My mom was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in year 2000. Actually she had felt a lump at her throat for a few years prior to the diagnosis. But the lump was not painful- it was just there. Hence my mom initially thought nothing much of it.
I wanted to write this article after having a friend who also contracted tonsil cancer in her late 20s and she also had to dealt with suppressing a lot of injustices in her life. But she has to toughen on just to survive and feed her family.
The scenario may not apply to all but it can be a working point. When we are unwell, we should allow the doctors try to heal our health but we have to heal the emotions associated with it.
Relationship between tonsil issues and swallowing up ’emotions’ to move on
Reflecting on the enormous endurance she had to go through, the injustice that she had to bear with in order to survive and raise us up, that she had to ‘swallow’ and suppress so much of injustices being hurled at her and defenseless to stand up for herself. This resulted all the suppressed/swallowed injustice bad energy to accumulate at her throat level, gradually weakening the area. Also, the tonsil is one of our defense system to fight off against invading harmful microorganism. When we are helpless to fight off the injustices served to us, it may eventually lead to our internal immune and defense system to break down as well- hence the ironical cancer at the tonsil where the tonsil itself is supposed to defend our body against invading harmful microorganism.
My mom’s difficult working life
When I was 9 years old and my grandaunt passed away, there was no adult to look after us (my dad worked with the press and only back after 1am on the morning).
My mom went and begged one of her superior for regular hours job in order to be able to care for us. Her superior responded by transferring her to Labor room where it is the busiest department (they handle deliveries of babies) and she had to be on shift 24 hours. It was how nasty some people can be those days. Yet, she could not stand up or file a complaint because during those days, the superiors had a lot of power. If you upset them, they could easily arrange to have you transferred to some obscure part of the country (where you need to get in by boat). My mom used to hear stories of people being transferred and an outspoken friend of her actually got transferred after challenging her superiors.
She did the only way she knew how…. to swallow the anger at the injustice and bear with it. To grit her teeth even though the situation was difficult- she had cook before going to work, work, then go to market and buy groceries back and rode on 2 minibuses to reach home.
The consolation was that in that labor department, despite it is the toughest, she made a few true friends whom she remained in contact today.
My mom mentioned she used to cry when she had to go to work at 8pm on night shift and leave both my brother and me at home. But she gritted her teeth and went on, praying for our safety at home.
Then finally when I was 13, she was finally able to get herself transferred to a clinic with working hours. Reason why she could get the opening was because the clinic specialises in treatment of STD (sexually transmitted diseases) which for some reasons then, not many staff were keen to go there.
Her ordeal did not stop there. Basically the clinic was not busy and that probably left the staff there a lot of time to gossip and slack on their work. One of my mom’s job is to assist the doctor- which meant spending a lot of time in the doctor’s room. The doctor then was a young doctor who was a little temperamental. Sometimes the doctor would scold the staff when they slack off and these staff assumed it was my mom who was complaining to the doctor about them. In fact, my mom did not such thing.
I know my mom’s nature- she was never keen on gossip or instigating problems. She was only interested to work and raise us up. Life’s too tough and busy for her to have the energy to gossip and stir up trouble.
But still, the office staff ganged up against her and sabotaged her for more than 6 years, making her life in the clinic miserable. Again, my mother swallowed her emotions and endured it until towards the end of her work tenure in the clinic where through a series of events, the staff realized that my mom was not who they thought she was.
They threw my mom a farewell as my mother opted for early retirement to come out to private sector to earn more money to put me through university.
She then ended working a year in the National Heart Institute but had to stop as age was catching up and she could no longer work on night shifts.
Later she found a job in a private clinic located in a private hospital. My mom was exceptionally good at taking blood- whereby she was able to trace even the tiniest blood vessel and had no problem even though she had to take blood from children. The doctor paid her a reasonably good salary to do nothing much but to take blood. In the clinic, there were 2 ladies who worked in registration and record keeping. Somehow, they are bent to make my mom’s life miserable as they probably felt my mom was being overpaid for the job.
They would isolate her, asked her not to talk to patient/ asked patient not to talk to her, criticized her in her presence. In a small enclosed area, it can be quite hard to bear.
I observed this even in my teens and used to tell my mom- that she either ended up working hard (she always worked in 2nd or 3rd class warded where there never ending patients and shortage of staff) or if it is easy, she had to endured a lot of office politics and bullying.
She worked about 4 years in the clinic and she stopped about 6 months after I came out to work. Actually as a practical person, she never found a ‘concrete’ reason to quit (despite all the bullying she had to endure) but the straw that broke the camel’s back came when the doctor refused to approve her request for leave to go for checkup at the government hospital for her cholesterol. The doctor (her boss) could not understand why she had to go to government hospital when she could have herself checked in the private hospital. Whereas, my mom was thinking for practical reasons, if she had to be cholesterol medication, she had to go to government hospital as she would be covered.
When she went to the hospital for checkup, she bumped into a doctor whom she knew. When the doctor first graduated from medical school and did not know much, my mom used to help her. The doctor was checking her when my mom commented she also felt a lump at her throat. The doctor shone a torch inside her throat and did not like what she saw and did a biopsy.
The test came back that the growth was cancerous. Within a short period, an operation was scheduled to remove the tonsil. This was followed on by 36 doses of radiotherapy.
If there is a correlation, how to manage the situation then?
The above experience sharing is merely my observation which may or may not be applicable in your scenario as emotions affect each one of us differently.
In the case of my mom, the cancer happened just about she was going to fully retire. She did not need to endure more of such bullying. In fact, my nature my mom is actually quite an outspoken (and sometimes fierce) person but she had always behaved like a little low profile mouse at work so not to offend anyone. She was able to ‘be herself’ and no required to suppress her emotions anymore. But she was as she always has been, a spiritually devoted person with kind heart and she continued to pray on daily basis.
In the case of my friend, who is still young and is a working mother, the cancer changed her perspective of things. She told me that in her previous company, her cell phone was always ringing…. she was at office from morning till night, hardly able to see her infant son after she went back to work after her confinement. She was breastfeeding her baby- and she was in the room pumping milk when her boss called her up the office!
She no longer allowed herself to be bullied into working ridiculous hours. Therefore when she had the chance, she joined a new company to ‘start over’. It did not matter how or what people looked at her- having been through being so ill, her priorities are very clear. She wanted to do her best to ensure that she would be around to watch her son grow up. She still did her what she had to do at work- it is not that she gave substandard work but she know the amount of work that she could take on. She tries to get enough of rest each day and do not over strain herself.
Work was a way of earning a living, as financially she needed the money to pay for her living expenses as the earning from her husband is not sufficient.
From the above, if the tonsil illness sufferer is also dealing with certain injustices that she is unable to fight off, the best is to remove herself from the situation. Or change one’s way of dealing with superiors who take advantage of an ‘obedient’ staff.
I have known of a former colleague whom everyone looked for day and night because he knew the in and outs of the system. If things goes well, no one would thank him but if something goes wrong (even though it was not his fault), everyone is first to point the finger at him and expected him to fix the issue. And he did his best, responded to all emails and calls – even though by right, the department need to hire additional staff and not expect him to do equivalent of 3 or 4 person’s work.
Finally due to being overworked, stressed and having to defend at work, his heart gave way and he had to go for an operation. After that, he gotten more firm- the department will definitely need more resource instead of relying all on him.
In the end, we have to evaluate what is most important and sometimes it takes a serious health issue for us to get our priorities loud and clear. We are all replaceable at work…but we would be dearly missed by our family and children if we are gone.
The company still survived when my friend was away for heart operation and when he was recovering in the hospital. We can choose to be exceptional in what we do but firm. If the workplace is unhealthy and we find ourselves being bullied, instead of enduring we need to find a way of overcoming the bullying both in workplace and in life.