Illness narrative is the assignment using at least 3 of the readings from class
how illness can alienate a family member while bringing pur
.pose to another family member.
My 66 year old mother was diagnosed with limited stage small cell lung cancer while I was living the life of a
ski bum in the rocky mountains.
One spring morning my mother and father called to tell me my mother was diagnosed with stage one small cell lung cancer. This news was a call for action from me to research the disease and offer alternative therapies to the doctor prescribed chemotherapy and radiation. Always being skeptical of the medical profession I research therapies that used visualization and imagery. As the daughter, suffering the possible loss of a parent, I adopted john Wayne model described in the article Suffering in a Productive World military scenarios of fight the cancer cells.
After hearing of his diagnosis oliver sachs said “I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. “ This is how I felt after hearing my mother’s diagnosis.
My mother was treated with chemotherapy and radiation. She was tatooed where her porto catheter was to be inserted and also the point where radiation was to enter her body. Carboplatin and etoposide were used as the drugs. she had 2 rounds . She lost her hair and wore scaves and wigs. radiation for 5 days a week for three weeks was given.
The cause of her cancer was simple. She had smoked furiously for 37 years and lived on top of old phosphate mine for 20 years. A neighbor 15 years younger also was given the same diagnosis around the same time. Even though these things she had control over she blamed the summer she spent in a Colorado mining/ski town before her diagnosis in the next spring.
After chemo and radiation she contracted a lung infection and was in the hospital for several days. During that time her granddaughter, my niece called the doctor to ask exactly what was going on being aggressive and assertive. Thinking that doctors should never be questioned and being so embarrassed by this she never spoke to her granddaughter again.
Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air,
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