The statistics are as follows: 95% of childhood leukemias are cured if diagnosed on time. Do you know what most often prevents timely detection of a disease?
Fear. Just fear. Spooky and paralyzing. It is only in Hollywood films that the hero boldly looks death in the eye, says: "I am not afraid of you." And pulls out a samurai sword from its scabbard. And in ordinary life, fear makes you close your eyes and … waste precious time.
The “LIVE” fund for helping seriously ill children is well aware of this treacherous fear. An information project "Stop Leukemia" was launched, dedicated to the dissemination of information about the first symptoms of leukemia for early diagnosis of the disease. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the higher the likelihood of a cure, the cheaper the treatment will be. The sooner the child and his parents will be helped.
“It’s a big problem that our parents turn to pediatricians very late,” says Elena Dubikova, executive director of the ZHIVI Charitable Foundation. - According to the results of a survey that we conducted in 2018 among parents of children who have undergone or are undergoing treatment for leukemia, an accurate diagnosis can be made on average only in the third month of the disease. This happens because every parent is afraid to even think that his child may have cancer. They drive away these thoughts from themselves, they are afraid to go to the doctor. There is no trust in medicine, there is no understanding that a diagnosis is not a sentence. The symptoms of childhood leukemia are not specific. They are similar to the common cold, bronchitis, whatever. Leukemias account for two thirds of all childhood cancers. Not only in Russia, but in the world in general. There are many forms of leukemia.But the most acute is lymphoblastic, and the percentage of its cure now in Russia reaches 95%.
Almost 5,000 children are diagnosed with oncological diseases in Russia every year. What happens with leukemia? At the stage of hematopoiesis, a malfunction occurs, and malignant cells begin to multiply. The production of normal, healthy cells is disrupted. The whole organism begins to suffer from this. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to fight it.
Why are people afraid of the topic of cancer? Well, probably, at least, because we are not in a Hollywood action movie, we are ordinary, living people. This is such an understandable fear that one does not even want to call it the tricky term "carcinophobia".
What is hidden behind this term?
Fear of death, fear of suffering, fear of loss, fear of not coping. And the worst fear is to experience powerlessness in front of all this, the inability to influence the course of things.
For many, he is the most unbearable, since behind him stands … an abyss of shame. It is this impotence and shame that some of the parents cannot withstand when a child is diagnosed. It happens that, having learned the diagnosis, dads leave. And it happens that mothers too.
The most unpleasant thing is that shame is completely unnatural in this situation, it toxicly destroys the soul, burns it to the ground. In theory, it should not exist in this situation at all, it is illogical. It is not even fully realized, it just makes a person run away from his own child, who is in trouble. Such shame in a situation of powerlessness arises in people who very early had to learn to take the situation into their own hands. Who themselves matured early and are used to coping. They grow up to be perfectionists, they want to do everything perfectly. They were shamed if they failed. It is a shame imposed from the outside, ingrained into the psyche so deeply that it controls the actions of a strong person. More precisely, accustomed to considering himself strong. And unable to withstand the collision of powerlessness. Because then he gets into his childish part of the psyche, where he is too vulnerable,where something irreversible happens to him again. And then he runs.
To be or not to be
Is it possible to cross the barrier of fear? No.
One can only agree with fear. This is a normal mental response under stress. You can see him, as psychologists say, look him in the eye. Allow yourself to be weak. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Shiver from terrible thoughts, turn pale and green inwardly, even give up for a while. To admit that I am afraid, I can’t do anything about it, I love it very much, I really appreciate it, I really want to just live a normal life … Admit all my feelings, all my shades of feelings. And call them by name. Speak them out. And exhale, literally exhale each one. Weigh - which feelings are logical, appropriate in a particular situation, and which are the result of false beliefs, anxieties or once imposed shame.
Will the fear pass? Will anxiety and despair go away? No. But when you see them, when you call them and still continue to breathe, then you have the strength to withstand them. And act.
“Until recently, I continued to prepare a school play, rehearsed on Skype, my husband bought something for the stage … The understanding that a completely different life begins does not come immediately. I saw mothers who were really going crazy: at three o'clock in the morning they sang in the toilet, did not understand what date chemotherapy began and when it ended. As a rule, at such a moment there is no one around, who would not have explained what, but at least just listened …”- says Tatyana Demidova, Vadim's mother.
“Blast cells were found in the blood. I had no idea what it was, I rushed to look for information on the Internet. The more I read, the more scary it became, but I drove away the very thought that it had something to do with my son. I called my husband, he tried to calm me down, saying that there was some mistake. But the pediatrician said it was leukemia,”says Yekaterina Spasova, Alyosha's mother.
“Ilya received a blood transfusion at night, and at 11 in the morning, when I was finally allowed to see him, he felt better. The distrust of doctors and the fear that he would be taken away somewhere again remained for a long time. A day later we were transferred to the Morozovskaya Children's Hospital, where the diagnosis was confirmed. For parents who are faced with a disaster for the first time, it seems that leukemia is a death sentence. But the disease has many varieties, in most cases it is treated. During treatment, it is important to thoroughly observe many of the nuances. There was no time to reflect. I accepted the situation and went into battle,”- a quote from an interview with the boy's mother, Ilya Raisa Karamova.
Where to get stability?
According to Elena Belogurova, a practicing psychologist and gestalt therapist, the first problem of cancer patients and their relatives is the lack of information.
“The sequence of actions is unknown, but it’s the uncertainty that scares me,” she says. - One of my clients, who had a sick child 12 years ago, faced such an attitude of doctors: she was immediately told that nothing can be done, so do not hope for anything. And she is a young mother, and her one-year-old child is being sentenced. Relatives all as one got scared and closed. No one gave her any minimal support, no one went anywhere with her, it was very difficult to get at least some information. Around - indifference and doom. She got out of it very hard. Came to me several years ago. Now her child is 14 years old. Then, as she said, the most difficult thing was that the doctors did not give any hope, no information, and there was nothing to say about psychological support.For her, mothers like her, who wanted to save their children at all costs, and did everything for this, became a strong support. Their will to live fed her will to live.
What happens when a cancer diagnosis is reported? The man and his family at this moment face death head-on. But if you accept this fact as a given, then it will become a support. Second, you need to ask for help, you need to turn to family and friends for support, not to close. Another client of mine had a situation when, after being diagnosed with cancer, she did not even tell her husband and children about it. They saw that something was happening to her, but could not understand. They found out only when she was admitted to the hospital.
This is because fear separates loved ones. The one who was diagnosed is in fear. And his relatives are in theirs. Here the main task at the first stage is to unite and be together.
To do this, one must confess to each other that it is scary, very scary. It is unrecognized fear that drives people to magicians, sorcerers and other charlatans who profit from human misfortune. The man who admitted his fear half defeated him. In addition, a lot has changed over the past decade. Today, oncology is successfully treated in many cases.
Here are the pillars to help you withstand and move forward:
- It is important not to go into victim psychology. In such borderline situations between life and death, there is a great temptation to stand on the pedestal of the victim with its secondary benefits, but also a cruel retribution in the form of loneliness and bitterness. In society, we are not helpless. People help, illness is cured, hope saves. And as an existential support, there can be the fact that if the child initially survived, then he will cope later.
- There is a lot of aggression and guilt in this situation. The person begins to wonder why this happened to me? There is a lot of displaced anger towards prosperous people whom the trouble has bypassed. A lot of auto-aggression follows. Thinking what it means is my fault. This process is triggered by hormones of the adrenaline group, which are produced during stress, their task is to make you act. They give rise to aggression. If you act, then this aggression becomes constructive and helpful. If you allow despondency to seize the soul, then adrenaline begins to destroy a person from the inside. Therefore, you need to give the opportunity for your aggression to come out. And act. Knock on all doors, attract relatives, loved ones, friends, social networks, do operations, massages.
- It is important to take care of yourself, seek support, and go to people. Priest, psychologist, friends, everyone with whom you can talk about what is happening. Life goes on, but you need to accept the fact that it has changed. The disease changes life orientations, changes priorities. The threat of death, on the one hand, devalues the simple joys of life, and on the other hand, sharpens feelings. And you begin to see what you did not notice before, and appreciate what you did not appreciate. In a sense, for some, illness becomes a cure for mental blindness. And there are no shameful reactions here. All reactions are natural here.