By Fred Shulman – Patient
Hello Brothers and Sisters. My name is Dr. Fred Shulman and like you, I have CLL, the “GOOD CANCER”. When I heard this, almost 2 years ago, I looked at my doctor, stating, “The good cancer? Are you out of your f—ing mind?” He then explained that one rarely dies from CLL, rather, from something else and that I may not even have to go on medication. We’ll just “watch and wait” and see what happens. If and when I do need meds, it won’t be chemo or radiation, rather immunotherapy, without all the horrible side effects and future long-term negative effects…As if diarrhea, high blood pressure and bleeding/bruising were something to look forward to and to be thankful for!?!
Now, being a psychotherapist, with decades of my own therapy and professional experience, I thought about this…but within 24 hours, after the initial shock wore off, I freaked out anyway and have been in and out of “that dark cloud” ever since. Then, after recently being told that my time is here and that I’ll soon be on meds and especially after finding out that the possible costs of these meds could be 100K or more (even after discovering that if my insurance runs out, some other financial assistance is probably)…I started thinking about future living quarters, under some bridge, in a cardboard box or makeshift tent.
Whenever I start losing it, I refer to this wonderful little book which is always by my side, Affirmations for the Advanced Soul, by Susan Hayward. GET IT!!! The instructions are simple. Whenever upset, just flip to any page and the answer/solution to one’s upset will be found. About 3 days ago, I did just that and what came up, to be brief, stated, “It isn’t the weight of the burden we carry that matters, it’s what we do with that burden that matters”. That hit home for me and I’ve been slowly feeling better each day since reading that. Proactivity rocks!
This speaks to the brain’s elasticity and its ability to actually change, once we figure out how to change it. First, we need to calm ourselves. For me, prayer and transcendental medication is what works. TM is the only form of meditation that has been proven to work in lowering blood pressure and in assisting with depression and anxiety. That and Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. I believe that it’s the easiest one to do and you can learn it quickly. Start with, A Guide to Rational Living…..
Stay in touch if you like…..Thanks
Fred Shulman earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor and psychoanalyst. He has been in practice since 1974, specializing in psychoneuroimmunology with an emphasis on cancer and other stress-related autoimmune dis-eases (diseases). He interned and was a staff associate at the Simonton Cancer Center. He received advanced certification from ECAP (Exceptional Cancer Patients). He can be contacted at [email protected]
Originally published in The CLL Tribune Q1 2018.