Saturday, 2 May 2015

Therapy Crab-Bucket. 02.05.15

A friend of mine died of cancer two years ago. They tried everything, but nothing worked. They started with the standard therapies -- surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. When it became obvious that it wasn't working, they tried alternative methods: organic diets, vitamin supplements, cleansing, meditation, prayer, you name it. When that didn't work either, they tried some trial therapies that not only still didn't work, but also made her terribly sick. They did everything they could for her, she fought as hard as she could, and still she died on the wrong side of 40.

This is why I want doctors to stop offering chemotherapy and radiation therapy to patients. They didn't do my friend any good, after all. I want nurses to stop encouraging cancer sufferers going through their cure, supporting them emotionally, telling them that people can get better. My friend did not get better. For her, it was nothing but a lie.

I want more. I want the government to stop their prevention campaigns. They didn't help my friend, did they? I want cancer researchers to stop publishing all those stupid, optimistic research articles. They upset me and they are useless to my friend. What is the point in research, anyway? None of the new developments can help my friend now. 

None of this helps my friend. It is useless for her and it is painful for us. So it should all stop.

No, I've not finally lost the plot. I was trying to make a point. My friend did die, but that didn't cause me to lose sight of the fact that medical care, prevention, and research still can help others. I do sometime rail against the fates: Why her? Why couldn't they make her better? I now really know that cancer wrecks the lives of those it touches and all those around them. I know that even those it doesn't kill often find themselves changed beyond their expectations, hurt in body, mind, and/or faith. And because I have seen how awful cancer can be, I want absolutely every scrap of resource to fight it to be available to all of us, so we can fight it as hard as we can. 

It would seem to me insanely selfish to prevent others from benefiting from the care that unfortunately couldn't help my friend. Which is why I absolutely can't get my head around some of the common responses to recovery after acts of violence.

I talk about this more extensively in Chapter 11 of my first book, A Woman's Toolkit for Recovery from Violence and Trauma, out on and, but here is the crux of the matter:
Some fall into a crab bucket mentality – a selfish, short-sighted way of thinking best summarised as ‘Thou shalt not heal.’ Like crabs in a bucket, they claw at individuals trying to escape, pulling them back down. Stalled in their recovery, they undermine other people's recovery efforts. This could be out of jealousy – if they can’t have wellness, then nobody else should have it either – or it could be because other people’s recovery highlights their lack of progress. It could be subconscious or conscious. There are many motivations, but the attitude is the same: ‘if I can't have it, neither can you.’
What terrifies me, and one of the reasons I wanted to write the book, is that this attitude seems to be increasingly normalised. Instead of pointing out its selfishness, short-sightedness, and sheer absurdity, we all too often go along with it. We have become more scared of hurting those we can't help than invested in helping those we can.

Violence against women is an awful, awful thing. So's cancer. Violence leaves dead or broken people behind. So does cancer. Violence wrecks lives, like cancer. And nobody deserves violence, just like nobody deserves cancer. But many people don't treat violence like cancer, like a monster against which to throw every possible resource we have. Rather, they attack all resources that don't work 100% for everyone in every situation. If they tried that sort of attack against cancer cures, they'd be pilloried. 

I know I can't help everybody, and that sucks. But hopefully I can help SOMEbody. Until I can do better, that's good enough for me.

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