I am fortunate in coming through my experience of breast cancer as well as I have. No one has “the answer”, including me.
I do have experience in navigating chaos and uncertainty with a little more sanity, a lot less fear, and a great deal more health.
Let’s talk about fear.
During the time of my own struggle with breast cancer I lost two dear friends, both also colleagues, to the same terrible struggle.
I say this with trepidation, because of course I can’t know if different choices would have created different outcomes 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 any conventional treatment and the other refused any holistic treatment. In each case, these smart, well-educated women, health professionals themselves, were driven by terrible, crippling fear.
At the last moment each tried to add what they’d vehemently avoided, but it was too late.
That broke my heart.
And this too:
I was excoriated by some for not immediately doing surgery and chemo, and later, for not doing a mastectomy, or having my ovaries removed.
And by others who withdrew their support when I decided it was time to do chemotherapy. They thought it was “evil” and “wrong”; 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, life and well-being over the long term.
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 you to make the most informed, empowered decisions you can make, then be at peace.
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 have a mastectomy – is realizing who lives or dies with your choices. Not your doctors, not your friends, but YOU. Your friends and family are affected, but it is you who needs to feel at peace, whatever the consequences.
How to achieve that?
1. Accept that no treatment completely eliminates risk. That’s hard, but true.
2. Realize you are not a statistic. You have significant ability to improve outcome through lifestyle choices:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory, low-sugar diet;
- incorporate both movement and exercise into your routine;
- manage stress;
- address both quality and quantity of sleep;
- reduce toxic burden;
- consider evidence-based use of supplements.
3. Do what you can, and let the rest go. We can’t control everything, and fear and anxiety don’t change that, or if they do, it’s for the worse.
Don’t believe there is “an answer”. Find the best answer for yourself. And then, live your life.
Fran Sussman Holistic Svcs Inc.
Strengthening the Body Mind & Spirit; since 1993
2 thoughts on “Facing Breast Cancer Fear”
I too am a breat cancer survivor. Twice. Nine and a half years apart. I chose to have mastectomies both times and avoided chemo/radiation by catching the cancer early. I could of had lumpectomies/chemo, but then I would of had to contimue with (the anxiety) mamo’s. I wonder if health choices would have prevented the second occurance, but am trying/doing healthier choces now that I am in “remission” ( I was told you are never completely cured.). Thanks for your article!
thanks, Cindi. I honor your choices and wish you peace. Don’t second guess yourself re the past. All I want is for each of us in that situation to look clearly and thoroughly at the options, and be at peace with the choices we make. I don’t recommend mammograms, but MRIs, and I strongly believe there is no reason for them to be so stressful in an ongoing way. As for cure vs remission, it may seem like semantics, but the mindset of vigilance is so stressful and potentially damaging.
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