This has been a dreary weekend so I spent a lot of time at the computer. Most of the time I spent working on the blogroll. First I added a lot of links, mainly under brain cancer, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer. We are now up to 800 cancer blogs. The page was getting a bit unwieldy so I divided it roughly in half. Cancer Blogs I is for brain cancer to kidney cancer blogs. Cancer Blogs II contain blogs from leukemia to the widows/widowers sections. I also finally separated out the Hodgkin’s disease blogs and the other (non-Hodgkins) lymphomas. The two groups have very different demographics.
Now I need to go back through and update each of the 800 sites. This is going to be a lot of work, one of those labors of love. But I did feel that maybe now it was okay to install a PayPal Donate button to my site. No pressure, no guilt. It’s there is the spirit so moves you.
I also installed some social networking widgets for Google Friend Connect and Networked Blogs. If you wish to join those, that would be cool too. I thought it appropriate to add a Blogging With Integrity badge. A Healthcare Code of Ethics badge should follow shortly.
Chapter 5 begins with cogent if counter-intuitive advice from Schimmel’s physician “Embrace your cancer!” What he means, of course, is a medical version of the “bring it on” school of advice – understand the cancer, envelope it, grapple and conquer it.
What that means to Schimmel is to embrace other ideas and practices that we might once have thought of as weird, foreign, or too “out there”. This seems common for many victims of cancer. As Schimmel says, “Try anything. Something you previously considered crazy, harmful or forbidden might just be exactly what you need now….There are no more long shots. Everything is off the table. Everything and anything is worth the bet. Because I have nothing to lose.”
I pause here to inject my editorial opinion that this approach is best considered when added as a supplemental or complimentary adjunct to the medical treatment plan. Looking for therapies in lieu of accepted medical practices is really gambling with your life.
Schimmel starts with eating a porterhouse steak (he is a vegetarian) moves on to Reiki therapy and then to acupuncture and Transcendental Meditation with a mantra “borrowed” from his mother. Later he tries a visualization technique that succeeds in bringing a sense of control to his fractured world. “I begin to reorder my priorities. I see that all my relationships are shifting and deepening, and I accept that.” An episode of smoking pot leads to panic, to be alleviated by Xanax. But at least he gains weight.
At the close of the chapter Schimmel shares his previous experience with cancer. His son, Derek, died of it. He now describes Derek as an “old soul” – someone with wisdom beyond their years, paid for by the experience of childhood cancer and it treatment. We saw the same phenomenon at work in the recent movie My Sister’s Keeper. (see “Reviews” in the header above).
Chapter 5, Getting Laid, allows Schimmel in familiar comedic territory. Some readers may be turned off by the author’s frankness about sex. But behind this comic bravado lurks feelings of sexual image as tied to a sense of well being familiar to those with cancer, especially those whose disease or treatment meant disfigurement.
Reading Assignment: Chapters 6 – 8 (finish the book)
Discussion Questions: At the end of any cancer memoir, readers come to admire the books subject. In light of recent scandal (Google “Robert Schimmel arrest”), how did this news affect your opinion of the author? Holocaust stories seem to haunt a number of cancer memoirs. How did the Schimmel family history influence Schimmel’s response to cancer? Explore your reactions to Robert’s reuniting will Melissa.