Today I got the good news. We (Gord and I) sat in the doctors office waiting for the results of my breast biopsy. One month earlier I had a mammogram. After all it had only been 30 years since that excruciating torture machine had last squished my young dense breasts into a pancake. The doctor at that time had said, I have never seen such dense breasts…a mammogram will not be able to show anything. Well duh I thought. Anyways, my current doctor, after examining my 51 year old sagging breasts suggested it was time to have another mammogram. I of course broke out into a sweat at the crystal clear memory of almost punching the mammography technician. I think I actually would have at the time, except for the vice attached to my breast essentially immobilizing my right hook.
Cooking meals from scratch on the fire…many items grown at home
I had this recent mammogram two days before leaving on our kayaking trip. Upon return, there were 3 phone messages, an email, and even some paper mail stating that they needed to have a closer look at something they saw. Yikes. Two days after I returned the call, I was at the pancake machine again…but this time, crepes were on the menu. Thank god for older sagging breasts that were in the mood for crepes.
Well, the magnified mammogram showed something, and the same day I was at the ultrasound machine. I should note that I cannot feel a lump or anything during a breast self examination…all is normal in there as far I can tell.
So another week passes and I am back at the crepe machine, and then another crepe machine where me and the machine can get cozy spooning for what seemed like eternity…with a drill inserted deep into my breast. This lengthy procedure took over 40 minutes and god knows how many x-rays. My breast was frozen with a little needle in preparation for insertion of the large needle into just the right spot for four tissue samples to be removed. Quickest biopsy ever they commented…mostly due to me not breathing for 40 minutes.
They sent me home with an ice pack taped on my still bleeding boob…tape was required as I didn’t have a bra to stuff the icepack into (don’t own a bra). And just for fun, the tape extended across the sensitive skin on my breast and into my armpit…my unshaved armpit, thus providing one of those moments where I wished I had shaved (don’t own a razor). (Note: this may be too much information, but I am sharing this personal information for a reason that will become clear later)
Next on the menu was a week long wait to get the results of my biopsy. It was an interesting week and I didn’t really think about this too much…not much I could do with so little information so I’ll just deal with whatever comes my way when I know more. However, saying this I still had my own silent rants about toxic chemicals, the cancer industry, and thinking maybe just not having treatment and let nature take it’s course…not that I have a death wish or anything I just loath the whole system where cancer contributes to growing our economy. I don’t seem to have a big fear of death…or maybe I do, and just don’t know it yet. ??? Anyways, I spent my week growing food, preparing wonderful meals from the garden, looking after the homestead, reading, going to council meetings, thinking about my community, participating in potlucks, watching hummingbirds, feeling gratitude for my life and my privilege, having afternoon naps in the heat wave, paying just enough attention to world events to be highly disturbed but not surprised, etc. Life is very good.
I love our gardens
So back to today. Doctor walks into the room saying “I have good news” and goes on to explain what they found. She said I could cry, but I had no desire to do so…neither did Gord. We were not worked up waiting for the biopsy results. It was going to be what it was going to be. Dr looked at me strangely when I didn’t cry.
The details: I have a rare form of LCIS (lobular carcinoma In Situ)…sort of a cancer. Apparently I have a 1% per year rising rate of increased cancer rate due to this…but still most women don’t develop cancer from this diagnosis. Basically, I have learned that cancer cells formed, but my body contained them and they are not spreading…at this time. The current debate is whether or not to even call this diagnosis cancer. I will be seeing a surgeon to discuss removing the “in situ” packages or doing nothing and just watching. Historically, women with this condition often underwent full mastectomies, but this is no longer the case.
My new bathtub in the garden…I love it!
The Dr. then went on to say that I should go out a buy a lottery ticket, because this diagnosis is the best one I could have possibly had for my lump. LUCKY ME.
But wait a moment…LUCK? REALY? My body did what 100,000 years of human evolution programmed it to do when faced with replication oopses. How much is luck, and how much of this is my lifestyle? In the process of DNA and cell replication, mistakes are made all the time, but our bodies know how to fix these. When our bodies don’t work right and miss something, sometimes cancers can result. It’s your genetics, it your gene expression, it’s your biome, it’s your history, AND it’s your lifestyle. All of these play a role. In my case I have good genes…not a lot of family history. I’ve also been chemically sensitive my whole life and avoid toxic chemicals…especially those found in personal care products and building materials. I also choose to live very differently than most people in our culture…and not just with not having a bra or a razor. I would go even further to suggest that I live much closer to a “natural” human in many ways including the following:
I grow and forage most of my own food and eat an omnivorous seasonal diet. I used the word forage as this seems appropriate for how I gather my food. Our gardens are quite natural in their randomness and seemingly overgrown way. Many things go to seed thus there are food surprises everywhere. I disturb the soil very little. No till gardening. Looks kind of messy, but there is literally food everywhere.
My gut micro biome is biologically diverse. I eat lots of raw fruit and veggies, eat home fermented foods, drink raw goats milk and make my own raw milk cheese, don’t eat meat from industrial agriculture but do eat meat about 3 times per week in summer and 5 times per week in winter (rabbits, chicken (rooster), deer, local pork), I eat nutrient dense food, I don’t eat in restaurants, I eat very little processed food, what I don’t grow is mostly organic, I eat a bit more fats and very little refined carbohydrates or sugar, etc. I don’t eat glyphosate. My body was engineered over hundreds of thousands of years to be an omniviour…I’m not going to argue with that.
My skin micro biome is also biologically diverse. I don’t use soap on my body, I don’t wear deodorant, I don’t smear chemicals or sunscreen on my body. I rarely get skin infections or get sick. I spend the day with my hands and body in contact with healthy soils. I bath with warm water in the shower. (I do use shampoo)
I spend about 3/4 of my day “unplugged” with half being outside in nature and the rest inside doing domestic activities. I get lots of exercise.
I get lots of sleep and quiet time to think. My life wasn’t always like this, but I have worked really hard to make this happen and I have had some luck along the way.
So this is the story I live and that I tell myself. I do have some control and can make choices to support my body to give me the best chance of being healthy. Perhaps this note would have been very different if I had a different diagnosis, but I will stick with this story of looking after my body as being at least part of the reason why I was able to isolate those cancer cells. If I believe it, then it must be true. We all know that story is much more powerful than facts. If facts mattered we would act on climate change and our bodies wouldn’t be contaminated with toxic chemicals.
Eat healthy. Avoid/limit sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eat fermented foods. Eat whole foods. Eat a seasonal diet. Eat organic if you can. Avoid processed food (prepared foods that have more than 1 ingredient on a label). Limit restaurant food unless it is of the highest quality. Grow a garden/ have a garden plot/ or go to farmers markets.
Go to your bathroom and laundry room and look at all your products; cleaning products, body products, hair products, laundry products, etc. How many do you have? Do you need all of these or have you been influenced by marketing to think you “need” them? Read the ingredients. Do any of them have fragrance or perfume in them? Preservatives? Many of these are linked to breast cancer and are endocrine disrupters. Do not put these on your body or breath their fumes. Seriously, these are toxic. Check out the David Suzuki Foundation dirty dozen
for a quick reference on how to read the ingredient lists. Dare to be different. Dare to be informed by facts. Dare to change the culture.
Reduce the plastic in your life.
Get lots of sleep
Exercise in nature. Fall in love with mother Earth.
Do the best you can, have fun, laugh, and hope for a bit of luck.
Gord photo bombing the shot of the solar roof top gardens