A Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivors ~ Part 1
[post-img]When Beverly was 36 years old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a biopsy. While she was still under anesthesia, the surgeon went out to the waiting room and informed her husband that Beverly had breast cancer. Rather than respecting her husband’s request that he participate in breaking the news to Beverly, however, the surgeon went back into the operating theatre and informed her of the diagnosis. Beverly was just coming out from anesthesia, so she doesn’t have a clear recollection of how she felt – “emotionally it was kind of a blank,” she says. She doesn’t recall feeling any sense of panic; the only reaction she clearly remembers having is “Okay, I have something else to focus on now
Although the surgeon’s immediate suggestion was that Beverly undergo a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy, she decided not to be rushed into making a decision. After researching her options, she opted for the minimally invasive treatment – a breast lumpectomy – that would remove some of the tissue in the immediate area. For approximately two to three months following her lumpectomy, she had regular monitoring and blood work, but then it was determined that the cancer had spread and that there was lymph node involvement, which would further increase the ability for the cancer to spread. Beverly then went ahead with the mastectomy but, as she found out later, the surgery brought with it other muscular-skeletal imbalances. At the time, she didn’t realize how significantly the healing of the tissue around the breast area would affect the back, shoulder, and neck, not just the isolated area.
[tip-fact]Rather than sending her into a panic, however, Beverly’s cancer diagnosis engaged her into becoming heavily involved in researching current thought and treatment for breast cancer at that time. Apart from studying the traditional western model of treatment, she started looking into alternative holistic methods for healing. She did enough research on diet to start posing some “what if” questions, and from there she began to put things together and take some positive steps towards helping to heal herself.
One of the holistic modalities she researched was acupuncture, and the more she looked into it, the more convinced she was that it could help her healing process. Based on this research, she began having acupuncture immediately after her chemo treatments, hoping that it would help her digestive tract function better while she was going through the chemo. Beverly recalls that she “didn’t know what to expect at the time but thought that if I could keep my system working well, I’d be all right throughout the chemo.”
What she found was a revelation. Throughout her six-month chemo course, which was followed each time by an acupuncture treatment right immediately after, Beverly never felt sick or experienced any feelings of nausea. This was a totally contrary experience to how most people feel when undergoing chemo. Beverly is convinced that the acupuncture somehow enhanced the effects of the chemo and enabled her to combine her body, mind, and spirit in combating the disease.
Beverly’s acupuncture treatments focused mostly on maintaining the stomach and spleen function of the body. “According to Chinese medicine,” Beverly explains, “the fastest and most vast turnover of cells is in the stomach. So being able to move the blood from the stomach and spleen structure through the rest of the body helps restore the body. Blood circulation is what heals us all, so if the blood circulation slows down and gets stagnated, it causes a lot of problems, like the nausea that’s experienced by most people who undergo chemo.” Beverly’s fear of feeling nauseous was what prompted her to start her research because “I was determined that there had to be a way for me to offset it to some degree.” And because of the acupuncture, she never experienced any nausea. “I thought I could lessen it but didn’t expect not to feel any nausea at all, so that was marvelous.”
Beverly’s cycle for six months was to undergo chemo once a week for three weeks, take one week off, and then continue chemo for another three weeks. After completing this cycle, the testing went on for five years on a regular schedule, with longer and longer periods between doctors’ visits as time went on.
After recovering from cancer, which “seems like such a lifetime ago,” Beverly actively began to change her lifestyle and life direction. Before her diagnosis, she had lived an unstructured lifestyle with no real focus or goals. Her view of life changed dramatically with her breast cancer diagnosis. “I got a taste of what it was like to have a lifestyle with goals and commitments.”