Thank you, everyone, for your compassion and understanding. It's amazing to discover this, and to feel it so overwhelmingly. I'm lucky to have supportive, kind friends, but you guys truly understand and empathise because you've been through it and you've seen it from the inside. Your words feel like treasures to me.
MTTM, she is indeed one of those who wouldn't consider fractions as she takes "abstain from blood"to be an outright command that shouldn't be disobeyed. I've asked her "aren't you then associating with sinners when fellow JWs do accept fractions?" She tells me it's a matter of conscience. Wouldn't having an affair then be a matter of conscience? Can you have a fraction of an affair?
I also had a conversation with her the other day about principles versus rules. I've always thought that principles are more important because they guide you through your life, whereas direct rules simply can't be applied to every situation. They don't work that way. Life is flexible and bendy and you can't put a straight rule to every situation and expect it to fit. Of course, I know that's not really the issue. She's been conditioned into her thought and behaviour patterns, and she refuses to see any other perspective. It's so frustrating to not even be able to have a proper conversation with her because the knee-jerk JW-conditioned responses fly out of her mouth and she doesn't actually think before she responds.
TT, I'm sorry. I can't imagine how awful it must have been for your mother to battle the disease for five harrowing years, and for you to have to see her suffer through it. And to suffer alongside her, which is heartbreaking enough, but becomes even more so because of this doctrine. It is something I'm very afraid of right now - the expanse of time that might wrap my mother up in this illness, and just keep dragging her through it until she's too weak to fight it anymore.
Baba, I had a read of that thread and it was fascinating. I've been through so many of those things in my mind before. Upon exiting at the age of 15 I still carried a blood card with me. Strangely, it was one of the hardest things for me to let go of. I really don't know why! I think most people (except those with a fetish for blood!) would hope to avoid transfusions if possible. I know I'd much prefer a bloodless alternative if it was available, but obviously if it gets to the point where death is imminent I'd have whatever they'd give me. It's about having the option. And, ironically, it's about precisely what the JW propoganda states - the patient's right to decide for themselves (a good position for them to hide behind). No one else has the right to make that decision. I have no right to decide for my mother, but the GB has no right to decide for her either. She's the only one who can and should decide for herself.
Freewilly, she's signed all the forms, ticked all the boxes. She is of "sound mind." The oncology team is entirely respectful. They have explained her choice back to her so she knows without a doubt that under no circumstances will they administer blood, even if they predict she will die as a result. I respect them for complying with her wishes, as I do really believe the patient has the right to decide. However, if they knew the way in which this choice has ultimately been made on her behalf instead of by the patient herself, I don't think they'd be as calm about it as they are. From the GB voting in Brooklyn as to what "rights" they will allow their followers to have, through to the day-to-day conditioning that the organisation is their only salvation, this decision is her default response, yet it still comes out of her mouth as her choice. It's easy to respect religious freedom in theory, but once you peer behind the scenes and see ugliness bubbling away, it's very hard to maintain that integrity.
I can't thank you enough, everybody, for responding, for being there, and for giving me this sense of understanding that I just can't get anywhere else. It was so good to read your opinions and experiences. I'm very happy to know you're out there. Thank you.