Hope is the physician of each misery – Irish Proverb


image by: CancerAid


When I was diagnosed with cancer on the last day of June, I had no idea of the tidal wave coming my way. I read a lot of biographies and memoirs, and I had read a number of them written by people who had dealt with cancer in their own lives. (I know, he’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad man, but Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike is still a powerful book that details how awful cancer is—how it affects you and your family, and how to soldier through to the other side.)

But, when YOU have cancer, when Cancer with a capital C, has you in its uniquely personal grasp, it doesn’t let go until it’s finished with you. You have to find your own way through diagnosis, treatment, and the world after.

It was obvious to me pretty quickly that when you have Cancer suddenly the control you had in your life is gone. People do things TO you. They take your blood, they take your tissue, they take your picture. A hospital file photo so they know it’s you when you show up for surgery. X-rays. MRIs. In my case, a picture of my breasts before I had my mastectomy.

I suddenly travelled in a pack: an oncologist and her nurse, the surgeon and his two nurses, the plastic surgeon and his nurse and his receptionist. I had my own nurse advocate. An occupational therapist. A radiologist and her nurse (who I didn’t end up needing and only saw once). I felt like I had been flash-mobbed by Cancer. A flash-mob is fun and exciting if it’s how your boyfriend proposes to you. It is not fun and exciting if it’s how Cancer cuts you from the herd.

I was lucky. I had a wonderful support system. Family. Work. Friends. Neighbors. They all rallied around me. Made me food. Sent me cards. Emailed me. Mowed my lawn. But when you are alone in the dark, at night, with Cancer, you have only yourself to rely on. And that is where the apps come in.

If you search “cancer” apps on your phone, you get a weird assortment. Cancer prevention apps. Diagnostic apps. Medical-jargon-your-doctor-will-use translation apps. And a number of horoscope apps. At first this baffled me. Did my horoscope for June tell me I would get cancer? And then it occurred to me that Cancer is a sign of the Zodiac. Ah yes, THAT Cancer. But those were not the apps that helped me. The apps that helped me were already on my phone. There are two of them: Lift and Headspace...

I am lucky. I did not have to have radiation, and I did not have to have chemotherapy. Both of those were huge factors in my ability to get back to actually working out again (I love spinning), and to go back to work (half-time at first). I am to a point now where doctor’s visits and cancer treatment are not the focal point of my day-to-day existence. It was a wonderful feeling the first time I could sit upright in a chair for the entire ten minutes of the Headspace meditation. I have now worked my way back up to fifteen minutes.

Could I have survived cancer without meditation? Certainly. But meditating daily with Headspace helped me deal with cancer emotionally—an arena that was never addressed by any of my care caregivers except my family’s general practitioner. Lift helped me get back to the habits I had been working on before I was diagnosed with Cancer. I needed to follow the doctors’ orders, take my medicines, get plenty of rest. It was necessary to write my own prescription for inner care. As it turns out that there are apps for that.

Source: Annie, Excerpt from There’s an App for That: Cancer in the Modern Age, Better Humans, December 22, 2014.

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Last Updated : Thursday, February 11, 2021