What Caused The Breast Cancer & My Radical Remission Healing Plan
For something like cancer, there are so many factors and we don't have a way of figuring out how much each one contributed, yet. Despite the advances in science and technology, the cause of cancer is a mystery. I don't know for certain what caused the breast cancer in my body but I have an idea.
Yes, there is science to back up chemotherapy and other conventional methods to treat cancer. But it takes money to conduct research and what establishments fund research? Pharmaceutical companies.
It takes about 10 years for cancer to be palpable, to be found through biopsies, and scans. We all have cancer cells and the difference between someone who gets diagnosed and someone who doesn't is whether those cells express themselves or not. Stress is one huge factor of cancer; another is environment: pollution from vehicle exhaust, radioactive contamination from nuclear material production, testing and waste leading to contaminated water, air, soil, wildlife.
Stress and environment are the things that we live with but do not see. We can see anger and frustration in someone. We can see the anxiety in someone who is nervous. We can see smoke rising, we can see a layer of grey in the sky. But we don’t truly see all of the effects. We don’t see the contaminated soil. We don’t see the excess amounts of estrogen being re-circulated into our water system from the collective and cumulative use of oral contraceptives.
The idea that the body turns and attacks itself never sat right with me. What does is that there is a foundation of hostile layers in which we are immersed in. But we can only control so much of what is already existing. We have a limited amount of control in our day to day lives but what we can take charge of is our stress levels, what food goes into our bodies, how we think and how we live.
I read a book called Radical Remission by Kelly Turner. She found that there were certain categories that cancer patients who went into remission had in common. I used these 9 categories as a checklist to figure out I would work on:
Radically Changing Your Diet
Taking Control of Your Health
Following Your Intuition
Using Herbs and Supplements
Releasing Suppressed Emotions
Increasing Positive Emotions
Embracing Social Support
Deepening Your Spiritual Connection
Having Strong Reasons for Living
1. Radically Changing Your Diet. It took me 3-4 years to adjust and cope with a different diet, but I've made great progress. I make healthier choices more often, not just out of guilt or the "shoulds". I make them because I’ve changed my palette by giving myself time to get used to it.
2. Taking Control of Your Health. From the get go, I've had no problem taking on the responsibility of my healing but that doesn't mean it was easy. It's not cut and dry to move forward with a plan. The decision-making to handle the cancer was endless. It took a lot of reading and processing doctor's visits and conversations with cancer survivors.
Some of the choices I made weren't received well by friends and family. Over and over, I had to remind myself not to come from a place of fear. I had to work through it and make decisions in spite of it.
3. Following Your Intuition. This is a tricky one because it is hard to avoid basing decisions off of fear and worry. There were many times I moved on to a different therapy too quickly, especially moving on from Chinese herbs. It took about 10 days before I realized that there was real improvement. By then, I had already left home and arrived to the Oasis of Hope hospital in Tijuana, Mexico. As you can see on my timeline and therapies I've tried, the list is pretty long.
Now, I am in a better place with clearer focus. I listen more to my intuition and in doing that, it's getting stronger.
4. Using Herbs and Supplements. I took prescription medication for 13 years without thinking of the consequences. I think it's one of the main reasons for the breast cancer. To detox from excess estrogen, I took a supplement called DIM and have been eating more cruciferous vegetables. At one point during my healing, I was taking enough supplements in one day to fill a pill box made for 1 week. I've made changes periodically, taking ones out and adding others in as I saw fit. Now, in 2018, I've weaned down to a few and have even taken a break for a few weeks.
I think it is a good idea to stop supplements now and again to give the organs a break from processing those capsules, powders and pills.
5. Releasing Suppressed Emotions. Each year for several consecutive years, there was a string of traumatic events. I left my job and had a change of career, one private event I won't mention here, a break-up, a traumatic health crisis (besides the cancer diagnosis), home foreclosure and a broken heart that needed 5 months of psychotherapy. I also moved 5 times within 5 years.
I believe that all of these things and taking birth control pills long-term lead to my cancer diagnosis in 2014. I've revisited these events to process them and gain closure.
As I find connections between negative emotions and old memories, sometimes from my childhood, I allow my emotions to rise and for the pain to be released. I continue to do work to stay in balance through meditation, strengthening my intuition, self-reflection and affirmations.
6. Increasing Positive Emotions. It’s one thing to become self-aware and learn to move forward, but it’s another to stop and find the joy in life. More and more, I take the time to be grateful. It has helped me to get out of my own head by paying attention to the outside world, more specifically to nature and it’s quiet, unparalleled beauty. I take walks in quiet, noticing the small details of trees and plants around me.
I’ve even started a gratitude list for each year, marking things that are larger. And on a day to day basis, I work on a list that includes the small things I may take for forget and take for granted, like my ability to take deep breaths, without any challenges or how I can roll into bed and cozy up on a nice bed to a wonderful book.
Update: On 2/2/2018, I had a big breakthrough through meditation. During a morning routine, I was very present and my usual affirmations had a more powerful effect. Somehow I was able to carry them with me for longer than usual and going into the day and joining the world, even into traffic, I was elevated energetically—even my acupuncturist noticed.
7. Embracing Social Support. My mom is always ready and available to do anything within her capacity to help me. She is my rock, the person I know I could always count on.
At the time of my diagnosis, I had an acquaintance, S. Since then, I have become better friends with him. He's had a big hand in supporting my journey and being there on a regular basis. He took me to most of my appointments, offered to pick up groceries, give me massages and most importantly, he lent an ear when I needed. He listened mostly without offering advice or trying to solve the problem. He understood that sometimes I just needed to vent.
My oldest friend, M, offered to start a GiveForward page to raise funds. I had to take time to think it over. It felt strange to make something private so very public. I decided to let her do it for me and I'm glad I did. There are a lot of generous, loving people in my life.
I've also had experiences with close people who surprised me by how little they kept in touch or came to visit. I came to realize that they just couldn't handle seeing me unwell and that very well means they can't handle other big, important stressful events, so I try and have compassion for them because I know it is not intentional.
8. Deepening Your Spiritual Connection. I was raised as a Buddhist and as I moved into adulthood, I took on more of an atheist outlook.
During my healing, I spent much time reading about the power of words, energy and consciousness. I learned that affirmations are essentially prayer. The time I'm taking to explore the mind and subconscious has been so important and timely. It's utterly fascinating and I feel I am better for it.
9. Having strong reasons for living. I understand that the one of the greatest pains, if not the greatest pain, is for a mother to lose a child. My understanding of this was a big motivation not to break my mom's heart. I also dream of having a baby. I also dream of turning the hardest years of my life into something that could give comfort and help other people find power and meaning within the mess of difficult times.