thanks for the thoughtful and intelligent post, devil's advocate. This is a great topic, and one every one of us with a diagnosis of chronic illness struggles with.
For me, the acceptance vs. fighting issue can all be boiled down to contemplations on the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Therapists, support groups, well-meaning friends, etc. will insist that you just accept your illness and stop fighting it.
Acceptance is important, but not to be confused with resignation.
Fighting it is not the same thing as denying it. Denial is the worst of all options, because as long as you're lying to yourself about how sick you are, you can't make clear-headed decisions. Take that from me, the voice of experience.
So, as much as acceptance and self-honesty are crucial, courage is also vital, and not to be overlooked. We can put so much emphasis on acceptance that we don't do anything about the part we do have control over- what we eat, how much friendship and happiness and meaning there is on our lives.
Maybe a lifeboat is a good analogy. If you were our in the middle of the sea stranded on a lifeboat, denial would not serve you well. You wouldn't be careful to protect yourself from the sun, or to find food- fish or birds- or preserve what food and water you had on board- or to try to chart a course towards safety, or to keep up morale among your fellow passengers. This is the part you can control. The fact that it happened in the first place is the part you have to accept.
The cancer people are a great resource. So much money and attention is put towards cancer, and much of what they learn can benefit other diseases, especially the mind-body stuff, the emotional stuff, alternative medicine. Some cancer folks have trouble coming up with a good image as well, because they are so kind they don't want to kill anything, even cancer cells. They have to imagine they are just sending them to a better place.
For us, I think it is about achieving balance and peace within our bodies. Really, that is the truth for all diseases, IMO. Restoring health. And there is more in common than from one disease to the next, in terms of what will help.
I searched for 20 years to get some acceptable answers about illness- why it happens, and what can we do about it? And I felt my questions were finally sufficiently answered when i read Never Be Sick Again, and also Eat To Live. Here are 2 men who studied healthy people instead of studying sick people, and asked, why are these populations healthy? Why do certain groups of people never get sick? And it turned out to be very simple: they eat organic food (it's just called food; they pull it out of the ground and eat it), get lots of exercise, sunshine and fresh air, and they have a tight community. There's no pollution. There are no processed foods. Modern conveniences have not reached them. And when the conveniences do reach them, they start getting sick. The American way of life is very unhealthy. So much so that becoming healthy is actually being counter-cultural.
so, getting back to your topic of how is our approach different from those who have cancer... Yes our immune system is the problem. I like to say mine is confused. And that something got into my system that's not supposed to be there, and it's trying to get rid of it. It's like someone under a lot of stress who can't think straight. So I just want to help it calm down, reboot, and re-orient itself.
BTW there is a CD you can buy by Belleruth Naparstek on healing images for people with lupus (and many other CDs for various illnesses).
If you don't mind being looked at a little strange, you can talk to your immune system, and to your food, and to your herbs and drugs, and tell them exactly what you would like them to do for you. I have done this, and I believe it helps. If it only helps because I believe it will help, I'm OK with that.
Also, during times when I've been really ill, I journal every day, sometimes for hours, pondering topics just like these. And I go for walks. And it really helps me sort things out. There is no one book that is going to answer every question that every person with any disease has about their experience.
However, each book can shed a little more light and help you to start asking the right questions so that ultimately, you can find your own answers. The answers you find yourself- those little light bulbs that go off, the "aha!" moments- those are the ones that stick with you. So, for my book, and every book you read on the topic, pay attention to the things that really ring true as well as the things that tick you off. And I encourage you to journal on those topics, or take them for a walk.
Meanwhile, I would love to hear how others visualize things in terms of healing images.