cancer nazi

Don’t be a cancer Nazi

NOTE FROM KATHLEEN: I wrote this article two and one half years ago. The friend I wrote about chose integrative therapy and did wonderfully and is alive and healthy at age 75, as is my other friend, who chose surgery, chemo and radiation. Now another close friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer, so I’m re-posting this in response to thoughts and questions from her other friends.

One of my oldest and dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. My own feelings of fear and loss are profound, but they are nothing compared to hers.

As someone who has for so long advocated natural solutions to health problems, she turned to me for advice and support.

My immediate instinct was to “fix it.”

She is frightened and confused and was almost immediately overwhelmed by advice from a wide variety of well-meaning friends and family members who wanted to tell her exactly what to do and what not to do.

That gave me pause for a few minutes while I just listened to her.

She’s not my first loved one who has experienced a cancer diagnosis, and I am sure she will not be the last.

I cannot possibly know what she is going through, nor can I possibly tell her what she should do, regardless of how much I love her.

Yes, I am passionate about natural health and healing. But if I had a cancer diagnosis, I have no idea what I would do. I don’t think anyone would know what to do or think when faced with a potential death sentence.

Would I have a radical mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation?

Intellectually, I can say I would not, but that would be emotionally dishonest. If I had the same diagnosis, I would most likely be willing to throw everything possible at the disease in the desperate hope that something would work.

Certainly I would n`ever condemn someone who makes that choice.

Many dear friends have chosen the conventional medical route and they are alive today. Are they alive because they did chemo and radiation? Maybe, maybe not. It is not for me to know. I am just grateful they are still here.

Nor will I give unsolicited advice to anyone about what treatments or natural approaches might be helpful. There are so many possibilities for effective natural approaches and there are so many charlatans out there just trying to make a buck. It’s nearly impossible to determine for yourself what is true and what is not.

I remember how horrified I was a few years back when a prospective client for my publishing business started out by saying he wanted to charge $50 for his 100-page book.

“How can you justify that?” I asked.

He replied: “People with cancer are so desperate, they’ll pay anything,”

Needless to say, I didn’t accept him as an author.

My friend did ask for advice and I happily told her what I think. I’m not sure how much information she can take in at this point when her mind is going 90 miles an hour, so I’ll repeat it when and if it is requested.

One of my strongest pieces of advice is that she has someone with her to take notes every time she visits the oncologist. I’ve witnessed these emotional meetings. There is a vast amount of medical information parceled out that may not be understandable to the average person, especially not one in an understandably emotional state after a cancer diagnosis. A companion with a cool head who is a good note taker will prove to be invaluable as decisions are made about what course to pursue.

My other piece of advice was that she is still in charge.

  • She is not helpless in the face of conventional medical advice. It is advice, not law.
  • Doctors are not gods
  • She has an absolute right to bring in an integrative oncologist as a consultant in the case
  • She has to power to fire her oncologist is he is not willing to work with her on this

As an aside, I still have very fond memories of the ritual we did nearly 15 years ago after my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. She deiced to go through chemo and after the second treatment, as expected, her hair started falling out in great gobs. She decided to take control over the cancer, so we created a ritual where her sister and I shaved her head. Then she proclaimed she was in control, not the cancer. My cousin is thankfully, still very much with us and has indeed taken control over cancer.

So, back to my friend and another friend who is engaged in the same battle right now, I say, I am here to give you love and support. I am here to answer the phone in the middle of the night when you are consumed with terror. I am here to hold your hand and hold your head when the nausea is temporarily in charge.

But most importantly, I am here to respect whatever decisions you make about the ways you want to treat your cancer and to support you without question.

10 thoughts on “Don’t be a cancer Nazi

  1. Thank you for this. I almost want to expand your “Cancer-Nazi” statement to “Medical-Nazi”. The same advice applies, whether it is to cancer, heart disease or other life altering medical conditions. You are in charge. You have a right to decide your course of action. TAKE NOTES! These are things that I’ve learned and learned again in the last several years. Thank you again!

  2. Thanks, David. It is so true. This applies to any medical crisis. As passionate as I am about natural health and natural healing, I have learned (the hard way) over the years that I cannot push my opinions on others. Many people don’t know much information on alternatives, but the surest way to turn them off is to insist that I know the real”cure.” I don’t. What I do hope people will do is to do their own investigations, seek advice from the best possible sources and most importantly, listen to their own bodies.

  3. And especially don’t say ‘What did you do to cause this to happen to yourself?’ if you’re into the new thought/new age, ‘thoughts become things’ mode… I had someone say that to me during an illness and I thought it was one of the cruelest remarks anyone has ever made to me to date. I have a friend who has breast cancer and was a very careful vegetarian healthy eater. She’s going, ‘Why me? I’ve been so careful..’ To have someone insinuate that she was the cause of her cancer because of some bad thought or karma is nuts….And mindless….

  4. Hi Cuz… I can’t thank you enough for your note taking and hand holding that you did with me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our ceremony was a wonderful one. (being hairless is traumatic, and having a hat party later, was the best) I felt like I was in control of my life. I even invited all my friends and family to come and celebrate with an, I’m Cured party. For this party, I created a doll that represented my fears, and then I burned it. Watching the layers peel off in the fire, was very uplifting. Blessings to you and all my friends and family that were my support team. With special love… M

  5. Kathleen,
    So true what you’ve written. Three things are important: 1)Positive Attitude: Cancer cells are always with us and a healthy body can take care of them. 2) Very important to alkalize! Cancer can’t live in an alkaline environment. So, no red meat, test your drinking water and don’t store water nor food in plastics. Eat almonds and lots of green, organic veggies. 3)Strengthen your immune system with herbs: Astragalus, Goji Berry powder, cook soup with beef bone to get its bone marrow, Turmeric, Ginger and Garlic. We had to do light chemo (taxol)which kills cancer and weakens everything else especially the liver. After done with chemo, take milk thistle and yellow dock. Also take Dandelion leaf and root and probiotics.

    • Keith, I am sooooo glad Rosemary is doing well. I would only add curcumin (not the same effectiveness as turmeric), which targets cancer in many ways, including killing cancer stem cells, the bugaboo that causes recurrences. There’s a ton of excellent research on this to persuade reluctant docs and there are no side effects. Hugs to both of you.

  6. So true! As someone who has been in the “new age, metaphysical, holistic health” circles most of my life there can be such an arrogance about being in control of everything. We are never completely in control. Someone can spoke, drink, eat whatever they want and have a negative personality and live to be 105 and then someone else can do everything “right” and deal with horrible health and disease. I think we can support our health certainly and unfortunately the only breast cancer survivors I know did the chemo and radiation. Through the years I have had many friends diagnosed and the longest survivors did the traditional medical route. So if I was diagnosed I do not know w hat I would do either. Thankfully I have not had to make those decisions. Having someone with you for appointments is imperative because most of us go into overwhelm and fear when faced with so much all at once. Good points all of you and thank you Kathleen for writing this.

    • Thanks, Julie. The only thing I would say is that I know many people who have survived cancer with complementary therapies and some who refused all conventional therapies.

  7. Coming up on time for my second yearly check-up. I’m still doing the Curamed and the iodine, still not carrying my well water in plastic, nor heating food in plastic in the microwave. This year, I’m going for thermography before mammogram time, and if I am shown to be problem-free and am convinced that this reading is accurate, I will refuse the mammogram. I may get booted by my oncologist, but that would be no great loss. Jim and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last week, and I intend to be here for him a l-o-o-ong time!

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