Happy October. Let the pink washing begin. From perfumes (filled with harmful chemicals), to t-shirts, to Campbell’s soup and BPA laden water bottles with delicate and beautifully feminine pink ribbons on them. I want nothing to do with it. Fuck your pink ribbons. There are still too many of us dying. It’s not a pretty pink disease. It’s full of scars and disfigurement and destroyed body image, infertility due to the barbaric methods of treatment, isolation, depression, anxiety, indescribable fear. But sure, KFC, slap a fucking pink ribbon on your buckets. Cuz hormone filled fried chicken is really good for breast cancer.
I’ve HAD IT with this place. This is the insane asylum of the universe.
This week has felt incredibly heavy for a number of reasons. I feel like the universe is doing some crazy shit across the board, and I’m just standing here confused and hurt, feeling incredibly alone.
This breast cancer experience has brought some incredible people into my world, and I’m certain I never would have met them if it hadn’t been for my diagnosis. I don’t have the right words to express my gratitude and appreciation for that aspect of this tremendously difficult time in my life. I know that without these women, I would certainly not be able to face the day with the willingness to view this experience as a teacher.
Early on in the diagnostic process, I was led to a friendship that has provided me with hope when I’ve been overcome with doubt, strength when I’ve felt cripplingly weak, and courage when I’ve wanted to run away and hide instead of facing the day’s itinerary. I was at Breathe yoga in Pittsford getting a juice with a friend when one of my instructors who I hadn’t seen in about a month (because I was a little busy trying to pick up the pieces of myself that were shattered by the “You have cancer” phonecall on April 11th) came over to say hi, and asked how my decision making for grad school programs was going. I told her through my tears what was happening in my world, and she offered her sincerest apologies, and told me that she has a cousin who is around my age who has been dealing with breast cancer since she was 21 years old, and offered to connect us. At this point, I had not met another 20-something diagnosed with breast cancer, so I was extremely grateful for her offer. She gave me her email address, and I emailed her that same night. The following day, I received an email from someone I now consider a sister and dear friend. We have both expressed several times (including the first time we heard each others voices on the phone) that it feels like the universe wanted us to meet-there are just too many similarities-aside from the shitty diagnosis of cancer. Our ways of thinking, our views on disease in relation to emotional trauma, spirituality, the fact that we are both black lab lovers and owners… This is an excerpt of the very first email I received from her:
Amy,I am so sorry you are dealing with this! Although it is really refreshing to come across someone else with such a similar mindset about all of it. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. My first go around, at 21, I was scared and my doctors scared me more, and therefore I fell victim to conventional treatment, when I believe it was against my best interest. I think chemo is a crock of shit, it weakens the immune system, the strongest defense our bodies have against cancer, weakens the mind, and weakens the spirit- It is an outdated treatment, and quite barbaric at that. During that time I had sought out all sorts of alternative treatments, I found a holistic doctor, Dr. Mary Wise, who was a Yale graduate and studied with Dr. Andrew Weil, who conveniently was located right in Henrietta. She unfortunately has retired this spring, otherwise i would be recommending you see her!My second go around at age 23, I was pissed. I refused all treatments until I was comfortable and did my homework. I flew to Chicago to see Dr. Keith Block who is in my opinion the most educated, realistic, forward thinking doctor in the country on integrative medicine and cancer- he wrote the book Life over Cancer, and I highly recommend you read it. I also flew to see Dr. Donald Abrams at the Osher Institute in San Francisco who is very forward moving with AIDS and cancer and has done extensive research on the benefits that marijuana has on fighting immune related diseases. I went to the university of Miami and met with one of the doctors who created the test for HER2 to learn more about HER2 + cancer, because initially my cancer was ER/PR + and HER2- and the second time it was triple positive. I wasn’t very keen on a mutating cancer and needed to understand what exactly was happening before accepting any drug treatments like Herceptin. During all of these visits and travel i learned a lot about what cancer is, how it works, and what we can do to fight it. Supplements, exercise, and eating well can only take us so far. Before I was even diagnosed I was a vegetarian for 5 years, I was a 3 sport athlete, and was raised on organic food. It took reading Mind over Medicine to really hone in on what the greatest defense of disease was for me. We are all different- and you nailed it, the one size fits all treatment is bullshit. It comes down to following your gut. Youre the one that has to fight this battle. What feels good, what feels like it is curing you, is. Whether it’s the mushroom complex (I’ve even gone so far to start a shiitake mushroom farm), whether its the yoga or exercise (I run 5+ miles a day, completed my first half and full marathon in the past two years and am 100 percent positive it has helped keep my cancer at bay), whether it’s meditation, or reading, or being around people that make you feel alive- those are the things that are the best medicine. Honestly. I’ve never felt healthier, more alive, more strong than in the past few years since taking my health into my own hands.