The Stacey Report

The Dangerous Myth of the Enlightened Cancer Patient.

Posted in Stacey's Sister Holds Forth by dbancroft on June 30, 2009

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Well, who can’t get behind THAT, amirite? But have you ever read the rest of the poem? To wit:

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace…”

Okaaaaaay, hold it right there.

Now head on over to your local cancer fundraiser website. They all say things like “Living life to the fullest!” and have testimonials: “Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me: I found out what was really important.” Lots of crying, lots of hugging, lots of beautiful awakenings.

This is good, don’t get me wrong. Anything that makes having cancer suck even a little bit less is good, I don’t care if you’re flogging bats. (OK, actually I do care, but I digress. As usual.)

But here’s the problem. What if you’re not interested, not even the tiniest little bit, in “accepting hardships as the pathway to peace”. What if you have no clue whatever in the world that might mean, given that there is no inherent causal connection AT ALL between hardship and peace. What if you already know what is important, thank you, and one of those things is hitting back, hitting hard, and hitting below the belt?

What if the very flippin’ LAST thing you want to do is put on a pink feather boa and cry?

What if you’re not grateful?

What if you’re just plain old pissed off?

Prevailing wisdom would have us believe that the best, if not the only acceptable, response to a diagnosis of cancer is an emotional journey that leads to acceptance… or something. Again, whatever floats your boat, but the problem is that if you do not respond in that way, people around you are likely to try to make you resond in that way, for your own good. And the problem with THAT is: if you’re having response B, and a whole lot of people express grave concern because really it would be BETTER to have response A… then they’re also saying that your actual organic emotions are the wrong ones to have.

Now let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a girl who might or might not be the daughter of your humble narratress. And this girl inhereted the anxious temperament that ran in her family. This girl was constantly freaking out about one thing or another, dissolving in tears over math homework. The parents of this girl were forever saying brilliant things like “you don’t have to get so upset about this!”

And did that approach help this girl? O, no, it did not. What it did was upset her more, and the parents began to theorize that not only was she feeling inadequate to the task, she was now hearing that feeling upset about feeling inadequate would not help her; on the contrary, getting upset would make things more difficult for her.

Now, I’m not saying that freaking out is a fantastic approach to math homework, but likewise saying “stop feeling that!” is a pretty stupid approach to… well, to anything. The key to helping this girl (who has grown and matured by leaps and bound since then, whether thanks to her parents intervention we may never know) the key was to accept her emotion as fact. And one of the depressingly few things I’ve said that seemed to be helpful to her was this: “You are feeling anxious and upset about this, I know, and your feelings are your feelings. But when you’re hungry, let’s say — do you immediately start chewing on the book you happen to be reading at that moment? On the curtain next to your head? No — you do have to eat something, but you go to the kitchen and choose what you want to eat.”

So it is, I firmly believe, with everything in life: feeling is fact. You might decide to find ways to change the feeling, but that would also be a considered response, right? The initial feeling is fact. If you’re hungry, sure, you might choose a bowl of strawberry pudding with a big puff of whipped cream on top. Stacey does not happen to want strawberry pudding at this moment. If she has a hankering for Tekkamaki with extra wasabe and a side order of Whupass, then I for one will be first in line to take her over to Minado for all she can eat.

All Clear!

Posted in Stacey Updates, Stacey's Sister Holds Forth by dbancroft on May 3, 2008

OK, I am mortally offended. I wrote a fabulously informative and, if I do say so myself, very funny post about Stacey’s recent MRI check-up and mammogram. I was shocked, SHOCKED! to find that not only had it not gone up on the site, it wasn’t even saved as a draft. The horror, the horror.

So this will certainly NOT be the shining ray of genius the first one was, but here goes.

Stacey went in for her regularly scheduled MRI checkup and they found… something we’ll tell you about after this break! (Awwwww…)

Cut to commercial:

(Sound: bass line from “Sunshine of Your Love”: DUH nuh nuh nuh DUH nuh nuh duh NUH nuh…)

“The generation that swore it would never get old… didn’t. Welcome to the summer of life. And now there’s an official hair treatment of the summer of your life: new Touch of Gray from Just For Men. Lets you keep a little gray. Works gradually. Just comb in, rinse.”

Male model who was definitely not at Woodstock: “Never trust anyone over 90, haw-haw-haw!”

“Keep a little gray with new Touch of Gray.”

I’m sorry, but is that not just the stupidest thing ever? We had a little slogan contest here in the kitchen:

“Touch of Gray: Because you can be proud of getting old. Just not too proud…and not too old.”

“Touch of Gray: The hair dye that doesn’t… uh… dye your hair.”

“Touch of Gray: a little gray tells the world you’re not completely insecure… just a little.”

Your submissions welcome in the comments below!

And now we return to… The Fascinating Tale of Stacey’s Interminable Medical Tests!

Stacey had her MRI and it showed… nuffin. Well, it showed something, but just the transplanted boob and normal bodily goo and so forth. No cancer. Then she had a mammogram: same deal, EXCEPT! Stacey found out that it’s a HECK of a lot easier to have a mammogram with .5 boobage. The nurse said “Isn’t that great? All the mastectomy patients say that!”

So. That wasn’t as funny, but at least it was super-tangential… and isn’t that really why you’re here?