I was 20 and and laying under Balinese sun when I first felt a stinging pain in my breast, I didn't think much of it at that time. Even when I later discovered there was a small bump I convinced myself it was a smal inflammation...
After having returned home I noticed the small bump started growing and while doing so the pain increased till a point where I couldn't bear wearing a bra or tight clothing any more.
After a month or so I seriously started doubting my own conclusion; I've had an inflammation before and that came with redness, warmth and an increase in size of my lacteal gland: while this time the bump obviously was growing separately from my gland, grew at top speed and thus had reached the size of an egg already without any warmt, redness or other inflammation symptoms.
I will spare you the effort it took me to find a doctor that would eventually give me the scan I needed. So what follows is a long story short: I had a tumor the size of a big egg in my breast.
Disclaimer: the story that follows is my personal journey, it may or may not be applicable for your situation and I do not criticize any one who choose for a different path than I did. In a situation like this every choice comes with a lot of 'baggage' and I want to make clear that I have the biggest respect for every individual, their choices and their journey. In this post I aim to give you an honest view on how + why I opted for this approach, but also the downsides, loneliness and other struggles that came with it. This is the first time I'm telling my story and I have reconstructed this post from a collection of my diary entries and memories.
" I'm fine.''
I went to a couple of doctors in different placed for several procedures. I went through it all quite easily and had been able to convince myself that I was 'fine' the whole day.
Till I got home. I could barely manage to drag myself up the stair and I was shaking from top to bottom. It felt as if all my strength had just evaporated and when I installed myself on my couch I wasn't able to move position any more. I just sat there, silently, for a couple of hours.
I wanted to talk about it, to hear that this was hard, that I had the right to feel a little bit sorry for myself, but that in the end I was going to be alright.
But that's not what we do in my family.
We don't say anything, till it's fixed.
A part of me hoped that my boyfriend would be different: but deep down I know he wasn't.
It felt like the subject was taboo, like I was a burden. A problem that would eventually solve itself if they ignored it long enough.
I thought that my friends wouldn't want to be my friends any more, that my clients would go running to my competitor and that I would end up even more alone than I already was.
So I decided to stick to the usual: '' I'm fine, who are you?"
For a little bit more than a week, I didn't talk to any one about it. I banned the whole topic from my thoughts and continued to live life as I had been doing.
Till one morning I decided to join a trauma healing breathing workshop.
My first tears
I consider this workshops to be one of the most important moments in the whole process.
However, that's not what I thought of it straight away...
It was a group workshop, which made me feel very uncomfortable. We were sitting in a circle and blindfolded we had to go into meditation; all for the purpose of getting to your traumas, stress or fears.
I had never done something similar and I was still feeling extremely awkward. Till a point where I suddenly relaxed and... cried.
For the first time since my diagnosis the tears were running down my cheeks and there was nothing I could do to stop them.. I later learned that I had a little panic attack (for the first time in my life). My teacher was just amazing, without any word he made me feel so supported and welcome that eventually I calmed down.
At the end of the workshop he made all of us share our stories. I was the last one to speak. The whole time I had tried to form the words and sentences in my head but when I had to speak, I couldn't say anything, I just looked at the floor in front of my toes. Till I finally said:
'' Last week they found out I have cancer and now my boyfriend and family won't speak to me. And I feel so alone. And I just don't want to die. ''
Then the whole group stood up and hugged me, while I cried.
They were the first people who actually wanted to talk about it in a positive way.
They asked questions, told me I was brave and strong (even though I still believed I was weak for opening up about it) they told me about their health journeys and encouraged me to take good care of myself in every possible way.
After that workshop I had a meeting with a client who eventually bought my service.
Both my family and boyfriend only asked how my meeting went and congratulated me with my success.
I was shocked.
Even though the workshop had encouraged me to talk to my loved ones, I just couldn't.
Instead I wrote in my diary:
'' How long will it take for people to stop caring about me? (because it takes tooo long to be 'fine' again.)
'' Maybe it would be better for my family if I just left.''
''Will my friends still be my friends, or will they see me as a burden too?''
" How to I prevent my friends from having empathy with me?''
I decided that the answer to most questions was: as long as I'm getting better or making some kind of progress my true friends might still see me as the girls I used to be.
Just get better
I knew from day 1 that I wasn't looking forward to the extreme challenges that conventional and side effects that conventional treatment would bring to the table. So I started researching all 'alternative' options.
At this point I'm not particularly proud of my approach but; I was treating my illness like a project.
So I used the following approach to determining the best possible treatment.
1. Gather all the back ground information there is
2. Make an hypothesis
3. Set up a plan (treatment)
4. Execute the plan
5. See what happens (cure or not)
'Luckily' there were thousands of researchers and patients who had walked this path before me and thus there were a lot of amazing papers and studies I could read.
I forgot to mention earlier but: from the day I was diagnosed I had started a vegan ketogenic diet since I had heard that both vegan diets and ketogenic diets had cured cancer so I just wanted to be sure (and not miss out on any possible cure ;) and combined both.
Most of the research I found, came down to this:
What made the basis for most of my treatments:
Diet & Stress
So basically this was my plan when it comes to nutrition.
Create an alkaline state, fast to limit availably energy for most of the time, exclude glucose from diet (as much as possible).
Than I found many many research papers that proved that 99.999% of illnesses were caused by stress.
They stated that when the body is in absence of stress the immuun system it is able to repair all damage that is done and thus heal itself.
So my second plan was to reduce the amount of stress I had as well as healing the wounds from my past; since traumas are the biggest source of chronic stress.
I have tried a variety of non-conventional treatments which I will not discuss in this post since I don't want to elaborate to much from the story. For more information, please contact me.
I must admit that this was by far the most difficult 'task' to complete.
I'm not ready to share the stories behind the trauma's on paper but I will say that I cried for hours and hours in this healing process.
I cried in group therapy, I cried during my walk in the park, I cried when I was alone at night, I cried while getting dressed in the morning, I cried while feeding my dog.
Long story short: it was exhausting, it was terrible but it was necessary.
Somewhere in the process I got too tired to cycle to group therapie so I gave up on that.
If there is one thing that I would have done differently: it would have been that.
Never quit therapy. Like ever. Just. Don't. Do. It.
That was really stupid ( I have no better word for it) because now I had no one to talk to any more, no one to hug me when I cried and no one to remind me that this was hard, but that I would get through it.
The first time I told my friends
After a week or so I decided to tell my two best friends (with whom I hadn't had contact for a long time since I was too ashamed to reach out to them).
They both were so incredibly sweet, supportive and loving. There is no way on earth that I could can't thank them enough for what their support meant to me.
So if you're reading this: THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU <3
The remaining of my healing process went with up and downs (as my life still does, actually). There were good days were I could get out of bed, walk my dog, get a matcha and have a chat with the barista while drinking it.
But there were also days where I was in so much discomfort and pain that I couldn't get out of bed.
At one point I asked if my mom could come and get my dog since I couldn't walk the stairs to let her out any more. This really broke my heart. But it was the best thing to do (for my dog at least.)
All these ups and downs eventually brought me to T.H.E D.A.Y
I went to the hospital for a new scan. And this scan would determine my future more than one in the past had ever done.
I knew that the results would differ from the last time I had visited, since I had felt the tumor shirk, but I was still scared. Scared that I was wrong, scared that I would still be ill, but mostly scared that my I had made the wrong choice when I opted for non-conventional treatment and that it had done more bad than good.
My doctor came in extremely stressed and rushed. Before making the scan she wanted to feel the tumor with her hand and when she couldn't find it she seemed pissed off and obeyed me to switch positions since ''it wasn't going to work like this.''
I was still scared. Scared that I would be positioning a wrong way and would prevent the scan from getting valid results. (I know, it sounds crazy; but it's true...)
I went home very confused, I was still worring I had done something wrong. I found it weird that the doctor couldn't find the tumor but refused to make a note about it and last but not least: she was very unclear about the scan.
I pretend to be certain that everything was okey, that the doctor had been nice, that she told me she couldn't 'find' the tumor with her hand and that she had told me to call within a week to hear the results.
I think I managed pretty well since no one questioned my statements.
When I phoned my doctor (not the one who made the scan) a week after the scan, to ask him for the results he told me that...
The whole tumor had disappeared. The scan had came out clear, everything looked good and that he was blown away by the results. I must admit that he didn't think it had anything to do with herbs, treatment or diet; but obviously I didn't care. It was gone.
I was not going to die, I could travel the world, go on adventures and meet new people without a constant need worry in the back of my mind.
I know I called my final-scan-day 'the day' already, but this story has a lot of 'the days'
The day I discovered my tumor, the day I got officially diagnosed, the day I first cried, the day I opted for non-conventional treatment, the day I first opened up about it, the day I accepted every possible outcome, the day I got better. And than finally:
The day I discovered a new level of gratitude.
A gratitude that comes from the bottom of your heart and makes your finger tips tingle. A gratitude that makes you appreciate the air in your lungs and the heart beat behind your chest. A gratitude that makes your soul smile.
But mostly: a gratitude I wish to never lose again.
I have noticed that I mostly avoid talking about this chapter in my life and when I do, I tend to make it an euphemism.
Leaving out all the struggles, all nights I have silently cried myself to sleep, all the days I was so exhausted I couldn't even walk the stairs.
But not this time. I have painted the picture that way it was and not how I wish I would have been like.
Written by: Evi Maalcke