Hi There. My name is Alison and I have breast cancer.
They're words you never expect to hear spoken to you directly ... "we found cancer".
Words that completely change the trajectory of your life.
BUT as scary as they are to hear, and as all consuming as they can be in those first few days and weeks, they don't have to remain that way.
You have the power to take this disease by the balls and show it who's boss!
And that's what I'm doing, day by day.
I'm going to make these tumours my bitch - and walk out of this on the other end, N.E.D. (no evidence of disease), and healthier & stronger than I've ever been in my life!
And that's what this blog is going to chronicle.
My story, my approaches (both traditional and holistic), the natural remedies that I have found to counteract the side effects of chemo, my (*mostly*) plantbased diet, and a few other bits and bobs.
With so much information floating around out there it's hard to know what's worth listening to, and what's not. But you can't let that stop you from educating yourself and finding out what works best for you and your particular situation.
My particular situation is stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer with spread to the liver. And because I like to go hard or go home, I'm also what they call "triple positive" (estrogen positive, progesterone positive, and HER2 positive), which essentially means that my cancer is hormone driven, and super aggressive and fast growing.
On September 11th, 2018 I started six months of chemotherapy and a lifetime of antibody therapy (aka hormone blockers).
I am by no means an expert, however, I have done endless amounts of reading and research (and WhatsApp’ing with my good friend, nutritionist, and plant-based guru Grace Van Berkum of Gracious Living Lifestyle and Oasis), and I feel super positive about the healthy & holistic measures that I've implemented - all of which are oncologist approved btw, as there are many herbs, supplements and vitamins that can interfere with traditional treatment (aka chemotherapy).
I have been very conscious not to get sucked into the statistical side of things, nor do I want to read the horror stories or the worst case scenarios.
I don't even visit Dr. Google when I feel something new happening in or to my body that isn't one of the couple dozen known chemo side effects. I leave the diagnosing to my doctors, as the last thing I need right now is to have cancer's version of The Onion (.com) telling me that I have brain cancer, when in fact all I have is a sensitive scalp because my hair is starting to grow back.
I educate myself (almost obsessively) on what I have control over - and that is my lifestyle and my nutrition. And I honestly believe that the approaches I’ve integrated have helped me to tolerate and dominate my treatment.
I am hardly experiencing any side effects (definitely no major ones, KNOCK ON WOOD), and everything is shrinking!
My first CT scan (since starting treatment in September) on November 2, 2018 showed 50-70% shrinkage of the lesions on my liver. And the second scan on January 16, 2019 showed even further shrinkage. Additionally, my breast ultrasound from January showed "no obvious sonographic mass", which means there is no longer evidence of a tumour in my breast! (!!!!!)
So to anyone out there who doesn't believe in the healing abilities of a positive mindset and a holistic lifestyle (alongside traditional treatment), the proof is in the pudding ... IT CAN WORK!!
Listen, it's all obviously a humongous punch to the gut, but ultimately, it is what it is and I’ve simply gotta do what I’ve gotta do.
I've been pretty clinical about it all, which is working for me, and my psyche. I'm not an overly emotional person, but this is some pretty next level shit, and I'm quite proud of the way I've handled it - if I do say so myself (insert “pat myself on the back” emoji here).
That’s not to say there weren’t a few melt downs in the beginning (two really good ones). I mean I'm only human. And for someone lucky enough to have never experienced serious anxiety before all of this, WOWZA! What a fun little trip that is (NOT). The silver lining though ... incredible friends & family, and an Ativan script. A winning combo!
Speaking of friends and family, I haven't really told all that many people (especially in the beginning), but I'm telling you, the ones who I have told are frikkin' rockstars!! They are there when I need them, and understand when I don't. And that has made all the difference for me.
You never know how you're going to handle news like this. NEVER! And the way I have handled it is to be pretty private with it (until now, obviously) and to take it head on and figure it out on my own.
I know that I have an incredible support system. Any and all of whom will be here for me at the drop of a dime if and when I need them. But for whatever reason, flying solo (especially for the treatments, scans and doctors appointments) has helped to keep me sane, and feeling somewhat in control. It allows me to process and feel things out before I have to take anyone else's thoughts, emotions and reactions into consideration. And I love my people for respecting that!
p.s. To my friends who may only be learning about this right now, via this blog post, I apologize that you didn’t hear it from me directly. Please believe me when I say I didn’t NOT want to tell you, but it’s a super exhausting story to tell and oddly I carry some guilt (for lack of a better word) when dropping this bomb. Once it’s out there I’m absolutely fine to talk about it and answer any questions, but that initial “hey, I have cancer” grenade is a tough one for me. I know that most (if not all) of you will understand that ... and for those of you who may want to bust my chops, cut me some slack, I’ve got cancer! 😜
>>> Cancer's A Bitch, But So Am I, So Look Out Tumours, Cuz I'm Coming For Ya! <<<