So, I haven't written about the thoughts in my head lately, although I sure have been thinking a lot.
Some women choose to keep their BC diagnosis rather private. I, obviously, did not. I'm quite open about it, partly because it would be difficult for me to hide something so big that's going on in my life, and partly because people's love and support is what's helping me get through this.
However, being so open about it isn't always so great. I got my first negative reaction from someone the other day... when I was downtown, I ran into an acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while. She talked for several minutes about what's new in her life, and I listened quite attentively. Then she asked what's new with me, and I told her I was diagnosed with BC last month. She babbled a few questions without really giving me time to answer, then babbled something about how she hasn't checked her own breasts in a long time, then said "WELL I'VE GOT TO RUN!" and quickly scurried away. And then I just stood there looking at the now-empty spot where she had been standing, and felt my face turn red. It was the first time someone had freaked out and bolted, and I was left feeling like Typhoid Mary.
What has also been difficult is hearing people say, in a nutshell, that BC is either self-caused, and/or should be self-healed. Most of my friends and the people I know are artists and healers, into alternative spirituality, holistic health care, etc... I am, too! But I have heard many variations of the following and just can't take it anymore:
- Don't listen to the doctors. Use this as an opportunity to upgrade your thought patterns.
- Lots of cancers just disappear on their own, you know.
- Maybe you don't really have cancer.
- Cancer is usually caused by anger.
- Cancer is a result of inflammation, and sugar is inflammatory, and didn't you eat a lot of sugar as a child?
- I know someone who had BC and she really thought of it as a gift! She just watched lots of funny movies all the time and laughed her way through it!
- Radiation pokes holes in your aura. Don't do it!
And then there are women's own stories of how they were diagnosed with BC but chose not to have surgery/radiation/chemo and instead looked within to figure out what memories or feelings they were repressing that caused the cancer, and then healed those memories and feelings and thus rid themselves of cancer, or changed their diet or lifestyle or whatever, etc., etc. Sometimes I get these lengthy, unsolicited stories when I am just trying to get from one aisle of the Co op to the next.
I don't want to belittle any woman's journey or story, and if a woman feels that what she is doing works for her, then I am glad for her and wish for her continued health and happiness. But I get angry by the message, sometimes implied and sometimes said outright, that if a person is unable to heal herself from cancer, it is because she is somehow spiritually or psychologically inferior, or not enlightened enough. The implication is that if someone (say, ME) "resorts" to Western medical care, it is because I don't have enough love/trust for myself and my body's self-healing abilities. THAT'S BULLSHIT.
I DID NOT want, ask for, or cause this cancer. I WILL NOT take personal responsibility for its presence in my body. I know that no one is perfect, and we ALL have things in our lives that we could improve upon, but I am the freakin' poster child for the "anti-cancer lifestyle" -
I'm 30 years old.
I have no family history of breast cancer.
I have never had an alcoholic drink in my life.
I have never smoked a single cigarette.
I have never done drugs.
For the first 29 years of my life, I drank no coffee.
For the past 9 years, I have been eating a vegetarian, largely organic diet.
I exercise regularly, yoga and trapeze and walking. My body is strong.
I am a healthy weight.
I use natural bodycare products.
I have a fulfilling spiritual practice.
I have always had a healthy body image/love my body.
I get plenty of rest - usually 8 hours of sleep per night or more.
I don't wear underwire bras, and haven't worn any bra in years.
I have the highest levels of antioxidants out of the several hundred people who have been tested with the biophotonic laser scanner in my dad's chiropractic office.
I have wonderful friends and family, fulfilling relationships that make me happy.
I laugh a lot and enjoy life; I am silly and I play.
I am so healthy that until the biopsy, I had not had a needle in me in about 16 years, other than for dental work.
I can't even remember the last time I threw up, and I've never broken a bone, or been unconscious, or needed a cast or crutches, or had surgery, or had stitches, other than a few on my nose when I was one and fell while learning how to walk.
I say prayers of gratitude at least 80% of my nights for my life, my health, and the love that surrounds me.
I am a good friend to myself and others.
I have been journaling extensively since I was 10 years old, which is a great stress-relief outlet and a way for me to really know myself.
I am an optimist, and think positive thoughts, and use visualization and affirmations.
I take really good care of myself.
No, I am not perfect! Of course I have problems, weaknesses, issues, and ways in which I need to learn and grow - every human on the planet does! But overall, I am super healthy and happy and thriving, and I WAS STILL DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. IT CAN, AND DOES, HAPPEN TO ANYONE. IT'S NOT MY FAULT. BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER IS NO ONE'S FAULT!
Some health-nut, well-adjusted women still get cancer. Some women who eat horrible food and party it up with drugs and alcohol all the time and never exercise and have had a lifetime of emotional trauma NEVER get cancer. So I don't understand why so many people go on and on about how "it's in the mind," or it's related to the way a person lives, and all of that blame-the-victim stuff, because it's not like that. Why not instead take things like THE ENVIRONMENT into account? Can we look at that, please?? The Earth is so polluted. The water, soil, and air are so full of chemicals and toxins. For DECADES, humans have been doing horrible things to the Earth, to the point where the question isn't why do I have cancer, it's why don't we ALL? And what about the fact that I spent the first 23 years of my life on Cape Cod, where the rate of BC is 20% higher than it is in the rest of the state? (No, no one knows why - Boston researchers are studying it). Clearly that has something to do with THE ENVIRONMENT, not Cape Cod women having defective thought patterns or something.
I am having surgery in less than 3 weeks, and then I will be having 6 weeks of radiation to make sure the cancer is good and gone. I will ALSO be continuing to eat well, rest, laugh and play, take vitamins, work with holistic health practitioners, take supplements, drink nourishing herbs, think positive, do yoga, send healing energy into my body, and all of that... because I do believe it is important and that these things work. I trust myself and my body's ability to heal AND I trust my doctors. I don't believe that Western medicine is all that's right and everything else is New Age quackery. I don't believe that the power of love alone heals all and only weak people poison their bodies with Western medicine. I believe that both Western medicine AND alternative treatments will help me, TOGETHER.