Friday, October 8, 2010

Today I am angry. Thankful, but angry.

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada. And I have been thinking about why I am thankful, this year more than ever. I am surrounded by thoughtful, interesting people who choose to make a difference in this world. My kids are healthy, kind, curious, and fun to be around. And my husband is a really good man. I have a team of health care providers that are conscientious, positive and honest. Beyond giving me good care, they helped me stay focused on healing and life beyond treatment. All of these things played a part in my surviving and thriving during treatment - and for each of them I am profoundly thankful.

So with so much to be thankful for, why am I so angry today? Because I am sick and tired of talking about screening and treatment. This is October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and still almost all I hear people talking about are mammograms and self-exams. Apparently the secret to beating breast cancer is being able to find those monstrous tumours before their minions bust out and start touring your body. Then the battle plan shifts to the many tools we have to fight the tumours: chemo, radiation, surgery. WTF!? Why are we only talking about what to do AFTER you have a tumour? It seems to me there is a big part of the conversation that rarely makes it to the table. Why aren't we talking more about NOT GETTING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  Certainly for those of us without the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, there are specific dietary and lifestyle choices that we can make that have been linked to reduced breast cancer risk.   As someone who has gone through the gut-wrenching fear of dying and the agony of imagining life without a mom for my two little boys, I can tell you that if I had it to do over again I would rather have tried to prevent that little bugger of a tumour from showing up than go through diagnosis and treatment.

But still when I poke my head up out of the foxhole, I hear people talking overwhelmingly about mammograms, self exams and advances in treatment. So why do we do this? Why are we so damned focused on what to do AFTER you get a tumour instead of talking honestly about the choices you can make to decrease your chances of getting one? And while I'm at it, why are the only people reading cancer blogs (aside from lovely supportive family members and friends) CANCER SURVIVORS?

So today I wake up to more discussion of mammograms and treatment on tv today and I am ANGRY. ANGRY AND MOTIVATED TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE.

From today on out...a call to action. Please, if you have had cancer, start talking to your friends about how they can prevent getting it. And if you are one of my lovely supportive friends or family members, can you please stop thinking about breast cancer as MY problem? It's YOUR problem, too. Don't just drink green tea with me to be polite, drink it for YOUR health. Don't congratulate me for getting regular exercise unless YOU are getting regular exercise, too. Stop asking me what I am doing to prevent recurrence and start asking me what YOU can do to prevent an occurrence. And for the love of God, please start reading about possible connections between diet and cancer and apply what YOU learn in the choices you make for yourself and your families.

If the only thing I have gained from this past year is my own awareness of how to prevent a recurrence, what a complete and utter waste that would be. If you are reading my blog to be supportive, I love you, but please stop. If you are reading my blog because you want to learn, apply and share what I am learning, I love you, too, please visit often...and forward my link to someone you love, too.

And, whichever group you fit into, please know I am thankful for you.


  1. I understand your sentiment but don't be angry. People have to find their own way in these sorts of things. There is alot of info about prevention out there but it is very helpful to have someone focus the discussion a bit. Besides a swift kick in the pants is always appreciated!!

  2. I hear you - but I am angry. It took my losing my hair, boob and sense of security to get the idea that there are tangible things one can do to prevent this disease and others. Yet overwhelmingly the discussion around breast cancer is about mammograms and self exams. I hear on a daily basis what to do to cut my risk of heart disease - why not the same focus on breast cancer prevention? Let's put the horse back in front of the cart, at least for part of the time.

  3. I'm on it, Cyn, and not just to be polite. I actually bought a box of green tea earlier this week and I'm drinking it, even when you aren't around : ). Not thrilled with the brand. Got any suggestions?

    I've stepped up my alcohol intake lately to one drink every month or so, so I figure I'm okay on that front. Exercise through cycling happens every second day, though should probably balance that with a little more yoga. Think I'm okay on the BMI.

    What else? Is stress reduction on the list? Give me a little more time on that one.

    Love your blog.

  4. You so totally rock! :-) I'm not worried about you, Karen.

    Green tea - I'm with you. Sometimes they taste like a mix of grass and poultry seasoning. But I have never met a Genmaicha I haven't loved - that is the kind with toasted rice mixed in. It is yummy, not acidic, slightly nutty. I also drink a lot of No. 10 from Murchies because it has always been my favourite tea and it turns out to be a blend of black and green. I also served a bamboo shoot green tea blend to Diana and she actually liked it!

    Take vitamin D!