Tales from the Practice of Medicine: Sickness and Personality (Part I of III)

Yu Ling

PureInsight | February 28, 2005

[PureInsight.org] To most of her family and friends, Martha appears to be a smart, capable, highly-driven, healthy and energetic woman. There is nothing in life that is a challenge to her. Everything in her life has been planned perfectly, down to how many kids she would have. She gave birth to a boy and a girl exactly like she had planned. It was as though God favored her… or at least Martha thought so.

A week ago, Martha was diagnosed with late-term breast cancer. The doctor advised her to immediately have at least one breast completely removed. She had just turned 42.

In the past few years, Martha often came to me for her headaches and stomachaches. At my clinic she feels she can relax and does not need to pretend to be strong. She came to me today because she felt desperate and was about to collapse. Breast cancer was completely beyond her expectation and control. When she entered my clinic today, she looked as if she was going to have a nervous breakdown.

As a medical doctor, I know it is very difficult to die with cancer, but it is more difficult to deal with your life after being diagnosed with cancer. After her surgery, even if the initial treatment is successful, she will have to watch her health for the rest of her life, not knowing whether the cancer might return again.

Martha told me, "As soon as I received the diagnosis, I told my elder sister first because she is the only person in my family who could take the hit. I asked her to break the news to my mother and to tell her to try to calm down for a few days before calling me."

"My mother is Italian. You might have heard that Italians are very vivacious and emotional. My mother is a typical Italian woman. She is very dramatic and comical. A sudden blow like this will bring her to tears. She is going to tell everyone about it and make everyone cry with her."

"My husband is a very nice and kind person. He is very patient with our kids. He has one weakness though - he cannot take any bad news. I have a lot of influence on his moods. When I feel happy, he is ecstatic. When I am sad, he is extremely depressed. Since I told him of my breast cancer, he has become bed-ridden. I have to be the strong one to comfort him and take care of him…"

Martha was completely overcome with sadness. If anyone else in her family were to be diagnosed with cancer, Martha would be most capable of looking after her family and taking care of everything. But now it is Martha, the most capable person in her family, who is ill and weak.

After a moment of contemplation, I asked Martha, "How do you think you got cancer?"

She became very agitated and angry, and said, "The chemicals in our food, polluted water, air pollution, plastic products, antibiotics in the meat products, et cetera. I am a typical victim of the modern science, industrial pollution and unbalanced ecological environment!"

"Oh? What about family genetics? Bad personal habits? Unbalanced life style? We all live in the same environment. How come some get cancer and others don't?"

Martha became silent.

"Martha, I have read an interesting scientific report of a study on cancer patients' psychology. According to the research, the cancer patients share the same personality: They don't easily forgive other people's mistakes; they dwell on the painful memory of their emotional pain or trauma until to the day of their death; they are compelled collectors and are not willing to let go of anything they own…"

Martha widened her eyes in amazement. "I had a big fight with my husband over a misunderstanding between us that took place a very long time ago," she exclaimed.

Although cancer is a physical degeneration of cells, she realized that her personality and her unwillingness to forgive others actually contributed to her physical illness. It is only a matter of time before the illness of a mind turns into the illness of a body.

"Oh my goodness! I don't think chemotherapy will heal a person's mind!" She began to see her own problems.

How do I begin to treat Martha's problems?

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/2/6/25716.html

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