Make New Friends

by NotDownOrOut

When I was a Brownie we used to sing a Scout song that began: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” Yesterday I received a phone call from Joyce, the woman I met while waiting for my June CAT scan. She has learned that breast cancer has invaded lymph nodes. It is has spread to the point that it is difficult to remove. For twelve weeks she will undergo chemotherapy in the hopes that the cancer can be contained, reduced to a size more manageably removed. She has already had her first treatment. It went pretty well. She was nauseated, but not overcome by her treatment.

We spoke for about an hour. Toward the end of the call she said that she has not claimed the cancer as her own. It is just the cancer, not her cancer. She won’t claim it because doing so gives it more power over her.

She has read quite a bit about the Laws of Attraction. The theory is that you manifest what you contemplate. More power to her. I hope that she keeps getting well by focusing only on good health. I have put an index card over my desk that says, “Joyce is 100% cancer free.” I say it aloud each time that my eyes pass over it. I want to help Joyce deal with the cancer in her own way.

I have claimed my cancer. I have gone warrior, which is pretty funny if you know me. I much prefer to fight for others than for myself. When I was a kid, my little sister Kathy fought my battles. As I walked home from kindergarten, I turned the corner on Victoria Lane and the Kirky Boys (named for their leader Kirk) would run after me. If they caught me, they pounded me with their puny fists. It was scary. But Kathy, who struggled with asthma and allergies, would see me coming and run into the fray. She was a fearsome ally. She is a fearsome ally still. Her prayers on my behalf have mighty mojo.

I have had my cancer “excised” by doctors. I have “scorched” the “earth” that was its last known site with radiation and chemotherapy. I have prayed and others have prayed for me to be strong enough to handle what I must so that my cancer is “vanquished.” So far that is working pretty well. There have been some casualties (my bladder reminds me every day that the war has been costly), but I am on a march.

My Aunt Arlene has metastasized breast cancer. She has been fighting it for years, unwilling to give up the battle because she loves her life. She recently lost the ability to stand and walk. After a bad fall, she learned that her one leg and hip had become appreciably less strong than the other. She began physical therapy and learned to walk again. Her therapists told her she was amazing. No one expected her to be able to do that.

I know of at least one person who has decided to do nothing. Ann is in her nineties, a widow, living with her slightly younger sister. She has breast cancer and has decided not to treat it. I understand that the cancer is visible at this time. It turns her skin an ominous black as it spreads. She still goes on living, each day waking in the easy chair that she sleeps in and struggling to her feet to walk with her sister’s help to the bathroom. You cannot say she isn’t a fighter. She has simply chosen a different battle. And, like others I know, she looks to her faith for the strength to carry on.

Through this blog and by reading others’ blogs, I have made new friends in the community of people who deal with cancer. All have sought the help of husbands, wives, lovers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, doctors, or God. But they fight with the tools available to them, whether or not they claim cancer as “theirs.”

Today I watched a video from a breast cancer survivor who urged women to fight the implementation of the Obama care program because it would stop mammograms for women under fifty. It would, she said, limit Medicare coverage for women with cancer. No more mammograms for young women. That bothered me because I did not think it was right and it seemed inconsistent as Medicare doesn’t cover many women under fifty. Moreover, I had just read a discussion of the program in an article of the new issue of The Nation, which stated that more women would have access to mammograms under the program.  If you have not read the list of health care benefits for women, including women who now have health insurance, you might want to do so.  As an example, do you live in one of the thirty-seven states that permits health insurers to charge women more for health insurance than they charge men? That is gender rating and, according to the article,  it won’t be permitted under the Affordable Care Act.

Why should you believe The Nation or me? You don’t have to. I found a copy of the Act online– I am reading all 960 pages of it. You can read it, too. I’m going to figure out for myself why people fear it, whether I will be helped by it, and how to use it in my battle. The thing about fear is that it starts with ignorance. People who hate others fear them. They do not know them. People who are angry fear people and things, too. I am not going to be afraid of a law that is intended to help me and people like me without good reason. I am not going to listen to every person who tells me to be afraid and be very afraid. As long as I rely on others to inform me I will be vulnerable to their efforts to manipulate my fear by playing upon my ignorance. Isn’t this the game that makes me change channels when Peggy from Cancer Centers of America talks about expiration dates on people? Well-intentioned people use fear to cultivate new patients for their business. If I’m determined not to be manipulated by people who use my fear of cancer, then I will be just as determined not to be manipulated by that same fear into rejecting a plan that could help me vanquish cancer. Maybe cancer isn’t the Boogeyman. Maybe it is just like the Boogeyman. Either way, I will find it easier to face with the lights on and the shadows dispelled. Maybe I should battle cancer by not claiming it as mine, as Joyce does. Maybe by eliminating as many of my fears about what cancer is and who my allies might be, I will find myself stronger in my war against it. I can claim the war even if I don’t claim the cancer.

God is an old friend whose value is proven in my war. He is the friend of gold, as are all the others who have supported me these last ten months. But Obama care could be a silver lining and a source of new strength. I’m out to make new friends, too. The Laws of Attraction say that I can manifest what I contemplate.

So this is what the index card over my desk says right now:

Peggy has no expiration date. Ann will know peace at the end of her days. Arlene will live a long life. Joyce is 100% cancer free. My family and friends are my “secret” power. Prayer is the best medicine. Cheryl is winning her war against cancer. All of us find strength in knowledge and faith.

Universe, make it so.