Damned If You Do … Damned If You Don’t
When you are diagnosed with cancer, you begin to question “why”. What caused it? Why this particular cancer? What have I done wrong in my life that caused my cells to malfunction? Yes – what have I done wrong … You blame yourself. It’s a dangerous path to tread along because it inevitably leads to guilt, shame, anger, and frustration.
As a cancer survivor of not just one, but two different cancers, I have had these particular questions race through my mind. And, through reading journals, news posts, and talking with healthcare professionals, I began to realize there are no clear-cut answers to the questions. Some cancers are related to diet. Some cancers are related to environmental toxins. Some cancers are caused by a genetic mutation. Alcohol has been linked to cancer. Smoking has been linked to cancer. Sun exposure has been linked to caner. Estrogen exposure has been link to cancer. Radiation, a treatment used to cure cancer can also cause a secondary cancer … The list truly can go on, and on, and on….
So how the hell did I end up with two cancers?! I grew up priding myself in my healthy lifestyle. I was active. I was fit. I ate a well-balanced diet based on Canada’s Food Guide. And when I entered my 30’s I cleaned my diet up even more. I severely cut back on starch. I chose organic as often as I could. I purchased grain-fed, hormone-free, certified-humane meat. I was truly at my absolute healthiest, enjoying quality nutrition, with minimal sugar, starch, and alcohol intake. I walked or biked to work everyday, and I was still the same size/weight I had been since age 20. I also never smoked, and I never did drugs. Good for me, right? Surely I was in the clear for cancer … but at age 39 I was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid, and at age 40 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I was devastated. I was confused. I was scared. I was shocked. How the hell could this have happened when I took such great care of myself? Where had I gone wrong? Was it one too many glasses of wine over the years? Was it enjoying ice cream or sweets, even if only in moderation? Was I unknowingly living in a cesspool of environmental toxins? And why does one person who regularly consumes alcohol, smokes cigarettes, or bakes in the sun never develops cancer, whereas someone like me, who makes all the “healthy choices” develops cancer? It makes no logical sense. There must be some reason why one person who has the same exposures as another develops cancer, whereas the other does not. Perhaps we are genetically pre-disposed? Although I was fortunate enough to receive a battery of genetic tests (all negative), I was reminded that there are so many, many variables within our DNA that can be a contributing factor to why one little cell goes awry and wreaks ridiculous havoc within the body. Which brings me to the conclusion that you are “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.
I certainly do not mean that you should go out and get trashed, smoke like a chimney, fry in the sunshine, eat completely unhealthy foods at all times, etc. and so forth … you definitely should not (at least not on a daily basis!). What I am trying to say is that you should live your life, in a way that makes you feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. You can make educated choices and decisions in your daily activities/indulgences and in your daily nutrition that can help lower your risk in developing cancer, or other medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. But, don’t stress over it because, as with anything in life, it is not a guarantee. Nothing is. And, because nothing in life is a guarantee it is all the more reason to enjoy the little things. The little things truly are the “big things”. They are what makes your life unique, momentous, memorable, and precious. They are what creates passion, energy, and joy. They are what make life worth living for. So live it! Love it! And Enjoy it! Guilt-free.
Damed If You Do … Damned If You Don’t. Published by Crystal Joy Hall