Rediscovering Saint Agatha and the Amazons within: new self-images for breast cancer survivors. (The Malaise of Gender).Now What Do I Do?
When women are told that they have a malignant tumor malignant tumor
A tumor that invades surrounding tissues, is usually capable of producing metastases, may recur after attempted removal, and is likely to cause death unless adequately treated. that must be removed, their initial reactions may include: not believing what is happening to them; wanting to shout with fear or pain; not being able to stop crying; not wanting to tell anyone; needing to ask other people for help; becoming robots; not being able to think for themselves; and anxiety and confusion. All these reactions are legitimate and natural. Before a change so sudden, everything seems to fade in significance and appear unfair, which produces great insecurity.
What can help you at a time like this?
Every illness is a message that our body sends to us, letting us know that it is fighting to protect us from something or repairing the damage already caused. Our body is an amazing machine imbued with spirit. It is equipped with an extraordinary system that protects it and repairs it. When we fall ill, it demands that we listen so that it can help us to recuperate re·cu·per·ate
To return to health or strength; recover. our health and harmony.
* Do not give in to feeling hopeless or helpless for long.
* You are allowed to feel. Do not swallow or suppress your fear, your desire to cry or other feelings.
* Search for the support you need. It is not a weakness to need help. It is wise to recognize that you need help and to seek it.
* Consider the idea that this illness has a purpose in your life that will be discovered little by little.
* Do not make hasty decisions. In moments of crisis, it is wise to provide yourself with support, peace and space to put your thoughts in order. It is not advisable to make decisions in moments of confusion.
* Live moment by moment, minute by minute, day by day; go step by step.
At this point in your life, it is important to remember that you are not just a body. You have a spirit that lives within and a mind that is integrated with both. These three parts of you are closely integrated and function as one. In this challenging time, you can use the power of them all. Your spirit will help your body with faith, perseverance, love, forgiveness and happiness. Within the human spirit resides the power to heal.
Source: Mildred Quintero, "Cancer del seno: Una oportunidad para vivir de manera diferente" (Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (pwār`tō rē`kō), island (2005 est. pop. 3,917,000), 3,508 sq mi (9,086 sq km), West Indies, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) SE of Miami, Fla. : Taller Salud) 1997.
History and mythology offer us a wealth of images, an unparalleled resource for the living memories of women's collective psyche, which can be recreated and reinvented.
Greek legend tells of women warriors who lived in Cappadocia, a region of Asia Minor Asia Minor, great peninsula, c.250,000 sq mi (647,500 sq km), extreme W Asia, generally coterminous with Asian Turkey, also called Anatolia. It is washed by the Black Sea in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the Aegean Sea in the west. . It was said that they willingly cut off their right breasts to better flex their bows and improve their aim. These victorious fighters wore helmets and armor. They carried heavy bronze bows and shields shaped like half-moons. They were also the first women to ride horses.
The Greeks called these solider-women, these moon-women, Amazons, from a mazos meaning "without breasts." The word "Amazon" came to mean women who are fighters, women who are indomitable in·dom·i·ta·ble
Incapable of being overcome, subdued, or vanquished; unconquerable.
[Late Latin indomit , valiant and liberated.
These warrior-women lived in matriarchal ma·tri·arch
1. A woman who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
2. A woman who dominates a group or an activity.
3. A highly respected woman who is a mother. tribes. They ensured the continuity of their race through sporadic relations with men but raised only their daughters. It is said that they built the temple at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world Noun 1. Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - impressive monuments created in the ancient world that were regarded with awe
Seven Wonders of the World . Other stories tell of the Amazons' battles with the unbeatable Hercules, who hunted them down and almost exterminated them. The Amazons who escaped this terrible massacre hid in the mountains of Albania or scattered to the four corners of the Earth, disappearing into oblivion.
However, there were other Amazons, from Libya. They invaded the lands of Egypt and Saudi Arabia where they founded great cities. By the time they were finally overthrown, these female conquerors had left a matriarchy matriarchy, familial and political rule by women. Many contemporary anthropologists reject the claims of J. J. Bachofen and Lewis Morgan that early societies were matriarchal, although some contemporary feminist theory has suggested that a primitive matriarchy did scattered across Greece, Asia Minor and North Africa.
But these warrior women were not just an invention of legend. Various historical and anthropological references hint at their existence in Asia, Africa and even America, where a sixteenth-century explorer named Orellana found a tribe of women warriors near a river that he later called the Amazon.
Another tribe of "masculine women ... of great bravery ..." were discovered near Venezuela's Orinoco. The Amazons of Dahomey, Africa, gradually dwindled under the influence of French colonization, finally disappearing by the end of the 1880s.
No one knows exactly what happened to the various tribes of Amazon women or whether the stories of self-inflicted mastectomy mastectomy (măstĕk`təmē), surgical removal of breast tissue, usually done as treatment for breast cancer. There are many types of mastectomy. In general, the farther the cancer has spread, the more tissue is taken. are true. But regardless of their final resting place, the Amazons live on in our memories and in our experiences.
Another empowering tale is found in the history of Christianity
Cutting instrument or tool consisting of a pair of opposed metal blades that meet and cut when the handles at their ends are brought together. Modern scissors are of two types: the more usual pivoted blades have a rivet or screw connection between the cutting ends and her body lacerated lacerated /lac·er·at·ed/ (las´er-at?ed) torn; mangled; wounded by a jagged instrument.
Cut or wounded in a jagged manner. with shards of glass.
Her wounds healed overnight, however, and her breasts grew back after Saint Peter appeared to her in a vision. Enraged en·rage
tr.v. en·raged, en·rag·ing, en·rag·es
To put into a rage; infuriate.
[Middle English *enragen, from Old French enrager : en-, causative pref. at this miracle, Quintian ordered that Agatha be burned alive. But as she was being led to the bonfire, a strange earthquake put an end to her execution. Agatha was returned to her prison cell where she died on February 5th.
Agatha became the patron saint and protector of breasts and is consecrated con·se·crate
tr.v. con·se·crat·ed, con·se·crat·ing, con·se·crates
1. To declare or set apart as sacred: consecrate a church.
a. in the Holy Litany of the Saints The Litany of the Saints (Latin, Litania Sanctorum) is a sacred prayer of the Roman Catholic Church. It is a prayer of invocation to God, Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the martyrs and saints upon whom Christianity was founded. . She was the first woman who lost her breasts and experienced a transformation which returned them to her.
Rediscovering Saint Agatha and the Amazons is inevitable during the paradoxical experience of breast cancer. I call this process paradoxical because the unavoidable confrontation with life-threatening cancer sets off the saving potential of resistance--not only of the immune system immune system
Cells, cell products, organs, and structures of the body involved in the detection and destruction of foreign invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. Immunity is based on the system's ability to launch a defense against such invaders. , threatened by the rampant chaos of malignant cells, but of our entire life system, nourished by the unquenchable desire to heal and live.
When we overcome the initial trap of fear, ignorance, anxiety and the passive submission to medical authority, we face an energizing energizing,
adj giving energy to; revitalizing; rejuvenating. and unstoppable challenge. We rediscover the Amazons fighting bravely on an eternal battlefield of endless horizons and limitless frontiers; we see ourselves flexing bows against our breastless chests, each arrow victoriously striking its mark. We find strength in the healing energies of Agatha, transforming the crisis of breast cancer into an opportunity and a challenge.
The Chinese wisely write the word "crisis" with two characters: one means danger; the other, opportunity. In the face of these enriching experiences, a very different panorama unfolds, not only around the cancer, but indeed throughout our lives. Focusing on medical treatment of the cancer, eliminating the malignancy at any cost, is not enough. The cancer and its extirpation ex·tir·pa·tion
The surgical removal of an organ, part of an organ, or diseased tissue.
extir·pate unleash new experiences within the woman, realities that exist simultaneously in a psychobiological body and in the social body. Recovering biopsychosocial health becomes a comprehensive process, an opportunity for growth and transformation, a way for breast cancer survivors to re-appropriate resources from the surrounding environment and within us, a springboard for reconstructing our history.
As women battling breast cancer, we must nurture our spirit, refresh our minds, express our feelings and counsel our loved ones about how they can help us through our transformation by changing themselves as well.
We need to exercise, to fill our bodies with oxygen in order to choke the malignant anaerobic anaerobic /an·aer·o·bic/ (an?ah-ro´bik)
1. lacking molecular oxygen.
2. growing, living, or occurring in the absence of molecular oxygen; pertaining to an anaerobe. cells. We need to relax in a comforting environment, visualizing our reconstruction. Above all, we must adhere to an anti-carcinogenic vegetarian diet, eliminating processed foods filled with harmful additives. We must eat more whole grains and fiber.
It is also essential for us to nourish our enjoyment, pleasure and creativity, to encourage the healing power of laughter and humor. We must accept this challenge of comprehensive, participatory, irrepressible and combative healing, filled with the strength of solidarity, filled with the light of a thousand suns.
In the face of cancer as an expression of the tumor-like action of our chaotic society, women assert Amazon-like strength, re-inventing ourselves and celebrating the recovery of our lives.
The following is adapted from "Retomando a Agueda y a las Amazonas. Reinventandonos tras el cancer de senos," originally published in La Era de Ahora (May 1998). The Puerto Rican author is a clinical psychologist and human rights activist. Since 1988, she has been the head of municipal mental health care services in San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan (IPA: [saŋ hwaŋ]) (from the Spanish San Juan Bautista, "Saint John the Baptist") is the capital and largest municipality on Puerto Rico. . She also collaborates with the Puerto Rican women's health Women's Health Definition
Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues. collective Taller Salud. Iris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991.