Why I Won’t Survive Cancer

Why I Am Not A Cancer Survivor

The musings expressed here are strictly those of a woman making her way through breast cancer and are based solely on her personal beliefs and experience. They are not intended to sway or convince anyone of anything other than to honor-with-action what is right for them.

 

Okay. Now, that’s out of the way. Picture this.

You’re standing in a hallway. The light is dim. There are two doors. One says Survivor. The other, Thriver. That’s it. No other door. No third option. Which do you walk through? And on what do you base that decision?

Those presenting me with the standard medical model don’t see the hallway. They don’t see the two doors. As a matter of fact, a few of them don’t even see me. When they look at me, they see cancer, a breast that is gone, and a pathology report that says cancer cells may be left behind. And they see their particular medical offering of what might constitute a cure.

Some of these specialists don’t like the questions I ask or that I ask them at every turn. They don’t understand that I am not questioning their expertise. They don’t understand that I am gathering information critical to my peace of mind – a peace of mind that necessitates I am part of the equation in this medical maze of treatments. (After navigating the insurance maze, I might add.)

Am I sounding frustrated? Well, ride with it because I am. And, at times, I am also dismayed, shocked, aghast; disappointed with the “one size fits all” approach I am being offered after a mastectomy that showed no cancer in the lymph nodes taken or in the blood.

I have chosen my door. Thriver. Because thriving is something I can do now.

I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to wait 5 years, or 7 years, or 10 years to be pronounced cured of cancer. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t do well with a finish line way out there. And, if I follow through on the treatment offered me, I may very well be dragging myself – prostrate – across that finish line.

Will I be able to resume quality of life after surviving cancer treatment – and cancer? (Assuming a car does not hit me first.) And what about during the extended treatment and recovery time – how many years down the road?

I have to work. Ray’s battle with cancer took him to the other side of the veil. We have no children. And, though I am blessed with amazing family and friends, I will not add to the loads they are already carrying to appease a medical model that doesn’t fit my circumstances – and invites caregiver challenges down the road.

The specialists, who call me out on my judgment or dismiss my concerns with “I can write you a script for that,” won’t be with me down the road. They won’t be living in my body, in my house, or holding my hand if I need to pursue medical treatment for a leaky heart valve, tunnel vision, disintegrating bones – or any number of the side effects that show up after the treatments they say I must endure. (With no guarantee of a cure because they cannot actually see or measure the cancer left behind.)

They have to believe in what they are doing. I get it. I’m glad they do. They help a lot of people. But I don’t have to believe in what they are doing. I have to believe in what I am doing.

Today, I respectfully defer the big guns to last resort treatments and will do my best to thrive while I wait to see what this body God gave me can do with less invasive modalities because thriving is what I want – now. Not surviving – down the road. If I have miscalculated, in not agreeing to the arsenal approach first, then so be it. I will thrive – one day at a time – in peace with God and my decision.

In conversation with a friend a while back, I found myself saying that cancer warriors take on the chemo and radiation and that I can’t be counted as a real cancer survivor because I am not doing any of that. All I did was surgery. She was quick to point to the courage and dedication it takes to walk down this less beaten path – and to stick with it. Diet. Exercise. Attitude. And all maintained while grieving. This is the gift that losing Ray to cancer gave me: determination with no fear.

I do not wish to be a bad poster child for this more holistic approach – as one specialist inferred. The way I see it, there is no bad poster child where cancer is concerned. It all takes courage and each one of us is on this walk for those who come behind us. (Caregivers included.) We share experience, strength, and hope in our daily discoveries until better-targeted cures can be found. (Ones that don’t devastate bodies and leave families stressing with mountains of debt afterward.)

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 80’s and chose not to pursue any treatment. She lived to be 101. Her death certificate stated cause of death as “breast cancer.” I say she died because she was 101 and her body was tired. And, guess what? She had quality of life into her late 90’s. I’m thinking she wants me to remember that. Even though statistics will place her on the side that supports what happens without treatment.

If you are living with cancer, you cannot be a bad poster child. That’s my story and I will thrive with it.

I am willing to bet you have a survivor-thriver story of your own. There are lots of experiences in this world that grab us by the seat of our pants. Don’t stay in that hallway too long. Life is calling!

 

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Remember, sharing is caring. If you found something here that inspired, you may know someone else who will feel the same. XO Bernadette

 

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4 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Survive Cancer

  • November 14, 2017 at 10:22 am
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    More power to you, Bernadette! There are other avenues to pursue–I attended a medical intuitive healing session at a conference this weekend that was intriguing–they do remote individual and group healing; many energy healers out there as well that are all non-invasive and lack side effects! (I’m a client of Suzanne)

    • November 18, 2017 at 2:52 am
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      Hi Lorraine! That must have been very interesting. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer and focused intention and feel very strongly that this is what is assisting me in my decision-making process through all of this. So glad you took the time to comment. Thank you!

  • November 15, 2017 at 11:35 am
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    “Promise Yourself

    To be so strong that nothing
    can disturb your peace of mind.
    To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
    to every person you meet.

    To make all your friends feel
    that there is something in them
    To look at the sunny side of everything
    and make your optimism come true.

    To think only the best, to work only for the best,
    and to expect only the best.
    To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
    as you are about your own.

    To forget the mistakes of the past
    and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
    To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
    and give every living creature you meet a smile.

    To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
    that you have no time to criticize others.
    To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
    and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

    To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
    not in loud words but great deeds.
    To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
    so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
    ? Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

    …the question isn’t if it works or not…the question is how much impact you put behind it…never met anyone who didn’t love and support you then…don’t know anyone who won’t love and support you now…that’s what WE can do…<3

    • November 18, 2017 at 4:29 pm
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      Good words to live by. I will write them on my arm so I don’t forget! I absolutely trust God in all of this. He’s doing a great job … as long as I stay out of the way. Thank you, my dear. 🙂

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