Why I Chose Not to Have Surgery
Since my diagnosis several months ago I have moved through myriad layers of processing, reflecting, researching, crying, laughing and wrapping my mind, heart and soul around what this journey is to me. Much of this process has gone on quietly in the day to day experience of my life unfolding. And some of it has happened out loud. Either through writing in my blog or falling in to conversation with people who are willing to ask how I'm doing and willing to listen. Giving voice to this journey continues to be cathartic for me and it's my intention to share my story but as I have said before, I would never imply that I know what's best for someone else.
I am well versed by now in the plethora of opinions people have about the choices I've made and over these last several months I've moved in to a deep and rooted peace with my choices for treatment. My faith is unshakeable and the fear around this process is minimal and often times non-existent, which has lead me to feeling more comfortable talking about it. In fact the more I learn about the cancer industry the less quiet I want to be.
"Each fearful belief we hold is a choice we make. Throughout our lives we absorb fear from the world around us , and we grow to believe those fears are our reality." (Gabrielle Bernstein)
In an earlier post I explained why I chose not to do chemotherapy and radiation. However, I never went into any real depth as to why I chose not to do surgery because while refusing chemo/radiation was a no-brainer for me, choosing not to do surgery was a decision that took longer to arrive at. I spent several weeks sitting, reflecting, researching and reaching out for advice before deciding what I wanted to do. I am ever so grateful for the incredible support I had from a wonderful woman/mentor, Mary Rust, during that process as well as the unshakeable support from my naturopath, Dr. Olarsch.
I have not second guessed my decisions for even a flicker of a moment and I believe that whatever people decide to do for treatment, having an unshakeable faith in that path is vital. I say this a lot and I truly believe it- we must each make peace with our decision and move forward. For me that peace came in the form of a resounding inner sense that said "This is not the path for you." That was my intuition speaking and while the medical community will not give merit to this, I am deeply grateful that I did and continue to, above and beyond all else. If I were to encourage anyone to do anything at all, it would be to cultivate and learn to listen to their intuition and trust that as a guide.
After being on the receiving end of other people's well-meaning concerns that were unconciously laced with palpable fear and worry, I decided to share a little more in-depth about why I chose not to have surgery.
Its staggering to think about how much I've learned over these past several months that I never knew and as the saying goes "The truth will set you free", it truly can. I am so thankful that I educated myself and gathered the information I needed so that I could make my decisions from a well informed place. Surgery was a bigger decision for me because in our society we are so casual about surgery. People do it all the time for all kinds of reasons and don't think twice about it. Also, surgery isn't necessarily toxic in the way chemo and radiation are so there are cases where surgery can be quite helpful.
I'd like to first share a brief summary of the general protocol for cancer treatment which is set up as a system of "the big 3"--surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Learning about this protocol was an important part of my decision on surgery.
There are three main treatments offered to cancer patients- surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. Surgery is usually the first step for a cancer patient, with the intention to "get the cancer out", and this is the sentiment shared by most people---"Just get it out!"
When the lump or bump is removed via surgery, there is a common held belief that this removes all the cancer. It does not. Hence, from here the patient is shuttled off to chemotherapy and radiation to shrink down any other tumors that were not removed via surgery and then barrage the body with a potent blend of patented drugs that have been formulated to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately chemo also destroys the healthy cells--the immune system--leading to a severely compromised immune system and secondary infections.
Look, I have to be honest here, the more I've learned about this process the more disappointed I felt; Seriously? After all these years and over a hundred billion dollars spent on "research" this is the best we can do? Leaving patients to suffer all manner of side effects from losing organs, to nausea and vomiting, losing their hair, secondary cancers, and a deeply compromised immune system? Really? The studies out there are funded by pharmaceutical companies and are based on extending a life, not curing the cancer where as the protocols outlined in healing cancer naturally (non-toxic) are rooted in healing the body and removing the root cause of the cancer.
Doctors of oncology are not allowed to suggest or promote any alternative treatments to cancer patients, if they do they'll be sent to the board and potentially fired. This directive has been put in place by the pharmaceutical industry which supplies the various chemotherapy drugs. Doctors meet with pharmaceutical drug reps who run monthly specials providing them with low cost chemo drugs which they then mark up and sell to their patients. Chemotherapy is where doctors in oncology make about 50-60% of their income.
This doesn't mean the nurses and doctors are not well meaning and trying to genuinely help people, but it does mean, in my opinion that the system is broken and in need of repair.
When I began to learn about all of this it set off an internal alarm. The resounding voice welled up from deep within, This is not the path for you. There must be a better way.
From that point I continued my research, continued to talk with people and during that time I arrived at the decision not to do surgery and felt truly at peace with this choice.
Why I Chose Not to do Surgery
1. Removing the lump does not remove the cancer. Cancer cells are circulating through out our bodies--yes, everyone has cancer cells--but when our immune system is functioning well it eliminates these cells on a regular basis. Surgery removes the lump but it does not remove all the other cells circulating in the body and they will continue to multiply and create another tumor unless the underlying cause is removed. (This is why they do chemo/radiation after surgery, to blast out all the other cells through out the body.)
2.If the lump in my body was causing some kind of blockage or obstruction-(I.E. colon cancer) I would more likely have the surgery. In my case the lump is 0.9cm in size and not obstructing anything.
3.After surgery the body releases a surge of growth hormones as it works to heal and these hormones are delicious food for cancer cells thereby only adding fuel to the fire. Surgery also increases the risk for metastasis (cancer cells spreading).
4.I knew that my immune system was already compromised---that is why I ended up with breast cancer to begin with---it didn't make sense for me to have the surgery and create more healing work for my body which would only have further compromised my immune system. It's like trying to run a race when you are dehydrated, exhausted and malnourished…not gonna happen. I needed to conserve that healing energy and direct all of it toward the healing protocol my Doc was putting me on.
5. There are hundreds of thousands of cases where people have healed their cancer without the use of surgery, chemo or radiation by changing the environment of their bodies to a place that cancer can not survive. I knew in my heart this was the path for me.
These were the top reasons why I chose not to do surgery, but additionally there was "the big picture" to consider. I do not view the human body as individual parts that can be manipulated and removed without affecting the greater whole. As someone once said to me, 'cutting a tumor is like cutting off the tail of an elephant. Just because you cut off the tail doesn't mean the elephant goes away; it's still there.'
I look around and see how divided we have become from our bodies' inherent wisdom; that which each of us possess when we come in to this world. We've become lost beneath layers of unhealthy food, alcohol, prescription drugs, overworking, environmental pollution (also created by us), lethargy or unwillingness to change and most often we can't hear the signals our body is sending us. I knew that if I was going to choose to heal my body using non-toxic methods then I needed to commit 100% and take full responsibility for my choices. It has required nothing less than a radical lifestyle change rooted in changing the environment of my body to one where cancer can not survive.
"This very dynamic of foisting responsibility for life's challenges (including health) onto someone else is part of why we experience disease in the first place. Blame, resentment, fear, anger---these emotions are born of powerlessness. Only by embracing---taking responsibility for-- the cancer and our healing do we fully reclaim our power and authority." (Leigh Fortson)
I chose what felt resoundingly right to me. I would encourage anyone else to do the same and for some people that means doing chemo and radiation. How we feel about the treatment we receive is vital to its success. I am not at war with my body. I am not angry at it. I am more in love with and appreciative for my body, myself and my place on this beautiful stunning, miraculous earth than ever before. The lump has become noticeably smaller but it does not mean I become lax in my regimen or healing work but rather good reason to continue full steam ahead. My journey in this beautiful, sweet special new life has only just begun.