Fighting cancer

My friend has just had a recurrence of brain cancer; yesterday we talked about cancer and how we cope with a disease that seems so powerful. We talked about “fighting cancer”, and agreed that “fighting” uses up way too much valuable energy.

Our conversation brought back memories of the time when I was facing my mortality with cancer; when people would tell me to fight and at first I had no energy to even think about fighting. Yes I wanted to live, and yes I wanted to defend myself, but I didn’t know how to fight cancer.

Something told me I’d better figure it out.

I understand that people talk about “fighting cancer” without really thinking about the effects of the wording. I also understand that fighting is a coping skill for many people and that’s absolutely fine – the most important thing is for people to do what feels right for them.

For me it was difficult to find a way to fight without creating more negative energy. I had just learned that negative emotions use up way more than their share of energy and I wanted to conserve my energy to help my body to heal.

I was learning to process negative emotions such as anger, guilt, and worry, and let them go; how could I start to produce more negative emotions to fight?

After reading books on this subject I decided to fight cancer, but I would do it my way: instead of focusing on cancer, I would focus on health and wellness.

I visualized myself in the healthiest state I could possibly imagine. I saw myself walking, or sitting beside the ocean, laughing with family and friends, feeling robust and strong. I saw cancer cells which would interfere with this picture if I let them, and so I was able to see myself stepping on those cancer cells and killing them with every step I took.

I walked miles in my mind and every single step would kill the cancer cells which threatened to kill me. I suppose it was a fight, but it didn’t feel like a violent, scrappy fight; it felt like a process to overcome, conquer, and defeat an unwelcome disease. In a calm and assertive way, I believed I would win and that I would control the cancer, not have it control me.

Now 22 years later, I still use visualization so that I can continue to live in good health, to love and support my family and friends in return for the love and support they gave me.

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4 Responses to “Fighting cancer”

  1. xenophilicx Says:

    Yeah, I never really realized what “fighting cancer” really meant — ironic for someone wanting to be an oncologist, hahaha — so I asked my boyfriend who understands issues like this far better than I can. He told me “fighting” cancer is to continue to have hope, to live life the best to the person’s ability, and to take care of the self despite being ill.

    I really hope things work out in favor of your friend.

    • lynnroodbol Says:

      Thank you for your comment. My friend is positive and doing everything she can to be well.
      I agree with you that it is so important “to have hope, to live life the best to the person’s ability, and to take care of the self despite being ill”; these are ideal ways to live each day and get the best quality of life possible.
      I just find that when cancer is referred to as a “battle” or a “fight” it often indicates struggle, being overwhelmed, loss of energy, etc. – this valuable energy is what the body needs to heal itself.
      I noticed a turn around in myself, when I started to use my energy to heal myself. Rather than focusing on cancer, chemo, medical appointments, etc – it made me feel more like living if I focused on smelling the roses, listening to music, etc.
      Each of us has our own way of connecting the mind and body and it helps if we can do that every day.

      • xenophilicx Says:

        I can see where you’re coming from. I guess it depends on how the person perceives the word “fight” and “battle.” When I hear fight and battle against cancer, I think of someone who is strong, brave, courageous, and full of hope… but that’s just the way I see it.

        Either way, in the end, what matters most is staying positive. Maybe that’s why I want to be an oncologist. I want to be around the people who are ill and give them hope and in turn, see the hope they have inside. Of course in the actual hospital setting, not everything will be enlightening and full of hope. I guess that’s reality for me. And finally, I totally agree that we all have our own way of connecting the mind and body together, but it’s unfortunate there’s not many who bother to do so.

      • lynnroodbol Says:

        Thanks, I know there’s a fine line and I understand what you’re saying too.
        I think you’ll make a great oncologist if you remain aware of the mind body connection; some oncologists think that way, but it would be great if it were more common. I think it would be good to merge conventional and complementary medicine.

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