Killer whales and cancer

My Disney Land perception of whale behaviour was shattered last week when Marcelle told me a story about killer whales attacking mother grey whales and their calves. *Sigh* Nature is ruthless . . . Beautiful, but ruthless. In the end it’s about survival. If the mother whale pushes back against the orcas, then the attacking group will retreat. If not . . . hard luck for the baby.

So why am I writing about this? Good question, which I’m ultimately wondering myself – but having promised a discussion on whales, I’ve got to deliver.

Here Mom’s take: Nature is ruthless, and if you want to survive you need to push back; same with cancer, same with any illness. Passivity doesn’t pay. This extends to all corners of life (e.g. trying to negotiate internet fees, getting a refund, etc.). If you want to win, you have to fight.

Thank goodness there is help, because it’s one thing to tell a newly diagnosed patient to ‘fight fight fight’ and it’s another thing to know what that really means. How do you fight cancer – how can you fight something without knowing the cause?

It’s the eternally frustrating question that still haunts my twenty-eight year old, no family history, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and exercises regularly, diagnosis. What am I fighting against?

Initially it’s the problem: fight the cancer. Push back against the tumour – surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy. The surgeons, oncologists, nurses all helped me to fight, and I’m thankful for their expertise.

Next there are the emotions: Fight the saturation. Cancer seeps, it seeps into your life – like a stain on the carpet that’s sunk deep and low. It spreads, it settles, it stains your mind. Fighting means connecting with other survivors, letting family and friends support you, talking about the depression or the fear, finding release when life gets too heavy. Stress is linked to illness, and I’m sick of being sick. I fight back by talking about my feelings, releasing that stress. Thank goodness for my support network, they’ve been incredible.

Okay, and now treatment is nearly over and we’re left with this window of possible reoccurrence, what is there to fight? Fight the cause. I do not know what caused my breast cancer, but nevertheless, changes must be made. From taking supplements, re-examining diet, going home, pursuing writing, chasing dreams, and having fun. Change will be the name of 2011, and hopefully it’ll be a really healthy year.

Screw those killer whales (though they are lovely creatures). I’m pushing back. We’ve got to push back.

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