"Cancer solves problems that the psyche couldn't figure out how to solve. If we can appreciate the wisdom in that, it's actually a gift." [from Cancer is Curable NOW]
i got my phone call from the oncology department at princess margaret hospital on tuesday afternoon, coincidentally just before i was scheduled to see my GP again at his invitation, just so he could ask me questions about how i was doing emotionally with the diagnosis and if i had any questions. the hospital advised that they needed me to get a couple reports and a burned CD with the original ultrasound on it to them as soon as i could... i wasn't insensitive to the fluid convenience of the timing as the clerk emphasized the importance of moving on all this quickly.
at the GPs office i noticed how both he and the various departmental lab assistants who generated the hard copies of the reports i needed all had the same response to my mood and comportment. perhaps they're used to women in various states of devastation at the news they have cancer because they all seemed temporarily befuddled by my upbeat, sunny disposition, especially when i thanked them and smiled on leaving. while it's likely my behaviour will be attributed to a denial of a kind, it gave me a sense of rightness in my place and groove of life to be genuinely modeling this kind of attitude towards my circumstances. as i have seen elsewhere, the net effect of introducing a novelty into a system is that the energy of your novelty breaks up existing patters like intersecting ripples on a pond, magically making space and opportunity for others to inhabit the same frequency of resonance.
when i spoke to the clerk at the hospital the day before i was very struck by her pushiness... i wasn't trying to make small talk or introduce any glitch of irrelevancies into the discussion, i used to be a film coordinator after all and understand how pressed professionals are when tackling the mound of work they face on their desks on any given day, and i also understand the typically clingy and needy aura that surrounds the classic cancer patient and so did grasp the need felt by these workers to keep to a very curt and laser-focused comportment... so when i say 'struck by her pushiness,' it was the languaging that i noticed... the 'we will decide what to do,' and the frequent references to what they were 'going to do to me...'
this got me into a reactionary headspace, all the more determined to stick to my most maverick impulses. i considered all day long wednesday the stress i would experience once engaged in the hospital system with its very negative attitudes toward holistic medicine and the few troublesome patients who concurrently pursue this path, not to mention all the energy i would need expend on deflecting the pressure i would be under to conform to their timetables and their assessment of what needs to be 'done' to me.
after i collected my materials i reneged on taking them directly to the hospital as i had been asked to. i've been feeling so much better each day that passes, doing the things i'm doing, and have seen the inflammation in the breast reduce and the tumour continue to slowly lend an impression to me that it _is_ changing for the better, that my knee-jerk response was to give myself more time to do my own work. i've had a huge change in my pain level as i now feel hardly any shooting pains or twinges, not in the breast or anywhere else in the body. my two breasts are getting tender in the usual way as they do just before my period, but that's all. since i started eating again and modified my yoga schedule (gone for now are the days of doing 90minute or back to back classes, i now stick to just one hour ones) i've been reaping the benefits of keeping more than active, getting the right nutrition and attacking the cancer naturally.
but then i let myself look at this situation from the opposite angle, which, truly, i love to do.
could it be that my desire to avoid involving myself with the hospital has more to do with pride than sense? have i become distracted by a desire to 'prove' the wisdom of my methods to the exclusion of what might be best or profits me most overall? was my reluctance to put myself in an arena where i would have to interact with authority figures fueled more by past experiences of selling myself out and capitulating to pressure and so an aversion of facing (and solving) yet again this dilemma?
so i decided to go ahead and bring the paperwork in today. i'm very clear in myself that i will not submit under any circumstances to a mamogram. i asked my GP why a biopsy would be necessary since we already have a cytology report that clearly shows mammary carcinoma. he indicated that the hospital likes to have its own tissue samples as it doesn't trust outside labs. i'm on the fence about that as on the one hand it sounds like blatant and opportunistic billing practices, but on the other, i can see the value of having a retest to confirm the results and more comprehensive information at play from a tissue sample as opposed to a blood sample. i am of course completely keen to get the body scan which will tell us conclusively if the cancer is confined to the breast. my GP also suggested they might want me to give up some lymph tissue for sampling, but i can't see why this would be necessary if my lymph, when palpated, isn't showing signs of invasion.
while i'm really not looking forward to being a difficult patient or being pressured to do things the hospital's way, at its convenience and according to the dictates of a clearly misguided view of cancer and its treatment, i can see that embracing and leaning into it all instead of running away will have untold and immense benefits for me. if, for the first time in my life, i can be truly brave, responsive, and resolute in the flesh as opposed to just on paper, i will have really turned a corner. i also have to keep reminding myself that its me who has all the choice here. no one can make me do anything i don't want to do, and i can always insist on seeing a different oncologist if i find myself in a no-gain situation with the first one i'm assigned to.
all that said, i'm very mindful of the fact that anticipating problems often brings them forward, whereas approaching experience with a blank emptiness of presence unburdened by expectations, confident in the ability to respond as necessary to the moment using the simple rule to breathe, take my time, and even ask to think things over when i need to, is all i need to do. nothing more. in fact, i've decided to, if anything, expect (as is the real truth anyway) that i will encounter all the right people that i need to meet right now, whether challengers or allies. there is no need for defensiveness nor anxiety.
i've got a long history of trying to use the written word to do my living and interacting for me. now its time to put an end of this particular form of adaptive passive aggression and step up to the challenge to get more involved in life's grand theater of operations...
* i couldn't help but note that the tumour is positioned at 8 o'clock. i think from this moment forward i must do only good and exciting things at that hour... : )