Thursday, June 17, 2010

Taking away cancer's power

Let's face it, cancer is a thief that robs us of power, control and good health. Just the thought of it is sickening. Some of us would rather remove body parts prophylactically than give it fertile ground to take root. Luckily there are agencies and organizations that help us re-power and re-energize, offering invaluable information and encouragement without judgment or criticism. Words have power and I have the right to use them to rob cancer of its power and to keep it from dominating my body. I also have the right to say no to anyone who tells me that I am dying, that I have only so long to live, that I must to do certain things, and that I must suffer because I have cancer. When I am faced with the rush of “experts” who have mobilized to save me, I can only tell them this: I am the owner-operator of this body. I know it and care for it more than you ever will. I will pay you to advise me about it and then I will do my own investigation and let you know what I decide to do and what further assistance I agree to let you provide. However, you may not paint a fatalistic picture of my prognosis and throw around off-handed fearful statistics and remarks. This is my fight – if you are going to fight with me, you need to act like we can win; otherwise, get me another general.
In this 21st century, we have begun a new global dialogue about cancer, fueled by “celebrity cancers” of very public figures that we’ve come to cheer for and admire: Elizabeth Edwards, Cheryl Crow, Christina Applegate, Bryant Gumbel, Sharon Osbourne and Suzanne Summers, just to name a few. We watched the public, courageous battles of Dana Reeve, Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze, wishing them well with all of our positive thoughts and prayers, mourning with their families, friends and fans when their hope ran out. Statistically, every one in America has about a 1 in 3 chance of getting cancer, and there is a near certainty for everyone on the planet that someone you know will have it in your lifetime. Yet, for all of the racing for the cure, wearing of pins and ribbons, making of public service announcements, lobbying of Congress, and raising awareness, we are still treating cancer with virtually the same arsenal we’ve used for more than half a century in the case of chemotherapy, and more than a century in the case of radiation and mastectomy. The treatments are difficult and damaging and, in some cases, it’s the cure that kills. Today, the majority of investigation and expenditure of resources found in the National Institutes of Health clinical trials is involved with new approaches to those same old remedies: cutting (surgical removal of cancer), burning (radiation), and poisoning (chemotherapy).

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