Playing the Second-Guessing-Myself Game

11 Feb

January 26, 2012

Fighting Doubts

So, here is the latest.  I went to pick up my radiology report at the hospital. As I suspected, they rated my most recent mammogram results a BI-RADS 3.   This indicates that the one microcalcification they found near the site of my surgery is “probably benign” but that some follow-up with my doctor would be wise.

I looked at the digital image of my films.  I am clearly not an expert at reading films, but I did see one big bright white spot, which is what I assume is the calcification to which they were referring.

How interesting:  “one bright white spot.”  So what is the bright side of all this?  The bright spot is I am more acutely conscious of my health and have made significant lifestyle changes as a result. The bright spot is I am learning a lot and I have the opportunity to share some of that knowledge with others.  The bright spot is I AM ALIVE and I have both my breasts and I feel quite good!  I can’t ask for much more than that, can I?!

Here, however, is my current challenge:  to stay in this place of gratitude and trust, even when I am the recipient of someone else’s fears and concerns for me.   I am noticing that when I read a message that is fearful, it takes great will for me to stand balanced in my own internal knowing and not get knocked off-course.  This does not mean that I am unwilling to consider alternate points of view, however I truly don’t want to “catch” other people’s fears or projections. I don’t believe that serves me..

Here are a couple examples of messages I have received recently:

  •  “From someone who has used diet for cancer for over 35 years … the people with the greatest success use a combination of standard treatment, meditations for guidance (spiritual help), and clean diet. Especially when caught early and handled aggressively. Once certain cancers get a foothold it is very hard otherwise. (Emphasis mine.)  If I had it to do over I would have had a complete mastectomy like I was guided to to do with my visions back in 2003 instead of the skin sparing one I opted for. So here I am dealing with it a third time. It is my diet and chemo that helped keep it local though. Don’t mess with breast ca, it ain’t leukemia that has been documented to go into remission with dietary changes alone. :)”
  • “I too was diagnosed with DCIS. That was 5/1/2008. Because by accident the US tech found another suspicious area on the day of my biopsy, that also turned out to be cancer, I decided to have a mastectomy. Good thing, the pathology study found that my entire breast had DCIS. A lumpectomy and radiation would not have been a cure for me. That was my left breast.
    I have to be honest, I worry for you. Lumpectomy without radiation is not standard treatment for DCIS. The radiation is done to kill any cells left behind. Since nothing showed on my Mammo for the second spot on my left breast, and nothing at all on the MRI, but pathology provide my entire breast had DCIS, I believe we need to go the full course. (sic)
    Certainly healthy eating will help, but I worry about you using that as a cure.
    When any woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, all women are affected. Just want you to have a long, happy life.
    Be well.”

So, just reading these comments, my guess is that you, too, will start worrying for me.  Fear is insidious, isn’t it?

Here is what  I told  myself  after reading the above comments from  very well-intentioned friends or  readers:

  1. Obviously both these women have had more aggressive or widespread cancers.  And, I believe in both cases (but I could be mistaken), the technology used originally missed something important.  Understandably, these women therefore have a greater fear of cancer and are in favor of more aggressive treatment.
  2. There are untold numbers of women who treated their cancer conservatively – with surgery alone, and survived/thrived.  So one could argue either way.   ie, Either be safe and fight this with all the tools the medical establishment throws your way, or take your time and choose what feels right for you because most cancers are slow growing and some never do  threaten  our lives.

Here are some reasons I am suggesting moderation is also an appropriate tool FOR ME:

First of all, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is not considered life-threatening. The problem with DCIS is sometimes it develops into a more invasive form of cancer and sometimes it doesn’t.  Approximately 80% of the time, it never escalates into a more serious form of cancer.

One site says the following:

“DCIS is considered noninvasive (meaning it has not spread), but does have the potential to spread to other parts of the breast if not treated. (Usual treatments include lumpectomy with or without radiation, use of tamoxifen after lumpectomy, or mastectomy.)” (Italics mine.)  http://health.msn.com/health-topics/breast-cancer/breast-calcifications

Meanwhile, an article about UCSF breast cancer oncologist Shelley Hwang, MD says the following:

“…(U)nlike invasive breast cancer, DCIS is not life-threatening.

Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with DCIS have a higher than average risk of developing invasive breast cancer later – although some never will. (Italics mine.) As it stands, there is no proven way to predict which women diagnosed with DCIS will eventually develop invasive breast cancer. But because of the elevated risk, surgery to remove DCIS – generally a lumpectomy with radiation, or mastectomy – has become standard treatment. Treatment options are the same as for early-stage invasive breast.”  (Italics mine.) http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2009/03/8165/dcis-not-invasive-breast-cancer-and-might-not-require-surgery

I think most people consider radiation following a lumpectomy standard treatment.  However there are most certainly many women who choose not to go the radiation route.

I do want to mention that I am very grateful I got the lumpectomy.   It does give me an element of piece of mind.  It’s everything else the medical establishment recommends after the surgery that I personally have concerns about, although if I had a more aggressive form of cancer, I would likely consider them much more seriously.

Oh dear.  Guess what.  I was doing research to try to back up my point of view.  And in the process, I am finding that I really am going against the grain of  recommended treatment.  Here is something I just read which is concerning me:

“Of all the debates surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in recent decades, the most persistent and perplexing one involves a very early cancer called D.C.I.S., or ductal carcinoma in situ.

This cancer is noninvasive, confined to the milk duct where it arose. Some of these cancers will eventually become invasive, others never will. In autopsies, about 10 percent of women are found to have a ductal carcinoma that never became evident.

Then it is up to the pathologist to determine whether cancer is present, and if so, what type of D.C.I.S. it is. There are two main categories, a more aggressive type called comedo, which resembles a blackhead because it contains a core of dead cancer cells, and noncomedo. The comedo type may become an invasive cancer and, thus, less curable in three to five years; the noncomedo type may not progress to invasive cancer for a decade. (Italics mine.)

The guide continues, “Lumpectomy without radiation therapy is usually considered an option only for women with small areas of low-grade D.C.I.S.” An eight-year study of 814 women found that radiation after lumpectomy significantly reduced the risk of recurrence. Radiation also greatly reduced the risk of a later invasive cancer.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/22/health/22brod.html

And this:

“In the case of DCIS, cells multiply rapidly and are different from normal ductal cells—they’re different in size, shape, and architectural arrangement and more closely resemble invasive cancer, says Arnold Schwartz, professor of pathology at George Washington University Hospital in Washington and a member of the NIH panel. Not all DCIS is alike; there’s a spectrum. The less closely the cells resemble their normal parent cells, the greater the potential danger seems to be, particularly in the presence of necrosis (dead cells) and in younger women (among other risk factors). All those factors suggest a potentially more-aggressive form of DCIS that may recur or become invasive cancer, says Schwartz.”   http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/cancer/articles/2009/10/22/the-confusion-over-dcis-what-to-do-about-stage-zero-breast-cancer

I confess “my” DCIS is the comedo type.  And it was not graded a 1 but a 2-3 out of 4.

So in the process of writing this blog I find myself, once again, faced with some nagging doubts.

Can I fight cancer with diet, herbs, and supplements alone?  Actually, that’s not my entire plan of attack.  I have heard multiple stories of advanced cancer disappearing when the person chose to live the life they always wanted to live.  There are certainly emotional/psychological factors that affect our healing and I will continue to work on these issues as well.

My current intentions include the following:

  • Eat a primarily vegetarian diet.
  • Strive to make 75% of my diet vegetables and fruits.  (I’m not there yet.)
  • Eat as many greens as possible.
  • Eat more raw foods.
  • Keep my body in the alkaline zone.
  • Take the following supplements, all of which aid in preventing cancer, inhibiting tumor growth, eliminating toxins, helping to neutralize the effects of radiation, and/or aiding in the proper metabolism of excess estrogen (The cancer I was diagnosed with was estrogen receptor positive.)  Vitamin D, Vitamin C, flaxseed, DIM-3, kelp, curcumin, garlic capsules, a mushroom product called Agrigold, and a product called Natural  Cellular Defense are all now a part of my health regimen.
  • Exercise more.

In addition, I am going to a healer next week.

So, friends, the process continues.  Can I trust my intuition to guide me?  Can I get healthy following my own instincts?  Am I doing enough to prevent a recurrence or a more invasive cancer?  Or  (I am challenging myself to be brutally honest here) was I perhaps more afraid of the treatment than the disease?

Whichever is the case, I am determined to not let fear rule my life.  I am claiming good health.  I will feed myself not only with healthy and healing foods, but with success stories.  Stories of people who have healed themselves of cancer abound.

I think I will save that for another blog.

As always, thanks for “listening.”  May you be blessed with abundant health and happiness.

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One Response to “Playing the Second-Guessing-Myself Game”

  1. thecheesyone February 11, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    During your research, did you find any references to the spontaneous development and disappearance of breast tumors? It seems to me that some time ago I read that part of the recommendation for reducing the number of mammograms in women over 40 was that they caught tumors that would spontaneously go away on their own. I think there was a notion that this sort of thing happens fairly frequently and lots of benign tumors were being found and treated unnecessarily. Not to downplay the seriousness of what you’ve found, but I wonder what the stats are on this and if it applies, or am I misremembering.

    May you choose to live the life you always wanted to live. 🙂 ♥

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