When I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2008, my entire spirit crushed inside my heart. Feeling helpless and out of control, my sense of self diminished entirely. I felt completely disempowered. I was at the mercy of the team of doctors who diagnosed and delivered the news.
Cancer is a Terrifying Thing
An unexpected cancer diagnosis is a harrowing, life-changing discovery. The temptation to bury your head in the sand, obey every doctor’s suggestion, and simply accept the doom that has befallen you in a defeated, depressed manner is altogether too tempting. Cancer is scary–but it in no way removes your power and ability to make decisions about your treatment plan, unless you let it. I am a cancer survivor, and in order to provide you with the encouragement, support, and inspiration you need to aggressively fight your own diagnosis, here is the treatment plan I wish I’d followed.
The Cancer Treatment I Chose
When I heard the doctor tell me I had breast cancer, I couldn’t believe the news. My only thought was that this couldn’t be right. I couldn’t have cancer, and the radiologists, surgeons, and other specialists all had to be wrong. However, they knew far more than me, and I knew better than to challenge their expertise. Finding a treatment plan is necessary, I was told. So I mustered the strength to meet with doctors and hear their suggestions.
Through the consultations with doctors and specialists, I was offered three choices:
Which included chemotherapy, radiation, and a 25% chance of recurrence (either in the same breast, the other breast, or another part of the body).
Which included radiation, and a 25% chance of recurrence (either in the same breast, other breast, or another part of the body).
Which would reduce the chance of recurrence to less than 2% and not require chemotherapy or radiation.
Like any logical person would, I chose the safest option provided with the least chance of recurrence, thus leading me into a two-year-long journey consisting of eight surgeries in 16 months for a double mastectomy with reconstruction. This was the best option among those that my doctors provided. I trusted them and didn’t seek any more advice.
The Cancer Treatment I Wish I’d Followed
A good friend of mine, also battling cancer, died while I was undergoing my treatment plan. Before she passed away, however, she talked to me about her life, her cancer, and the treatment plan she wished she had followed in order to get more years. She talked to me about how much she wished she had not allowed herself to be lead by the health community, But rather she wished she’d done more research on her own to identify more, better ways to treat her cancer. She told me she wished she’d fought her cancer in a more aggressive manner, rather than simply relying on the doctor’s suggestions and the most popular treatment methods.
Here I am, years later, cancer-free, and with a very different story than my friends, but I am wishing the same thing.
You see, when a cancer diagnosis hits you, there’s a sense of urgency to treat it. Doctors give you their recommendations and then you proceed based of their expertise, often giving little concern to any other information that might be available to you. While I in no way would ever encourage anyone to go against professional advice, I hope to encourage everyone to research first in order to properly understand their own health before undergoing serious surgeries, chemotherapies, or radiation.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew nothing about thermography. I was apprehensive the first time I heard of it since my doctors hadn’t mentioned it, and it took no part in my treatment plan. My passion for helping other cancer patients, however, inspired me to invest 4 years of research, study, investigations, certifications, time, money, and 4 more years of running my own thermography clinic.