Cancer is much talked about from the point of view of medicine – types, drugs, methods of treatment. And almost never discussed how to live with the fear of the disease
The young man was short, gray-skinned and big-eyed, similar to the Little Prince, who grew up and matured in a humanitarian disaster. The similarity was aggravated by a scarf wound around his neck. On the head is a black woolen cap. I wanted to ask her to take it off, but somehow I changed my mind.
The visitor called himself Misha.
“You probably don’t remember me,” he said. – My mother and I came to you in the third grade – I was afraid to go into the room in the evening and go to the toilet.
“Alas, I don’t remember,” I smiled. “Now you probably already know that quite a lot of children at this age are afraid of something.”
– Yes, – Misha nodded. – Then they explained everything to me and showed that there was no one in the room and in the toilet, and you asked if He had children and whether IT loves to dance.
– And what turned out to be? – I became interested.
– No, it was not, because IT was like a ghost, and IT was very worried about it, and it was necessary to at least look at real children, how they play before bedtime, say good night to mother, drink kefirchik, and the children were afraid of HIM …
“You were a very lyrical child,” I said.
“Probably,” Misha grinned. “But I remember, and then this method was used many times with others who were afraid.” It helps some.
“Well,” I decided that younger brothers and sisters or roommates in a summer camp might have been “different,” and didn’t clarify for the time being, because Misha clearly wanted to be stuck in the past. But, most likely, it’s not a ghost of a decade ago. Something scares him in the present. – But what now?
– Now I have no such psychological problems or fears. I just came to you to talk about what interests me. It’s possible?
“You can, of course,” I answered relaxedly. Yes, with all my pleasure! Probably, by age – something about finding your place in life. Or romantic. The boy is obviously not stupid, and the conversation can be interesting.
– I read your story “We are not given to predict” in the internet and for some reason immediately understood that it was you. And he came.
There was no trace of my relaxation in a second. Unlike most of my snob novels, I remembered this one (and the hero’s prototype) very well.
“Nobody wants to talk, and you, most likely, will not, either,” Misha shook his head, mournfully, who had obviously set my mood. – But I thought: what if …
– What do you want to talk about? – Looking into his face, I asked.
– I would like to talk to you about cancer, – the young man smiled at ease.
Cap. The whole look at all. “Other” children who were afraid and helped by my technique in the Mishin performance. Could have guessed it before. Could, but did not want. And my first reaction: “What do they have there, their psychologists, perhaps, no?! Especially for children! I do not know how! There is certainly some specificity in which I do not know! ”
“I am in remission now,” Misha said. – In general, I did not want to talk about myself.
Not about yourself? Poorly. Maybe someone dies from a friend? Of course, they have been treated for years, all friendships and enmities there, in hospitals, in sanatoriums. Imagine yourself a psychologist and wants to help? And at the same time, the transfer, and your fear to work? Why not? Here I, perhaps, can.
– This is insanely interesting and important, I’m sure, but no one wants to talk, you know? – sensitive Misha caught the last note of my thoughts and immediately perked up and cheered up. – Even the doctors, even the one who himself … While inside, in the acute phase, – not before, but as a little bit let go, right away: let’s forget, let’s talk about something else. It’s not like remembering the devil, right?
– Yes, in a sense …
– Even doctors and psychologists: you need to look ahead, make plans, you cannot be fixed on the disease … But I can not pretend that it does not exist! Yes, and I do not want. I’m really interested! Well, tell me: if you had some other disease and you most likely would have to die from it, you would have been interested in everything, right? Not only drugs, but in general – what it is, where it came from, how it used to be, how it is seen, how it is understood …
“On the one hand, you are right,” I said, thinking. – On the other hand, two directly opposite approaches are possible here. One such, research, and the other – repression. The first is not for everyone. When people die from the plague or the person is sick himself, he is not up to the story (exciting, by the way, interesting) of how the black rat carried the plague through medieval Europe. And when I jumped out (even for a while) – I forgot rather, like a bad dream, and plunged into ordinary life.
“But the plague must be studied in order to understand and conquer!”
– Yes. In hospitals, laboratories, at scientific conferences, disputes, at the state level, in the end. And say that at all these levels cancer is not being studied! But at the level of kitchen conversations …
– This is yes, – Misha lowered his head. “Even my parents refuse to talk to me about it.” It turns out as with that ghost from my childhood: look, there is no one there! And you yourself say: so many children are afraid. So, is it still there? And how many people are afraid of cancer! And those who are sick, and those who do not, and those who then die from something else. And cancer certainly exists! So, for sure it makes sense to discuss whether he can dance! You say: forget like a bad dream. But after all, Jung and Freud considered it constructive enough to study terrible dreams … And what do you yourself think about cancer? What is he?
I looked at my hands. As I thought, they were trembling slightly.
“I, like you, are a researcher by nature and after — by education,” I said. – When I was in the oncology department of the hospital. Kosciusko, I am just having fun research. There was simply nothing more to do there, and I generally amuse myself everywhere. I developed a questionnaire. So, without exception, all the people I interviewed there recalled the moment when they expressed a distinct desire to die. And everyone called the reason (the reasons, of course, were different). From this moment until the first symptoms appeared, it took from two to nine months.
– Not a damn yourself! – happily exclaimed Misha. – And you have it somewhere.
– I say this to you first.
– Clear. And with me in the hospital there were three children whose parents … how to say it … wanted to start life anew, or what? It was very visible. And these children were from the past period. Parents looked after them, of course, and worried. But they died, all three. Dying not from cancer, huh? Dying from fear of life or from uselessness? So?
– Misha, how can I …
– And who can? – Misha seems angry. – You are afraid too! You didn’t tell anyone when you were in the hospital! And I was not asked what kind of cancer I have, because you do not want to talk about it!
“Yes, I’m afraid,” I confirmed. – But no researcher gives a subscription not to be afraid. It is simply impossible when it comes to death.
– Yes. Sorry, – Misha immediately calmed down. – But there really is a lot of such interesting things that do not fit into laboratory matters, but it does matter. When I went to my mom’s friends to the cottage, they then burned the slippers I went to. Because they can not wash. But it is indeed known that some types of cancer are somehow associated with viruses, right? Or maybe others just have not found? And who knows how these viruses are transmitted. My grandmother drove to the carp in the Pskov region. She said that I was angry with envy. Like removed. Do you think she really saw something?
– For sure, I don’t know for sure! – I said firmly. – In my quite materialistic sense, cancer is an auto-aggression. And the treatment that reliably, statistically (unlike vorozheek) helps – an attempt to replace it. Type of spelling of teeth, if you really want something from traditional medicine.
– When people talk their teeth – they distract a person from pain by talking, he thinks, speaks, worries about something else, and the pain subsides. When cancer is treated, the body is distracted from auto-aggression, forced to fight something else. Sometimes it works, if you catch in time and the doses of external aggression are correct. The body probably thinks something like: oh, enough, enough already, enough! – and ceases to destroy itself. Here, probably, still depends on the hardness of the first decision from my questionnaire.
– So it is right that the treatment is … rotten?
“Of course, they used to know this very well: the medicine must be bitter.” To hurt and die is bad, to live and be healthy is good. And if the body is going to kill itself, and feed it with sweets …
– We had those who were afraid to recover. Like “how am I going to” …
– I am a student of history. Choose between psychology and history. But in psychology too much chatter after all. If I have time, I will become an ethnographer. If not, then – that I will be in time. Because I am sure that this is necessary. We all need to know and understand how to eat, this is useful. IT can dance, and a lot depends on it. I am now writing a coursebook on all sorts of beliefs, traditions and other everyday things related to cancer. I found something in English literature, but in English I don’t really, to be honest. And we have – quite seams. And nobody wants to talk. Could you help me?
I do not really believe that a conversation about who understands cancer, its origin, treatment, etc., and even in an ethnographic, existential way, will work out. Misha is right; in general, this is still a practically taboo topic. You can talk about treatment, research, charity, a healthy lifestyle as prevention, and government programs. But almost you can not talk about fears and how to live with it. The simplest thing is to pretend that there is nothing. I myself postponed twice to write this text.
Usually at the end of such materials give an account number and collect money for a rare medicine or operation. But Misha and I are collecting material for his term student (a diploma and even a Ph.D. thesis are planned in the future) – so here is an invitation to talk on a most difficult topic.