Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Got some book learnin' to do

My first job was in a library as a page. My mom's best friend helped me get the job when I was 15 and the interview with the head librarian was rather grueling for what turned out to be extremely tedious work. Gathering books. Repairing books. Looking for money people would sometimes use as bookmarks in the books. Sorting books. Shelving books. Laying down in the children's section poring over old Judy Blume books.

While I shelved, I would generally read a page or two, and thus developed a habit for skimming and other attention-deficit learning habits that would serve me well in my university days.

One genre I've never really been interested in is self-help. I have a pregnancy guide or two, but generally find most reading in the life coaching section to be preachy and self-centred, overly cutesy and sentimental, or too broad and clinical to be of any use. The best advice I got on baby-farming was from other mothers and it continues to be that way for most other life situations.

For this cancer jazz, though, I've found myself buying books. I have time to read, for one thing, and although I have been introduced to several wonderful doctors and real live women to help me get through the uncertainty of what's next on the treatment front, I'm finding a gap in the "what can I do?" area.

My doctors keep it all very simple. Eat well. Sleep. Relax. Laugh. You didn't do anything to bring this on. Here's the medicine we'll prescribe to make it better. Blame it on my mom, but I don't have 100% stock in doctors and traditional medicine. They're treating symptoms/disease, but not the whole person. So I read about what I can do to make myself better in all the other areas.

What I do know is that although I was not an overweight person before I was diagnosed, I was not a healthy person. Besides the sleep-deprivation, stress and lack of exercise that marked many of my days, I was not eating with 100% consciousness. Not a crime, but if I'm looking for a pre-cancer state of the union address on my body, I need only look to my own choices for speaking notes.

There are a host of books that trumpet the elimination of meat and milk products at the very least and frequent juice fasts and enemas at the very most. There's wheatgrass, omega-3s, acids vs. alkalines, non-dairy calcium sources and regular colonics. There's looking at Japan and the lower rate of breast cancer there. There's seal blubber, wild game, a raw food diet and glass of wine with dinner. It's all coming at me like rocket ships as I delve deeper into the science and pseudo-science of cancer prevention and treatment.

I will continue with the doctor-prescribed treatment. That's a no-brainer. But while the chemo kills all that is bad and good in my body, erasing my womb, my hair, my white blood cells, possibly my fingernails, I need to find a way to fill it all in with good stuff this time. What that will look like for me, I have no idea, but nothing will ever be the same again.

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