Invisible Illnesses Are For Real

Being confined to a wheelchair it was obvious to those I met that I was not as able-bodied as others. However, people living with chronic pain or illness often don’t look any different from those around them. It is difficult for people to understand the struggle you experience when you don’t look sick or in pain.

My second bout with a rather rare autoimmune disease required that I take heavy doses of prednisone and chemotherapy. This was not an option. The autoimmune disease would have attached my kidneys and lungs and eventually it would have led to death. When I told people I was on chemotherapy the first thing they said was, “What kind of cancer do you have?” Cancer is a scary word, but by no means the only life threatening reason to have chemotherapy.

This is true of many of us. We experience “invisible illness.” What experiences do we share in this invisible universe?

We may experience guilt, embarrassment, and isolation. We may feel it is our fault that we got sick or that our bodies broke down in some way – as if it’s a personal failing on our part. We live in a culture that worships wellness. It’s okay [...] continue the story

We Pray for the Day the Government Will Get Involved

By: Elizabeth Ragui, Kenya

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2004. This experience changed my life. After completing my treatments, I wanted to know more about cancer so I could tell others about prevention, detection and treatment. Although I was not illiterate, I did not know and had not done very much in regard to Self Breast Examination. Therefore, I decided to use my experience to educate the public-especially women-about breast cancer. Within a year, I was trained by Reach to Recovery International (RRI) as a volunteer in breast cancer support. This enhanced my skills and was an eye opener on how much I could do for those affected. I helped them to live a quality life by accepting their new status, overcoming the challenge and regaining self esteem. Breast cancer support was not enough. I wanted to educate the general public about this issue. In a culture where cancer is associated with witchcraft, I set forth to demystify the disease through cancer awareness. It soon occurred to me to address other types of cancer, especially cervical and prostate. Along with other breast cancer survivors, I registered Reach to Recovery Kenya which is affiliated with RRI [...] continue the story

Assumptions and the School of Cancer

Assumptions and the School of Cancer By: MsInterpretation October 11, 2011

As with many living with a chronic, terminal or unresolved health issue, I’ve become a student of my condition. I’ve found, in the course of my schooling, that Assumptions abound.

Diagnosis and the assumption: I felt in pre-school when my doctor said, in gentle tones: “You have DCIS: Ductal carcinoma in situ.” She handed me the lab report, and wrote down a website, instructing: “Only look at this particular information, The rest will just freak you out.” Providing specifics of a website seems responsible, recognizes the power of the internet, and is in keeping with the principles of Participatory Medicine.

I remember none of this. I know it happened, because I have the paper to prove it. What I do remember is that I understood DCIS to be exactly the opposite of what it meant. What I understood from DCIS was, “Cancer’s in my ducts. That’s the same as lymph nodes. That’s bad. In situ. That must mean it’s inoperable. I have to prepare myself for death. And I also need to prepare my family.” I left the office a dead woman.

It was a friend (diagnosed with DCIS more than a decade before) who described [...] continue the story

Talk

An attempt of mutual understanding between a blind girl and a deaf guy. A guy meets a girl at the subway station. She was in trouble, so he helped her. At that moment, the girl feels that there is something oddly familiar about him….