Sticks and Stones

Isis, Deanne and Raundi at T-Street

Apparently I feel better than I actually am.  I was scheduled for a root canal yesterday but had to cancel my appointment because my white blood cell count is extremely low.  According to my oncologist the risk of infection is worse than the pain I am experiencing.  That’s easy for her to say. 

That is not the only news I received today.  My hormone levels are low as well.  It seems that I am in a state of menopause. 

Maggie and me at T-Street

The funny thing is I would swear that I am better.  My chemo brain and neuropathy seem to be only a 6 on the Richter scale this week compared to an 8 last week.  I am able to take my full walk around the block.  I am sleeping better.  My appetite is back and no more incontinence.  In fact, just this last week I went boogie boarding at T-Street, saw the new Transformers movie, sat in a Jacuzzi at a pool party, went to a 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and sang my heart out with Daisy Chain at The Pondwater Society event.  I was finally feeling like myself again.  I was feeling like Deanne. 

Artist - Megan Richtman

But, after I heard those words, “Deanne, your white blood cell count and your hormone levels are exceptionally low,” I began to feel low as well.  My chemo brain came back, my feet were tingling and I felt defeated.   

The power of words is amazing.  It reminded me of an experiment conducted by my 8th grade teacher, an oversized intimidating Blessed Virgin Nun with huge boobs.  I was scared to death of her.  Sister Ann Lenore told us about an experiment, where all day long she and her students told a perfectly healthy happy kid that he didn’t look well.  They wanted to see his reaction.  They would stop him in the hall and say things like, “Hey man, did you get enough sleep?  You are looking tired today.’ “Are you OK?  You don’t look so well.”  “What’s wrong dude?  Did you eat some bad sushi, you look a bit pale?  Before the end of the day, the poor kid asked to go to the nurse and finally went home because he didn’t feel well.  No wonder I was afraid of her. 

Words can be used to manipulate thinking and control behavior.  They can tear people down or build them up.   Rudyard Kiplings most famous quote, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”  These words are from a speech he gave in 1923.  His metaphor describes how words can change the way another person thinks and feels similar to how drugs or alcohol changes the way a person thinks and feels.   

So the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is untrue.  As Eric Idle says, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.”

 No wonder I started feeling like crap again when I heard my white blood cell count is low.  Words are powerful stuff, whether they are true or not.  If you perceive it to be true, you feel the same as if it is true.  According to an article in Huffington Post, sscientists have actually discovered that “just hearing someone talk about elderly people led research subjects to walk more slowly.”    

Yes, my white blood cell count is low, but they are just words to me right now.  I actually feel physically great relatively speaking.

So how does one overcome this word problem?

Using positive affirming words!  I recently realized, even after my mastectomy and chemo, I was still telling people I “have” breast cancer.  Not any longer.  For now on I will say I “had” breast cancer.

Instead of saying I “am getting” healthy, I will say I “am” healthy.

I will no longer tell people I “want to be” a writer.  As an alternative, I will say I “am” a writer.

And, no more I “want to be” Joan Jett.  Instead, I “am” Joan Jett.  Ok, maybe that is taking it a bit too far but you get my drift. 

Daisy Chain at Pondwater

3 Responses to “Sticks and Stones”

  1. Mom Says:

    Dear Ms. Jett, you rock!

  2. Angela Says:

    You go, you healthy rockin writer! It’s SO true – those empowering and affirming words from yourself and from those with whom you choose to surround yourself will counteract those deflating ones that slip in. I’m so proud of you Deanne :D

  3. Cathy Says:

    I will call you anything you want, whatever gets you through the day and night, Deanne-Super-Star-Jett-Jagger-Meeks-Brown!… you get my drift :)
    I’m picturing you with white blood cells multiplying like mad, fueled by love from all your friends. (can this happen? I don’t know,.. why not?).
    Love you! You rock!

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