Saturday, May 7, 2011


A couple of weeks ago at the Noble Circle project, we were talking about anger and the diagnosis of breast cancer.  It was interesting, several of the participants had reacted to the original (and in my case repeated) diagnosis of cancer without anger.  Instead, we saw it as having a job to do and we needed to get to work.

I can say that I have been angry during my treatment several times.  I was angry with Dr. Bernie Siegal when I read Love, Medicine and Miracles.   In it, he commented that those who got angry with their disease were ones who tended to survive longer.  I had a hard time with this as I wasn't angry. I felt that I was sideswiped by evil, but that there wasn't anything I could do about what was in the past, I just had something I needed to work on at that moment.  I felt that by saying that those who got angry survived , by the opposite, those who didn't died.  I had to take a deep breath with this one.

Bernie was one of my friend's neighbors and I told her to tell him the next time he was jogging by to say I was angry, but that I was angry at him for having written such a thing. 

Anger is a funny thing.  In general, it is considered a negative....and "bad."  However, I think that that is a disservice to human-kind.  Anger is a normal, human feeling and to label it as bad is denying ourselves our humanity.   However, it is what we do with our anger which is the trick.   If we direct it towards others in a raw, destructive manner, yes it is bad.  If we stuff it and allow it to eat at us rather than looking at the causes of our anger and trying to face it and find a solution and an appropriate outlet or diffusion, than that isn't good either. 

Anger can be a motivating factor and if approached rationally it can open dialogue and clear the air.  However, I think far too often we don't approach it in the right way and we lash out...

I have to admit, I have been angry with my family's inability to help me or acknowledge that I have cancer and am unable to do what I normally do because their own fear.  In the past with my husband, I directed this anger inward by eating too much or stuff I shouldn't have....self-destruction is always a bad idea!  But, I do think that if we step away and cool down, analyze it then talk rationally with the source of our anger, if we can, we can go far to finding solutions.

This isn't to say that I feel bad that my daughter doesn't remember a healthy mom.  I do sometimes envy those who are living "normal" lives and haven't had to repeatedly face the financial and other burdens that having had cancer causes.  But then, I look at the many beautiful children who have not been able to live as long as I have and all the young soldiers who have lost their lives or who are suffering from PTSD, or loss of limb and functionality whether it be mental or whatever and I feel fortunate that I am where I am.

Polyanna? Perhaps.  I've always been that way...but I don't think we need anything else to beat ourselves up over....I do think that we need to work hard on trying to have the mental and physical stamina we need to live our lives as best we can...and that includes accepting that we are human  and we get our disease, our doctors and the many injustices in the world..  So..lets go out and see what we can do to rectify some of these things...correct what we can and let go of what we can't.  Seems to me that that's a pretty good way to live our lives however long or short that might be.

The photos is a honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) growing at Mt. St. Johns, the Marianist Environmental Education Center in Dayton, Ohio.  The thorns were sometimes used as nails.  The "honey" comes from the sweet pulp that is in the seed pods.  The Native Americans used to use it as a food source.  


  1. To quote from you above: "correct what we can and let go of what we can't". Are you going to be the only person who will notice whether the garden is graduation perfect - or not? Everyones attention will, or should be, focused on your daughter. So do the things that will count on the day and perfection be damned! Hugs, Dallis

  2. I think being angry is a normal effect when facing cancer. Of course, what is important is being able to overcome that anger and focus on all the good things in life.