Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking the Bull by the Horns

I think you can approach this cancer thing in different ways - "go with the flow and ride it out" or "stop the ride and stand up for yourself".  I choose the latter. 

To me it seems like riding a mechanical bull and just when the ride smooths out, you get thrown. You have to get off the mat and get back on - take charge! 

Grab the bull by the horns!
If you have questions, ask them. Don't accept an answer that is not clear to you.
Just because you have friends or family members that did treatment one way, doesn't mean that's your way.
Your body is still yours! Make sure the cancer team knows that and that you are making decisions.

I made what may seem a controversial decision to some people and good decision to others. I choose to go against the recommended treatment plan and I did not do chemo. It seems to be a rule that if any cancer cells hit a lymph node, chemo is the set path. I had cancer cells (3mm) in one of three nodes and I said NO to CHEMO. Honestly, if there were two or more lymph nodes involved, I'd be in the middle of chemo right now - my decision would have been different.

I did not make this decision lightly. I met with my oncologist (the 2nd /good one) twice before I decided. I read, researched, prayed, soul-searched, ate ice cream and whatever else I needed to do to make this decision. I was told that if I was going to do chemo, I had to start it within 6-8 weeks of surgery - not immediately. I know this only because I asked. This window of time gave me confidence to stop and think through things. 

My oncologist agreed to support my decision and stand as part of my cancer team. Some friends think I am crazy and some don't. I'm not crazy. I did what was right for me and my decision is not right for everyone. Quality of life is very important. Deciding to do chemo to kill off the possible lone cancer cell that may or may not be roaming through my body, was just not that clear to me. What if a cell did not get out of that lymph node? I'd have put toxic chemicals in my body for no reason (early menopause, illness, bone health risks, joint pain and time with no hair). What if there is that lone cancer cell swimming around in body you ask? I'll cross that bridge only if its built. With radiation and tamoxifen, there is a greater than 50% chance that I will never get cancer again.   (* I do know that actual percentage number but I am not sharing as to not influence other people's decisions)

My brother put it best when he said,  "when you look in the mirror everyday are you going to say I wonder if I have cancer somewhere or are you going to look at yourself and know that you are OK?"

I know that I am OK.


  1. I like that you "stopped the ride and stood up for yourself".
    I hope I too can be like you. Its our choice to have chemo or whatever treatment they throw at us.
    Given the SE I think I'd be ok with your choice too.
    And thats what its all about. Its our bodies...Its our ride.
    We will make our own choices.
    I will be praying for you and eating icecream with you that it was the right choice girl !!!

  2. I opted for no radiation. At first my Dr looked at me like I was nuts. After talking with many people who went this route I weighed carefully if it was something I could do. No Oh I had the tattoo's . I even went for my appointment was on the radiation bed. I jumped off ran off and never looked back. If your gut instinct is so great you better listen. I could not allow my body to go through one more agonizing process. I have never had regrets....

  3. It was my second cancer. I did everything I could. But I made informed decisions on everything.