Category Archives: cancer

rant: ugly cancer spammers

an ugly image for ugly spamthis morning i woke up, as usual, to a number of new comments on this blog. here are two, both from the same commenter:

on my post, 14 ways to quit smoking:

i am a big smoker. i tried to quit lots of times, but never succeeded. the biggest problem is that i am not even smoking soft easily cigarettes, but i am always smoking cigars. i tried to get rid of this addiction – but i simply can’t! every time i am looking for an article about how to quit cigars i only find this type of articles about cigars and… i feel like i want to just smoke one.

and on the post, the consequences of our actions:

it’s exactly like the smoking discussion. i don’t really know if you are a smoker or not. i am, and even if i have breast cancer because of smoking, i still don’t have enough will to quit my cigar addiction. tobacco smoke contains dozens of cancer-causing chemicals. cigarette smoke can turn normal breast cells cancerous by blocking their ability to repair themselves

both comments originated from the same email address. the words “cigars” and “cigar addiction” were linked to the sites cigaradvisor and doctorvar.com/best-cigar-deals.

now i’m known for having a bit of a soft heart for spammers. but this goes way, way, way, way, waaaay too far.

i understand that people want to drive traffic to their site. most bloggers do. i understand that people want to make money with their blogs. on a small scale, i’m trying this myself right now. i understand that people can go a bit overboard once in a while.

comments like these, however, are mind-bogglingly offensive. they’re almost worse than the real ugly sex and rape spam that i sometimes get here. at least those are crystal clear. they’re not beating around the bush (ooops, that pun wasn’t intended). they go straight to akismet and straight into the garbage. if it’s kiddie porn and i have a bit of time, i report it.

this sort of spam, however, is on a completely different level. and i’m actually seeing a connection with kiddie porn here: like a pedophile, it tries to ingratiate itself with the reader. fortunately, they’re somewhat transparent:

“if i have breast cancer …..” what do you mean, “if”? if you had breast cancer, ms. spammer (the email looks like it might be a woman), you wouldn’t say any of this. so you don’t have cancer. you’re just using a bunch of keywords to try to get some google juice, and you’re doing this on the backs of people and their families who are suffering tremendous physical pain and great mental anguish. on top of that, you are doing it to promote something that causes all this pain!

in addition to this disgusting behaviour, one of the links actually goes to a “health” site. yes, good old doctor var promotes cigar smoking. this “doctor for your life” (their tag line; something tells me we’re not talking about someone with a medical degree here) talks about melanoma and diets oh, and cigars. whatever brings traffic. (if you want to find out more, or contact the owner, linda christie, directly, here’s the info)

i often think the word “unethical” is overused. this, however, deserves the label many times over.

(image by darkpatator)

cancer: families, communication, self-development, fatigue

pea blossomthe last two frozen pea friday entries were a bit more introspective and heavy. today’s post is heavy, too, but only on science. i wanted to see what solutions health psychologists are looking at in terms of frequently occurring problems for cancer patients,e.g. how to talk about cancer, how cancer impacts family life, cancer and personal development, and the fatigue that comes with cancer.

cancer and family life

i was quite moved by this slide show about cancer and the family by dr. lea baider, a pioneer in psycho-oncology in israel (actually, it’s a lecture but i couldn’t get the audio part to play on my laptop). she asks hard questions such as “how can couples incorporate cancer into their relationship?” and uses beautiful illustrations from art and literature. she uses kafka’s short story “fellowship” to make us sensitive to the intrusion of cancer into family life:

we are five friends, one day we came out of a house one after the other, first one came and placed himself beside the gate, then the second came, or rather he glided through the gate like a little ball of quicksilver, and placed himself near the first one, then came the third, then the fourth, then the fifth. finally we all stood in a row. people began to notice us, they pointed at us and said: those five just came out of that house.

since then we have been living together, it would be a peaceful life if it weren’t for a sixth one continually trying to interfere. he doesn’t do us any harm, but he annoys us, and that is harm enough; why does he intrude when he is not wanted? we don’t know him and don’t want him to join us. there was a time, of course, when the five of us did not know one another, either, and it could be said that we still don’t know one another, but what is possible and can be tolerated by the five of us is not possible and cannot be tolerated with this sixth one.

in any case, we are five and don’t want to be six. … but how is one to make all this clear to the sixth one? long explanations would almost amount to accepting him in our circle, so we prefer not to explain and not to accept him. no matter how he pouts his lips we push him away with our elbows, but however much we push him away, back he comes.

talking about cancer

understanding the difficulties people have with talking about cancer may assist not only the person with cancer but health professionals and those who care for cancer patients. it may help them figure out how support from friends and family may be most beneficial. these were the findings of a study by rosemary chapman, a PhD student at loughborough university.

even managing normal everyday greetings such as being asked ‘how are you?’ could be problematic for someone with cancer. sometimes, responding with how they actually are may create a problem for the person they are talking to since that person is wondering how should they react. consequently, the person with cancer is often faced with an additional predicament; how do they deal with other people’s difficulties of not knowing what to say or how to respond?

it occurs to me that that’s at least part of the explanation for why i keep posting about cancer – it’s about opening the doors of communication, so that we can figure out how we can better support those among us who have this horrible disease (after all, one out of every four north americans is touched by cancer, either themselves, or a close family member or friend).

cancer and personal development

annette l. stanton, PhD, of the university of california-los angeles … discussed how some individuals cope by finding benefit in this adverse circumstance. some individuals look for the positive aspects in their life while experiencing stressors and look for good things that can be learned from that experience. they try to “grow” as a result of the stressful experience. in a sample of 92 women after treatment for breast cancer, 83% found benefits from their experience of breast cancer, and 46% found they related better to others after their experience with breast cancer.

as many of you know, one of my interests is journaling for healing, so this was good to hear:

dr. stanton … and her colleagues recently published the results of a randomized, controlled trial in which 60 early stage breast cancer patients were randomly assigned to write over 4 sessions about either: (1) their deepest thoughts and feelings regarding breast cancer; (2) positive thoughts and feelings regarding their experience with breast cancer; or (3) facts about their experience with breast cancer. after 3 months, those in the first 2 groups who wrote about their emotions had fewer medical appointments for cancer-related illness than those in the control group who wrote about breast cancer facts.

cancer and fatigue

cancer patients suffering from symptoms of fatigue might find some relief through regular exercise and psychological counseling to deal with stress, a review found.

fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of patients with cancer and those undergoing treatment with radiation and chemotherapy. according to the american cancer society, 90 percent of patients in cancer treatment experience fatigue that can range from “mild lethargy to feeling completely wiped out.”

the reviewers evaluated 41 studies. of these, 17 looked at activity-based interventionsin which patients either performed supervised or home-based exercises three to five times a week.

twenty-four studies evaluated psychological interventions. there were a variety of types of interventions, including techniques such as weekly telephone counseling about how to conserve energy and group therapy to teach skills like stress management and relaxation training.

jacobsen and his colleagues found that 44 percent of the activity-based trials and 50 percent of the psychological studies that were of good quality reported significant, if not earth shattering, results. patients who received either of the two types of interventions reported less fatigue than patients in the control groups did, the researchers concluded.

jacobsen concluded the results only provide “limited support” for the use of these types of nonpharmacological treatments to manage cancer fatigue.

steven passik, associate attending psychologist at the memorial sloan-kettering cancer center, said that although there is currently limited research that interventions such as counseling or exercise have a strong benefit on fatigue, patients prefer to try these methods rather than take more medications.

“some of the main barriers of managing cancer fatigue have proven to be a lack of communication from health care providers to patients about how to battle fatigue, as well as an overall reluctance of many patients to take any more drugs to treat the symptom.”

it seems to me the next thing that researchers could look at would be the effect of a combination of mild exercise and counselling on reducing fatigue.

this post is written in support of all my friends who have cancer, and in support of fellow twitterer susan reynold’s frozen pea fund, a cancer fund created especially for bloggers and social media fiends.

(the image of the pea blossom struggling along the fence is by lillian bennett)

creativity, oppression and depression

in his latest post on creating a way out of depression, john offers these words:

creative work communicates with others, and that connecting is a critical piece. it’s the opposite of the isolating impact of depression. for me, the human connection through creative work is life-giving.

so i’m realizing that i probably started this series with the wrong question. i don’t get where i need to be if i approach creative work only as a means to an end – like curing depression or building self-esteem. the question is not how do i capture that wonderful feeling of creative working more frequently and use it as a counter to depression. the question is how do i complete creative work in spite of the presence of depression.

instead of seeing the solution as stringing together as many of these “high” creative moments as i can, i have to think of the practical dimension of living ordinary life through all the lows that major depression too reliably brings and still in the end complete the most creative work i’m capable of.

the minute i turn that around and view creative work primarily as the cure for depression, the work will certainly suffer. and if i see depression as the reason i can’t do creative work, then i’m on the road to a self-fulfilling prophesy. either way, i’ll continue to be depressed and i won’t get much creating done.

i was very touched by them and would like to explore what it is that moved me. perhaps we can move together.

let me just try a bit of free association here.

depression makes me think of sadness. this strange combination of sadness and creativity, i think, may be one of the reasons why i am so strangely attracted to writing about cancer. all the people in my life who have been affected by cancer are people who are/were highly creative, each in their own way.

i am writing this as i am listening to blues, an art form that has been important to me ever since my childhood.

another art form that has influenced me since my childhood are the creative ways of the oppressed jewish people (just like the blues of oppressed african americans?), from yiddish music to yiddish stories to yiddish jokes. the degree to which i feel passionate about that surprises me to this day. i often wonder, do i have some jewish blood in my ancestry that i don’t know about? (this shouldn’t be a surprise given that according to research, an average of 10% in a generation is “irregular” paternity; i.e. the father ain’t who we think it is)

whatever it is, i have always been irresistibly drawn to the lives of oppressed people.
an oppressed woman
so let’s make the connection from depression to oppression. a few years ago, while tracing the history of depression, i looked at the connection between depression and suppression.

when you look it up in the dictionary, “depression” is derived from “deprimere”, and “deprimere” means “to press down”. the interesting thing, though, is that “supprimere” (to suppress) means “to press down”, as well.

to oppress means, literally, to press against.

let’s pull it together, then: when someone – a single person, or a whole people – is oppressed (pressed against), their voice is suppressed (pressed down, into the underground) and depression may very well be the result.

also: when someone is oppressed (pressed against) by cancer, their voice is suppressed (pressed down, into the underground) and depression may very well be the result.

the underground, the place where the suppressed/depressed/oppress end up, the underground both of society and of our minds and hearts, is a fertile ground for creativity.

creativity as the phoenix that rises from the hidden ashes.

and it is the voice of creativity that helps, time and again, the oppressed to rise up.

the cycle completes?

(and how does this relate to cancer?)

(image by dude crash)

another frozen pea friday

last week i asked out loud, why is it that i keep writing about cancer?

when i don’t understand something, i sometimes write a poem or two. then i let it sit, and some time afterwards, it’s possible that the world makes a little more sense to me.

so i wrote these three little poems.

they’re sad.

but then life is, too, sometimes.


she called and she said
“oh by the way
i went to the doctor.”
and i, i heard nothing more
only my voice droning inside, screaming,
“no! no! no! not another one!”

“it’s not malign,” she said
“but we need to watch it.”

***

she makes cabbage rolls like before,
and i think even still tortellini soup,
her hair has started to grow again
and she jokes and tells stories like she used to.

inside, a dragon that roars all day and all night.
fierce warfare with chemical weapons.

***

can’t get that image out of my head,
a month before the other one threw himself
over the railing by the tall bridge
and all they found on him
was my phone number.

a month before, we were at the church,
there was a coffin,
the coffin where i almost saw her,
dangling her feet, grinning her big smile,
her lion’s curls wild by her
eyes always full of glint, even in sorrow, even
on her deathbed when she said,
you’ll see me sitting on the coffin,
laughing, waving at you.

beautiful, beautiful woman who
decided to leave peacefully,
no red poison in her veins,
just letting those strange cells
grow all over her
like morning glories.

frozen pea friday: touched by a tattoo

getting my tattoo was the culmination of a three year dance with breast cancer. the tattoo changed my mastectomy scar into my shield – pam huntley

a friend of mine is considering getting a tattoo after her mastectomy. ah, i thought, that’ll be a fun entry! let’s have a few pretty, colourful pictures of tattoos!

i can be so naïve sometimes.

for some strange reason, the obvious was not immediately obvious to me: that by just gently touching the subject, i would open a spider’s nest of body modification, questions about pornography, stories of sleepless nights over what seemed lost feminity, courageous leaps into unknown sexual territory, feminist thoughts on art, anthropology, books about tattooed people (from holocaust survivors to carnies to respectable ladies to, yes, breast cancer survivors), and, and, and.

and triumph! in 2002, breast cancer survivor june gladney took part in a science fiction conference that featured a masquerade. she appeared as an amazon goddess:

i turned full-face toward the audience… my daughters tell me that the roar erupted as a wave across the auditorium as i turned … and they caught sight of the scar and the dragon tattooed across my left side. … it seemed that the whole audience was on their feet, cheering, applauding, screaming, some in tears. the back-stage crew was applauding; lots of tears and hugs.

i was overwhelmed. i had never expected anything like that!

many people came up to me later during the convention to thank me for my bravery in doing such a daring presentation. some told me they needed to see a real-life scar which wasn’t that bad. most promised to get the necessary tests done. several had been putting it off for years, dreading what they might hear.

(read here for the rest of the story, told by the photographer)

june’s experience must have started with fear, too. i imagine the journey from dread to diagnosis, then the decision to have surgery, the surgery itself and the recovery, all the thinking that must have gone into saying no to reconstruction. pondering over images for the tattoo. getting the tattoo done. flashbacks at that moment perhaps to the surgery.

as i’m imagining this, i, someone who does not have cancer, also wonder, finally aloud for all my readers to hear: why do i keep writing about this? it all started with desiring to contribute to my friends with cancer, and breast cancer in particular, with thinking that it would be fun and useful to be part of the frozen pea friday movement. but it has gotten bigger.

these images of women (and men; they can get breast cancer, too) are not just in your face, dear reader, they’re also in mine and they urge me to admit that i need to look at this. why do i keep writing about this, despite the facts that a) i don’t particularly enjoy “having” to write about a specific topic at the rate of once a week, b) almost every one of these posts presents me with some sort of hurdle, and that, c) judging from the number of comments, it doesn’t seem to be my most widely read topic here. why don’t i just say, okay, that was fun, now on to something else? (and i’m not saying that i won’t do that but so far i’ve stuck with it).

perhaps there is some survivors guilt, or is it confusion? how come these friends of mine were touched (swiped! whacked over the head!) by cancer and i wasn’t? (yet?) perhaps it’s some deep superstition: if i write about it, i won’t get it. perhapstattoo by larissa at frever art http://www.foreverart.com/larissapage6.htm by writing about it i can come to grips with the irriversability of cancer. and maybe i am finally admitting to myself that despite my supposed high level of comfort with death and dying, i, too, need to come to understand my own mortality.

there is something atavistic about these tattoos, something that literally goes much, much beyond skin level. and it has touched me and said, “girl, you need to look at this.”

frozen pea friday: “cancer is my kryptonite”

it’s friday and we have a frozen pea friday post to celebrate cancer survivors. today, a guest post by hayley:

hi! i’m hayley and i’m an alcoholic. oh wait, wrong posting day. this is the cancer posting day. let’s try that again!

hi! i’m hayley townley. i’m thrilled to have been asked to be a guest blogger on change therapy. thanks, isabella!

kryptonite, as you may know, was superman’s weakness. cancer in all its forms is my kryptonite. in 1991, i lost my mom to breast cancer. she was 47; i was 25. she had been battling it since she was 37.

in 2002, at age 36, i was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer.

it’s now 2008, i am 41 years old, i have a fabulous head of hair, and i am a survivor!

i have always thought of myself as a superhero, minus the cape and the tights. i can handle anything thrown my way. i have always been oblivious to the things that might get other people down.

of course, this could stem from our family motto: “nothing is wrong and we don’t talk about it.”

but when i was diagnosed, it hit me hard—from all angles: mental, physical, emotional. it laid me out and made me realize that, after all, i may be only human.

now that i’ve been free of cancer for over five years, i am stronger and more resilient. i am faster than a speeding bullet. more powerful than a locomotive. able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. but whenever the word cancer comes up, i cringe inside. it’s as if somebody has slipped me a little bit of kryptonite.

i live with the possibility that it will come back. i was never a hypochondriac before the cancer; that tendency is one of the little perks of having had this disease. when i get a headache, i think it’s a brain tumor. when i find a bump on my leg, my heart sinks. before each doctor’s appointment, i lay awake long into the night. i panic inside over each mammogram or blood test. only when the oncology nurse calls to say that i’m good to go, do i relax again. the kryptonite dissipates a little bit more each time i pass a test with flying colors.

a friend recently got a bad diagnosis — lung cancer, lymphoma, and brain cancer. i visited her in the hospital. kryptonite had reduced this once statuesque, beautifully poised superhero of a woman to lying in a hospital bed with tubes and drains sticking out of her. she was tired but in good spirits, and i know her superhero was still inside of her.

i had a good visit with her. she was on day 13 of her treatment and still had her hair. i had lost my hair on day 13. i brought her two cancer survivor buffs—the superhero headwear of cancer survivors.* i felt powerless in what else i could do for her. i tried to tell her it would be alright.

as i sat there holding her hand, a nurse came in to give her some of the same chemo drugs i had been given. i could sense the metallic taste in my mouth and the hollow place in my gut as i watched her dutifully swallow each horse pill. the kryptonite got stronger and i could feel every nerve ending in my body as i had before, when the situation was reversed.

as i left her bedside, i tried to carry out as much of her kryptonite as i could. i wanted her to be the strong, nothing-ever-fazes-her person i knew. just like me. the cancer tries to chip away at our bodies, but the kryptonite cannot affect our souls.

mary ellen died last month. not i, nor the drugs, nor the doctors could absorb enough kryptonite to return her superhero powers.

it’s crazy that in the 21st century—when we can put a person on the moon, make a computer that weighs only three pounds, and instantly share our thoughts with someone on the other side of the world simply by pressing a button—we still cannot cure cancer. someday, i hope there will be a kryptonite dumpsite where we can dump this disease.

if you or somebody you know is facing cancer, it’s your kryptonite, too. i survived it. superman survived it. you can survive it. let’s all don our superhero capes and tights and change the world together—one kryptonite diagnosis at a time.

this post is dedicated to my friend maryellen and, of course, to my mom. you will always be superheroes in my book.

bio: hayley lives in san luis obispo with her best friend and husband of 18 years, tim; their two dogs, shelby and lucy; and 14-year-old jazmine the cat.

she and her canadian co-author are writing a book about the lives of 100 women after breast cancer. she is also writing a book full of humor, insight, and warmth on her full cancer experience, along with one specifically for people who have a friend with cancer.

she blogs at http://hayleytownley.blogspot.com and at improg. in addition, she owns the website cancer survivor stuff, which sells headwear for survivors and handmade greeting cards. she is working on another website to tie in with the book AFTER . . . there is life after breast cancer, which she will launch by mid-summer.

*cancer survivor buffs are available from cancer survivor stuff or planet buff (type in “hayley” as a referral code).

mental health, cancer and art

this is my first peopleized interview. peopleized is a site where you can find people to interview, offer yourself for interviews, and post interviews, which are then available for anyone to use. neat concept. [update on september 2009: that site doesn’t seem to alive anymore]

it’s friday, so of course this is a frozen pea friday post – a post about cancer. got a few pennies to share? why don’t you donate them to the frozen pea fund, here, where you can also find out what the dickens frozen peas have to do with breast cancer.

today we have an interview with addy, who, he says, is a little crazy, a little kinky, and suffers from bipolar type 1, depression and self harm. “they are illnesses i suffer from and are not a reflection of my personality. i’m tired of the stigma surrounding mental health, it’s time we gave it a damn good spanking.”

moritherapy: addy, i just spent a little time on your blog and saw that we have a few interests in common: fighting mental illness stigma, making depression visible, art, talking about cancer, and generally being a bit, how should i say – eccentric. tell me, for you, are there any connections between these topics?

addy:: eccentric, wow! i don’t think anyone has ever called me eccentric before. i’ve been called pretty much everything under the sun, but eccentric. i feel quite honoured.

is there a connection? who knows, i’ve never actually thought about any connections between all the things which make me who i am. i do however think that there are a lot of connections between who we are and what we’ve been through.

i have seen some very dark places in my life, more darker than i would wish on anyone i care about, and i think it’s having the strength to fight through those dark caves and chasms which has made me into the person i am.

moritherapy: how did/do you deal with the impacts of cancer on your mental/emotional health?

addy:: with a huge amount of difficulty.

i had spent a lot of time and energy over the months leading up to this diagnosis in trying to control and overcome my mental health problems that i actually truly felt i had them beat. at the time i was also suffering from glandular fever so my physical energy, as well as mental and emotional state, was at an all time low.

then being dealt the blow that i had cancer absolutely 100% knocked me for six. my initial reaction was disbelief, denial, confusion, and that whole other gauntlet of emotions which comes from such a shock. i didn’t know what to do, who to tell, how to deal with it at all.

i made the decision to tell my then girlfriend who just wouldn’t listen, and as i’ve explained on the blog, being broken up with by her so soon after this shock – and whilst i was having various tests and biopsies performed – had a cataclysmic effect on my mental health.

(the breakdown i suffered i am still dealing with today.)

in terms of how i deal with the impact in an ongoing sense, i just don’t think about it. simple as that. i don’t even really talk about it to anyone; because of what happened when i discovered i had cancer i find myself unable to talk to or ask for help from anyone in regards to this, or any, part of my life.

i have tests, feel like shit, go in/out of doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, hide bits and pieces of information.

i know this will most likely kill me, but because i’ve been dealing with it – and everything – by myself for so long, the only way i’ve been able to cope with it is to go it alone.

i guess i’ve learned from my experiences in life that ultimately this is what we have to do.

moritherapy: … and conversely, how does/did your emotional and mental health state relate to having cancer?

addy:: pre-breakdown i actually felt i was dealing with the cancer pretty well, in fact i’d be willing to say few people suspected there was anything so serious wrong with me.

post-breakdown i just haven’t been coping. with everything that is happening i just haven’t been able to focus any strength or energy on this part of my life, which creates a myriad of problems in fighting and dealing with the physical ramifications of such an illness.

the emotional/mental state i have been in since the breakdown has made it hard for me to fight the physical aspects of my life, as i just can’t summon the energy. it’s just a huge drain on my energy both physically and mentally.

moritherapy: : what place do art and creativity have in your life? does this place have anything to do with cancer or mental health?

addy:: art and creativity have, since a young age, played a huge huge huge part in my life.

ever since i was a bouncing baby i remember drawing and craving new colourful pens and pencils.

i remember sitting in front of the tv writing stories, new indiana jones adventures and long rambling stories about all sorts of things.

this is what i love, this is what i’m most passionate about. my creativity, my ability to manufacture whole words, languages, people, cities with my writing. or my ability to capture still, peaceful resonant beauty with my photography.

this is all intricately linked to my mental and physical health problems. i struggle when i’m emotionally wrecked to write anything, a factor which ultimately led to the loss of my college course (as it came at a time when i was struggling with the huge emotional whack of cancer, loss of important relationship, glandular fever and mental health collapse).

depression stifles my creativity, and yet things like self-harm help bring it out. whereas if i’m manic or brimming with hypermanic energy i can’t stop writing, drawing, scribbling and creating.

i still haven’t quite figured it all out, but like i mentioned earlier, everything is connected. so there is definitely a link between my creativity and cancer/mental health problems.

then of course there is the obvious “escape hatch” theory; when dealing with so much don’t we all just want to run away into a fantasy world where everything is perfect?

moritherapy: do you find people with cancer are generally seen or treated differently than people who are dealing with mental health issues? if so, how?

addy:: see, now having both, this is interesting because i’ve experienced both the obvious differences and obvious similarities with how people treat me.

the obvious similarity is that regarding both health issues few people ever – and i mean ever – ask any questions about them. they know of them, but i’m very rarely asked any direct questions about either the cancer or mental health issues. they just hang in the air never being raised or discussed. as if people are scared of them.

the difference comes with the reaction. when people find out you have cancer it’s all sympathay and words of support and ‘is there anything we can do to help?’…but with mental health issues, with the depression, self harm, bipolar and suicidal issues it’s all ‘your own fault’ or ‘you’re just weak’ or ‘sorry, can’t have anything to do with you because those illnesses are contagious’ and you never see or her from those people again.

it’s funny, the stigmas surrounding cancer and all those myths from the 70s and 80s are now surrounding mental health issues. just cause i suffer from depression, self harm, bipolar etc doesn’t mean you’re going to get them – they’re not contagious – and it’s this stigma which annoys the hell out of me.

there’s a lot wrong with me both physically and mentally; and that’s all people see. they see the depression or the bipolar or the cancer. they never see me for who i am, and i like to think i’m more than that.

moritherapy: would you like to add anything?

addy:: i think i’ve rambled a bit too much, don’t you. then again there’s so much that should be spoken about more openly both with cancer and mental health issues that i urge people to think more about their health; both physically and mentally. think about their friends and family. think what you can do to help. although i say i go it alone i wouldn’t reccommend this to anyone else because loneliness is a huge strain. find help, find support, find love and care. this is a hugely undervalued form of medication…and hey, feel free to drop by the blog to get to know me – the me beyond the mental and physical illnesses. this is the best therapy of all, because we are all, above whatever we go through, people with thoughts, feelings and emotions.

frozen pea friday: a buddhist on cancer

mount shastafor today’s weekly frozen pea breast cancer post, i was wondering what some of the buddhists on the net say about cancer and came across reverend mugo from jade mountains. this blog is “an expression of gratitude to all those who read, leave comments and provide support by offering dana, friendship, hospitality, guidance, and encouragement.” jade mountains contains, and points to, various sources of buddhist teachings. reverend mugo is a female disciple and dharma heir of the late rev. master jiyu-kennett having been ordained by her in 1981 at shasta abbey california.

i’d like to offer to you some of the numerous references to cancer in this blog.

this entry about climbing mount shasta may give a glimpse as to why rev. mugo mentions cancer here and there – perhaps for reasons similar to my own:

my attention has been drawn to the breast cancer fund climb against the odds expedition to the top of mt. shasta in june this year.

at 14,162 feet, mt. shasta stands as the most striking mountain in northern california and is home to california’s largest glaciers. besides training for the peak attempt, climbers commit to raising a minimum of $5,000 for the breast cancer fund’s work to prevent the disease. we provide the support to achieve both.

the breast cancer fund identifies – and advocates for elimination of – the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease.

when i was a novice at shasta abbey in the early 1980’s i was with my ordination sister goso in the bath-house, where speaking is strictly forbidden. looking up at the mountain through the window she whispered, we’ll climb that one day. sadly she didn’t live long enough for us to do that. she died in november 1986, of breast cancer.

in for whom the bell tolls, rev. mugo mentions the film wit:

“wit, this HBO film presentation, chronicles the personal awakening of a longtime literary scholar (two-time oscar-winner emma thompson), who learns the importance of simple human kindness when faced with the most daunting of crises: a diagnosis of advanced cancer.”

i think emma thompson is wonderful in what ever she does and her part in the film wit is no exception. one might think that the story of a woman undergoing aggressive treatment for cancer would be a sad one. after watching the film last week i was left both uplifted and stilled. it pointed out that illness, terminal illness, can transform into a gift that helps the heart to walk through the flapping door of death, with equanimity and humility.

finally, bows to valiant hearts:

for those who care, who are the carers of those who need caring for, nine bows of gratitude.

for the nurse who was punched to-day, by a patient suffering from dementia, bows.

for the elderly man with terminal cancer who cared for his wife until the time now come, to be cared for. valiant man!

nine bows to all those who, alone or with others, face the task of helping another to get through another day, and another day and another and another…the unrelenting another day. i’ve been there and those days have been privileged days. perhaps those days never end.

in many ways giving is easy; receiving care, not so easy. i hope i have the good grace and fortitude to be cared for, should that time ever come.

i bow to you, reverend mugo. thank you for caring.

(image thanks to volcanicbyway.org)