After the Cancer Diagnosis: First Things First
The First of Three Parts
Majid Ali, M.D.
(Taken from The Dysox Model of Cancer, Volume 1 (2007)
When one first learns about the diagnosis of one’s cancer, what does one really need to do?
Should one see a surgeon?
Should one consult an oncologist?
Or a radiotherapist?
Or a nutritionist?
Or a naturopath?
Or an energy healer?
Or an integrative physician?
Or a friend?
Or a priest?
Or, should one first seek strength and light through one’s own Divinity?
First seek strength and light through one’s own Divinity! How silly is that?, some readers may ask with irritation. Searching for one’s Divinity at the first news of cancer? some others might protest. Tall order, isn’t it? might be another question from someone annoyed by my words. Yes, I know that it is a tall order. However, it is either strength and light through one’s own Divinity or half truths and untruths from others. So, I say the surgeon can wait for a while. And so can the oncologist, the radiotherapist, the naturopath, and the integrative physician.
Before one can consult with one’s Divinity when cancer comes calling, there are crucially important issues of coping with the panic caused by the initial diagnosis of cancer—and of intensified anger, a sense of being a victim, and the famous Why me? question. In this chapter, I offer the following seven insights given to me by individuals with cancer whom I have cared for:
❂ First Insight: If you remain panicked, you won’t make it.
❂ Second Insight: Hope with hype returns to haunt.
❂ Third Insight: One can only know one’s own pain and
experience one’s own fears.
❂ Fourth Insight: Practicing gratitude liberates, seeking
happiness brings unhappiness.
❂ Fifth Insight: Giving love heals, demanding love depletes.
❂ Sixth Insight: Anger cannot be resolved, it can only be dissolved.
❂ Seventh Insight: Divinity can be sought and known only through the language of silence.
FIRST INSIGHT: If You Remain Panicked, You Won’t Make It
If you do not panic at the time of the initial diagnosis, you are not in touch with yourself. If you stay panicked, you won’t make it.
Everyone panics at the first encounter with a diagnosis of cancer. This is a physiologic response. It is one thing to engage in a dinner table conversation about someone else’s cancer, and altogether different to confront one’s own cancer. The shock of the initial diagnosis clouds one’s judgment. I have often heard doctors tell me about their patients being in denial about their tumors—usually, of course, because the patient refuses to climb onto the operating table on cue from a surgeon, or rejects chemo infusions prescribed by an oncologist at the oncologist’s convenience. I have personally not seen a person who denies her or his cancer. People process the initial information about a diagnosis of cancer in different ways. Regardless of the initial physiologic response to a diagnosis of cancer, here is what my patients have taught: Those who stay panicked usually do not do well. So, the first lesson is this: If you stay panicked, you won’t make it. One needs first to escape the tyranny of one’s thinking mind and then seek one’s own Divinity.
Surgery for early cancer, when applicable, should not be unduly delayed. This is self-evident. Surgery is the best treatment for most early cancers. But here is the problem: No honest and experienced surgeon can ever tell you that your cancer is early enough to be completely removed. There is never any valid reason for not taking time out for a day—or a week —to seek and know one’s own Divinity.
SECOND INSIGHT: Hope With Hype Returns to Haunt
During conscious life, hope is essential for healing. Hope is easy to create. It is hard to sustain. This is truer with the first encounter with a diagnosis of cancer than at most other times. By the time you finish this book, I hope you will have the courage to see through commonly told lies about curing cancer. Hope has lasting benefits in the treatment of cancer but only when it is based on a clear understanding of the doubt and uncertainties of life, and of vagaries of the behavior of malignant tumors.
At the first encounter with a diagnosis of cancer, what a person with cancer wants most is to be told that her/his cancer is curable—and will be cured. That, of course, is where the lies begin. False hopes are created by pathologists, surgeons, oncologists, integrative physicians, and natural healers in all of their working days. Pathologists commonly begin that process by including in their reports the following standard sentence: “The margins of resection are negative for tumor.” Not unexpectedly, those who read the reports interpret them as indicating complete removal of cancer. However, pathologists do not believe this necessarily to be the case. They know that the tissues are stretched, shredded, and cut across during surgery. They readily acknowledge that they simply cannot precisely reconstruct or realign the tissues in a laboratory pan as they were in the patient’s body. Thus, the inked margins of resection do not, in reality, represent the true state of affairs. So, why then do pathologists deliberately misrepresent their case? Because they are compelled to do so. The surgical organizations force the pathology associations to establish the “inking the margin” standard—a deliberately misleading standard—for their member pathologists. In the United States, pathologists are not at liberty to practice in their field without belonging to those associations.
The next in line to participate in the deception game are surgeons. They famously underline the standard “margins-of- resection-are-negative for tumor” comment in the pathology report as they congratulate themselves for having taken out cancer completely in the presence of their frightened and gullible patients. The chain of misrepresentations continues with oncologists. The family practitioners know better, but see no point in rocking the boat. It just seems like the humane thing to do. Integrative physicians are not above misrepresentation either. As for “energy healers” who claim to cure cancer energetically, I do not know what planet they live on. They are blessedly unburdened by any real knowledge of cancer biology.
Hope for people with cancer can be created with truth. However, this takes courage, integrity, patience, and time. One cannot simply write a prescription for hope to be filled at the local pharmacy. There is also the larger issue of hope not residing in closed hearts and in constricted spirits. This openness is hard to come by in a culture of constipation—constipation of the heart and of the spirit. So at the first encounter with a cancer, where does one go for hope with truth? To one’s own Divinity.
Continued with parts 2 and 3.