malignant diseases

Our Mortal Body – Malignant Diseases and Ways to Cope

The last article was dedicated to pain and ways to cope with it. The focus was on the chronic pain with some thoughts and reflections on ways to manage such pain using combined treatments, including rehabilitation in sunnier parts of the world. While writing and thinking about the chronic pain, I couldn’t miss the thought of the other type of pain which is affecting another big group of people. I am thinking about the pain caused by malignant diseases (cancer) and the mental and emotional suffering one goes through by being faced with this situation.

Yesterday evening I attended a talk given by my two close in-law family members mother and daughter) who both and, imagine that, at the same time went through cancer diagnosis and cure. It sounds really hard and sad but these two great ladies went through it and, seven year later, are still alive. They shared their experience, the stress they felt, changes of the relationships that occurred, facing their own fears and finally accepting the situation, actually accepting the mortality or finality of the body. Both of them found very good and interesting ways to work through their issues and live on. While the mother is a psychologist who nowadays works with cancer patients, advising them and their families how to cope with cancer, the daughter is a futurist-designer and artist. She kept a diary from the first day she found out about her having the disease and is planning to complete her memoires about those years. They concluded by both saying they appreciated tender, caring human presence and genuine interest in them the most when managing their lives through to recovery.

My other dear friend with a similar experience once told me how great it was for her when her friend-artist kept sending her a little piece of a mosaic (work of art) every day during the therapy, which brightened every new day.

I am deeply touched by such stories and especially by the courage of those who went through the experience with their heads up. It also makes me understand how valuable it is living a nice, good life despite obstacles. How important it is to appreciate those fragments of happiness and joy we share with other people or just enjoy in these moments alone with nature or in our own silence.

I found an interesting introduction to the book This Mortal Coil: the Human Body in History and Culture by Fay Bound Alberti and I want to share it with you. It says:

“For those of us outside of the medical profession, the body is at once the most mundane and most mysterious of entities. We live with ours every day, and yet we understand little about what actually happens within it. As long as we are well, we take it for granted, assuming it will always be that way; as soon as we are ill, we’re on alert, perplexed, alarmed, and even betrayed by this thing that has suddenly become beyond our control.”

Another comment: “Illness is the night-side of life”, Susan Sontag has written,” that foreign country that we all do our best to forget about—until we can’t.”

On 23rd of April we celebrate the book’s day (World Book Day), meaning that in many places there will be talking about books and writing. I will connect the two, the body and the book about it in order to find out more about how people have struggled to get better, and to understand why things went wrong in the first place. Then, I can expect to find out what the rapid expansion of digital technology today is doing to the way we understand our own psychophysiology: are our brains a series of individual motherboards, or are we all networked together, like cloud computing?

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