Ken Dixon http://blog.ctnews.com/dixon/Dear Ones:
There are times in life where many of the usual rules no longer apply.
And such is the case when cancer strikes.
C-a-n-c-e-r...this most feared of medical conditions, strikes the entire circle of loved ones of the person affected.
Make no mistake; cancer is very much a family disease, sparing neither the very youngest, nor those rich in age.
It likewise strikes the 'known', as well as the 'unknown', and the 'good', as well as the 'bad'...whatever that happens to mean.
Of course the words I use here are mere human qualifiers, for who can tell who truly is GOOD or not so good, on any given day or at any given time?
Indeed the best that humankind can truly expect to 'agree upon' are judgement calls where truly horrendous actions prevail whereupon most sentient human beings can agree that 'evil is afoot'.
Through the ages, a singular theory has been floated that 'cancer is a punishment reserved for those who need chastening'.
RUBBISH, I say, to that! I do not believe that our Lord allows for such as this, especially in view of the fact that innocent babes contract cancer all the time.
Consider also the concept of a 'cancer personality', meaning that a category of human exists which is particularly vulnerable to developing cancer.
I've studied this theory for a life-time now and can say that if there is anything 'approaching' a bona fide 'cancer personality', it is one where stress rules and medical care neglect reigns in a person's life.
These are qualifiers particularly difficult to discern second-hand, and, so, I am prone to debunk the theory of 'a cancer personality', as I do the concept of cancer being used as 'God's punishment'.
But here are some things I DO know about cancer:
--A person's entire life changes when cancer is diagnosed, as does that of the patient's family.
--Some prefer to share their saga publicly, while others do not. It is a personal choice. Just be aware that once a person's cancer is 'made public', there's no taking it back.
--Once people 'know' of someone's cancer, everyone's reaction will change towards this person, be it family, friends, employers, employees, 'readers', fans and everyone else whose life has been touched by the cancer patient. In some places, even today, a 'cancer diagnosis' is perceived to be a thing of shame. This is borne of ignorance.
--There may be some merit to keeping one's own counsel when it comes to sharing one's cancer diagnosis with the world. Only in this way can a cancer patient avoid the inevitable 'false niceness' that arises when people learn that one has cancer. This 'niceness' can be grievous, indeed, since it is so flagrantly evident and it always seems to arise from the most unexpected of persons.
--Most patients and their families turn to their faith life, or lack thereof, in a fresh way, for better or for worse. Some turn to God for love and support, and other believers 'hate Him'. Atheists and agnostics have no one to blame, except...perhaps... some hapless health care provider. So they will turn their wrath elsewhere unless and until they can accept their diagnosis and lose their anger.
--There will be those who completely 'drop out' of a cancer patient's life, rather than face the prospect of having to deal with cancer 'face-to-face'. Try not to be too hard on those who stay away, for they will know well what they have done or not done.
--People 'there' for the cancer patient in the beginning will 'drop away' over time for any number of reasons. Remember that people have their own troubles and one can never know who, themselves, has cancer or is struggling to live with the cancer diagnosis and treatment of a loved one. You just never know!
--Everything changes when one has cancer, even the little things. Perception of day-to-day matters, for instance, take on greater or lesser importance, dependent upon the severity of the cancer diagnosis and all else related to it.
--Money matters take center stage as medical costs escalate for the family, sometimes bankrupting them completely. It is best not to have overly-high expectations for help if it is not readily apparent that it is available.
--Eventually the patient (and his or her 'advocate' if they are lucky enough to have one) stands alone in the face of the never-ending options presented as part of their cancer care.
--Any and all emotional reactions are influenced by the many drugs (including anaesthesia), treatments, surgeries, radiations, etc a cancer patient is likely to be subject to, so it is good to 'expect the unexpected'. Therapeutic 'steroids' can induce a rage like no other after extended treatment, for instance, as can some of the psychotropic drugs used for anxiety and depression control.
--And finally, at the end of the day, a person with cancer will learn beyond a shadow of a doubt who their 'true friends' are and who really, truly cares about them.
There are many other 'changes' attendant to dealing with cancer and the patient has a choice: he/she can either choose to be alternately dying from/suffering with/living with/fighting against/struggling with/gaining over/beating/triumphing over this dread condition.
The head and the heart determine many a cancer outcome.
Rest assured, your choice of reaction and mind-set (or 'free will' as we believers would say) is about the only thing the cancer patient can truly control to even the slightest degree. It takes time, but eventually a good number of cancer patients figure this out for themselves.
And this brings us to the very public disclosure by 'Blog-O-Rama' Ken Dixon's recent disclosure that he has bladder cancer.
In fact, it is a rather lengthy piece intended to send out a very good lesson, which I will even repeat here: 'If there's blood in your urine-even absent other signs and symptoms-get thee to a doctor immediately'!
Good advice, that. Dixon's syndicated newspaper column also contained an attempt at humor ('bladder ball'?) to be taken with a grain of salt, the overall message being one of a person with cancer 'reaching out' to all in his time of need--a most human response to a devastating diagnosis.
It would be no surprise if Ken picks up where he left off in the blogosphere and/or on Facebook with a detailed blow-by-blow description of the ordeal he is going through, albeit for a much smaller, specialized 'audience' than the one he reaches through newspaper syndication.
Forums and blogs abound on every medical subject under the sun. Such endeavors are educational and cathartic, indeed, and it is always good to share information and inspiration with others, as one can.
But poor Ken has a problem with inspiration, which he reveals as openly as his bladder cancer diagnosis:
"This whole bladder business dates back to mid-February when I finally admitted that those were traces of blood in my urine. That was the only symptom. No pain, just a few drops of blood at the end of a urination.
From there the CAT scan showed some sort of polyp activity on the inside. My first urologist initially played his cards close to his chest, but said that if it was the worst, if it was cancer, I could always pray.
Praying is not a medical option for an atheist."I can understand Dixon's need to dig his heels in and assert his life's paradigm of atheism.
As I said above, "Most patients and their families turn to their faith life, or lack thereof, in a fresh way, for better or for worse".
But I have good news for Ken here. HE need not believe himself, for the prayers of others to be effective for him!
Numerous studies have proven that even those with no faith, for atheists and for the agnostic doubters amongst us, intercessory and substitutionary prayer works!
So Ken's in good hands spiritually, so long as believers do what they should and pray for someone and their family who are suffering.
God grant Ken and his loved ones the strength, fortitude and discernment they need at this time in their struggle with his bladder cancer.
And may God Bless the hands and hearts of health care providers, especially those who pray and who counsel their patients to do like-wise.
Reverend Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"
Ken Dixon's Capitol View appears Sundays in the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers. You may reach him in the Capitol at 860-549-4670 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, he is KenDixonCT. His Facebook address is http://www.facebook.com/kendixonct.hearst. Dixon's Web log, Connecticut Blog-o-rama, can be seen athttp://blog.ctnews.com/dixon/