Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let a Smile Be Your Chemo?

Recent blogsurfing has confirmed what I've long suspected: when it comes to Multiple Myeloma, I am one Dumb Dora. Everyone else seems to know what all the numbers mean; whether it's good or bad when they go up or down. Me? Nopedy nope nope. Strictly on a need-to-know basis, with the caveat that my brain is rather low-functioning these days.

I found this excellent excerpt at "The Beast," another MM chronicle. It is from a Molly Ivins article:

"Another thing you get as a cancer patient is a lot of football-coach patter. "You can beat this; you can win; you're strong; you're tough; get psyched." I suspect that cancer doesn't give a rat's ass whether you have a positive mental attitude. It just sits in there multiplying away, whether you are admirably stoic or weeping and wailing. The only reason to have a positive mental attitude is that it makes life better. It doesn't cure cancer."
Molly Ivins was a funny, saucy, insightful author and political reporter in Texas. She was the first to apply the nickname "Shrub" to George W. Bush. While she enjoyed skewering the president and congress, her real focus was the Texas state legislature. She died of breast cancer in 2007. Read the whole column here.

It reminded me of my post about this very subject ("What To Say, What Not To Say"). I hate people insinuating that I caused my cancer, and that only my cheerful demeanor can cure it. I don't believe that; I'm counting on actual doctors and treatment to do the trick.

P.S. Molly Ivins doesn't believe cancer made her a better person. I do. But then, she started out a much better person.


Margaret said...

I don't believe that cheerfulness can cure cancer, either, BUT there was a recent (Dec 2007) interesting study on the link between stress and myeloma progression. I wrote about it on my blog last year( In a nutshell, the stress hormone norepinephrine stimulates the production of IL-6 and IL-8 (both involved in myeloma progression), so by inhibiting it we can also (theoretically, at least!) slow down MM progression. Bottom line: avoid stress, but eat, drink and, above all, be merry (just in case...)! :-)

Florence, Italy

La Cootina said...

I have tried to read the post (several times) but I'm still not sure I get it. There was nothing conclusive, right? Lots of phrases like "theoretically could mean" and "The potential to respond."

What burns my cookies about this issue is the inference that those who die of cancer "just didn't try hard enough" to get well. I don't believe that; I think if we could wish ourselves well, no one would ever get sick.

Again, I concede that a positive attitude is helpful in every stage of treatment; it's just not going to cause a cure.