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Overcomming Breast Cancer

Updated on March 19, 2008

Overcomming Breast Cancer

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the most scary things a woman can learn. We know a great deal about it because information on breast cancer is in just about every woman's magazine, along with awareness articles in papers and a staggering amount on the internet. Yet still it is a gut wrenching moment when you find you are one of the statistics.

There is though life after breast cancer. It does not have to be all doom and gloom, but it might not be life as you knew it! I have the t-shirt "I survived breast cancer" and though my path may not be the right path for you, any survival story gives hope and encouragement, so here is mine.

I felt the painful lump, and rushed off for a mammogram. (Or should that be, I felt the lump, and rushed of for a painful mammogram?) Anyway the diagnosis was that it was probably a cyst. This at least gave me some hope in the time between diagnosis and operation.

It was though a cancer, and small enough that I did not have to loose my breast. The surgeon did remove a Lymph gland as a precaution, something I don't think they now do unless necessary. The surgeon told me he thought that he had removed all the cancer and it should not return. But, yes there is always a "but" as a precaution I should have radiation treatment.

I talked this over with my husband, and we decided that I wasn't prepared to have the treatment. If the surgeon thought he had removed all the cancer, that was good enough for me. I just wanted to get on with my life. We did think though that he would try to talk me, or even bully me into having the radiation treatment. I was very surprised then when the surgeon said, "Well if you don't think it will help, then it won't!" He then went on to explain a little of the power of the mind, and how attitude plays a major part in the recovery process.

Off the hook, not a bit of it. "Even if you don't have the radiation treatment," the surgeon said, "you must still take the Tamoxifen, especially as your family has a history of cancer." I had read a little about this drug, and was horrified to think I would be taking it for the rest of my life! Back to discussions with hubby, (This support is invaluable, so if you don't have this sort of support in your life, get a coach) and a great deal of research. The answer for me was a resounding "No" I would try other ways to keep the cancer at bay.

Not long after I returned home, I caught an infection, and ended back in hospital. It was some form of pneumonia and was finally brought under control with heavy doses of antibiotics. I was very weak and felt worse than I had after the cancer operation. The surgeon cheered me up by explaining that an operation often weakens the immune system, which is why I caught the infection. Now having fought it off, my immune system was in good working order, so I should expect to make a full recovery.

During my convalescence I had time to think about the breast cancer, what had caused it, and how to prevent it happening again. I was and still am convinced that it was caused by stress. The surgeon had told me how long the cancer had been growing, and was surprised that it was not bigger.

The early growth of the cancer related to a very stressful period of my life. During that time I had also suffered from blackouts, which only happen to me when I am extremely stressed. However, once this period had passed, I went through a tranquil phase during which time I believe the cancer remained dormant. The medical profession will argue that I have no proof, but I think in the near future we will come to understand a lot more about how stress affects cancer and our life in general.

At this time I had been married about thirty years, and as I have said my husband was extremely supportive, so we sat down together and discussed ways of making our life stress free. Like most couples with a house and 1.5 children, we had decided to go the full Monty and have 2, and the debt that went with it. We were both working and able to service the debt, but it was always something I worried about, so we made becoming debt free our number one priority.

I also looked at my diet, being a non-smoker was a plus, but I figured I could be eating healthier food. I cut out the biscuits and cakes replacing these with fruit and nuts that I could nibble on between meals. I also increased the variety of vegetables at meal times and the number of times we had red meat. Yes I am a believer; if we were meant to be vegetarian then we would have a different digestive system. If you don't eat meat because you don't like killing animals then you should take a closer look at nature, you should also wonder if plants have feelings. Our diet is too important to have fads.

I love walking, but at this stage in my convalescence, I only had the energy to walk to the mail box, so I started a regime of simple floor exercises such as sit ups, to build up my strength. This became a morning routine that I still follow .and of course walking is one of the best exercises you can do.

In my research towards a healthy life, I read loads of books, one of them, "You can Heal your Life" by Louise Hay, made a big impact on me. I followed through with some of the suggestions and looked at life from a different perspective. I took up meditation and was amazed at how much better it made me feel. I was able to relax and let my cares lift away, while my body healed itself.

Happiness and contentment contribute to our peace of mind. My husband and I decided we weren't really happy with our way of life, so we changed it. We had virtually brought our children up on boats that we lived aboard and cruised, but for the last few years of their schooling we had decided to move ashore to give them the best chance. Now they had both left home, to go traveling of course, not to uni as we had thought, we could also go back to a life we had enjoyed and still hankered after. Being settled didn't suit us so we sold up and bought another yacht and are cruising.

We move on when the mood takes us and money allows, we have a very relaxed attitude towards life and keep our stress levels down. I walk a lot, get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, meditate and enjoy life. Will it keep the cancer at bay? I don't know, but it is now twelve years since my op and I have never felt better.

Breast cancer made me look at life in a different way, and for that I am grateful

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    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Congratulations. I'm also a breast cancer survivor, 11 years this April. My cancer showed up after a very stressful time in my life too. I am sure it played a big part.

      Luckily, I didn't have as hard a time as you did. I also had a lumpectomy, went through chemotherapy and radiation. I don't take Tamoxofen though, the oncologist said that since my cancer was a fast growing one that it wouldn't do any good.

      I have to admit, I don't always eat that healthily, but I do try.

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