Sunday, May 24, 2015
Cancer Without War
This week I discovered a new cancer book. The book is not brand new, but new to me; it was published in 1999.
The book is called: “Speak the Language of Healing” with this great subtitle: “Living with Breast Cancer without Going to War.” And they had me at “without going to war.”
I have always hated the war imagery of most cancer advice. We are so often admonished to “battle” cancer and “win the war” on cancer and vanquish cancer, but, as I have written here before, cancer is part of us (all of us) so when we hate and kill cancer that is what we are doing to ourselves.
But there is something else very cool about this book. And I should mention that while it is directed toward those with breast cancer it applies completely to any person or family facing any cancer. The book was written by four women who had cancer—staged I to IV—and their experiences of emotional, medical, psychological and spiritual reactions and learning.
The authors are: Susan Kuner, Ed.D. Carol Matzkin Orsborn, M.T.S. Linda Quigley, M.A. and Karen Leigh Stroup, M.Div., Ph.D.—that’s a pretty authoritative group of authors. Each with cancer and each with experience as caregivers.
The chapters are listed as “Stages” fitting the cancer theme and they include:
The Stage of Impact, The Stage of Chaos, The Stage of Choices and The Stage of Spirit.
Some of the stuff I especially like is the chapter on whether and how to trust the traditional medical establishment and when to put faith in alternative or spiritual healing. And a wonderful section where each woman writes about what she learned.
This is a very learned and literary group of author/patients so the lessons are about really deep stuff—God, faith, loneliness, relationships etc. Karen Stroup explaining how cancer separated her from even her dearest and closest friends quotes Flannery O’Connor who said this about her lupus:
“In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it’s always a place where there’s no company, where nobody can follow.”
These four women deliver honesty, raw and ragged emotion and a powerful perspective on cancer that, while it may be about death, is not about killing.