Today I want to tell you the true story of my breast cancer journey and why I chose not to have chemo. I feel like I’ve glossed over it in the past, gift wrapped a box full of lessons and put a nice bow on top and kept the real challenges hidden, even from myself at times.
Here in Australia, cancer is everywhere : in news reports, on billboards and buses and in conversation. Funds are being raised, walks are being sponsored and ribbons are being sold. Everyone seems to know someone who’s been affected by cancer and so it is very much a part of our collective psyche.
As I share my story, I want you to know that I realize other people have had it much worse than me. It’s heart-breaking. But what I’m sharing with you is simply my perspective and part of my story.
Also, I have to say that I am not trying to convince anyone not to have chemo. I have used and continue to use both alternative and conventional medicine, therapies and treatments. This is more a story of searching for answers and developing a better feeling for my inner guidance system and how I became much better at making really big decisions.
Because we all have decisions to make! Hard ones. Small ones. And indecision can drive us crazy and make us sick.
Indecision is not a cool place to hang out at for long.
The thing about making a decision though is that when you make it, you’re cutting off all other options. See how the word itself is related to incision. (My god geeking out over language is fun, right?)
And so naturally this can make us really put off those big decisions as we try to rationalise, research, pro & con it out or simply just numb ourselves and ignore it.
Unconsciously, making no decision is a decision in itself.
Back to the story…
I hung out in indecision for quite some time while that cancerous lump developed.
I was in limbo over where to live – Switzerland or Australia? And I spent my days with this on my mind, alternating between enjoying life (because it was actually a whole lot of fun) and getting upset over things like not being able to work the printer because the instructions were in German and complaining about the weather.
The Buddhist teacher Stephen Levine says, “Hell is wanting to be somewhere different from where you are. Being one place and wanting to be somewhere else. Being constantly agitated – another word for non-accepting – about the inevitable.”
So I had found this lump in my left breast…
It was flat and long, but I remembered the words of a professional who’d done a biopsy on a lump some years before saying that it would be like a pea and detached from the breast plate. This didn’t feel like that so I thought it was probably nothing.
I’d gone back for a 3-week holiday to Australia and had had a biopsy. When the doctor told me that lump was cancerous, I didn’t feel scared. Maybe I felt like ‘Wow this is real life!’ or maybe I was in shock (I don’t think so though) or maybe I’m just good at remaining calm in a crisis (while non-functioning printers got the full extent of my drama). I followed bloggers and instagrammers who had been in this situation and I knew I had the resources to overcome it. Kris Carr was thriving! I already had the positive role-models. It didn’t feel at all like a death sentence.
I was lucky to be in a position where I had choices.
There was also a part of me (a large part) that was happy to be able to extend my trip and stay in Perth in the sunshine with my family and friends (seriously). What I also really loved was that I got to fully focus on my health. I had an excuse not to drink! (If you know Australian culture, you will understand this). Plus, there would be no more social pressure to eat the pavlova! I could kick sugar to the curb! But eat raw desserts! And get a juicer! And just be unapologetically healthy!
So I hung out at the library in the cancer support centre. I overhauled my already-pretty-healthy diet with the help of a naturopath. I meditated. Prayed. Said my affirmations at the beach. Sat, actually sat at the beach and did nothing (after one epiphany when I realised running around to all these classes and appointments for my health was causing me stress). I got energy healing and I even saw a shaman.
That part was great.
The part that was not so great was having to make big decisions under time pressure.
Like, you need to decide tomorrow whether you want to be injected with hormones (the very things that stimulate your type of cancer) to make you produce 20 eggs to harvest so you can have children in the future.
You need to decide whether to have chemo or not.
Actually, that was not presented as a choice.
It was a risk.
But I decided not to anyway.
To find out why I chose this and how I knew it was the right decision, subscribe at the top to receive Part 2 of this post straight to your email.
We’re lucky when we have choices in such situations but it doesn’t make it easy. Sometimes one choice means going with what you feel is right, which is against what everyone else thinks. Or you could choose to do what everyone else seems to want and I have done that in the past . And it made me really unhappy. And angry. Like hell.