Finding Breast Cancer
Late August 2018, the 29th to be exact, I found a lump in my right breast. I was lounging on my sons bed and reached up to scratch under my arm and felt something. That was it. To be honest I sort of knew straight away.
If you have followed my extended juice cleanses, I talk about feeling something wasn’t right. I have sensed I had something deep inside that needed to be cleaned out for sometime.
When breast cancer was confirmed I was shocked, yet not surprised if that makes sense. Furthermore I’ll never know if these cleanses had shrunk the size of the tumour, or delayed it forming, but it was here either way.
The biggest hiccup was that we had a long planed overseas trip in two weeks. Reluctantly I took myself of to a GP and, as expected, was referred for ultrasound and mammogram for the following week.
I decided to have thermography reading done first. (Thermography is an adjunct to modern technologies such as mammograms as it has no radiation. Cancer cells are growing and multiplying very fast, blood flow and metabolism are higher in a cancer cells so more heat is release and picked up via thermal imaging. Thermography is not ideal for early detection, more suited for ongoing monitoring). These results came back “low risk” for breast cancer. I wasn’t convinced and I decided to go ahead with the ultrasound.
Tuesday, one week after the finding of ‘the lump’, I lay topless, a theme which would repeat itself over the next week, on a therapists bed. Consequently covered with thick cold gel and having an ultrasound performed.
The mammogram I refused. (Mammograms have a dubious record for false positives and are a source of radiation. Radiation is carcinogenic. There is some opposition against regular use of mammograms and the risk they bring for further cancer growth versus the benefits)
The ultrasound results where suspicious. The classic hallmarks of breast cancer where found i.e. undefined border, taller then it was wider. Next stop was a biopsy. eek
It can be safer to have a lump removed and biopsied outside the body. Primarily this avoids the risk of any cancer cells being spilled from the tumour site and released into the blood (seeding). The reality of having this happen was to find a doctor willing to do so and then organise surgery. Therefore with only days left before we went on our family holiday this wasn’t going to happen. For that reason I agreed to the biopsy.
A dear friend recommended a doctor who had breast biopsies down to a fine art. She was great, I liked her manner and her technique. First of all I was given a local anaesthetic, then a thin, hollow needle was inserted into the tumour and a core of tissue samples removed. The sample was sent away to be analysed.
This doctor did convince me to have the mammogram, as I would *need* to have one if things progress any further. It was Friday by now, 10 days on, things moving fast.
I figured I could have this one mammogram now and refuse further ones done the track if it became an issue. So there I was, though it wasn’t as painful as I had heard… weird and awkward yes. Standing topless in front of a machine while it squeezes your breast into a pancake.
Interestingly the lump could not be found on my mammogram screening. Consequently if the ony screening I had was a mammogram I would have been sent home with a clean bill of health.
The GP rang me on the following Tuesday with biopsy results. She confirmed the tests had come back positive for cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma. I cried. Determinely I told her I was going to Spain in 6 days and would deal with it all when I got back. She offered to booked me in to see the surgeon in two days, Thursday, and asked that at least talk to her. I agreed.
Thursday – My husband and I sat in the room of the surgeon, I was mentally exhausted. Similarly I liked this doctor too, she didn’t bat an eyelid when I told her I was herbalist which I always find a good sign. She explained that the breast cancer lump was 6mm, very small, but fast growing. She wanted me to have it out asap. I wanted to go on holidays.
Removing it now would mean I was statistically going to be completely fine and not need chemo.
Leaving it for another month till I got back meant it may grow significantly, or not.
My original plan had been to go to Spain, use black salve topically, take several cancer fighting herbs internally and live on raw foods. Once I listen to the surgeon, realising the fast pace this thing was growing and acknowledging to myself that finding it so early was a blessing. I decide to honour this blessing and have the damn thing removed.
I wanted it done quickly. I asked her if she could take it out tomorrow, Friday. We where flying out on Monday. She laughed, and said no, but she could do early next week and would get back to me.
All the our plans started to swim around in my head. I am a pragmatic person though and started forming a new plan in my head. I would need to postpone my flight and to keep this as simple as possible my family would stick to our original schedule, flying out Monday. I would catch up with them post surgery.
It all unfolded. Thursday evening just over two weeks since I had found this lump, I get a call from the doctors clinic. Operation to take place on Monday 16th of September, the same day as the family flew out. I needed to go to the hospital asap to fill in the paper work to lock all this in. Which I did.
Someone who had never had surgery, who does her best to honour and nourish their body .. was having surgery to remove a cancerous lump… fawk.
What happened next will stay with me forever. The outpouring of so much love and offerings of practical help from my friends who by now had heard the news. Me, the one who is most often helping others, to the point that it is my profession to help, was now in the position of needing help herself.
I became very present to how blessed I am. I have the most beautiful, caring, kindhearted friends. People who have walked with me for years, some decades. People who have become family in so many ways. Everyone of them reaching out to me, calling me, sending me thoughtful messages and texts. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it, gratitude is powerful mojo.
So Monday arrived, My little family, husband, three kids and mother in law headed to the airport to begin a holiday without me. My parents drove me to the hospital. I was feeling ok about it all by now.
Over the weekend I had gone to see a colleague and ran it all by him. He agreed with going ahead with surgery and using natural health protocols to deal with the aftermath and address the imbalances that caused this all in the first place. My mind kept coming back to what was now a mantra, honour the fact you have found this so early by dealing with it early.
Both of us have been in the industry long enough to have heard the most amazing cancer recovery stories without surgery, chemo, radiation etc. People have chosen to only use natural therapies such as raw food diets, herbs, juicing, black salve, guided mediation etc and won the battle against this ferocious imbalance. We have also heard just as many, if not more, loosing the battle this way.
I have no answer for what is right or wrong for someone in this position and judge no one on the paths they choose to battle this insidious disease state. It is a personal and unique battle for each one of us with many different options available.
I wasn’t impressed with going under a general anaesthetic for the first in my life or for having nuclear medicine injected into my body. Nuclear medicine allows the surgeon to identify the sentinel lymph nodes which the tumour would most likely drain into first. These are removed from the body and to be biopsied to see if cancer cells are found in them.
After surgery the prognosis was all very positive. I could travel but would need to be careful. Pain killers where offered but I prefer not to use them. Pain was there but not excruciatingly. I prefer to feel pain and discomfort so I can use it to determine what I can and cant do.
Statistically I will be fine. This doesn’t address the elephant in the room though. Why did my seemly healthy body get this far out of whack to allow renegade cells to take hold.
Like a detective out to solve a case I will be looking for clues to bring balance and healing to my body. I don’t except statistics as an excuse to do nothing. I see this little friend of mine now gone to tumour heaven as a wake up call.
Full functioning health and vitality involves many areas emotional, spiritual, physical, mental and for me this little tumour is a call to go on a journey deeper into my own health.
The response of many has been “But your so healthy” “You are like one of the healthiest people I know” “How did You get cancer”
Next week part 2 “How did you get cancer? Your so healthy”
Løberg M, Lousdal ML, Bretthauer M, Kalager M. Benefits and harms of mammography screening. Breast Cancer Research : BCR. 2015;17(1):63. doi:10.1186/s13058-015-0525-z.
Lee SH, Kim Y-S, Han W, et al. Tumor growth rate of invasive breast cancers during wait times for surgery assessed by ultrasonography. Cheng. X, ed. Medicine. 2016;95(37):e4874. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000004874.