Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conflicted

I'm having a hard time with the fact that there were two different types of cancer in my 32-year-old body. This means that I now have to be hyper-vigilant about TWO cancers for the rest of my life. I will need to take whatever measures I can to attempt to prevent a recurrence of either one, and I will need to get regular skin checks and breast exams of various modalities, for the rest of my life. I'm feeling overwhelmed by this.

I'm feeling quite discouraged by the fact that I was diagnosed with a second cancer despite having spent the past 2 years adopting an anti-cancer diet and lifestyle. I've been taking lots of anti-cancer supplements, eating lots of anti-cancer foods, avoiding sugar, de-stressing, etc. Now I'm torn between two mindsets - part of me wants to say SCREW IT, it clearly doesn't work anyway, so why bother?, and eat all the damn ice cream sundaes I want. The other part of me thinks, I'm obviously not following the anti-cancer rules ENOUGH and need to do even more - e.g. maybe cut out dairy, be even MORE strict about no sugar, meditate daily, etc. The problem is that following all of the anti-cancer rules to a T is nearly impossible, and trying to do so stresses me out... and paradoxically, it makes things worse. Dr. David Servan-Schrieber made clear in his book, Anti-Cancer, that your immune system is strongest when there is joy and passion in your life and you're "living a life worth living." So if I stressed myself out by trying to follow the anti-cancer diet and lifestyle rules to a T, I'd be missing the point. I need to find a balance, of course.

The thing about melanoma is that it's much more preventable than breast cancer is. It's really interesting that following my treatment for breast cancer, I became obsessed with learning about the environmental links to breast cancer and advocating for the elimination/regulation of toxic chemicals, and then was diagnosed with a second cancer that, as far as I can tell, has very little to do with environmental toxins. Melanoma risk can be drastically reduced by decreasing one's exposure to UV sun rays. That's pretty clear cut... I've already started buying new sunblocks and researching products such as sun protective clothing (50+ SPF) and laundry detergent that makes your clothing more resistant to the sun. I have a bad feeling that I could go overboard with my attempts at preventing melanoma recurrence, to make up for the fact that there's so little I can do (relatively speaking) to prevent the breast cancer from returning. So, friends, please don't let me turn into a sun-phobic vampire, okay?

1 comment:

  1. Please do not turn into a sun-phobic vampire! Just wear your sunblock and don't go tanning. I think you can still enjoy life, and the sun (i know you love the beach), just be reasonable about it!

    i have dreams of cancer recurrence (in my dogs) too! I know too much :(. I have dreams about my old dog getting more cancer in more places and more surgeries... guh. Not the same as you but still...

    So, don't go overboard, just remember to enjoy life! and if you need someone to talk you down from an anxiety attack i'm here :). And i am an anxiety attack professional :-P

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