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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bad News, Oncologists & Hope

I had scans (MRI and CT) recently and saw my oncologist on Friday to get the results. I drew this portrait of him a week before the appointment to visualize him delivering good news.  I think it's a good likeness and the one curly hair is what would grow if he didn't shave it off every day. I will do this visualization more often now to prepare for the next set of test results.  It is easy for me to hold this image in my mind and it makes me smile.  This picture is on my bulletin board in the kitchen where I see if often, too.

For your musical entertainment while reading this, click here to listen to a song that has been rolling around in my brain for about two weeks now.  I have asked my dear son-in-law, Jeremy, to learn this song for me.  He has the most beautiful baritone voice!

Anyhow, the news was that I have a new, yet rather small, brain tumor.  It's interesting to note that this is the 3rd June in a row that I've had this same thing happen.  It's in my cerebellum again, which controls coordination and balance (yoga students - that's why my balance has been off lately). Last year, we traveled to Saginaw/Midland for gamma knife radiation.  Click on that to see my post from last year on this topic. Doc said that the tumor in my bronchial tube that has been making me wheeze is only slightly bigger than last scan (less than inch in whatever dimension it was measured).  He said that this is "not really bad news".  I think he meant it could have been a lot worse.

I have spent the last two days processing this information. I have done this a lot of times in the past and perhaps experience makes it a little easier, but I have been doing some grieving while integrating this information and am being gentle with myself in the process. Tears can be healing while allowing the expression of emotion. Many emotional triggers have been activated and, as these always seem to bring gifts/blessings/lessons (g-blessons), I will feel them and deal with them one at a time. This processing time (I sometimes call it hibernation) usually takes a couple of days or even several days before I find the BOTTOM LINE, then I pick myself up and carry on with healing my life.  
What is the  BOTTOM LINE?  

I know that, no matter what happens, I will be okay.  I woke up with this knowing this morning. I also get a break from chemo.  I will always HOPE for remission and I have some very loving, supportive people in my life who hope with me.  I am not denying the scientific fact that oncologists are challenged to see beyond - science and statistics say that I will surely die.  Big surprise - we ALL will surely die, but death is simply a transition back to spirit.  I believe that hope can be a powerful healer and I am doing my best to elicit some hopeful words from my Dr. Science-Oncologist, then to watch the trickle-down effect when I tell people that my doctor is hopeful for me.  I have never yet heard words of hope from this specialty type of doctor (and I have known quite a few of them).  I know they have to be careful of what they say because of legalities and they don't want to give people false hope (but, come on, no hope at all?) They seem to have this head-strong belief that science knows more about illness than sick people who might know something about healing. They seem to overlook the fact that the human being is capable of spontaneous remission - it happens all the time. Science cannot explain it because it's not a scientific, measurable phenomenon. It's proof of the PLACEBO EFFECT - what you believe is going to happen to you is what happens to you. This is more of a mental, emotional and spiritual shift that can often result in a physical shift as well.  

I am living proof of that.  After my first Stage IV diagnosis, I went into total remission for 7 years.  At that time, I believed that my very life depended on my learning to forgive hurts that I had held onto for so very many years. It worked for me until I started holding onto hurts again. And, I believed (eek, the power of belief!) that this behavior was dangerous for my health because it had the possibility of inciting can-can cells in my body once again.  I have finally learned that forgiveness really is about letting go of the pain I have been causing myself. It's truly an act of self-love. And, I have learned so very much about love in the last year...

I wonder if hope is the missing ingredient in the oncologist's bag of tricks.  My doctor already practices medicine with love, for which I am extremely grateful. When I said this to him, he seemed surprised, but said he treats patients as if they were family members - there's the love. And, I love the fact that he doesn't wear a white coat...those things can be so intimidating. If all oncologists are feeling hopeless for their Stage IV patients, and consequently, their patients are also feeling hopeless, and the patient's loving family and friends are also feeling hopeless, is it possible that this is the reason for the high mortality rates? Wouldn't everyone be happier with more hope in the ability of the human spirit to heal her/himself? Or, perhaps a knowing/belief in that BOTTOM LINE?  Supported by the best-known authority (doctor) on the subject?

Great new book that I highly recommend for everyone is MIND OVER MEDICINE: Scientific Proof that You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin MD. That's the Amazon link. I think this woman's thinking and conclusions are an indicator of a new and better direction for health care - better for doctors and better for patients. 

With great love and appreciation for your presence in my life. 
Mega-Magnificent Maggie McDee