When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, I was immediately thrown into a whirl wind of medical terms, treatment options, and total disbelief that I had breast cancer in my 40’s. As soon as I began to share my diagnosis, friends, family members and total strangers inundated me with cancer cures they had read about on the internet.
I was told, I needed to immediately get on a plane and seek treatment elsewhere as they couldn’t possibly treat me where I lived. I was told again and again, the best alternative treatment could be found in Texas, Mexico and Europe among other far flung destinations. I was desperately warned about Western medicine and told I must immediately change everything in my life to survive. As the owner of a candy store, the first obvious suggestion was that this cancer had been caused by sugar and that sugar had to be completely eliminated from my life…yesterday.
Advice was given to add turmeric to all my food, drink hydrogen peroxide, take gobs of bizarre supplements, most I had never even heard of. You must ingest medical cannabis oils, tinctures and edibles with abandon, immediately go vegan, cutting out all meat and animal products, start a green juice fast and avoid chemotherapy at all cost as it will kill me! Wow! I'm not saying that all of these suggestions are not without merit, I'm just pointing out that I had cure overload from all of the information.
I was completely overwhelmed and decided that the best way for me to deal with my breast cancer was to do my homework, choose a team of Doctors that gave me choices and not listen to anyone else unless I asked them for help and advice. This proved to be the best way for me to deal with breast cancer, but it did not stop the influx of emails and messages that basically were insinuating that I was not capable of making choices about my own medical care. Looking back, I find it interesting and just a little upsetting that not a single one of the people offering all of this treatment advice had any medical background. They were not trained in oncology or medicine, Western or Eastern and the majority of them had never been given a cancer diagnosis!
I completely understand the need to give advice to someone you know, but I have learned a very valuable lesson; only give that advice if it is asked for. Cancer is complicated and every type is different. When you give unsolicited advice to someone with cancer, it can make them feel overwhelmed, confused and quite frankly it can cause them to feel shame that the cancer is somehow their fault. "If you only had done xyz, you wouldn't have cancer..." is the message that often comes across.
In my next blog I will share with you some valuable do's and dont's when supporting someone with cancer. In my journey, I found tremendous support with OjaiCARES, my local cancer support center. Finding a cancer support center is vital to help you wade through all of the cancer muck you find yourself trapped in. Trained, caring professionals can help answer questions and guide you with sound advice while supporting your ever changing emotional needs. Not all advice is bad, but learning the best way to give it can make all the difference.