First of all, I want to preface this by saying that I know I am fortunate in coming through my experience of breast cancer as well as I have. I don’t pretend to have “the answer”.
What I can share is how to navigate the chaos and uncertainty with – I hope – a little more sanity and a great deal more health.
During the time of my own struggle with breast cancer I lost two very dear friends, both also colleagues, to the same terrible struggle.
But here’s the thing – and I say this with trepidation, because of course I don’t know if different choices would have created a different outcome for either of them. There is no way to look back and change the variables.
However, I want to share this. I need to.
One of them refused to do any conventional treatment and the other refused to do any holistic treatment. In each case, these powerful, smart, well-educated women, each health professionals themselves, were driven by terrible, crippling fear.
At the last moment each of them tried adding in what they’d vehemently avoided, but it was too late.
That broke my heart.
And this too:
I was excoriated by a few people I love for not immediately doing surgery and chemo, and later, for not doing a complete mastectomy, or having my ovaries removed.
And then, I actually lost some friends, colleagues who stopped supporting me, stopped speaking to me, when I decided that it was time to do chemotherapy. They thought it was “evil” and “wrong” and that I was “going over to the other side”.
My friends, there is no other side. This is about saving lives. It’s about using the best, most skillful means to get optimal results in terms of health, in terms of sanity, and in terms of life and well-being over the long term.
I have always been so careful to encourage clients to explore all their options, and then make the decision with which they are most comfortable. My extremely painful social experience going through breast cancer taught me to be even less judgmental and more supportive of other people’s choices, whatever they are.
Trust me: you do not and can not know what you would do if you were in my shoes. Nor can I know for you.
But whatever it is, I want to help you make the most informed and empowered decision you can make, and to be at peace with that.
Because the hard truth in any of our health decisions, the bottom line – whether we’re talking about whether to get a flu shot or whether to have a mastectomy – is realizing who lives or dies with your choices. Yes, your friends and family are involved, but you are the one who needs most to feel at peace with your choices, whatever they are.
I invite you to join the discussion by leaving your comments, by coming to my class on Monday, and by sharing this with others who may benefit.