Since I was diagnosed, people have asked me why I think this happened or what I’m going to do to prevent a reoccurrence. Honestly, I tend to give them a blank look when asked either question. But, inside, I wonder the same things. I’ve done genetic testing. The results showed no genetic predisposition to anything we can currently test, which surprised me. I didn’t expect a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, but I did expect something to show up simply because…why not?
Just about the only answers I can give are “I don’t know” and “Whatever my doctors tell me to do.”
I’ve had people tell me I need to start using essential oils, switch to the nutritional MLM they sell, eat only organic, eat more kale and other “superfoods,” add pick-a-supplement, and to question everything my doctors recommend (because my life is apparently an episode of the X-Files?). I’ve found this is similar to being pregnant where people give you advice or ask questions they would never otherwise ask. Sometimes it’s so outlandish it’s entertaining. Other times? Not so much.
The simple truth is:
Could I be healthier? Yes.
If I were healthier, would this have happened? I don’t know.
Do I blame myself? Yes.
Should I blame myself? I don’t know.
I feel an enormous sense of guilt for having developed breast cancer at my age, and yes, I do wonder if this would have happened if I’d eaten better…or used better skin care products…or taken supplements…or eaten more organic…or any other thing someone has suggested to me. But, I didn’t, and this happened, and while I feel guilt, I also believe if this was going to happen, there’s nothing I could have done to stop it. Call it fate, call it destiny, call it whatever. If this was what was written in my stars, there’s nothing I could do, and I accomplish nothing but hurting myself by blaming myself.
A friend sent me a FB message today and told me that this is not my fault, that I didn’t do something to deserve this, and I cannot blame myself. I love her word choice…deserve. I really do because she hit the nail on the head. That’s been my question sometimes to A, in those darkest moments of despair. What did I do to deserve this? And, the answer is…nothing. No one deserves this. It isn’t a punishment. It’s a biological dysfunction.
She’s right. This is not my fault. Maybe I could have done things differently, but then again, there are people who live the healthiest lives they can and end up on this same roller coaster.
My aunt tells me the same thing. She gets super mad at me when I go off on a this-is-my-fault tangent. The last time I went off on a this-is-my-fault tangent, not only did she (lovingly) rip me a new one, but then she called my mom (her sister) to let my mom know (and, yes, my mom joined her sister in a THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THIS FROM YOU ANYMORE! pep talk). Some days I need tough love, and there are no better people at it than my mom and my aunt (and one of my best friends, if truth be told). They’re very good at sensing when I need a hug and an “I love you” and a “we’re going to get through this” versus a whack on the back of the head and a “stop it right now and let’s figure this out.”
I don’t know why this happened to me. It just did. Make whatever assumption you want. I’m just here trying to make it through everyday as best I can, the only way I know how. I go minute by minute when it’s too hard to go five minutes by five minutes when it’s too hard to go hour by hour when it’s too hard to go day by day. That’s my mom’s philosophy, and if there’s anyone on this Earth that exemplifies making it through and living in the face of circumstances that would knock most people off their feet, it’s my mom. Most people would throw their hands up in defeat if they had to deal with the trials and struggles my mom has dealt with over the last two years. Not long ago, she told me her attitude has become, “Oh yeah? What else you got?” I asked her to stop throwing that challenge out because fates bigger than us keep accepting her challenge. 🙂
My mom has taught me when day by day is too hard, we go to a manageable unit of time, and if that unit has to simply be one minute by one minute, that’s ok. We’ll build it up from there. But, we get through. Minute by minute to five minutes by five minutes to hour by hour and beyond. That’s how we get through the hard stuff, and by now, my mom is an expert. So, that’s how I get through this.
That, family, friends who have become family, and by holding A’s hand.