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March 28, 2014

The last straw~

Why does this keep happening? This question weighs heavy on my mind and most likely, not for the reasons you may be thinking! July 2011, I learned of my aggressive breast cancer diagnosis; it has been nearly three years post diagnosis. The looming question, leaving me in a quandary; why do individuals – who know me fairly well, continue to ask questions about western “treatment recommendations” after I experienced a little health bump in the road, well a big health bump? I am not
alone in this quandary; my husband too is continually bombarded with questions. Admittedly, he gets the brunt of the questions; making it worse is the barrage of unsolicited “Has your wife tried such and such?” We are left wondering, what the hell is going on here!?!? Are we failing to thoroughly and clearly convey the direction of my treatment choices? Is it that individuals are hearing but not listening to what we are saying? Could it be that individuals around us are so unhinged by my treatment choices, when they see an opening for western medicine or a new snappy alternative treatment to be tried, they bring it up? Perhaps it has nothing to do with him or I; it is their fears that are emerging? We wonder if individuals believe they are being helpful or informative?

You know that old saying the straw that broke the camel’s back …it is like that. I am typically gracious when the topic of cancer treatments arise; I am able to shift a conversation quite easily or use my natural fallback, avoidance. My husband, he diplomatically powers through these irritating and emotion provoking encounters with others. Here is some real talk – It is too much, please stop. It is not helpful. In many situations, it is disrespectful. My husband and I are left feeling unsupported. More than anything, it is reminiscent of living in the shadows – not being seen, not having a voice. Stepping outside of my emotional mind and into my logical mind, there is an understanding that individuals are trying to connect, be helpful, and “fix” the unfixable. The other side is that the continued chemotherapy and radiation treatment questions along with unsolicited alternative treatment suggestions – are simply not wanted. There, I said it. That felt good.

The Straw, well that arrived today. The cancer surgeon called with the results from the tumor mass and lymph node pathology tonight, finally. The mass in my breast was deemed an invasive ductal carcinoma. The lymph node contained cancer cells. Then I learned that the surgeon took it upon himself and removed two additional lymph nodes that were “attached” to the affected lymph node. The removal of two additional lymph nodes, I did not authorize or consent too. I clearly outlined, in writing, the cancer surgeon was to only remove the enlarged lymph node that was viewed on ultrasound, the day prior to surgery. If I did not respect and trust this cancer surgeon, as I do, I would most likely be pursuing a formal complaint, at the very least. On a positive note, the additional two nodes he removed were “clear”. This does give me some sense of solace that the cancer did not take up residency in neighboring lymph nodes. Still reeling from the news that the surgeon removed two additional lymph nodes, without permission, I contacted a few friends to let them know I received my pathology results. What followed were several questions about what the doctor’s treatment recommendations were and/or the meaning of the pathology results. It was too much and it really hurt me – regardless of pathology, I am not following recommendations of western practitioners – in large part. My treatment is centered on the natural practices of Ayurveda – the ancient medical system of India.

Knowing those around me are concerned about my health and want the best for me, is deeply meaningful and touching. I know that all y’all love me – I can feel it! While I was in Texas, I met with my Ayurvedic Practitioner and have adjusted my treatment. The daily regiment I follow takes dedication, consistency, planning, and time; it is extensive. I have been back in Oregon for six days now, and have been adhering to my regiment (as available). I am recovering from surgery and getting stronger each day. The additional items needed to fully implement my adjusted treatment, have arrived – so here I go! I have another week to recover before I launch back into my graduate studies, completing the semester strong.

The highlight of my day was a visit from my mom. She brought the boys dinner along with some delicious goodies. We chatted for a few hours and covered a great deal of topics. It is beautiful that my mom is incredibly supportive of my treatment choices and decisions. She has never questioned why I am or am not engaging in any particular treatment. It feels good. 

I am grateful for all the support and love that surrounds me – even when I get frustrated or hurt by too many questions. I know I am loved by friends and family.

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Today, I am hopeful~