As time passed from my initial diagnosis, more and more people asked me the reason for my cancer. I think they wanted an answer so it gave them something to avoid and somehow provided them with more protection from the disease. They were hoping that I said ‘Uh, well, when I was a kid I swallowed some poisonous floor cleaner and it gathered in my breast and turned into a tumour’ so they could in turn say ‘Oh, thank God I never swallowed floor cleaner and therefore will never have cancer.’ People seemed to want to be able to put their blame somewhere, so they felt less threatened by the reality of cancer and it seemed harder and harder for people to grasp the concept that my cancer is a big question mark.
Never the less, I have been told by many, many people, who don’t have any medical or oncological training, that my cancer has a cause. Some people think it was the hormones from the birth control pill, other think it was stress, others think it was the food I eat or the deodorant I used, and others have blamed it on our environment. I continue to assure them that my entire medical team is baffled but regardless of genetic testing being negative, having no family history, and being only twenty six when I was diagnosed, they feel as though they know the answer.
In the beginning, I would let this kind of thing go, or just agree with the different conclusions to the cause of my cancer but I am starting to get annoyed – pissed even – because I think this blame game that we are playing is detrimental to our health. On Facebook yesterday I saw a picture of a bald woman, obviously hooked up to chemo, with IV bags lingering everywhere with a picture of a green fruit in the forefront and it said ‘The Soursop [it is some kind of fruit] – Totally ignored by the criminally murderous pharmaceutical industry, this medicinal tropical fruit kills cancer cells up to 10, 000 times more effectively than their expensive failure called chemotherapy with no side effects.’ Are you fucking serious? This just pisses me off. This picture blames me for losing my hair, for feeling like shit for 6 months, for not having a breast anymore, for taking a year off work, for everything that comes with cancer. It’s saying that I had a choice and when I had to choose my course of survival, I chose chemotherapy; a treatment that has horrible side effects and may have left me infertile instead of a simple fruit. What an idiot! The choice is so obvious, pick the fruit you moron, you like fruit, and it 10000 times better than chemo and the bonus? No side effects. Man, people are stupid who decide to go through chemo. (You see where I’m going with this?).
What pisses me off even more is that I know of women who have been fit their entire lives, who don’t smoke or drink and who eat organically and guess what – they got cancer. Is their cancer somehow not their fault but because I didn’t eat organically and am overweight, my cancer ismy fault? I was told by a doctor who specializes in nutrition and health that at 26 years old, it is physically impossible for me to be the reason for my cancer – I have not had enough time to be the cause because in 26 years, my body cannot produce a tumour because of something that I’ve done. Wow, did that feel good to hear. It doesn’t give me a free pass to live a reckless life but it does relieve some of the guilt that I have felt about somehow causing my own cancer due to stupid shit like this Facebook post(as someone who doesn’t smoke, drinks maybe 3 drinks a month, and has a relatively healthy diet).
This soursop fruit might be wonderfully healthy and it might have cancer killing agents but I absolutely detest when people who have never had cancer preach about how they would react if they were faced with it. I fully support alternative medicine and if anything, I am envious of those who are brave enough to refuse chemo because they believe in a more natural route but to say that chemo doesn’t work or that drinking green tea will cure the aggressive cancer tumour growing at a rapid pace in my breast is morally irresponsible and ill informed. And oddly enough, in all of the research that I did on breast cancer, treatment, chemo, fertility, etc. etc. etc. I found actual data and research about how chemo works and the survival rate and yet, I didn’t come across one thing that said ‘soursop is the cure.’
When I initially read this Facebook post (along with a variety of other ones that say marijuana will cure cancer, eating sugar is a sure way to get cancer, drinking green tea is a sure way to avoid it, etc.) I was pretty angry and it led to a tweet that resulted in a number of replies that I want to share with you (keep in mind that you only have 140 characters in a tweet so grammar doesn’t really count on Twitter).
My original tweet – ‘I hate reading about how people who have never had cancer would not do chemo and would instead eat a certain fruit or drink a special tea.’
From @ChristinaNewman – ‘talking to hubby about this – I used to be that girl – refused treatment for 11 months till I realized I would die w/o treatment.’ I loved her honesty. You just don’t know how you would react unless you are faced with these decisions.
From @zapladybug ‘When I was first diagnosed *two* people told me green tea cures #breastcancer. Two. To my face. And they were sober.’ I loved this. It was retweet worthy. Seriously, who says that?
From @arielnoriega5 ‘Agreed! People think they would do one thing but when you are put in the situation, one thing is clear… treatment!! #Life’. Yep, couldn’t agree more.
From @terriwingham ‘Seriously. I think it’s total garbage as I sip my red wine ;-) Everything in moderation even moderation is my mantra :)’. Terri, you’re so friggin’ great!
From @slieks ‘Even worse when they try to convince you it’s the key to your survival.’ Couldn’t have said it better myself.
From @lexieann73 ‘Agree! Unless they have been there and done that they should keep their mouth shut.’ I don’t pretend to know how I would treat MS if I was diagnosed and the same should be said for cancer.
From @iamnotcancer ‘After I finished chemo, an acquaintance told me a friend’s mother was cured by marijuana oil. Pot cures.’ Don’t forget your green tea!
From @nancebeth ‘I was told that grilled food caused my #breastcancer and that there was an herbal tea available that would cure it’. Aha! I knew there was a tea for that.
To my cancer peeps – thanks for listening, this post was brewing for months. To non-cancer peeps, please be very conscious of telling people why you think they have cancer and how to treat their cancer and don’t forget that sometimes bad cancer happens to good people, and instead of trying to get to the bottom of it, accept it – we have.