A Patient’s Perspective: Rectal Cancer Diagnosis

Someone on Twitter sent me a link to a YouTube video about a man who had rectal cancer and his reaction to his diagnosis. I related to most of what he said, meaning I didn’t freak out or fall apart, I focused on killing the cancer and getting well. The radiation treatment was awful (Picture a hot poker being shoved up your ass) but instead of feeling a victim of my circumstances, I got angry and that anger empowered me!

I believe my positive attitude and sometimes anger and determination helped me and I am now over five years cancer free.

 

Be well and stay strong!
ingebird

Writing My Truth

Last year I briefly joined a writing critique group. I had already been writing a book about my cancer experience a year before that and decided joining this type of group would help me become a better writer. Most of their advice was helpful but there was one subject we went round and round on and that was… me not sharing my emotional pain. I was told that I needed to write about the agony and fear I felt when I first learned about the diagnosis and how awful the treatments were. I do admit the treatments sucked and were physically painful, but I never was fearful. I explained to the group that getting angry was my default button, not fear. Then the group leader scolded me for “not dealing with my illness properly”; that’s when I left and never came back.

Its one thing to critique someone’s work but it’s another to critique the way they handle a crises… any crises! What I heard from him was, the emotions I felt were not valid.

Its been several months since I wrote another chapter and the reason is I thought maybe readers are looking for emotional agony and they wouldn’t believe I chose to get pissed off instead. When I was a kid, my dad got mad if I started crying about something. He told me to “toughen up” (his way of raising me had a lot to do with him being a staff sergeant in the Air Force until I was age seven) and if I had to get upset, it was better to get mad. When I grew up, I handled my problems the same way, and if I did shed tears they were angry ones.

We are all different human beings, with different backgrounds (some call it baggage) and we all have different ways of expressing our emotions. There is no right or wrong way and for me, getting angry worked. I felt empowered. I felt invincible! Was I shocked hearing the original diagnosis? Hell yeah! But that shock quickly turned into determination. If I was going out, I was going to put up one hell of a fight!

The first thing I told my team of doctors was to do whatever they needed to kill the cancer and the second was to never say that “word” in my presence. I would not allow that disease to define me. Next, I told my husband and son I needed a positive living environment… no matter what. Tom Petty’s song, “I won’t back down” became my battle cry. I probably played it a 100,000 times over the six months of treatment.

Did I ever feel scared? Yes, but only for a minute. Deep inside I always knew I would beat the c-word. Don’t ask me how, I just knew.

So, now I decided to get back to writing my story and tell my truth, my journey because that’s all I can tell. I have to be truthful, otherwise I’m just bullshitting you and this book should be in the fiction section, not self-help. If you’re looking for emotional pain and suffering, you’ll hate this book but if you want to find out how I survived not only cancer, but the medical professions’ red tape and insurance games, then you might learn information that will help you or a loved one get through it. I wrote about what worked for me. You have to figure out what makes sense to you; in other words find your truth and stick with it.

Be well and never let anyone tell you how your supposed to feel.

ingebird

Cancer Survivors Don’t Eat Healthy Foods

Processed_Food_Artemis_in_the_City

A friend sent me this article by the LA Times: After Cancer, Survivors Do Not Make Healthy Food Choices.

At first, I’m thinking, What will it take for people to wake up and realize they probably got sick because they made choices that were bad for their health? But after I calm down, I remember my team of doctors never told me to change my eating habits or lifestyle. I don’t think they even asked me those questions: What do you eat? Do you exercise? They did ask if I smoked, drank alcohol or used illegal drugs. In my opinion, food can be just as lethal as any of those. For example; sugar. It’s addicting. I still have problems with it and I hardly ever eat sugar, but when I do have a small piece of dark chocolate or cupcake, within a couple of hours my brain asks for more. If you don’t know that food can be addicting, without thinking about it, you eat another candy bar, not knowing you’re hurting your health. I know because I watched the nurses in the infusion center cram their faces with Halloween candy. You’d think they would know better.

Now a days, I’m really good about what I put in my body. Before I eat anything, I ask myself if it will help or harm me. How many ordinary people who’ve been through cancer treatments or are currently in treatment think about food and how it affects them? I know when I was in the hospital, the menu was basically crap. I was lucky, my family brought me food that I requested from the outside (something my doctors weren’t happy about because they couldn’t monitor if I was eating or not). They told me over and over to eat anything I wanted, but I knew better because I took the time to do my homework. My doctors tried to figure out why I got cancer; they ran every test imaginable, and came up empty, but I’m willing to bet none of them wondered if it was my diet and lifestyle. I know it was because I became my own detective. Everything I read pointed to it.

As soon as I figured it out, I changed my diet overnight and took charge of my healthcare. I took back the power I gave to my doctors and we became a team, with me being the coach. Chemo and radiation sucked and I have no intention of going through that again. Someone told me I wouldn’t be able to stick with my “new life.” Her words angered me and at the same time empowered me. What she didn’t know is that I have will power and that’s what it takes to make any life altering change. I also learned to love myself 100% and that includes self-care.

I’m really sad to read this article because I can’t imagine someone intentionally harming themselves, especially after a cancer scare. I don’t know anyone who wants to do that again. If you ask me, its the fault of our healthcare system. Our doctors know hardly anything about the importance of nutrition and I blame that on medical schools getting donations from the biotech industry. Are you going to say anything bad about someone whose paying your bills? Biotech makes the fake foods you find on your grocery store shelves; processed foods filled with chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. The good news is, everyday consumers are learning about healthy eating through social media (forget about mainstream media, they are owned by the same corporations who will do anything they can to keep us in the dark when it comes to what’s “really” in that canned, packaged or box of processed food). They don’t care if it makes you sick, they care about making money!

I hope people read and think about the article in the  LA Times, their lives may depend on it.

Be well!

Ingebird