I am currently living at my mom’s apartment in Los Angeles County, a place where cars are pivotal, and I am injured and can’t drive. Since arriving, Mom has become unable to drive as well. I am about 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles the city where my friends live. I also have an injured foot, so it hurts to walk. I feel increeedibly isolated. I can’t drive, bike, or walk. It’s a “catch 22″… I need to go to the doctor and acupuncturist so I’ll heal and be able to transport myself places, but I can’t transport myself to those places in order to heal.
I had a beautiful day with my Mama today though. She’s been suffering from a mental illness and for the past 10 months I felt like I wasn’t with her. She was here, but she was either depressed or manic and I couldn’t connect with her like I can with my true, sweet, awesome Mama. But today I could!!! And I felt much better.
I started doing physical therapy two days ago. It is the Egoscue Method. I have to do the exercises every single day and each week they will give me new ones. Although I feel isolated, when I am with friends, I often feel like I need to be working on healing. And then when I am here with Mama doing my physical therapy, I feel like I need to be with friends to work on emotional healing.
I think I’m just overwhelmed from being hurt for so long and want to be able to function now. But I have to be patient, diligent with my Egoscue, and remember to talk to and see people, but not get distracted by them. I’m at a point where I’m almost better, but still in pain. I want so badly to return to life again and my spirit is longing for it.
But my body needs to be strong so I can handle working hard again, following my instinct again, being fearless again, and helping others again. This half-me, despite feeling emotionally like I’m desperately ready to be healed, is not yet whole. I just need to find a balance of a place to have alone time for reflection, physical therapy, yoga, and peace, and time where I can connect with loved ones too. On that note, here’s an interesting article about boobies, rats, isolation, girlfriends, and cells. Hope you like it!
A new study on rats shows that isolation can accelerate the growth of breast cancer. That also means that staying connected with others can slow cancer growth.
from Dr. David Servan-Schreiber’s Published Articles on http://www.anticancerbook.com
Nothing is more stressful for human beings than loneliness and rejection from their social group. This is clearly the same for rats. When female rats are separated from their group shortly after birth, and brought up in isolation, they become particularly sensitive to stress. They also develop three times more breast cancers than females who live within a group, and their tumors are larger and more aggressive.
 Researcher Gretchen Hermes from Yale University attributes these results to the physiological effects of stress produced by loneliness. Rats who are isolated produce much more corticosterone, a stress hormone that is related to cortisol. Breast cells have receptors for this hormone, and Hermes is convinced that corticosterone can nourish cancer cells.
We know that in humans, loneliness is a major health risk; even greater than smoking. Isolation is probably a more important risk factor than what we ore generally refer to more generically as “stress.” A few years ago, an Australian study showed that women who had experienced an episode of major stress did not have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer in subsequent years. And women who had no close relationships – whether with a partner or with close friends — were not at greater risk either. But women who had experienced major stress and who had no emotional support in their lives had a 9.5 higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
 In another US study that I’ve already quoted in this blog, nurses who had been treated for breast cancer had four times less risk of dying during the subsequent years if they could count on the support of at least one or two friends. Of note, in this study, whether or not they had a husband had no impact on their survival. Only friends — usually girlfriends — made a difference.
 This new study on the impact of relationships among rats should remind us how important it is to resist helplessness and despair when we’re facing illness. Our bodies actually seem to be able to protect us against many of the damaging effects of the stressful episodes that we inevitably encounter in our lives. But to help this happen, we need to learn how to ask for a little assistance from the people around us — those who are most able to help us out. Above all, we need to avoid isolation and loneliness. When our hearts and bodies feel connected to others they can strengthen our ability to resist disease.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Hermes, G., et al., Social isolation dysregulates endocrine and behavioral stress while increasing malignant burden of spontaneous mammary tumors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2009. 106 (52): p. 22393-22398 2. Price, M.A., et al., The role of psychosocial factors in the development of breast carcinoma: Part II. Life event stressors, social support, defense style, and emotional control and their interactions. Cancer, 2001. 91(4): p. 686-97. 3. Kroenke, C.H., et al., Social networks, social support, and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2006. 24(7): p. 1105-11.
*Note to self: Do you think it’s the fact that the friends are girls that helps or that it’s because women who attract more female friends have different hormones than those who attract male friends? Or no friends? Hmmm….