Monday, June 10, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 20

My Health

This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

Today is Day 175 living with cancer; tomorrow is chemo session no. 9.

Some people might wonder what keeps me going? Why I remain so positive in the face of cancer and its treatments, which is not always easy. One can argue, rather persuasively, that the will to survive—our survival mechanism, as dictated by our genes and our will to live—dictates that we fight for survival.

This is of course necessarily true, but it cannot explain how we view our battles with a disease that often can be fatal. One of the things that surprised many people, myself includes, is that  I did not suffer serious defeat when I found out I had cancer. I did not feel pity for myself; I was not even fearful of the outcome. I was rather calm and found myself gathering information and thus trying to gain knowledge of my disease and treatment. for me, the statement, “Knowledge is power” is as valid a statement as there is. Some would like to deny their condition, a reality, but I do not. Ever.

A disease like cancer can rob persons of their individuality, of their autonomy and ability to make choices.Yet, many of the choices are already made: treatments, doctor appointments, chemo schedules, side-effects and what to eat and when to rest.

Much has been made of individuality and a sense of self. With good reason; without a knowledge of self, we are not who we are. The denial of reality is a denial of life itself, a denial of self, if you think about it; to live in a false reality is in away of a nullification of your current existence. I find it hard to understand why anyone would want to view life and life this way.

This reminds me of what I read in Miguel de Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life (Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida)about the sense of identity, its formation and its fine development. Unamuno, a 20th century Spanish existential philosopher, wrote the following account, revealing in itself.
Knowledge, then, is primarily at the service of the instinct of self-preservation, which is indeed, as we have said with Spinoza, its very essence. And thus it may be said that it is the instinct of self-preservation that makes perceptible for us the reality and truth of the world; for it is this instinct that cuts out and separates that which exists for us from the unfathomable and illimitable region of the possible. In effect, that which has existence for us is precisely that which, in one way or another, we need to know in order to exist ourselves; objective existence, as we know it, is a dependence of our own personal existence. And nobody can deny that there may not exist, and perhaps do exist, aspects of reality unknown to us, to-day at any rate, and perhaps unknowable, because they are in no way necessary to us for the preservation of our own actual existence.
Existence and the knowledge to exist co-exist together in the human mind. We know what we need to know in order to find what gives us our desires to live life in accordance to our individual desires and needs. While there exists universals, there also exists particularities to each individual; thus explaining the diversities of humanity.

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