Being a Two-Timer and Other Things

weird-pic-with-frameIt’s not what you think. Seriously.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer (triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma) in 2004 at the age of 31. At that time, I had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.

When I went in to find out my current biopsy results in July 2016, I expected a recurrence. Instead, the surgeon gave me some unexpected news. This was a totally new cancer: ER+ inflammatory breast cancer. I was stunned.

Not one but two aggressive types of breast cancer?

Sitting at home afterwards, I mindlessly scanned Facebook. Perhaps it was just my state of mind at the time, but it seemed like all the posts were taunting me. Inspirational images told me …

Everything happens for a reason.

Change to (x) diet and cure your cancer!

Karma will always get you.

You attract into your life what you truly desire.

Any illness is your body’s way of telling you what it truly needs!

After 12 years, I had truly expected to be free of this. But here cancer was again, confronting me with its ugly old self. I logged out of Facebook with its happy platitudes.

Too, there were well-meaning folks who gave me advice on what I should do, only serving instead to reinforce the ideas from the platitudes, that cancer had returned to my life because of something I had done or failed to do.

The concept that spiritual practices, thought processes, diet, or exercise could solely be the cause of cancer doesn’t incorporate the growing knowledge of the role of genetic mutation in its formation. And for those of us without the commonly known BRCA issue, it can be doubly difficult to make others understand. But there are other mutations–like that with which I was recently diagnosed, PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome–that can play a role in cancer.

And the oncologist is certain this is the cause of my current breast cancer.

Does that mean that I won’t look at spiritual, diet, or exercise in my recovery? Certainly not. But it does mean that I no longer feel culpable in my illness.

There is one thing, though, that remains. My particular mutation puts me at high risk for other cancers as well, along with some other nasty symptoms. As with anyone else, the future remains uncertain, but with the results of my genetic test, I face a new lens through which I can see possible medical outcomes in the years to come.

One day at a time right now.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, the above is the very first selfie I’ve ever taken. I know it’s weird, but that’s more to reflect my feelings than give you a full picture. Plus, the chemo is doing havoc on my skin. So there. Take it or leave it, but this is me right now.

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