Yesterday I went to a Naturopathic Doctor who works at the Complementary Medicine center at the Cancer hospital I’m getting treatment at. My mother pushed for it. I didn’t really care, though felt like I should do my due dilligence. My father was not consulted.
There are a few strong memories I have about my father when I was young, especially discussing medicine.
My favorite was when my father was drinking a coca-cola while driving, and in all earnestness I told him not to drink and drive. I really thought that was what all those advertisements were telling me. He thought that was a hoot. I’m smiling writing this.
I also remember asking him what a “shrink” was, and he explained that a psychologist was someone who talked to people about their emotions, that a psychiatrist was someone who went to medical school and proscribed drugs for people, and a psychoanalyst was for people who believed in some out of fashion ideas that someone named Freud believed in. He didn’t tell me what those ideas were, for fear I would kill him and run off w/ mom (LOL); I didn’t hear about them until we read Oedipus Tyrannos in 9th grade and our teacher had to explain to our dumbfounded class of 15 year olds that this Freud guy really did think everyone wanted to off their dad to get their mom. And some other stuff…
Anyway, the real story here is when I asked him what a Naturopath was. Or maybe I asked what a Chiropractor was. Either way, the answer was pretty definitive: A Dentist is someone who did not get into Medical School, a Podiatrist is someone who did not get into Dental Schoool, a Chiropractor is someone who did not get into Podiatry school, and a Naturopath… don’t get me started. It was something like that. So typical of an MD. To be fair, I think my father has mellowed out a little bit about these issues over the past 20 years, but he is still an MD.
So we went to see the Naturopath yesterday morning. His only availability was at 8:30. One of the first things he said was “you look shell shocked.” True, true. He was kind of funny, and personable. He asked me to give him the history of my cancer. Then he told me about his experience with cancer: he was a 32 year old filmmaker and he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His experience beating cancer and dealing with the MD world inspired him to go back and become a Naturopathic Doctor to help people make it through cancer treatment.
He gave me a couple of supplements: some “pro-biotic” that replaces all the good stuff in my digestive tract that the drugs remove, so I can have “good poops” as he said. (grinning.) And he gave me some flower essence drops that supposedly help reduce anxiety.
But what he really gave me were a couple of ideas. Pointing at his head, he said “Its all up here. Either you eat the Cancer or it eats you.” He said several variations of that idea.
What really made it click was when he said “You know, if it makes it easier for you to think about it this way, Interferon isn’t really chemo; it is an immune system stimulant. It works on completely different principles.”
So here we were again, back at the is it or isn’t it chemo. But this time I found that thinking of it as NOT chemo made it something I could digest and move on. I’ve been feeling better since then; emotionally and physically. Maybe it is just that point in the treatment where I have built up enough tolerance for the drug that I can deal. Maybe I am beginning to learn how to eat the cancer.