Apparently, there is a right way to do cancer and a wrong way, and I've been messing up. How was I supposed to know? Nobody signed me up for the "how to do cancer correctly" class. You can't really blame me, I haven't been to the cancer re-education camp yet!
I know one cancer patient who gets in an irritated huff if you mention you have cancer before you start treatment - apparently your discomfort only counts once chemo begins. I guess having a life-threatening illness, exhaustion and pain, invasive tests every other week, and the looming amputation of one of your body parts isn't quite enough - nope, according to her, you have to lose your hair before you get to be a legitimate cancer sufferer.
Another thinks it's "disturbing" that one might - oh - maybe joke about it. Cancer is serious business, after all - nothing funny about it. "How dare you laugh, don't you know people are dying of this disease? I know lots of cancer patients and they never joke!" (If you are one of these humorless people whose hackles raise at cancer jokes then I suggest you turn away from this blog immediately and never, ever come back.)
Question: "What do you call a young woman who keeps getting lymphoma over and over again?"
Answer: "A lymphomaniac."
You might wonder why anybody else could possibly be disturbed by an experience and reaction somebody else is having that doesn't impact them at all, but then - you are probably emotionally healthy.
Hey, I am not sure I understand the women who get this diagnosis and cry for weeks, or become depressed, or can't face the truth, or turn to cookies or prayer, but I certainly don't think that my reality is superior to theirs. We're all in this together, baby, whatever gets you through the day.
But then, I have not been awarded the Cancer Police badge and gun yet. Maybe I'll change when I put the belt on.
(Do I get that after chemo or surgery?)
My naivety never fails to surprise me. I suppose I should have known there are the cancer police. After all, there are the Thought Police, the Green Police, the Politically Correct Police, the Food Police, the Exercise Police, the Weight Police, the Joke Police, the Parenting Police ...well, you can name your own, I'm sure. They all think they can do something better than you can and are out to teach you a lesson.
In this case, I hope they don't get the chance.
Then there are those who are less interested in teaching you to handle your cancer to their satisfaction, and more interested in your physical health. And, they think they know just how to cure you.
Oddly enough, it usually doesn't involve chemotherapy or surgery.
Or an M.D.
Today, I received the below email in my work inbox. In the note preceding it, I was told that it was from Johns Hopkins and had new information about how to cure cancer. A friend of the sender who was a cancer patient found it very helpful in her "battle."
I figure the best way for me to battle this cancer now would be the winning lottery numbers, but I read on. But, not for more than a paragraph or two, and I suggest that you skip it too, once you get the gist.
CANCER UPDATE FROM JOHN HOPKINS HOSPITAL, US - PLEASE READ
1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.
2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than
3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.
4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.
5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.
6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.
7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.
8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.
9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.
10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.
11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.
CANCER CELLS FEED ON:
a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal,Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.
b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.
c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.
d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within
e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.
12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup.
13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.
14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6,
15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.
16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.
So, after skimming that I realized it was just another hoax - I mean, I think it told me to give up chocolate - so I deleted it. I didn't respond to the person who sent it, more because I had an extremely busy day at work than for any other reason. But, a couple hours later I got an email from the sender, asking if I'd read it and what I'd thought?
This time I responded. I thanked her for thinking of me, and that I really appreciated the sentiment and her caring. But, I said that I trusted my doctors, and that chemotherapy and radiation is why the cancer cure rate is much higher than it ever has been; that this was not from Johns Hopkins, and I pointed her to the Snopes article debunking it. I told her a life without chocolate and coffee was not a life worth living, but I was grateful she'd been thinking of me.
And, it's true. Even though she is misguided in her attempts to give me healing advice, her intentions were good. I'm an atheist too, but I do appreciate those who pray for me. I'm not a toucher, but I am thankful for those who have hugged me. I appreciate those who have brought me little trinkets to brighten my day, to those who ask how I am and let me answer, and to those who will let me share my concerns - and I am especially grateful to those who will listen to my jokes.
The good, caring people are everywhere, even when they send you silly emails. They far out number the cancer police, who only want to examine our flaws so they can feel better about themselves. So, to those of you newly diagnosed - run from the police types and concentrate on the people who show their concern, even if it isn't exactly your style. You'll be the healthier for it.