Our Bodies

I am often whining (with reason) about how my body feels. Fatigue. Bone and joint pain. Nausea. Blah. My latest protocol wipes me out for about two weeks with a layer of yuck.

Tests reflect what cancer is doing inside my body.

But my body is remarkable. So is yours.

25 million new cells are produced every second in your body.

There are between 60,000 to 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your body.

Your brain uses 20% of your oxygen and blood supply.

Around 60% of your body is made of water.

Your nose can detect about 1 trillion smells. Personally, I feel this must be smells combined worldwide. My nose knows it can’t smell all those smells.

Hair grows about 6 inches per year. Less if you receive chemotherapy. I seem behind in catching up.

A heart beats more than 3 billion times in an average lifespan.

Your eyes can take in more information than the largest telescope known to man.

The liver supports more than 500 processes in the body. It metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Our liver also activates enzymes and stores vitamins and minerals. It removes toxins from the body’s blood supply.

The average person takes 23,000 breaths a day.

About 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and reducing stress can all support the gut microbiome and help a person feel healthier.

People tend to be taller in the morning than in the evening because of cartilage compressing the body during the day.

The average kidney is as big as a cellphone and weighs 4-6 ounces. This really isn’t that remarkable. I find it a super interesting fact.

How fast can a human run?  Unbelievably about 28 mph, a record set by Usain Bolt. Average speed is about 8 mph for a man and 6.5 mph for a woman. I am much slower.

Many cancer havers think our bodies suck because of the cancer and all the side effects that come with it and treatment. It’s an accurate description.

However, not only does my body do all these things, but it does them while living with metastatic cancer. For over nine years, it somehow has continued to function. It has functioned incredibly well at times.

Doesn’t that make it even MORE amazing?

I think of the cancer that lives there and doesn’t belong. My body keeps doing what it needs to do.

I think of the poison that has circulated throughout my body in the form of chemotherapy. I’ve kept functioning.

I think of the shingles, fungal pneumonia, blood infections, low white cell counts, and all the other health problems that have been thrown at me and taken me down a notch or two. Somehow, my body rallied thanks to good medicine, divine intervention, and a huge dose of luck. A couple of these situations could have taken another direction, but I am still here.

At some point, immunotherapy may be one more amazing thing that our bodies can harness.

We all come in different shapes and sizes. I don’t know how humans who have smoked heavily for most of their lives survive. The lives of drug addicts are another mystery to me. People who are morbidly obese or have an eating disorder manage to stay alive. Not everyone in these situations does. They are not healthy. And yet, there is hope for them, just as there is hope for me and others with metastatic cancers.

I am not happy with my body a lot of the time. I rely on it and I’m disappointed when it lets me down. Social plans change because I lack energy. I pass days inside not able to do much of anything. I don’t know how sloths do it. Rather than listing every ailment I suffer, suffice it to be enough to say I just feel sick a lot of the time. Tears let loose when I feel both sick and alone.

And yet I have to cling to my belief my body is amazing.

Walt Whitman wrote in The Body Electric about what he admired in many bodies. He was ahead of his time in his ideas of equality in the human form. He turned physical anatomy into poetry. He revered all bodies. Bodies of different genders and races were interconnected. The body was interconnected with the soul.

I don’t know what Whitman would have thought about cancer and its effects on the body. My guess is he would still find the inner destruction eerily beautiful. Maybe not. It’s a tough idea to embrace and I don’t think I can. He would not find it healthy. Not a body to celebrate. He would still connect it to the soul and person’s spirit.

He would still find the body sacred for all it does.