Of course I had no clue what breast cancer was when I myself was diagnosed with it. My analytical skills may yet save the situation at hand, and I hope that my experience will help others to recognize it in time, and to take the proper and immediate course of action. I also hope that expedient identification of the source that may lead to cancer will prevent others from reaching any stage of cancer at all.
One thing I have learned: do not listen to well-intended advise "Oh, it is probably benign, it is nothing, don't worry." A breast lump is never to be dismissed.
In my case the lump came up very aggressively, almost overnight, presenting my first clue that something was not right. I was able to deduce that it had doubled its size in no more than 45 days during which time I recall feeling lethargic and burned out. I had the distinct sensation that an indifferent and powerful force had taken over my body. I also noticed that I had very little urination in that time, even though I still drank the same amount of fluids.
A sonogram was taken, and an oval mass with a slightly lobulated top margin showed up. Most benign tumors have well-circumscribed edges, and feel slippery to the touch. A solid, lobulated tumor that is firmly in place would suggest malignancy. I decided to have the tumor excised at once, hoping it would be benign, but deep down inside I already knew it was cancer.
I am a business analyst at a major corporation in the US and live a fairly structured and sedate life. I exercise a little, and eat a balanced diet. I stopped smoking 25 years ago, but still drink on occasion. My lifestyle and phenotype have nothing in common with an older lady from India, who is 4f11, eats a vegetarian diet, and never drank nor smoked. She was diagnosed with the same cancer as mine, around the same time. My lifestyle may be somewhat similar to another older lady who was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine. None of us resemble another middle-aged lady who was left to die within 3 months after having been diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of ovarian cancer.
The four of us are still alive, battling cancer to varying degrees. Despite the lack of similarity in lifestyle, we do have one thing in common. We all went through a period of extreme stress, mental anguish, grief and sorrow that left us completely drained and depleted. Such mental stress that malingers undigested in the heart causes the immune system to be suppressed and the tissue to be more receptive to ills.
Dr. Gabor Mate in Vancouver refers to Dr. Hans Selye when he writes: "Stress remains outside the frame of reference of mainstream medical thinking, despite its documented negative effects on the immune system and despite many studies that confirm an association between cancer and people's life stresses." It was Dr. Selye who first pointed out that stress of any sort, whether physical or emotional, has certain characteristic effects in the body, and in particular on the immune system. (http://www.commonground.ca/iss/0210135/10_gabor_mate.shtml)
Breast cancer is a disease that must be dealt with proactively. Doing breast exams cannot be stressed enough; manual examination of the breast is still the best. The mammogram I took about 5 months before I discovered the lump was negative. The sonogram showed a mass about 2 centimeters in size. Had I not been analytical about the behavior of this tumor I would have followed the advise of the lab and wait another 6 months for a follow-up. By then it would have been worse than it already is.
Doing research is important. As soon as I obtained the reports, I did research on each and every word in them (my background in molecular biology does help, but anyone can understand the language of websites targeted to the public). Not wasting time is important; discussing your research with a good doctor is important; staying away from stress and negativity is important; not getting paranoid is important; keeping a positive attitude is important. Perhaps somewhat trite, but perhaps also most important is being loved. In the battle against cancer, it is of no small consequence to feel loved and cared for. To be surrounded by people who provide positive enforcement, and give you love and the sense that you are special to them and meaningful in their lives is a medicine that no science can provide.
I am fortunate that I have many friends and coworkers who love me dearly, who know who I am, what I am capable of doing, and what I have been through. It is what they offer that keeps my spirits up, and make me believe that I will beat this very prevalent and very dangerous disease.
Links that contain useful and well-organized information:
Quackwatch SM Your Guide to Health Fraud
copyright march 2003 Marinza Bruineman firstname.lastname@example.org