Cancer: Confronting Cancer with Humor (cont.)

Event_Moderator How do people pay for treatment when they don't have insurance?

Wachs_Speaker I think that ... I don't know. But, I don't think that anyone is ever turned down through the county system, but I don't know, unless they turn to their family or community for help. They only get a thin slice of possible treatment, or they do clinical trials, making themselves into human guinea pigs in order to have access to drugs they wouldn't otherwise have access to. That's scary.

Event_Moderator How did you know you had a problem with your lungs?

Wachs_Speaker I had chest pain, headaches, and a rash that none of the doctors could identify. The dermatologist had no idea what it was! I had been compartmentalizing all the symptoms I had for a month or two, until I went to my GP with the list and asked for a blood test and X-ray. As soon as they saw that, within an hour I got a call telling me it was lung cancer that spread to my lymphs.

Event_Moderator Did you go on treatment right away?

Wachs_Speaker I began alternative treatments before I was fully diagnosed by the western community because I felt I had to do something right away. It was a long wait to get approval from my HMO. We decided to do chemotherapy and radiation pretty quickly, me and my doctor.

Event_Moderator What's the difference between an oncologist and hematologist?

Wachs_Speaker I know an oncologist works with cancer patients and I believe a hematologist works with blood, but don't hold me to that!

Event_Moderator What advice can you give to cancer caregivers?

Wachs_Speaker The two things I think are really important are to make sure that they are also being taken care of. Don't put that aside, that's the hardest job, to be the caregiver.

The second thing is to exercise your opinion until the person who is going through the cancer has made their choice about what they're going to do and then fully support them in it even if you don't agree with it, even if they choose to die. They need full support.

Event_Moderator Did you find any resources on the internet for your cancer?

Wachs_Speaker I mostly did a lot of reading of books. I know my husband did a lot of research on the net. I was less interested in the odds. I found myself less interested in other people's stories and even if I had a twin sister with the exact same cancer, hers would be different than mine. I did gather a lot of information from books. I highly recommend Deepak Chopra's "Quantum Healing", that was very effective for me.

Event_Moderator Then did you present all of it to your doctor?

Wachs_Speaker I did two things. Once I looked at everything out there, I meditated on what made the most sense to me, and listened to the suggestions of the doctors. The other thing I did was amassing a team. I connected my doctors with each other and made sure they were in communication with each other so that we all worked as a team with my health.

Event_Moderator How many different doctors did you have in your team?

Wachs_Speaker I had an oncologist, radiologist, and a acupuncturist who also had a western medical degree.

Event_Moderator Did they ever disagree with your treatment?

Wachs_Speaker (laughs) I didn't give them a choice! I know that they were all vying for the credit when things worked and were very ready to blame each other when they didn't!

Event_Moderator Should people have many or one doctor?

Wachs_Speaker I absolutely think that each person should be their own arbiter of that; check in with themselves and whatever feels right for them, they should go with.

Event_Moderator What insurance issues should a cancer patient consider?

Wachs_Speaker I know that my .... I don't know if I could ever get life insurance, but I know I'll be sticking with the insurance I have for at least ten years before I have the opportunity to go elsewhere.

Event_Moderator What can be done to raise public awareness of cancer patients?

Wachs_Speaker I think that if every person who had cancer wrote a letter to their congressman, and there is a tremendously huge population of cancer patients and family members of them, there could be quite a movement! I heard that one out of every four women was going to get some kind of cancer in their lifetime. I don't know why I don't know the male statistics; maybe because I'm a woman!

Event_Moderator Will Humor Heals ever have a website?

Wachs_Speaker We're working on it.

Event_Moderator When do you expect it up?

Wachs_Speaker Some time within the next couple of months.

Event_Moderator How did you feel when you first heard you had cancer? Are there different stages that people go through?

Wachs_Speaker I know that Kubler Ross had the stages of dying. I hadn't noted the stages to the cancer thing. At the same time, a lot of shock, anger and fear ... but I don't know that they're stages we go through. I think everyone feels all of it all along and it's attending to those feelings that they can be released. We're sort of taught to not talk about this stuff. There's a shame around cancer that is just slowly starting to lift up.