeds. Not a bad set of reaction. Quite mild in fact. I do believe my immune system has a lot to do with the reactions I went through. I also believe that the immune system was pretty fed up with being taken advantage of for so long ad was getting ready to give up on the whole thing.
My very loving sister mused out loud one day, that there may be reason to think that I should not be alive given the rampaging nature of my cancer. Two pieces of my colon are gone, as is a small section of the small intestine. It was touching the bladder, so a small piece of that is also gone. Meanwhile I still gave cancer cells in my pelvic area, both lobes of the liver, and legions in one of my lungs. The cancer has made itself quite at home. My sister may not be wrong, and she did not make the comment to make me sad or angry or anything. It was a comment that commended me on my positive attitude that had carried me through this far defying the odds.
What is positive thinking? The book, the Secret, talks about it as concentrating really hard on a topic to invoke the powers of the universe. In the latest stuff I have been watching, the videos of Dr. Bruce Lipton, it involves the ability of changing the very nature of your cells and genes.
You get fired from a job and can see new doors opening before you. Don’t worry, it was a lousy job anyways, better times are ahead. A storm rips your house apart, and you can see renovations coming up. Time for that new bathroom you were dreaming of. and the insurance company gets to pay for some of the repairs. A cup half full at all times. There is a cartoon in one of the New Yorker magazines of a guy going through the desert, obviously dying from lack of water and all he sees are a bunch of glasses of water that are half empty. I am not sure how this link will be good for.
I have always been a cup half full type of person. Very few things have taken me down so completely as to be powerless. But the above examples are easy to talk about. What constitutes positive thinking when you have cancer?
Is it a question of thinking the condition into submission? Surviving for longer than expected? Smiling and laughing your way to your inevitable demise some point in the future? Making light of the pain, the discomfort, the disruption of your life and that of other around you? What is thinking positive in relation to cancer or any other chronic condition? Will the condition go away?
Everything I come across on this subject seems to believe that we can make changes to either our environment or our bodies through the mind. If that were the case, I would suggest we all put our minds together on Monday morning at 9:00AM and think about child poverty and it will go away. It will be solved. Let us wake up every morning and concentrate really hard on our bodies to never get ill. To live longer and healthier. If the mind were truly in charge, we should be able to accomplish all these feats in a flash. No more poverty, pollution, murder, hunger and any other ailment that plagues the world at the moment. To say nothing of the end of chronic conditions. We would just use our mind sets and prevent them from happening in the first place.
Baha’is in a number of Islamic countries are being persecuted. Baha’is in Iran particularly are vilified and persecuted beyond reason. Elected leaders are jailed regularly. Their assets are confiscated. They are charged with being spies for Israel. Our headquarters are in Haifa, Israel. They were moved there when the area was under Palestinian rule. We are not spies. Our statues forbid our participation in local politics. Egypt has issued national identification cards without which you can rent apartments, get jobs, open bank accounts and so on. You basically cannot live without one. They have listed only three religions on the cards, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Baha’is took the government to court. They are effectively asking us to lie about our Faith. We requested that another option be added: Other. The request was refused, the court case lost. We are persona non-grata.
Whenever Baha’is are put in jail, we are asked to participate in a version of group prayers. The prayers take place in the privacy of your own home, but we are all asked to pray at a particular time, on a particular day in the hope that the power of all the prayers being said at the same time would invoke some sort of mercy for those jailed. My positive side says that maybe the prayers are working as things could be worse for the prisoners. On the other hand, none have yet been released.
Reality seems to dictate that there appear to be other powers at play. Powers beyond our us. Beyond our ability to influence them in any way. I was sure I would not get cancer. My mother died of it, but none of my siblings were affected. Yet here i am dealing with the condition. I am told that part of my success at dealing with things, the lack of huge Chemo side effects all have to do with positive thinking.
I know I have a good attitude. I am laughing a lot, joke around, and generally try to make the best of it. I keep telling people you have two choices to make, you can happy or sad. I tried the latter. It did not work for me. I am going to be happy as this condition evolves. Think of it this way. I want to make the best of the remaining years. Whatever time I have left, be it 2, 5, 10 years or more. Does not matter. I have a limited amount of time to spend with my wife, son, family and friends. We all deserve to make the best of it. We will talk about everything. Life and death. Good things and bad. The discussion is important. The conversations vital.
It is also vital that we be happy through it all. Is that positive thinking? Will it stop the spread of the cancer? I doubt it. Is that a negative expression creeping in? Not really. But we, collectively, wife, son, family, and friends will make the best of the remaining time.