My cancer has been described to me as “aggressive,” which feels like a really good word to describe a large lump that invades your body and takes over your life. It makes me feel like the cancer is a big, angry bully, like it’s just banging around down there smashing all the good cells and shoving them out of the way. The medical response to this “aggressive” cancer is really just more aggression. The chemo, the surgery, the radiation, these are all also aggressive and destructive forces. They will take away as much as they will give but, hopefully, they won’t leave any cancer in their war path.
I am not used to this kind of aggression in my life. I am especially uncomfortable with going to war on my body like this. When I consider all of the collateral damage and innocent bystanders that will be harmed in the fight against a few cancer cells it makes me very sad. I have worked so hard to be good to my body. This summer I totally revamped my diet after my Graves Disease diagnosis. I cut out caffeine, sugar, alcohol, most grains, most dairy, and went on a regiment of supplements and vitamins as well as a high protein, mostly organic diet that helped to rebuild all my systems. The idea was to slow down inflammation which gets your immune system out of whack (and which can exacerbate the autoimmune disease). So now, after months of being gentle and kind and slowly rebuilding I am about to go to all out war. I just want to say: I’m sorry body, I still love you!
Because I have been feeling bad about this I am trying to remind myself of all of the gentleness in my life right now. I have been trying to be very gentle with myself, for example, and forgiving myself when I feel extra grumpy, when I have a freak out or a break down. And with the exception of just a few folks (mostly cantankerous nurses) I have been treated with extreme gentleness by those around me. Clearly I don’t want to be treated like I am broken, but I will accept the extra hugs, the sympathy, and the overly nice behavior. I get this from friends and family but also my doctors, my nurses and basically every stranger I have had to tell. It’s good to remember all the kindness and gentleness in my life when I get overwhelmed by all of the aggression. The aggression might ultimately win me this war but it’s the gentleness that will keep me alive.
– While I haven’t even begun to process it this post is written is solidarity and sadness for the lives lost to senseless aggression today at the Navy Yard in DC. The whole world clearly needs more gentleness.