So today I called to cancel my doctor appointment for September. It was a regular follow-up/check-up with my breast surgeon – a little over one year after my lumpectomy.
My doctor/surgeon wanted me to get another mammogram prior to the appointment. She wants me to get them every six months, for the time being. My girlfriend, Julia, a breast cancer survivor, said this is typical after a cancer diagnosis.
The problem is I know a mammogram every six months following a cancer diagnosis is the standard recommendation for the first year or two. But I don’t like it.
I have already voiced my concerns multiple times in this blog about the problem of the primary diagnostic method in this country also being a risk factor for contracting the very disease it is supposed to be diagnosing. It’s a little crazy, to me, that we could be endangering ourselves while attempting to diagnose ourselves. But there’s another issue.
Every time there is a mammogram that shows a slight irregularity – ie, microcalcifications, or something that could be either a tumor or a cyst, they’re going to want to do a biopsy. And many of these biopsies are somewhat invasive – at least from my perspective. When there are microcalcifications, they must do a stereotactic biopsy in order to properly locate the problem area. For me, this was a painful procedure. Twice. And it does leave a little scar. I could be wrong, but I have some concern that there will be several times my mammograms are “concerning,” and then several times I’ll have to have a subsequent biopsy, and before you know it, I’ll have received several extra doses of radiation and several more scars on my breasts.
I know what you’re probably thinking. If it catches cancer in time, then of course it’s worth it!
But here’s the thing. Most of us carry a few cancer cells in our body at any given time. This is actually normal.* The problem is when they multiply. But if we live right – ie, eat well, keep our stress level low, exercise, keep our weight down, and stay away from toxins, excess estrogen, and radiation(!), those cancer cells will likely not multiply. What particularly interests me is knowing that most vegetables and fruits, as well as some other foods like seaweed, nuts, beans, and grains, can actually prevent those rogue cells from multiplying.
So my own personal choice is this: get off the clinical hamster wheel. I don’t want a steady succession of mammos, followed by biopsies, potentially followed by more lumpectomies. It feels like it could happen repeatedly – and with each time I’m sure I would experience the resulting stress and fear – all of which can further cause dis-ease!!! Instead, I want to TRUST that I know what to do within my own inner wise self. And I want to trust that my beautiful wise body can fight off cancer when I live right and eat right.
And I can guess what many of you are thinking. ‘But I know so-and-so, and she has been a vegetarian and a yoga practitioner for years! And she got cancer!’ Well, who knows what other factors were present in her life? Who knows what part genetics played in her health? Who knows what kind of emotional stressors or psychological issues were at play? And besides, that’s not the point. I am talking now only about me.
FOR ME, at least for now, I will do occasional mammograms and check-ups. But I am NOT going to obsess about it and do it every six months. FOR ME, the obsession adds to the fear factor and is counterproductive to my health.
For whatever various reasons, I feel healthy now. I’ve been healthy my whole life until last year and I trust that I got the message, I heard the wake-up call, and I responded by making some changes. I feel back on track. I am trusting my feelings. I believe that I am cancer-free right now.
My current plan is to get another mammogram in December or January. That will be eleven to twelve months since my last one. And if that’s good, I will probably get the next one two years later.
This may sound wayyyy too risky or crazy for many of you. And I get that and I honor your opinions and choices. But I know I need to listen to my inner voice. And I believe in her wisdom.
My hope is that gradually, I will shift my lifestyle to one that breeds truly exceptional health. As I get my ducks in a row – greater financial abundance, more exercise and yoga, more consistent exceptionally healthy eating, wonderful healing herbs and supplements, and a joy-filled, love-filled life, I trust that I will live to a very ripe and wise old age.
But in order to stick with this plan, I have to have the courage to say no to many of the recommendations of the medical establishment. And believe me, it does take courage to stand up to these clinicians. I am very blessed with a practice who, though somewhat traditional in terms of allopathic recommendations, also respects the right of their patients to make their own choices. And even so, I have felt extremely nervous voicing my own opinions.
When I spoke with the office manager on the phone yesterday, she was very nice and very respectful. And I still had knots in my stomach just from talking with her and “sticking to my guns.” My very non-invasive, intuitive, first-do-no-harm, personal choice guns.
I know I will probably receive a few comments from some readers and friends who will be worried that I’m not being aggressive enough in keeping tabs on what’s happening in my body. But I ask that you please respect my choices. I am choosing a slightly more moderate, less fear-based road. For now. If I find myself getting too far off-track, or if my intuition or dreams start ringing alarm bells, I promise to make an appointment for a mammogram immediately.
May you be blessed and healthy and happy and well.
* “Cancer is a perfectly natural process. A very small percentage of cells in every person who has ever lived turn cancerous. And the body usually gets rid of those cancerous cells before they do harm. This process has been going on for eons. It is only when more cancer cells are being created than the body can get rid of that the problem comes. With increased toxins, viruses, carcinogens, etc. our immune systems have become significantly overworked and weakened.” (http://www.angelfire.com/az/sthurston/understanding_cancer_and_cancer_cells.html)