Wednesday, December 14, 2005
An Unwanted Journey: Day 0020 - Tumour Board
“The tumour board met last night to review your case. They have concurred with the diagnosis and treatment being recommended. Your name has been forwarded to the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre and you will be registered with them. Either the medical oncologist or the radiation oncologist will call me soon with the date and time for your next consultation. When you meet, the oncologist will discuss the chemoradiotherapy schedule with you and review the reports and images that helped the board make its decision last night. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to call.”
As it turned out, I was digging in my winter clothing trying to retrieve my cell phone and missed the call. I called back right away and discovered that the second set of biopsies was unequivocal. I do have carcinoma, as expected. But I qualify for the treatment protocol recommended by my surgical oncologist and can expect to get started right away with radiation therapy and low-dose chemotherapy to shrink the tumour.
This time I was prepared; in fact, I was downright cheery. Yes, I have a cancerous tumour in the rectum, but we have a good plan in place, an excellent medical team, fantastic medical resources, a loving family, dear friends, supportive acquaintances and colleagues, a good medical leave benefit package, a fitness trainer and a core training fitness program ready to go, and a determination to remain optimistic and enthusiastic about my small part in this fight.
There are so many people helping me right now. Books, movies, web sites, programs – friends and family are making recommendations and getting involved. They’re in my corner and ready to cheer me on. One friend from my college years wrote today to tell me of her fight against a Stage IV cancer diagnosis from several years ago. She is now cancer free. Her message was simple and dramatic - nobody can say for sure what will happen or fail to happen. But when you are surrounded with hope and when you are kind to other people, you can participate in your own healing. In addition, she and her family are praying for me and I know she will be there if I need a word of encouragement.
I will be training both physically and emotionally during the next three months as I prepare for surgery. We worked on the physical training program today at Popeye’s Gym. I’m excited about working out and being monitored closely as to my physical progress.
But how does one train the emotions? Well, apparently it’s not just a matter of willpower, of fighting negative thoughts and ruminations, of trying to be cheerful all the time, or even of avoiding stressful situations and people. You can actually build your enduring level of happiness through a scientifically tested regimen and clinically tested set of practices.
Two days ago, I mentioned Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism. Yesterday, I discovered, purchased and downloaded an e-book edition of one of his more recent books about a movement he has pioneered called Positive Psychology. The book is entitled Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. This book has an interesting equation: H = S + C + V which translates into Happiness (enduring level of happiness) = set range + circumstances of your life + factors under your voluntary control. What this clearly implies is that even though I might not readily change my set range of emotions and can probably do little to change the circumstances in my life, I can modify factors under my control and thereby increase my enduring level of happiness. If happiness heals, then I can train myself in emotional healing.
Now, if we can just get the washing machine fixed ;>)