Saturday, October 07, 2006

Visualizing the Cancer

In two earlier posts, (Cancer: Call it Enemy or Call it Friend? and Naming the Relationship with Cancer, Pt. II, both from August), I wrote about the difficulty I was having trying to ascertain my relationship to my cancer. The "Cancer: Call it Enemy or Friend?" post drew quite a few impassioned responses. Those responses, my further thinking, conversations with friends, and meditation, have all helped me further clarify my relationship with the cancer.

In August, I was meditating and decided to "talk" to the cancer. At that point I didn't try to visualize it, I just had a conversation. I told the cancer not to rush, that there was no place in my body it needed to move to, and that it didn't need to be moving around. I told it that its presence endangers my life, and it needs to go. This may sound a little "rational," but it worked for me. And, I have to say that when I got my second clean scan, mid-September, I remembered that conversation, and had an odd feeling that somehow the cancer was cooperating, had been "listening." I was also struck that the oncologist said my cancer was "pokey." Just what I had envisioned!

In September while meditating, a visualization about the cancer came to me spontaneously. I imagined a beautiful sunset, full of reds, purples, oranges, pinks; a totally gorgeous sunset. I imaged the cells, arm in arm like Dorothy and the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" dancing and skipping and running toward the beautiful sunset. As they skip and dance, I wave good-bye to them, and say "Apoptosis, Guys!" (At some point in my wandering on the web, I learned that it's the word for cell death. Cell death occurs naturally and normally in our bodies as cells die and replace themselves. One problem with cancer cells as I understand it in my non-medical way, is that they reproduce quickly, and perhaps don't die as fast as we would like.)

Now here's another really odd thing. After writing the previous paragraph, I just looked up "apoptosis" in the online dictionary, and there is an online medical dictionary that has this definition: "Programmed cell death as signalled by the nuclei in normally functioning human and animal cells when age or state of cell health and condition dictates. An active process requiring metabolic activity by the dying cell . . . . Cells that die by apoptosis do not usually elicit the inflammatory responses that are associated with necrosis, though the reasons are not clear. Cancerous cells, however, are unable to experience the normal cell transduction or apoptosis-driven natural cell death process." I didn't know that! Here I've been visualizing the cancer cells having a "normal" cell death, when it seems they don't know how! Maybe they can learn!

So, when I meditate, or see the sunset, or think about the cancer cells, I wave to them, see them dancing into this beautiful sunset, and say "Apoptosis, guys, apotosis!" Is it working? I don't know, but I hope so. And, it has the added benefit of giving me a giggle as I imagine the cancer cells dancing and skipping into the sunset. Laughing is definitely good for my soul and my body. Bye, cancer cells!

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