Some people think that you can cause your own cancer. I believe the real culprit is an obsession with making a profit
I’m chatting with a colleague on the east coast who tells me about her therapy client who has “chosen” to get breast cancer(link is external) as a way of protesting a bad marriage(link is external) she hasn’t the courage to leave. Contributing to her diagnosis is her passive and inauthentic life, the false path she travels on.
I regret that some people in my profession think this way. I cannot disagree more.
Not that I fail to appreciate the power of the mind(link is external), and the connection between our emotional and physical well-being. When we live compromised lives, and violate our core values, needs, and beliefs, our bodies may indeed give us a signal in the form of anger, anxiety, depression(link is external) or other symptoms. Surely our bodies can benefit when we live examined lives that include a large share of love, wisdom, truth, courage, and adventure.
And, on the positive side of illness, a serious diagnosis can prompt us to re-examine our life. When faced with our mortality, some people are inspired to take a large and courageous leap forward. The diagnosis of cancer(link is external), like any threat to our survival, can awaken us from a psychic slumber and inspire us to be more clear-eyed and awake.
Living our own lives as well as possible is a worthwhile goal whether we currently have a health diagnosis or not.
That said, people do not cause their own cancer(link is external). Acquiring a life-threatening disease(link is external)does not mean one hasn’t lived authentically or assertively enough. Following one’s true path is undoubtedly a good idea, but it is no guarantee against getting cancer or preventing its return. Woman are far less passive and more self-directed since the second wave of feminism, yet the rate of breast cancer has reached epidemic proportions(link is external) in modern times.
I’ve lived long enough to see countless numbers of dishonest, fraudulent, disconnected folks ripen to a mean-spirited old age, while alarmingly large number of joyful, loving women are being prematurely diagnosed with breast cancer,(link is external) most often with no family history.
It is profit madness-the poisoning of our soil, water, food, and sky-not personality deficit that is leading to a startling increase of cancer(link is external) among young people in certain neighborhoods and communities. It is our environment, not our personal lives, which demand a cleanup when it comes to cancer.
For this reason, I contribute money to the Breast Cancer Fund(link is external); an extraordinary organization that takes environmental factors in breast cancer(link is external) seriously and is doing something about it.
And while I’m at it, here are my favorite “must read” memoirs about breast cancer.
The first is a memoir in comics called, “Cancer Made me A Shallower Person.(link is external)” It is so funny, and wrenching, and true. The author is Miriam Engelberg.