There were some good aspects about the timing of my breast cancer diagnosis. I had landed in a great community, Victoria, BC, with caring people around me and easy access to health care. I had been through a year of therapy and I was fairly clear and in touch with my feelings and willing to feel everything for the first time in my life. Also, because of the therapy I had resumed journaling and continued writing through my journey.
I have been a sporadic journalizer in my adult years. I find that it’s easiest to write when life is not a smooth road. I was back in the habit big time when I was diagnosed and continued to write through the process. This has been helpful as I look back on those days and piece together the events of that time. It was also helpful at the time because I could write my thoughts and feelings on the page and get them out of my head, and look back even a couple of days later and see the progression of my journey.
I remember thinking that I’d had only two really bad days. The first was the day I found out I had cancer and the second was the day that I found out I was going to have a mastectomy. But when I reviewed my journals I realized that there were a few more bad days than that. I think that our nature is to remember the best of times most strongly and gloss over the bad times.
I was on my first tour of the season, giving commentary on the passing scenery, telling stories and making sure that all the clients got what they needed and enjoyed their holiday. Meanwhile I was trying to find time to read about breast cancer and the various treatment options so that I could make informed decisions when I saw the surgeon when I was back in Victoria after the tour.
There’s not a lot of time on tour to do much for yourself. I’m not a morning person yet I have to be perky and cheerful and presentable at 7AM (at the latest) and answering questions. It’s kind of a zen thing; it looks easy but it’s not. Being friendly and patient and informative is exhausting and the days are regularly 12 hours or more in the public eye. There are phone call confirmations and organizing and sometimes the odd phone call in the middle of the night.
So cancer was in the back of my mind and I was reading a bit but I felt like there was so much to know and I just didn’t have the time to sufficiently research the subject. Niki made an appointment for me to see her naturopath when I finished the tour in Seattle. The naturopath used a diagnostic tool from Germany that produces a Biological Terrain Assessment or BTA. It measures functions of the various systems of the body, digestive, hormonal, blood and circulation, by measuring blood, saliva and urine.
The day of the appointment was a travel day from Victoria to Seattle via ferry and bus. We left the hotel at 8:30AM and were lucky to arrive in Seattle at 5PM. The urine sample was no problem, it just had to be the first of the day. The saliva also had to be the first of the day and before any meals so I couldn’t eat until I got to the appointment and I really wasn’t even supposed to drink so I was basically fasting for a day every time I went to see her.
I was willing to try everything and it seemed to me that my chances were best if I made sure I was as healthy as I could be. The first test showed a graph that put me in the cancer zone and indicated that I needed a lot of work on my digestive system. C (my naturopath) prescribed a number of supplements including digestive enzymes and huge amounts of vitamins C, E, B-complex, beta-carotene, some homeopathic support for my liver, kidneys, and green things like chlorella and spirolina. (Yummy in smoothies and so good for you.)
Suddenly I was taking more than 60 pills a day and needing to eat breakfast because many of these needed to be taken with food and some three times a day. C also wanted me to get regular colonics and see a naturopathic dentist to get my silver amalgam fillings removed. I was gathering a team of caring professionals to help me find my way to health. Again, fortune-favoured because the dentist, D, was in Victoria and C had a colleague, C2, who did colonics and live blood cell analysis in West Vancouver.
I had a couple of days in Victoria before my next tour and that is when I met with the surgeon. Mary came with me, thankfully. The surgeon told me then that he would do a mastectomy because the lump was so large and there seemed to be skin involvement (puckering at the surface) and he wanted to remove lymph nodes as well to help categorize the stage of the cancer. He also scheduled a biopsy for me that fit in to the time off. I could call in a week to hear the results of the biopsy but he was fairly certain that it was cancer and that surgery was what I needed.
So, I had the biopsy and flew to Calgary the next day to begin another tour.