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Rapt attention

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Be Well Therapy

 

I may have mentioned this before but just in case I did not let me say it again.

Besides taking yoga classes next door to my shop at Sage Yoga, I have also started yoga at the Fallbrook Regional Health Care building on Mission Rd.

Be Well Therapy hosts yoga classes there for cancer survivors and their caregivers on a donation basis.

The class I attended on a Monday had an excellent teacher with a slightly different approach than the other yoga teachers I have encountered. 

There were about eleven people in the class, which may have included one other man but was mostly women. We practiced a variety of stretches, asanas and salutations.

After the class I took it upon myself to ask my fellow students how many of them had experienced cancer. All but one raised their hand, the other was a caregiver. As we all know, caregivers can experience the same amount of stress and grief as the patient, if not more so. Everybody in the world has either had cancer or had a close friend or relative with cancer, it's just the way it is.

I told them my story, having been diagnosed at 25 and losing half my left kidney and undergoing a myriad of surgeries for bladder and ureter tumors.

My cancer returned twenty five years later and then three times after that, ending up stage four in the wall of my bladder as you know. I lost the rest of my kidney along the way. I believe that the cancer is in a stable state right now but it is still there. I get another biopsy next month.

I told my fellow classmates and survivors that I found the phrase "beat cancer" somewhat humorous. Most of us that have had it spend our lives looking over our shoulder waiting for it to return and it usually does in some way or another before it is over. We learn to live our lives more fully and to "buy time." Beat it? I don't like to say that. Hardly. I don't want to jinx anything.

It is because of the fullness that I have experienced of life's offerings and the relationships that I have maintained that I say that in many ways, as difficult as it has been at times, cancer has been a blessing, if that makes any sense. It taught me how to live.

I have always felt that part of my life's mission was to outreach to fellow survivors and help them in any way that I can, as I have been helped by others on my journey.

I appreciate Heidi and the folks at BeWell for having this resource at various locations around San Diego and Orange Counties. They have just celebrated a ten year anniversary. I look forward to my next class.

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I went to see my G.P. up in Murrieta the other day. While we were waiting for the doctors to get back from lunch I talked with a woman who had obviously lost her hair and was also waiting to see someone. 

I asked her what was going on and she told me that she had cancer, first diagnosed in 2020. It was now in various parts of her body, stomach, liver and lungs.

She had been shunted around by the medical system and no one had done anything. I fear that now it is too late. She told me that her doctors really didn't do a thing and now she is searching for a cure at the eleventh hour.

I told her one of my maxims: Never be afraid to fire your doctor if you are not receiving adequate medical care. You have one life. I fired a urologist I loved very much because he refused to look at the roots of my cancer problems and I subsequently became part of a research study at UCSD that bought me time.

Later we patched things up. But you can not afford to sit and do nothing. Life catches up with you fast. Get a second and third opinion and fight vigorously for your treatment and life. You will never get certainty and there are times you just have to make a move. Don't sit and do nothing. Eliminate the people from your life who stand between you and your recovery, if only temporarily.

I feel for this woman, she put her faith in the wrong doctor. You can not put all the burden on a medical professional, you have to be part of the equation. It is too much for any one to bear on their own. Save yourself.

I always say that the doctor patient relationship is like bacon and eggs in regards to relative commitment. The chicken has a certain level of commitment but the pig is all in. You, the cancer patient, are the pig on this platter. Fight.

If any of you ever get cancer or a life threatening disease and need to talk to somebody who has been there, I am always here for you.

1 comment:

ResilienceArts.org - ArtConnectingCommunities.org said...

Hi Robert, I loved reading your article, because like you, I’ve had cancer several times and the last time was bladder.

I’ve had over 50 doctors. I agree that if a patient doesn’t feel the doctor is listening or treating you in a way that’s making a difference, it is time to look elsewhere.

Also, I believe that alternative healing modalities are important and can really make a difference; such as, yoga, nutritional supplements, massage, laughing with friends, art and creative endeavors, walking in the woods, working in the garden, and of course ,loving families and friends.

Talking to you did help me when I first got diagnosed so thank you!