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April 23, 2005

Popping Cancer Reflection

I borrow this from Norman Cousins, written in his Anatomy of an Illness:

"My first experience in coping with a bleak medical diagnosis came at the age of ten, when I was sent to a tuberculosis sanitarium. I was terribly frail and underweight, and it seemed logical to suppose I was in the grip of a serious malady. Later it was discovered that the doctors had mistakenly interpreted normal calcification as TB markings. X-rays at the time were not yet a totally reliable basis for complex diagnosis. In any case, I spent six months at the sanitarium.

"What was most interesting to me about that early experience was that patients divided themselves into two groups: those who were confident they would beat back the disease and be able to resume normal lives, and those who resigned themselves to a prolonged and even fatal illness. Those of us who held to the optimistic view became good friends, involved ourselves in creative activities, and had little to do with the patients who had resigned themselves to the worst. When newcomers arrived at the hospital, we did our best to recruit them before the bleak brigade went to work.

"I couldn't help being impressed with the fact that the boys in my group had a far higher percentage of 'discharged as cured' outcomes than the kids in the other group. Even at the age of ten, I was being philosophically conditioned; I became aware of the power of the mind in overcoming disease. The lessons I learned about hope at that time played an important part in my complete recovery and in the feelings I have had since about the preciousness of life."

Some days (like today, when the three-day trial of untouchable joint pain has begun) it's hard to keep away from the bleak brigade, but I'm trying. It's worth the effort, and a few days in bed with pain don't compare to a chart marked "discharged as cured."

Posted by Dan at April 23, 2005 12:54 PM

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Comments

I suspect this applies to things outside physical illness as well.

Posted by: Ralph at April 25, 2005 08:39 AM

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