There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to the language you use to describe how you feel..
First things first - Disclaimer: I was diagnosed at a very early stage. This article does not, in any way endorse curing yourself of cancer.
In 2013, the day before my daughter's 10th birthday I left our holiday in Cambridge to drive back to London for the results of my breast biopsy. It was confirmed. I had breast cancer.
For many of you who have been in this situation, I can't imagine what you were thinking when you were told. We are all different. My two main thoughts were about family and money ie if I died would my family be OK without me emotionally and financially? But then my thoughts turned to ....
I was full of questions that the breast surgeon didn't want to answer. What now? what if it is not just in my breast, will you cut my breasts off? If I have chemo how long will it last? Will I have radiotherapy? My breast surgeon would not give me any answers. "Cut them off!" I said. "It's too early at the moment for me to answer any of your questions," he said. But I wanted answers. But if this... what will happen? but what about that...? I think he started hating me at this point. He was a calm man and I know other people who have been to him say he's lovely. But he tells you what you want to hear. His message was that ...it was too early to say anything definite but he will look after me and not to worry.
He told me that he cant answer any of my questions and that I now needed to see the nurse who will take care of me.
OK, I thought, perhaps she can give me timelines and answers? But no, she was ONLY there for comfort. I truly didn't want comfort. I wanted answers. If it's in my lymph nodes what happens? If you find it in my bones what treatment do I get?
She just wanted me to cry, I wanted to know all the different scenarios that were out there for me. I didn't like her and she didn't like me.
In fairness, the breast surgeon could not have told me any more than he did and could not have been nicer. 5 years down the line I have calmed down alot and have a great relationship with him. He cut out my cancer and I had hardly any bad side effects from the surgery. He says this was because he was especially careful with the surgery because he was scared of me (it won't be the first time I have been called "that scary woman!") but I know that he treats all his patients with the same skill and kindness.
So, after leaving the breast surgeon on my day of diagnosis, without the answers that I wanted, just lots of questions and lots more tests booked, with surgery looming, I went back to the holiday to face all the questions from my family that I couldn't get answers to.
I looked up everything that I could about my cancer, survival rates, treatments, and scenarios. I went on forums. I read the papers (I am an immunologist with a PhD, so access was easy). But without further tests, I didn't know where I stood. We still didn't know what type of cancer it was or if it had spread, so I was at a loss of what to do, what to read that related to me and whether I should be worried or not. Basically, my breast surgeon was right. It was too early for scenarios.
I told all my friends and family about my diagnosis. I didn't need them yet but I might so I thought I should tell them know. And what if the diagnosis was bad? my family needed to know now so they could deal with it. EVERYONE gave me a totally different response.
A large proportion of people told me to get a second opinion. I had moaned about my breast surgeon who had told me the diagnosis, maybe he was wrong? At this point, I had to take a step back in my head. The moans about my breast surgeon and his nurse were simply personality clashes and in fact, in retrospect, it was ALL my fault. I deal with bad news by looking at worst-case scenarios. They wouldn't give me the worst-case scenario (for obvious reasons) and it irritated me. But I know that the nurse and the breast surgeon had my best interest at heart. I might not have liked them but I trusted them to the point that I did not believe that they would say I had breast cancer if they were not sure I did. No, I would not get a second opinion.
Then there were the friends who advised that I went to their faith healer and be cured or become vegan. I should definitely give up sugar and chocolate! WHAT! give up chocolate?!
So I went back to the books and the science and the forums. Sugar DOES feed cancer because sugar feeds ALL cells in the body. This is actually school-level biology. Cutting out sugar doesn't kill cancer, unfortunately, it can make you more healthy though, which you need when going through the harsh treatments that a cancer diagnosis can bring.
So I didn't go to a faith healer or give up chocolate and in fact (me being me) every time now that I go to the hospital to see my oncologist or breast surgeon) I will always have a hot chocolate, whether I really want it or not, as a little act of defiance. Yes, I have cancer AND chocolate - Living dangerously!
But I won't disparage alternative treatment and I do respect peoples choices for their own treatments. I know that acupuncture is good for the hot sweats you can get on anti-hormone treatments used for some cancers and there are certain herbal remedies that can ease the symptoms of nausea that you get with chemotherapy. However, I also understand they can be bad. St Johns wort (which I used to use) is VERY bad, for example, if you are taking tamoxifen for breast cancer and there are NO herbal remedies that will replace traditional treatments for cancer.
After my breast surgery, I saw an oncologist. He had a different approach and was very happy to discuss with me the scenarios. At this point however we had more answers, we knew what type of cancer I had, we knew it (probably) hadn't spread, we knew what treatments I should be on. So I had radiotherapy and took the pills he suggested, I also had a hysterectomy and my ovaries removed which my oncologist didn't recommend. My gynecologist suggested the additional surgery (which my oncologist wasn't keen on) because I had suspected ovarian cancer also so I had to make that decision. I also changed the pills when he told me to and monitored the side effects. Next May I come off the pills. I want to stay on them but he says to see how I feel. I am tired and have put on weight. If when I come off I have more energy and it's easier to lose the weight then I will stay off as he says they aren't necessary anymore. If I feel the same (he says give it three months) I will argue with him to stay on - just in case, to be safe. But in his mind, in May, as long as my mammogram says so, I WILL BE CURED!
I trusted the medical profession. Yes, I asked questions, looked up what they told me, sometimes asked advice from other professionals and argued with my specialist ALOT. Maybe I didn't trust them all on a personal level, some irritated me and some couldn't answer my questions. But I trusted them enough to put my life in their hands. Not everyone will be as lucky as I was. My cancer was caught early, it had not spread and all my treatments have worked (so far). And I won't say it was easy, my life, figure and energy levels have all changed. I am a different person now. But if it comes back I would do the same thing. I would go to the experts to use their years of training to help me, with the confidence that they have my best interests at the forefront of their mind.
If you were a cancer patient and have cured yourself (or delayed symptoms progressing) of cancer by using the medical profession please let us know.
If you find this article offensive or misleading we welcome your comments.
This is up for discussion...
Dr Cohen started her working life as a research scientist and lecturer with over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
She followed a classical scientific career until she left mainstream science in 2000 (which coincided with the birth of her first daughter) to establish the Life Science Communications company, Euroscicon Ltd.
Euroscicon Ltd was her first company (which she sold in 2016).
In 2013 Dr Cohen was diagnosed with Cancer and set up Cancer Care Parcel which provides appropriate gifts for people with cancer.
Dr Cohen is the lead scientific advisor at Optimised Healthcare. A medical profiling company which provides advanced disease prediction, prevention and wellness optimization services.
She also works with and establishes businesses and charities which benefit local, national and international communities.
The ability to cure cancer depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the person's overall health. Through cancer research doctors today better understand how to find many cancers in the early stages and some early-stage cancers can be cured with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. There are also more treatment options to try if one doesn't work. For more advanced cancer, a combination of treatments, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, may be necessary to reduce the size of the tumor and kill cancer cells. In certain cases, such as with certain types of leukemia, cancer can go into remission, which means that there are no signs of cancer and the person's symptoms improve, but they are not necessarily cancer free. In many of these cases, cancer will not be completely cured and treatment will be focused on controlling cancer, relieving symptoms, and improving quality of life.
No, alternative therapies such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, and homeopathy cannot cure a person's cancer. While these may help to manage symptoms, improve quality of life and patient well being, they should not be used as a substitute for traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It's important to note that there is no evidence to support the idea that alternative cancer treatment can cure cancer. In fact, relying on alternative therapies instead of standard cancer treatments can be dangerous because it may delay receiving effective treatment, which could cause the cancer to progress and become more difficult to treat. It is important to have a conversation with your doctor about any alternative therapies you are interested in using, as they may interact with your cancer treatment or affect your overall health. Some alternative therapy can be used in addition to traditional cancer treatment to improve the quality of life, such as meditation and yoga, acupressure, etc. However, they should be used only under the guidance of the treating oncologist, and not as a replacement of standard treatment.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that a vegan diet can cure cancer. While a plant-based diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes has been associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer, it is not clear if this is due to the diet itself or other lifestyle factors associated with a vegan diet such as regular physical activity, avoidance of tobacco and alcohol. It's important to note that a vegan diet may not be appropriate or safe for everyone, particularly for those undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer treatments can affect the body's ability to absorb nutrients and can also cause side effects such as nausea and loss of appetite, and a balanced diet is vital for maintaining your overall health. A registered dietitian or oncologist can help people with cancer to develop a safe and healthy dietary plan that meets their nutritional needs.
While there is some evidence to suggest that a diet high in added sugars may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as endometrial cancer. It is not clear if this is due to the sugar itself or other lifestyle factors associated with a diet high in added sugars such as being overweight or obese. Additionally, as cancer is a complex disease, even if a diet is associated with a lower risk for certain types of cancer, it is not a guarantee it will prevent or cure it, and changing your diet is not an alternative to the cancer treatment recommended by your medical oncology team. While it is a good idea to limit your intake of added sugars, it is important to have a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity. It is also important to have a conversation with your doctor or an oncologist before making any drastic changes to your diet during cancer treatment
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cancer arises due to eating chocolate or that giving up chocolate is a cure for cancer. While some cancer research has suggested that eating large amounts of chocolate may be associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as ovarian and endometrial cancer, it's not clear if this is due to the chocolate itself or other lifestyle factors associated with a diet high in chocolate such as cancer patients being overweight or obese. It's important to remember that a healthy diet is one that is balanced and includes a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Eating chocolate in moderation as part of a balanced diet is fine, but it's also important to check the cocoa content of the chocolate, as some dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content, which means it will contain less sugar and fats, this may be a healthier choice.
There is a popular conspiracy theory that pharmaceutical companies are suppressing cures for cancer in order to make more money from treatments, but there is no credible scientific evidence to support this claim. Cancer research and drug development is a complex and challenging process that involves many years of scientific investigation, clinical trials, and regulatory approval. It is true that cancer research and the development of new cancer treatments can be expensive, and drug companies invest significant amounts of money in cancer research and development in order to bring new treatments to market. However, their primary goal is to find safe and effective treatments for cancer patients, not to suppress cures. While advances in cancer research and treatment have led to improved outcomes for many people with cancer, there is no single cure or magic bullet to cure many cancers. In addition, each cancer patient responds differently to the illness and to treatments. Cancer arises from our own cells, so each cancer can be as different and diverse as people are and there are many cancers, which all need different treatment regimes. In reality, the ultimate goal is to find ways to prevent and control cancers, rather than just find a single cure.
Faith healing, also known as spiritual healing, involves the belief that certain individuals, such as faith healers or spiritual leaders, have the power to heal through prayer or other spiritual means. It's important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of faith healing as a cancer treatment or that any faith healing has cured cancer. Cancer is a complex disease that is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and requires medical treatment. Standard medical treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies, as well as supportive care to manage symptoms and side effects. While some cancer patients may find comfort and support in faith healing or other spiritual practices, it should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment and faith healing alone will not make you cancer free.
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