Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cancer is Not A Blessing

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.


  1. britta, you are so right on with this. cathryn

  2. Omg britta, are you serious? Healing your cancer with laughter? Causing your own cancer by eating sugar? Can i please come slap these people?

    It makes me really really angry that anyone thinks this way. So they're saying that my friend Sheri who died from cancer last year brought it on herself? and should have just done some meditative healing crap and she would have been fine? And should have forgone treatment to protect her aura? SHERI IS FUCKING DEAD. Do you think she wanted to be dead at 34? Do you think she wanted to waste away from an athlete to a skeleton for 6 months beforehand? Do you think she purposely did this to abandon her husband and family? WTF...

    If i ever find out who's said this crap to you, i will punch them in the face. RAR. SO ANGRY!

    Cancer is a fact of life, just like any other illness. Why do you think people had such short life expectancies back in the old days? Now, at least we have the technology to treat people...

    Alternative therapies are great. Eastern medicine is great. But so is western medicine. Sure, lots of western medicine is abused (antibiotics, prescription drugs for everything, etc...) but y'know what? it can't be all bad. People are living longer healthier lives than ever. If it weren't for western medicine, we'd all still be dying of dysentery and TB...

    I think a blend of medicine is the best course, for just about anything. Listen to your doctors- they've studied this way longer than you have. Making sick people better is their way of life.

    By the way, allow me to point out that the co-op and health food stores/alternative therapy places attract a lot of loonies. I overheard this guy at the co-op once telling someone that if they took too much of *insert drug here* their skin would catch on fire. Spontaneous combustion? LOL! Omg...

    Natural therapies and self-healing has it's place, alongside the work of your MD... Listen to wise people who have dedicated their lives to healing others...

    (by the way, i am totally drinking red wine right now, so forgive me for any rambling. But wine has antioxidants, right? LOL.)

  3. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! RIGHT ON SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of us who are survivors have had to deal with people who have NO IDEA what they are talking about and it SUCKS. Thankfully, we have other, more considerate people who love us and know us and cherish us exactly the way we are. None of us asked for cancer. NONE OF US CREATED THE CANCER.

    Western-Eastern treatment is the way to go in my book. The middle way. Honoring both traditions for their excellence. Supporting one with the other. Cytoxan and Barlean's Greens. Taxotere and Nordic Natural Fish Oils. Radiation and meditation. When I asked my close friend Jenny (whom you know, Britta), who has been a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist for over 10 years, what I should do her immediate response was, "Oh, definitely Western medicine." Very wise.

    Yes, there are women who are on death's door despite treatment and then change their lives in one major way or another and heal, but I think those are rare, extraordinary cases. Meg Wolff is one of those women. In her case it was a macrobiotic diet that did it.

    For me, I did Western and Eastern and I feel absolutely peachy-keen great, so there, all you people who told me suppressed anger created the cancer.

    And yeah, I shouldn't eat sugar because it makes our bodies acidic and cancer likes an acidic environment, AND it makes our bodies create insulin, which speeds up cell development, but I like sugar and I am still eating it -- in much more moderation. We have to find a balance. It's never all or nothing.

    Well, I am rambling now. I'll close with these three words I LOVE BRITTA.


    You are a miracle, Britta. Thank you for sharing your honesty with us here. You sound very strong, which I know you are. It takes guts to post what you just did. I say, RIGHT ON!

    I love you,

  4. It seems to me that most of the people telling you that crap have never had to deal with cancer themselves. What a crock.

    This very kind of thinking is why I had a major disconnect with New Age and many Pagan types (while still identifying as Pagan myself at the time); sometimes bad shit just happens, and there is NO reason, and we simply have to do whatever we can to deal with it and get through it. How fucking arrogant and human-centric people are to suggest that our thinking patterns or whatever the term du jour is, affect something like this. Oh sure, it'd be nice if a spell or a chant could cure all, but guess what? They don't.

    Sorry. Rant over.

    You don't mess around with cancer. You deal with it head on and you get results. Anyone who doesn't encourage that can piss off.

    Also? (((HUGS)))

  5. Good morning, And a couple of thoughts. First, to my fellow writers here, an unequivicle Right On! :^)

    Second, in some quantuum physics all of reality is simply the focus of my thoughts in this moment, so if I don't pay attention to them, silly people will disappear. I have been reflecting on the love shared here on your blog and on our love for you. The person who freaked out was obviously manifesting their fear, but also is a part of the path. She was a bit of balance for all the loving, positive support you are surrounded by. The Way is balanced, and sometimes that balance takes the shape of fearfully behaving people.

    Thank goodness you are here to balance out the Way with us. When I think about all the stuff out there I am happy to provide some balance to a strange and interesting world. I also feel compassion for all the earth- bound folks who don't fly. If we could just get everyone on the trapeze it would be so much better. I'm pretty sure I'm right on that ;^)

    Love and Light

    ps. We love you :)