I have two dear friends both of whom had operations last summer for cancer.
U had breast cancer. She chose to have a lumpectomy and to manage her post-operative care using homoeopathy. She’s a homoeopath herself but she is at least getting someone else to prescribe. S had ovarian cancer, probably a result of her genetic inheritance. She had an operation to remove the cancerous ovary, a course of chemo, a full hysterectomy, and she is about to start a second course of chemo.
I admire U’s integrity, though her personality is such that the decision to reject chemotherapy was barely a decision at all. She believes chemotherapy to be poison, western treatments for cancer to be based on false premises, and western medicine to be based on a faulty model. She could no more have accepted chemo than I could drink sulphuric acid. At the moment the decision looks good – she’s fit, she’s healthy, she’s working, she’s in a good relationship, the future’s exciting, she has the health and the energy to live life to the full.
I admire S’s fortitude. The chemo has made her very sick, she’s been unable to work during it, family members are struggling with the pressures of her illness, she’s dealing with it all because she has no choice. She’s also aware that you tend to catch her brand of ovarian cancer very late, and that even the hysterectomy didn’t manage to cut it all out.
So here we have U – apparently healthy but I fear that the tall hooded chap will tap her on the shoulder with a bony finger sooner than she expects, and S, who knows that the rattling noise behind her is the sound of his feet on the path.
I don’t know which of them is wiser. Such important decisions – how to live your life, how to face up to death – I worry that U will regret her integrity, and I worry that S will regret choosing weapons which make her so ill to fight the disease which is killing her.
It’s an interesting dilemma, isn’t it? I think the basic choice applies to far more than cancer treatment options, though. Probably most of us have an almost instinctive alarm reaction to U’s choice, just because we’re broiught up that way. Seems pretty pervasive in our western culture, the idea that suffering is almost a *requirement* for desirable results. The Christian ethic is that you’ve gotta suffer now (and in fact God *created* us as inherent sinners, with mandatory suffering) in order to pass through the pearly gates to an afterlife of pleasure and ease. There’s an almost …sinful….taint attached to people who elect to live in *this* life with ease, following and exploring their nature, learning how to accentuate the positives and transform their negative forces into powerful tools for positive achievements rather than struggling to constantly conquer counterproductive aspects of themselves. Oddly, very few people seem to see anything wrong with that picture, even totally secular types who foam at the mouth at the suggestion they might have an unmeasureable, immortal soul.
You can look at cancer in the same terms as any other counterproductive aspect of self and you can use it equally as well towards personal development. Works wonders that way! 🙂 No idea whether or not that’ll keep the body breathing any longer, though.
I guess it’s all a gamble. There are all kinds of statistics out there to guide us, and still statistics are almopst totally meaningless in terms of what will actually *happen* in an individual case. I wonder how your friends would behave if given $10,000 in Las Vegas.