October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the internet is flooded with podcasts, lives, articles and videos from cancer survivors or doctors. This is a great thing! Even in my little town, Ploiesti, Romania, I saw a middle age woman wearing a pink ribbon on her cardigan yesterday. Believe me, for Romania, this is wow, and I am so happy people started to be open minded about it and not only in media.
Yet, I know it is painful and not everyone is able to open up, to tell the world about their story…I know because I am a pretty close relative to someone who had breast cancer and survived and I am also a pretty close relative to someone who had breast cancer… and did not survive.
That’s why I thought that maybe, in this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it would be useful to write a letter from me to all the cancer patients.
I know your journey is a tough one, I know you have a million thoughts and decisions to make, but what if you would stand still for some minutes and read my insight, what I’ve learned in all these years and what I would want you to know from my perspective – I, a relative of someone who, at one point, had breast cancer.
1. Time with the loved ones is the most important
As I said above, one of my two relatives who had cancer did not survive. I remember that she believed work is good for her. It made her forget about the disease, it made her feel useful.
Yes, but this took away precious moments together. My relative who had breast cancer and did not survive was an accountant. Now, I can’t stand to see those accounting registers anymore. It reminds me of the moments I could have spent with her but didn’t because of them, because of her work.
Maybe for you work is an escape, but for us, the other ones, work is just the villain that kidnaps you from us.
2. Don’t blame yourselves. Don’t blame others for what’s happening to you!
Quilt is the most deceitful of them all. And cancer patients tend to feel that a lot. They feel guilty of being sick, of not being strong enough, of not being able to take care more of the house, the kids, the husband, parents etc. They feel guilty of not being able of thinking so positive as all these trends say on Instagram. They feel guilty because they did not eat healthy enough, exercise enough etc. etc.
No one is to blame for your illness! Not you, not your family, not your lifestyle, not your eating habits etc.
And this tells you someone who tries to eat without gluten, dairy, sugar etc. because of endometriosis and yes, these things could matter but they might not matter – nothing is sure.
There are happy, optimistic, healthy people who, eventually, make cancer. There are toxic people as red as a rose, their health is great..they never get cancer.. There are examples of each side so...you can never know for sure.
Of course, genetics, diet, thoughts, putting limits and keeping in your life only what you feel is best for you matter but it is not the cause of your cancer.
This advice also goes for the relatives of the cancer patients.
I blamed myself a lot after that relative of mine passed away. I thought I could do something, research more even if I only was 22 years old. But the truth is when someone has to go through this – not death – but a cancer experience – he or she will, not matter what he or she does.
3. Follow a plan!
I admit, I wanted so badly to write here “Go to the surgery and also have a healthy diet/life style” but I know it is not fair.
That everyone has to choose for themselves.
Yet, that relative of mine who had cancer and survived and is very well now, after 30 years, followed than plan:
SURGERY, CHIMIOTHERAPY, RADIOTHERAPY, DIET, NO STRESS, NO WORK AND A LOT OF FAITH
If someone would ask me what is the “magical recipe” against cancer hat would be.
That is what kept that dear relative alive.
Yet, whatever path you choose, I think it is important to make a plan, to have a plan and to follow it.
If you want to go through surgery, find the best doctors, inform yourself, talk to other patients etc. If you want to mix this with a natural plan, find the best therapists and ask your doctors about this – for the two measures not to interfere one another.
If you want to go only with the natural path, then find the best specialists in this area but also GO TO REGULAR MEDICAL CHECK-UPS!
4. It’s good to know other patients’ experience but this does not mean that will be your experience too
Especially if you hadn’t many health problems prior to this, you might feel overwhelmed. It’s normal. But I still think you need to hear other people’s experience. You can learn from them, you can be inspired by them, yes, you can be frightened by them but this could help you in finding the right way.
5. Tell your children and loved ones what is happening to you!
I was a child when my first relative got sick. I was a teenager when the other relative got sick. Yes, I understood to some extend their pain. Yes, later on I developed myself a serious condition named endometriosis.
Some say this was because I was exposed to illness at such early age.
I don’t think so.
Endometriosis is a genetic condition and my first symptoms appeared at 11 years old.
Being exposed to cancer made me empathic, helped me to understand some things more. Helped me being closed to other relatives. Taught me to say more often and easier “I love you”. Helped me staying more with my relatives.
I wouldn’t give all these away for nothing in the world.
Yes, protect your children/teenagers/nieces/nephews/parents/husband to some extend, but explain them what is happening to you. Go to the priest/psychologist together, spent time and be happy together.
This is all that children want.
6. Have a lot of faith!
Have a lot of faith..in something! I know both of my relatives had a lot of faith in God. They prayed, went to church etc. etc.
And I honestly think this is what helped them the most.
For the one who survived, but also for the one who didn’t.
I am sure that even the relative who did not survive is good now as she has sent us a lot of signs...
7. You are a special person!
I burst into tears when I say that but I truly believe that. That you are a special person. I am sorry for all the theories that point a finger at you. Of course it is important to realize what childhood traumas we have, if we have a toxic life in the present etc. etc. but this is not why you get cancer.
I remember of Nightbirde, that beautiful woman who came at “America’s got talent” and amazed everyone with her beauty, strength, with her light.
Cancer patients have a different, powerful mission – to show the world what is the most important, to show the light, the beauty, the hope in something seen as bad – and the examplas could go on.
There’s a lot of writing nowadays about “the causes of cancer”. To be honest, I think this is something personal between the patient and God and no one should interfere, especially not in an aggressive way.
Cancer patients are so special and we should all make a shield around them and believe. Believe that our love could be a small, but important part in their recovery.