It has been just over a year since the oncologist told me that I had seven months to live if I had no treatment. She was an angry little woman – outraged at my flat refusal to consider chemotherapy. I expect her career is based on the limited offerings of the medical profession so it is threatening when somebody rejects these offerings. She had previously told me that my stage four cancer is inoperable and that it had spread to my hip. I have concentrated on the tumour on my lung when I talk to my cancer.
I have had treatments of course. Cranio Sacral therapy, Shiatsu and some homeopathy. I practise Tai Chi and Yoga in a slightly desultory manner & have recently begun Physiotherapy – poor old tumour scarcely has time to grow – and it hasn’t! I have changed my diet a lot, very little meat and booze and practically no bread or spuds masses of veggies and fruit and have been rewarded with the loss of a couple of stone. Well lost and I can wear clothes that I had despaired of getting into and buttons tend not to burst any more.
I also talk to my tumour kindly and with love, it is NOT my enemy, it is a group of wayward cells that have the capacity to get well or stay as they are. We can live together. It is nobody’s fault that it has arrived to change my life. And in fact the advent of cancer had not been totally negative. This statement can cause outrage when I speak to some cancer patients and their loved ones. In fact in the last year I have ‘lost’ three people to cancer, a fact of much sadness and a great friend of mine died last year after four weeks of her diagnosis an excellent woman who I admired for her bravery. And a face book friend a fellow writer who I met once and exchanged news with died last week. I do understand what a devastating diagnoses it is, but it certainly doesn’t have to end in death.
I do know that I am fortunate in being diagnosed in time and having an excellent oncologist now, one who had the patience to allow me to choose my own course of action, though initially she was dubious. Now she is delighted to report no change. I see her once every three months. I am also fortunate in being able to afford complementary treatments. Though there are free treatments via the MacMillan centres or local cancer help centres. And the brilliant Penny Brohn centre is free with an option to donate. I will always be grateful for going there for a short course and for meeting my Shiatsu genius there (no guarantees of meeting one of these paragons!)
One of the gripes I have with the NHS is that these options are not pointed out widely when diagnosis is made. It is as though the medical profession want to have a monopoly on cancer. More likely they are too busy treating cancer the best way they can. I have had many friends who have survived cancer with and without chemo and many friends who have not – one of the fringe benefits of being old perhaps. I have used complementary therapy before. I also have a friend who went to the Bristol centre – precursor to Penny Brohn and she has been cancer free for many years, some people are not so fortunate. But there are websites that advocate non traditional methods of treatment.
Being a cancer bore pales into insignificance compared with the shock horror of well meaning friends who treat me as if I may be on my way out at any moment or tell me that I am being ‘brave’. I am not; I am being my usual self preserving self. I could do nothing else. But since cancer I have become more appreciative of my surroundings and time is of more value have also realised – a new thought this – that I need all my energy to keep on an even keel emotionally and I can’t afford to be stressed. So no more towering rages and more peace. (Or more of having my own way with no arguments!) I value my life more and love it.
I am sure this is not a recipe for everybody with cancer but I wanted to share my way which is by no means unique. And If I die tomorrow I will have had a fruitful time of feeling more healthy than I have for years and enjoying myself until the end.