I know this will come as a big shock to most of you, but not everything you read on the internet is true. As I begin the long journey of treatment for cancer, I’m discovering again the level of wild tales that out there. “The TRUTH about CANCER,” an article screams. “What doctors don’t want you to know: cancer is a FUNGUS that can be TREATED by BAKING SODA!!!!!” There are miracle cures aplenty out there, but I won’t be giving them a try. No ginger garlic reduction is going to make everything better, and according to my health care providers, some of those miracle cures can actually cause disastrous results.
This is not to say that there aren’t behavioral changes that enhance health. We know what most of those are because they’re the behaviors that encourage health overall. Eating nutrient rich foods that are close to their natural state (less processed foods), moderate exercise, lots of water, keeping a stable weight will benefit us all no matter what our medical condition. I’ll be taking advantage of a consult with a naturopath offered by my cancer consultants to make sure I’m treating my body well as it goes through this long process.
But it’s not just the crazy miracle cures that we need to be careful about. I’ve seen these words repeated over and over again out there in social media land:
What’s broken can be mended. What hurts can be healed. And no matter how dark it gets, the sun is going to rise again.
While I appreciate the optimism and hopefulness of what is expressed, I’m always cautious when making such predictions. My experience tells me that sometimes what’s broken cannot be fixed and there are hurts that don’t ever adequately heal, no matter our intentions and best efforts. To claim healing and mending is always possible opens us to larger senses of loss and failure if we can’t seem to make that happen.
In her poem “Zeroing In” Denise Levertov writes about this.
“We had an old dog,” he told her, “when I was a boy,
a good dog, friendly. But there was an injured spot
on his head, if you happened
just to touch it he’d jump up yelping
and bite you. He bit a young child,
they had to take him down to the vet’s and destroy him.”
I don’t take this as especially pessimistic, nor dismal, but real. Sometimes there is a brokeness that abides in us. It might be a lost love, or the betrayal of a friend, a joint or limb that no longer works as it did and won’t ever get better. It could be an addiction that won’t lose its hold. We all bear scars that ache when we bump them wrong, that seep blood at times. There are circumstances that limit our reach, energies that fail.
What counts for me isn’t that all is mended or that all is healed, but what wisdom grows from the getting-through and the living-with, how those factors and features of our lives help to shape us toward love and grace, how it all can awaken in us understanding and empathy.
This is what I’ll be paying attention to during these next months as we continue to journey together.
Find the whole poem “Zeroing In” here.