The C Word – Part 19: C is for Courage


As my liver surgery date creeps closer and closer, I have found myself dealing with new fears and needing to dig a little deeper for my courage. When I was first diagnosed, I focused on just getting through the first surgery – my colon surgery. That was a big job. After I finally recovered from that, I focused on coping with chemo. Six months worth of it. Eleven rounds. Now that’s over (hopefully forever, goddess willing) and I’m faced with a new challenge. I find myself fearing the unknown again. I’ve been so confident of all my hard work to reclaim my health, as well as the work of my care team. I’ve written a narrative for my future wherein I’m completely cancer-free after this surgery. I’m manifesting a future of perfect health for myself. But I know there are no guarantees. And that’s what scares me. All the healthcare workers I’ve come across throughout my cancer journey have been so nurturing and helpful. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without them. That’s why it hurts my heart so deeply to see them being attacked and abused by anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. I’ve had to process a lot of anger I was feeling towards them. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, written by the ancient Greek Hippocrates; the Father of Medicine. For those of you who are not familiar with this text, here is the modern version of it:

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.

Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.

Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter.

May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

Humanity is a story of adaptation. To adapt is to survive, and to survive is to be able to leave a legacy. Sure, there are a LOT of crimes that have been committed against humanity in the name of “survival” and “progress”, but in general, change is inevitable, and our only chance at survival is adaptation and evolution. It takes courage to adapt. The earth is constantly changing and evolving. If we can’t evolve with her, she shall surely leave us behind. She doesn’t need us, but we sure as hell need her. We need to bring the best lessons of the past with us as we move forward. To remember to LEARN from our mistakes. The preservation of culture. I adapted to my cancer-fighting regime. We all adapted pretty quickly to a new reality with a pandemic in it. (Well, not ALL of us.) Being able to be vaccinated to protect us against life-threatening illnesses is part of our evolution as life forms. Polio, smallpox, measles, whooping cough, etc – we don’t have to worry about these diseases anymore because the vaccines effectively wiped them out. Because EVERYONE got the vaccines.

Yes. It’s good to question authority. I do it CONSTANTLY. But I don’t question authority simply for the purpose of questioning authority. I do my research. I try to elect leaders who serve the interests of humanity. I protest things which are inherently wrong. I just don’t understand the reluctance to trust basic science and the institutions which we’ve depended upon all our lives to act in our best interests. Institutions which have kept us well, whole and healthy since birth. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, but I’m grateful to the systems which support and nurture me. Science and magic are part and parcel of the same ideology. Science IS magic. But sometimes we need to take a leap of faith and trust things we don’t understand. Hell, most of the world believes in religions which are chock FULL of tales of “mysteries” and “miracles” and floating spaghetti monsters in space. Why can’t these same people make a much more simple leap of faith when presented with scientific facts which are more real and concrete and tested and TRUE than any of the mythological tales of their religious institutions? Or perhaps we need to simply ASK a scientist to explain it to us so we can begin to more fully grasp and integrate these concepts into our consciousness. Let these new truths mingle with our core truths and beliefs. This is called critical thinking, and it’s necessary for evolution.

I deeply want to live to see a world where we all can co-exist in harmony. I’m not saying we all have to agree, just that we learn to give others space to live their lives in the way we would like to live our own, as long as we’re not harming others. The golden rule. A world where we no longer have to worry about providing for our basic needs or defending ourselves against enemies and can devote our lives to fulfilling our highest potential – whatever that may be for each of us – to benefit mankind and enrich our culture. Why is that so hard? We need to re-learn that basic pre-school skill of COOPERATION if we wish to save our planet for future generations. We should all want to save this beautiful world – so full of magic and delight. I don’t understand people who live their lives with the idea that this is a temporary place and they are promised a paradise beyond this world. This planet – this existence IS paradise. Look around you at the wonder and beauty of it all.  This world is a GIFT. The natural design which keeps everything in balance. The way in which a tree’s branches and roots reflect the delicate lacy patterns of our own circulatory system. The magic of the “Goldilocks zone” where Earth is positioned in precisely the right place in our solar system to benefit from the life-giving star we call The Sun without freezing or burning up. The way our moon causes the tides to flow in and out like the breath of mother Gaia herself. It all depends how you choose to engage with the world around you. I choose to see love, and to be healed and made whole by it. I only wish that more people would choose the same path.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: