Cancer free, supposedly. At least on paper. Maybe some of you are wondering...ok she said it, breast cancer...now what the HECK is going on?!?!?! There is a myriad of diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, so much so that to encounter another woman with the exact same diagnosis and treatment plan (and age, and treatment date, and location) must be FATE, or MAGIC...but that is a story for a different day. The diagnosis is only one small part of the journey, and each story is her own.
Officially -- Tripple Positive, Invasive Ductile Carcinoma, Stage 1.
As the tumor has now been removed, evicted at the hands of the surgeon with beautifully clear margins of 2mm around the 1.6mm in diameter tumor. Contained, there is no evidence of local metastasis. All three lymphnodes extracted are clear. Located in the 3 o'clock quadrant of left breast. The specimen was brought to pathology at 17:51, labeled clearly with patients name and date of birth.
The audience breaks out in applause, the crowd goes wild! They watch as the leftovers are launched in to the waste bin. SCORE.
About 10% of breast cancer diagnosis' are women under 50.* We ARE the statistic. With each doctor's visit until diagnosis age was my savior. And then it became The Summoner.
*not fact, just a statistic
I have found the easiest way of digesting the information at the doctors’ office or in the cancer books is in terms of 'best of the worst', and 'worst of the worst'. Over all, my specific case file seems to be the 'best of the worst', so far. (A tingle shoots up my spine as I write these words and I knock on the wood table urgently.) A small cheer each time something comes back CLEAR. Each step, one step closer to health. The knowledge that I can hold on to is what is IN FRONT of me. There is no time to be spent on the what-ifs or whys.
Like, how did a thirty year old, yoga teacher, and healthy* woman develop a cancerous tumor in her breast? The tests are in and it's not genetic! Heck, there's hardly even CANCER in the family. Mom apply sunscreen please!
*Supporting evidence provided demonstrates this is NOT a fact
Scientifically, the treatment for this illness has come a long way. There is a plethora of options now, instead of the good ole chop, poison, and suppress routine across the board. My tumor is triple positive, which is a double edge sword. It is GOOD, because they know what the tumor is eating. And BAD, because they know what the tumor is eating. It is gaining nourishment from all three receptor sites (estrogen, progesterone, and HER2neu). Therefore, they can pull out the arsenal for combat, chop-poison-suppress. Meh, Meh...
The HER2neu component qualifies the tumor cells as more aggressive. And the estogen and progestrone indicate that it is feeding off ALL hormones. Bad news for my moon cycle. The doctors suggested chemo because of my age. There is a 30% possibility it could come back as opposed to the <5% with treatment.* The Come Back meaning relocate in the breast (I chose lumpectomy vs. mastectomy), at less worst. Or, the 'M-Word'... metastasize -- to a different place in my body. At Worst. Cringe.
*Doctor fact, I heard it through the grapevine
At this point, I am guiding each choice I make based on these two categories: Life-Giving and Life-Taking. They can be applied across the board; from the type of oil I choose to use (EVOO), to the words that come out of my mouth, and ultimately opting for Chemo.
At first, it was the most difficult decision I have ever made. Now I stand firm behind taking the AMA route, and trusting that my body will recover itself. I thought, I could never put this POISON in my body! They want to destroy me! A concept, that seemed to be overlooked from the ages of 14 to 30. I didn’t think twice about binge drinking or smoking cigarettes, and not to mention experimenting with every drug I could get my hands on, made in God knows where by God knows who. Playing games with my life, I administered this poison myself. Dr. Death, Rx pad in hand. Looking back, this was a band-aid, a place holder, and each one of these choices was a cry to Life-Taking. How about we sit with this a minute and allow the WHYs to surface.
My choice now…is to LIVE as consistently stated. I know it could be done by running back to Ecuador and sitting with a Shaman for unknown period of time, or making a urine fast (I'll refer you to a person if you want details). I know it could be done by regulating my diet or by hunting down all the Chinese herbal supplements. I could travel the world searching for the CURE, but I would still be RUNNING.
No, this choice was not my own, it was made by a bigger hand. It is a medicine that has come in the least expected form. The medicine, that has to be administered in an EXTREMELY STABLE environment. Not the Hospital…HOME. I have to go back to the roots, to my center. Where I have to be VULNERABLE. Where I have to TRUST. Where I have to SEE. The only people that can administer this medicine is my FAMILY and ME.
On paper, I opted for the lumpectomy in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation guided by the suggestions of my doctors, blogs, my own research, and most importantly my intuition. In reality, I opted to LIVE. To do everything in my power from this point on…to live.
For me, this means Cancer is not a diagnosis...it's a wake-up call. Something I am doing, ISN'T WORKING. I do not HAVE CANCER, it is a part of the path that I have chosen. In FACT, Cancer is a side effect of my life. Lived and co-created by ME. A side effect that has surfaced due to utter neglect of MY self.
It is time to DO THE WORK. It is time to put all of the pieces together and to use ALL of the tools in the belt. The doctor, the chemo, the science is just another tool that I will implement in this journey to WELLNESS. In the end, I am MY healer. The tools are helping hands.
**In the mean time, "CHECK YA TITTIES LADIES!" No, you shouldn’t run to the mammogram machines, but DO TOUCH YOURSELVES! Touch the most intimate parts of your SOUL. Become familiar with your body, inside and out. Trust your intuition. Re-evaluate. Take stock. You are your OWN healer.**
**This is NOT a public service announcement, and by no way should be taken as FACT. This is strictly an opinion. The author advises you to find yourselves.**
I have spent years on the search for what it means to be FEMALE, for what it means to THRIVE, for what it means to be ALIVE. This path has lead me all over the world, drawn to women and their children, to communities, to SPIRIT, and ultimately BACK to MYSELF. Here I will share my most recent adventure, navigating a diagnosis of triple positive BREAST CANCER and each step of the way I figure out how to be a little more ME. I am Catherine-Ayer Gresham a 30 year old woman