My recent year-long breast cancer experience gave me the opportunity to do much learning.
I experimented with healing the cancer, focused on my relationship with my body, and encountered three types of “support” people receive when diagnosed with cancer.
- The “this is what is right for you to do right now, based on the standard medical approach for the care of your condition: do it!”
- The “this is what you must do so I don’t have to be so frightened about what can happen to you.”
- The “you are the person who has the right to choose whatever you do to deal with the illness in your body, and I support you fully in what you decide.”
Let’s Take A Look.
This is what is right for you to do right now, based on standard medical care of your condition: do it! The lesser power people feel they have, the more they fall back on this approach. We believe because modern medicine says, that this is the only way the ill person has a chance to recover. We also believe in our right to demand the diagnosed person follow it.
This approach is based upon a belief system that seems sacred. It’s what doctors and researchers have determined is effective in most cases like yours; therefore, you must follow the protocols. Never mind that increasing evidence shows chemotherapy and radiation can deplete your already-compromised immune system. Or that chemotherapy itself may promote the spread of cancer cells in the body.
Having participated in the treatment of several people dealing with cancer, I see this approach—regarding healing—as sacred, but really no longer relevant.
For me, most medical treatments are designed to contain cancer and relieve symptoms, more than actually heal it. Advocates of this kind of support believe in its rightness and promote following it. My now-deceased sister told me when I went with her: “Welcome to the Cancer Clinic! They don’t like questions here. Everybody is expected to follow the same program and not ask questions.” That’s what this kind of support also demands.
Here, “sacred vehemence” reigns supreme. I have been told I am “stupid,” “perhaps becoming senile,” “choosing poorly and stressed by fear” (I experienced no fear), “killing myself,” etc., whenever I decided to experiment (under a doctor’s supervision) instead of following the standard protocol. My doctor pointed out such people were talking this way because they loved me. I told her their approach did not feel loving. Dictatorial and fear-based, yes. Loving, no.
This is what you must do so I don’t have to be so frightened about what can happen to you. This “support” asks the person with cancer to make decisions based on the emotions and feelings of others!
If they are worried, afraid, or awake at night, feeling certain you’ll die soon, crying about losing you, the person with the cancer diagnosis is expected to change course, so that the other person can end their emotional experiences!
As an expert in Emotional Mastery and psychotherapist for 46 years, I have contended that one person cannot make another feel any particular emotion! How we perceive and respond to situations, and the resulting emotions that arise, are entirely up to the beholder. I cannot make you angry or make you feel guilty. What I can do is act as a catalyst for your feelings. The basic machinery for what you feel (or not) is up to you, and how you perceive and live in the world. Your suggestion for me to change how I deal with cancer in my body; to alleviate your feelings is both something I don’t want to do, and doesn’t work as a long-term solution for either of us!
(For more about emotions, visit www.emotionalmasteryforlife.com)
You are the person who has the right to choose whatever you do to deal with the illness in your body, and I support you fully in what you decide, because my husband, Bob, and I differed on how we would have dealt with his cancer. I know how hard it is to support another to follow the treatment course they choose. Especially if you think they might be speeding up their own demise, it’s difficult not to threaten, plead, or beg them to change their choices.
I’ve learned that there are Seven Skills of Love.
The most difficult of these for us humans are Respect, accepting the other person exactly “as is,” without needing to change a hair on their head! As a spiritual person, I believe each of us has come to earth for our own reasons and learning. For maximum growth, our path needs to fit us. This includes the path we take to our death. To really love someone, we need to fully respect their right to deal with life and illness as they see best. It doesn’t mean we can’t raise questions or (only if asked) offer an opinion. It does, however, mean we step back, allowing the ill person to make the final choices regarding treating the illness.
It was friends and people in this category I sought out, so I could stay centered, calm, and feel loved, even though being assailed with other types of “support.” I am totally grateful.
When we are diagnosed and dealing with an illness like cancer, we do need plenty of support. But life is lived best “from the inside out.” If we need support from others, we’re more likely to get it when we are supportive of ourselves. What we have inside us, we tend to attract from outside is the Principle. Regardless of how the people around you give their support, make sure you stay true to yourself; support yourself.
As I’ve indicated in this series, one of the primary learnings to complete when diagnosed with cancer is the full, healthy, as-it-fits-you support of your own body, which is, after all, bringing you a tailor-made lesson you can complete.
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.