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Best approach from an emotional perspective

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Indolent FNHL is one of the toughest forms of lymphoma to deal with emotionally. Would love to have a frank logical discussion about how victims of this awful disease deal wih all the uncertainty of its course of progression. We are all different as are our emotional abilities to deal with this. Some cling to the hope that each round of Chemo will result in a cure and be the end of the battle for them. That is highly unlikely as it is almost totally incurable. I have always been stoic in my approach to life, or at least so I thought. Now I am really, truly stoic and it has eased the load of this battle a lot. Fear of dying is the ultimate fear. If you can get past that, everything else in life is a cake walk. Religion promises eternal life, and while I respect the comfort some people take from that, it doesn't work for me.

Chamfers: “A man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.”

As a student of stoic thought I have taught myself to expect the worst and not fear it. FNHL is incurable. I accept that now instead of hoping that I am somehow special and after this round I am cured. My rational mind tells me that will not happen. That same rational mind tells me a cure is coming but I do not agonize about living to benefit from it. My rational mind also tells me that, cancer or no cancer, life is 100% fatal. Cancer may change the timing of my demise but its a fact I will die with or without it. That too is beyond my control. To avoid unhappiness, frustration, and disappointment, I do focus on two things: controlling those things that are within my power (namely my beliefs, judgments, desires, communion with nature and attitudes) and being indifferent, even apathetic to those things which are not in my power, things external to me and beyond my control and influence, like cancer. I believe we humans should strive to perfect our sense of reason as a means to conquer our devastating inner emotions: grief, pain, fear (of death, especially), and superstition. Reason allows us to escape and discipline our passions, understand that no set of circumstances is good or bad, only thinking makes it so, and to generally accept our mind as a greater source of truth than our emotions. Stoics are famous for their idea that ‘the shortest route to wealth is the contempt of wealth.’. Not sure we can change "wealth" to "health" and still have a true statement but the concept is thought provoking.
 
This is very radical thought process. Am I the only one who thinks a negative attitude is better than a positive one? We are taught to win, win, win. Maybe, just maybe, we should accept our eventual demise and focus on wine, women and song?
 

 

 

 

 

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3307
Joined: May 2012

GKH,

Seneca was the foremost writer on Stoicism. It was a prominent view in classical Roman times, and early Christianity was mostly favorable toward Seneca and Stoicism in general.  His writings are available in any Barnes and Noble.

Stoicism, which teaches quiet acceptance of life's trials, is sort of the opposite of the modern view of things, where everyone is a whiner and claims victimhood.  Kids today are mostly Eeyhor -- ' woe-is-me' and 'Hey ! Somebody give me whatever I need !'

Stoicism was never really a religion so much as a world view.  It has many similarities to Buddhism.

I was a philosophy undergrad and learned this stuff then.  As a Christian myself, I find much admirable in Stoic views.  It is much advanced beyond the current trend to just have no opinion or worldview at all, which to me is no different from what a housecat might bring to the discussion. But at other times, I feel cats have even more spirituality than many people.

Let me recommend that at YouTube you listen to Cat Stevens song Moonshadow. I can't paste it here on my smartphone at the moment.

max

Sten's picture
Sten
Posts: 162
Joined: Apr 2013

Hi GKH,

In 2012 I had highly malignant primary central nervous system lymphoma, PCNSL, with a two year survival rate of about 67% with the best treatment, autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). 

I fought my disease as well as I could, accepting the tough treatment. I realized that I might die and I accepted that possibility. I tried to keep my spirits up, in order to feel as well as possible and to make my family feel that way too. I simplified our economy so my wife could handle it more easily as a widow.

Now I have been NED (no evidence of disease) for more than three years, and I am OK physically and psychically.

I think that my attitude of accepting what might happen helped me.

I have also studied philosophy of different kinds as a hobby. It is interesting and can help you to mature.

Now, I hope that you, GKH, will continue to accept the future and thus feel as well as possible.

Best regards,

Sten

 

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3307
Joined: May 2012

Thoreau wrote in Waldon: "People do not so much own stuff, as they are owned by it."  When I got my prostate cut out last year, my thought was, "Good; one less thing to have cancer in, to worry about."  Angilena Jolee had both breast removed a few years ago, due to a gene that indicates an 87% likelihood of developing aggressive breast cancer later in life.  My cousin tested positive for the same gene months later, and had the same surgery.  Seems to be the singer's attitude in this hit.  I take the word 'Moonshadow' to mean a blight, haunting, or problem that one can't shake.  In that sense, it fits well with indolent cancer.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr0rDW5j1KU

 

max

GSP2's picture
GSP2
Posts: 103
Joined: Feb 2015

Hi Max. You picked a great song here. And a very complex one.

On one level it is about finding hope in any situation.

About accepting and appreciating the now.

The more I look at this I agree with you, moonshadow has it's dark side.

Cancer, the beast, is often veiled and disguised

When he appeared on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009, Stevens said of this song: "I was on a holiday in Spain. I was a kid from the West End (of London) - bright lights, ect. - I never got to see the moon on its own in the dark, there were always streetlamps. So there I was on the edge of the water on a beautiful night with the moon glowing, and suddenly I looked down and saw my shadow. I thought that was so cool, I'd never seen it before."

Anyway, had fun with this one and of course numerous other interpretations

 

Steve.

 

lindary's picture
lindary
Posts: 657
Joined: Mar 2015

I really like this comment. It is something I have felt for years, before being told I had cancer.

"My rational mind also tells me that, cancer or no cancer, life is 100% fatal. Cancer may change the timing of my demise but its a fact I will die with or without it. That too is beyond my control." 

There are several members of my husband's family who always seem to be worrying about death and sickness. Some to the point that they have no life. When I told one of them about the cancer the very first comment/question was "are you going to die?". My response to them  was - "We are all going to die at some point.".  But I don't think of this as being negative. More like being realistic. As a result of some things that have happened in my life over the last 20 years I have also learned to identify things I have no control over. In those situations I pray for guidance and peace of mind. For things I have some control over, I put my IT skills to work to examine my options, determine the pluses and minuses of each and determine what to do. It works, sometimes. What it does do is keep my mind working and ready to speak up if I feel something isn't being handled right. (Or at least ask questions.)

I watched 2 people fight cancer. One for 6 monts (lung) and one for 11 years (multiple myeloma). What I saw in both of the was an acceptance that their life had changed but they still had a life to live. I am determined to do the same and not worry about how much time I have left. 

 

 

po18guy
Posts: 1005
Joined: Nov 2011

Diabetes is incurable. Once here, an individual must, MUST live and die with it. No remission. No cure. fNHL is treatable, if not curable. Remissions may last for an indefininte period of time. Research is being conducted as we speak around the world. Each day of life brings more hope with it. Anxiety, worry, whatever we name it, cannot change the past or predict the future. It can only paralyze the present, and that is all we possess. If we live each day in fear of cancer, are we really living? We might be cancer-free, yet part of us has died.  

What do we believe? We are in an age of high anxiety (no, not the movie!) specifically because we have abandoned the belief systems which have sustained humanity for milennia. We place our faith in science, in mathematics, in identifying with some celebrrity, or in this week's fad. And, there's the rub - it is all about what we place our faith in. All of those ultimately fail. I am basically stoic, although not in Senca's genre. Like the early Christians, I know that I will receive the strength to deal with anything. I already have on several occasions.

What do we believe?  

OO7's picture
OO7
Posts: 282
Joined: Sep 2014

Last week when I read your post I wondered several times had the circumstances in my life been different would I have told my family and friends that I have cancer, would I have feared it more and would I have been less stoic?

Probably not.

I was born positive and choose to be happy.  I will be the person who always run into the fire.  When difficult even horrible things happen, I always focus on the positive.

The challenges I now face, for example all these new tests to see if something is active?  I care little about the cancer and more about protecting my mother and family who know nothing....

It's downright demented.  I have become a victim of my own circumstances, I created a monster and wondered how this is going to play out.  Oddly I DON'T dwell or care.  I will fight, accept what I have to, make the best of every situation and guarantee the next chapter of my life, I will live it on my terms and not cancers or anything else.

My father was less stoic and more tortured by his own cancer and thought process but he was also not privileged as I to have follicular cancer.

Finally I do get frightened sometimes but my faith is my armor.

 

lindary's picture
lindary
Posts: 657
Joined: Mar 2015

007,

You made choices that you felt were best at the time. As long as you accept that (which you do) you are good. We all have to do what we feel is best for us and our indivudual situations. 

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