How a cancer diagnosis can help to raise happy, healthy boys.
Last week, I was diagnosed with stage 2 rectal cancer. The doctors insist that I start radiation and chemo followed by surgery. This did not feel right to my body, so I decided to pursue alternative forms of healing.
When I told people about the diagnosis and my plan to treat the dis-ease, some of them urged me to reconsider. “Think about your sons,” they pleaded.
To me this was ironic, since I have been thinking about my boys all along. The logic behind my well-intentioned friends and family members is to get the radiation and chemo, so that I can live a long life and be there for my sons.
I agree that having a living father seems like huge benefit for children, but in the bigger picture I have no idea what is best for my sons. My father opted in for a second tour of duty in Vietnam because he wanted to be the first Asian American General in the US Army. He never returned from that tour of duty.
Yesterday, my brother and I were talking about this decision. “It seems a bit selfish that Dad chose to pursue his own goals without thinking about us,’ my younger brother, who never met my father in person, queried.
“I don’t know. Maybe he was thinking about us. We’re talking about someone who was imprisoned in the internment camps during World War II as an American-born citizen. Maybe he thought that the only way his sons would be accepted as Americans would be if he sacrificed himself for this country,” I pondered.
In refusing conventional treatment, I am trying to embody something I hope to pass on to my sons. I want them to be able to trust their intuition. I want them to accept life as is and see every moment as an opportunity for growth–to know viscerally that everything happens for a reason.
There must be a reason for the timing and placement of this tumor. I don’t engage in any of the risk factors that predespose one to rectal cancer–smoking, drinking, a high fat/protein rich diet, lack of exercise. This dis-ease must have an emotional or spiritual cause.
Dr. Andrew Weil uses the analogy of cancer being a weed. Western medicine uses poison to kill the weed, while traditional healing practices try to nurture the soil and roots. This resonates with me since in Hawaiian spirituality, they always say, “E nana i ke kumu“–look to the source/root.
Hawaiians believe that conflict in a family or community can cause illness, disease, or death. They use a ritual called ho’oponopono to clear the conflict and heal the afflicted individual. In ho’oponopono all family members are required to sit in a circle and share honestly what conflict they have with the sick person.
When I look to the source, I realize that there must be some “crap” that I am holding onto that I need to let go of. After my diagnosis, I visited a number of my family members and tried to make peace with them. I have no idea if this will heal the tumor, but I do know that it has created an environment that will nurture my sons in the future.
I am focusing all my energy on cleaning the roots and the soil of my life to not only aid my health and longevity, but also purify the ecosystem. Depending on what happens, I may not be around to watch my sons grow up, but I can rest assured that I did everything I could to make the world they live in more peaceful.
Photo: Marshall Hattori