Betty Rollin’s response to the diagnosis of her breast cancer was the title of her book: First, You Cry.
For reasons unknown, I still haven’t cried over this, but I came close once.
Only a very few friends knew about my cancer the first week. John and I wanted to tell our son and daughter before telling anyone else. John volunteered for this unhappy task. He decided that a letter as an email attachment would be the best vehicle for bad news–Dan and Diana could read it and react in private before having to talk to us. The email itself warned them to read the attachment somewhere quiet, preferably with their partners nearby for comfort.
When John told me he was about to push the “send” button, tears suddenly welled up and I was headed for a good sob session, feeling miserable that I would be causing my children pain.
Just then the phone rang. Our phones have a usually handy caller ID that audibly announces who’s calling. A telemarketer had an urgent and important message to deliver. My annoyance at and the ludicrous timing of the call snapped me out of my self-pity moment, and I shed no tears that day. Zen masters come in surprising guises.
One of the most important acupoints used in breast diseases, including breast cancer, is a point on the foot called “Zulinqi,” aka “Gall Bladder 41.” “Zu” means “foot”, “lin” means “to overlook or to arrive at”, and “qi” means “tears or to weep (silent tears)”. It’s usually translated as “near tears on the foot”, “foot governor of tears” or (Jeffrey Yuen’s translation) “receptacle of tears that should be overflowing.” Most text books explain this name as a reference to the point’s influence on the tear ducts. One tongue in cheek commentator suggested the point causes patients to cry from pain. The classical Chinese medicine interpretation is slightly different. Yes, Zulinqi does influence tear duct fluids, but, as the opening point of the Dai Mai channel (lots more on this later), it also helps people release pent up emotions. (In defense of this excellent point–it rarely causes pain when needled.)
Brendan has needled Zulinqi on me several times. Not one tear has fallen. Perhaps I’m not ready yet to open up those flood gates.