The Courage to Say No

13 Aug

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)

 

Advertisements

23 Responses to “The Courage to Say No”

  1. wendy October 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    you can’t imagine how the timing of my reading this is! i am 50 years old and had an abnormal reading on my screening mammogram. my gynocologist recommended a stereotactic biopsy. i wanted a meeting with the surgeon before this procedure to make sure it was necessary. i have 2 bulging discs in my neck that make it painful to lie on my stomach for the 45 minutes the procedure will take, and i wasn’t too excited about the pain of the procedure. the surgeon said she highly doubts it is cancer (10%), but wants me to have the biopsy anyway. i think i will wait 6-12 months and repeat the scan. why go thru this needlessly? she wasn’t compassionate to my concerns, so i am not encouraged to follow thru.

    i support your thinking- i need to change up my diet, i exercise 5 days a week.

    thank you,
    Wendy

    • cindygreb November 4, 2012 at 3:39 am #

      Dear Wendy,

      I totally support you in listening to your own instincts.
      I also encourage you to find a doctor who will listen to your concerns respectfully. (I guess they are trained to worry about the worst case scenario.)
      And, btw, I found the stereotactic biopsy to be shorter than 45 minutes (when you’re actually in position on the table) but terribly uncomfortable for the neck muscles because your head is turned to the side and you are not permitted to move once the x-ray is in process (obviously.) So your concerns are extremely valid.

      May you be cancer-free and may your neck feel better!
      Keep in touch, if you choose.
      Blessings to you.

  2. celesteaurorean February 19, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Ultrasound and Thermography are two non invasive diagnostic tools you can utilize in between mammograms. Be well.

    • cindygreb April 17, 2013 at 3:02 am #

      I wish I could afford the thermography….

  3. Falkenhan, Jacqueline August 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    How wonderful. I’m due for my 6-month mammogram. Well, actually mammograms. They gave me 8 mammograms the last time and couldn’t find anything. I went home glowing in the dark and worrying that they would give me cancer. I wish I had your backbone.

    • cindygreb September 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Dear Jacqui,
      Oh I so understand your worries. It’s so hard for me to let go of it sometimes.
      I understand the medical team wants to *make sure* and I sure wish they wouldn’t use mammograms.

      I hesitate to confess this, but I think I will anyway. In the last several years I have come to know a few women who are genuinely gifted psychically. They were truly born with a gift. And in the last month two of them have told me there is no cancer. I find myself so relieved to hear this. And I find I would rather trust them than the doctors who will continue to recommend cutting and burning and drugging if they see the slightest thing on the mammogram which is potentially suspicious.

      Bless you. I hope you continue to be vibrantly healthy. Please feel free to keep in touch.
      Cindy

    • Elvira Holz September 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      Hi Jacqueline…yes it takes courage to stand up to doctors and look at alternatives…After two months of agony of what to do I finally got hold of myself…searched the net…found help in alternative medicine…had a vitamin C drip that kills cancer cells and bacteria in your body…no negative side effects…had a blood test done which showed I have no tumor cells in body and went on some natural supplements such as turmeric root extract and Salvestrol…frequent mammograms can do much harm to you…all this radiation…also..there are modern therapies around…galvanotherapy…from Germany…also electric gem therapy…these are nano technologies that do no harm but can make tumors shrink…Get informed to enable you to make decisions based on your intelligence and information and not on fear that has been induced by conventional doctors…let me know how things turn out for you
      With greetings
      Elvira Holz, Johannesburg

  4. Elvira Holz August 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Dear Wendy
    it was comforting and encouraging to read about your experience …I too had microcalcifications detected during a mammogram …and went to three different doctors …and they all speak the same language …different types of biopsies were recommended …and thanks to the internet I could make an informed choice and refuse the procedure…why stab a sleeping tiger …the conventional medical professionals know how to instil fear and panic and it took assertiveness and courage to stand up and say no and find my own alternative routes to deal with the problem…alternative medicine has much to offer and I have found my own path

    • cindygreb September 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Dear Elvira,

      I so honor you and support you in your choice. I love your sentence “Why stab a sleeping tiger.” May you be beautifully and vibrantly well. Please feel free to keep in touch.

      All blessings,
      Cindy

  5. dorothea September 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    I was diagnosed with invasive breast CA two and a half years ago. A couple of weeks ago I had a suspicious-looking mammogram so had an ultrasound followed by biopsy. Titanium markers were left in my breast. Examination of breast tissue indicated no CA. But now the areola has faded to a grayish color and there is a pretty hard lump near the nipple. Does anyone have information about the possibility of titanium markers affecting areola color? Thanks.

    dpnelson56@gmail.com

    • cindygreb September 27, 2013 at 4:03 am #

      Oh dear, Dorothea! How disconcering! Congratulations on no cancer, but how alarming to find your areola changing color! I assume you’ve discussed this with your surgeon? If she or he doesn’t know, I’d get a second opinion.
      Good luck! Blessings to you!

      • Ali April 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

        After many years of annual mamo’s showing microcalcifications (tiny grains of sand) resulting in 6 different needle core stereotactic
        biopsies in each breast, all with negative findings, I again have another mammo with the same thing. I HAVE FINALLY SAID NO TO ANOTHER CORE BIOPSI! Enough is enough!

      • cindygreb April 3, 2014 at 3:31 am #

        Hi Ali. Good for you! I’m pretty sure I’d make the exact same choice as you. I hope you can stand up to the people who will try to get you to change your mind.
        Meanwhile, just be as healthy as you can. Eat really well. Do your emotional and spiritual work.
        I’m proud of you. May all be exceedingly well!

      • Ali April 3, 2014 at 5:03 am #

        Hi Cindy, I’m trying to stay healthy and taking vitamins daily. I received the call this morning, so it’s been kind of a difficult day, however, I believe it was the right decison for me at this time. I really appreciate your support. I’m trying to stay strong with my decision.

        Thanks so much.

      • CMI May 21, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

        This blog is refreshing. I am 46 and having my first stereostatic biopsy tomm and DREADING IT. I found a benign fibroadenoma 14 yrs ago and have been on that hamster wheel of every kind of biopsy and follow up ever since. I did ask about postponing for 6 ms and of course they warned against it. IF this one (hopefully) proves to be nothing, I think I am DONE with all this screening and the quest for disease. I think all the stress and radiation will end up causing cancer. I can’t take any more of this.

      • cindygreb May 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

        I support you in trusting your gut! It’s hard to stand up to the medical establishment. I think most of them truly want to “be sure.” But it’s hard not to assume they just want to make more money, too! And mostly, I think people tend to default to fear when it comes to the possibility of cancer. I support you in creating a stress-free, healthy life!!! Blessings to you!!!!

      • Alli May 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

        I have had a total of 6 biopsi, over several years, all with negative results. Now, they have spotted another pin size calcification and want more x-rays. From past experilence, I’m sure this will lead to another sterotactic biopsi. I finally said no, enough is enough! I’m concerned about all the radiation and stress from the ordeal. Of course, my GYN’s office called to “discuss” this. I was scheduled for an appointment with her and I cancelled it too. Her assistant called to “discuss” the matter again. After I explained how I felt, she admitted that she also had a mamo and they were arlarmed and scheduled a follow-up. She was really stressed out, and it was all for nothing, she on her period when she had the 1st mamo, her 2nd mamo showed nothing. She told me her stress level was off the charts…for what???? In my opinion, this has gone to far! I would hate to think this is all about $$$

      • cindygreb June 24, 2014 at 12:10 am #

        Dear Alli,

        Good for you for saying no! I am proud of you! And I totally understand cancelling the office visit. How interesting that the assistant understood.

        Bravo to brave women everywhere! The ones that say no, the ones that say yes, the ones that are healthy, the ones that are suffering. Bless us all.

        May you be healthier and healthier and more stress-free each day!

      • Elvira Holz July 1, 2014 at 10:29 am #

        Dear Ali
        I support you in your decision …and hope you have found your peace again …I went through a difficult time last year after micro-calcification was discovered during a mammogram …but I refused the biopsy for a variety of reasons …do you know that there are studies in Europe from independent medical boards …I know of one from Switzerland …that revealed that mammograms save the life of 1 or 2 women only but traumatize over 100 others through wrong diagnosis and unnecessary procedures …not to talk about the emotional impact …the conclusion of a very recent report from Switzerland is that a mammogram is not a useful tool as it does not help women to make informed choices …I think all over the world we get brainwashed into believing that if we have mammograms that we are save …this is not so …apart from the dangerous radiation women are often convinced to undergo unnecessary procedures…a healthy lifestyle and exercise go a long way to prevent breast cancer…

  6. Ali June 24, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    I appreciate your support! Thanks…Ali

    • Ali July 2, 2014 at 2:53 am #

      Hi Elvira,

      I appreciate your support and the additional information. I still feel the same regarding more mamograms, leading to another biopsi with negative results (6) so far. The mental stress, anxiety and worry is really awful. I’m also concerned about all the radiation from so many follow-up x-rays. I feel very positive mentally and physically about my decision. At some point I may change my view, but for now, I am staying the course.
      I also agree with your comment regarding “brainwashed” into believing that this is the only way to go.

      Thanks so much for your response. Wishing you good health!

      • Jenni July 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

        Wow, I couldn’t have stumbled upon this discussion at a more appropriate time! I too, had microcalcifications that were found in a mammogram in June.

        The first mammogram came back “incomplete” so I had to have a followup screening. The second one showed microcalcifications with a BIRADS 4 rating suggesting a biopsy. Because of the location of the micro’s (near the muscle) radiologist suggested surgery, stereotactic or the insertion of a wire to pinpoint the area of concern. More invasive type of biopsy.

        At first, I was so scared and confused because the nurse practitioner who attended to my annual paps, gynecological concerns, for the past 12 years, didn’t even call me to explain what was going on (btw, the results came back June 24th and she still has yet to call me about a BIRADS 4 result).

        So, I became very proactive and did all of my research on the internet and talked with people who had biopsy’s done on microcaclifications, lumps, etc. Most of the people I talked with who had microcalcifications and had biopsies performed came back benign. I also started to research M.D.’s who believe in a more holistic approach to breast health and found some very useful information. One of the bits of information is that most of what is diagnosed on a mammogram and is considered for biopsy, is usually corrected by the body naturally. I understand that it’s not the case for everyone so this is where my own decision wavers back and forth.

        I talked with a breast surgeon at a very well-renowned breast center. I told her I knew what the percentages were on the odds of my type of microcalcifications being cancerous. She said that she would even consider the percentages less, although…she wouldn’t give me 100% validation on that, which is understandable for the medical establishment in lieu of potential lawsuits–they want to protect themselves.

        She was a very good doctor, and even though I would trust her to perform the surgery, there is a very strong voice inside of me that says: “this whole surgery thing is unnecessary…you are o.k….you don’t have cancer.” And that voice seems to get louder, and louder each day! I am still indecisive, but leaning towards alternative healing.

        I support your courage to say “No” and to trust your inner wisdom. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. It is very insightful and helpful for all women facing this decision.

      • cindygreb August 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

        Jenni, good for you! Good for listening to your intuition! Good for you for doing researching. Good for you for talking to a different doctor. May your healthy living and your wise intuition manifest a healthy, happy body so that you can continue to be a light in the world.
        Blessings to you! Feel free to keep me posted!
        Cindy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: