Coping with Breast Cancer

How did you deal with your breast cancer diagnosis?

If you are anything like me, you probably tried to gain control over an out-of-control situation by changing anything – or everything – ASAP. For me, it was a diet makeover, an increase in exercise, a complete re-evaluation of household products, the ditching of unnecessary and stressful relationships, and probably a whole host of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. It was like a huge, personal spring cleaning at my house – except it was in October, my breast cancer diagnosis month.

Within that first week, I took a trip to the bookstore, immersed myself in the diet section for what seemed like hours, and then came home armed with an array of books to aid in my personal crusade against breast cancer. I researched cancer fighting foods and read the online studies on exercise, and although I did say yes to traditional cancer treatment, I tried to supplement it with as much holistic stuff as possible. I blazed through those breast cancer how-to manuals in record speed. And it made me feel better. That was a good thing at such a low point in my life.

I started taking vitamin D3, and I ate copious amounts of garlic and brussel sprouts. I stopped the sugar because everyone always says, “Don’t eat sugar!” I don’t even really know whether or not that has any real validity, or even made a bit of difference, but it somehow made me feel like I was doing something in the fight against this invader.

I put some self-care routines into place. I religiously scheduled massages during my treatment, and I divorced a whole lot of negative people out of my life. Just flat-out wiped my slate clean and started over. Whatever caused this awful cancer to overtake my body had to be in one of these categories – or multiple ones – and I was determined to 180 my life and eliminate the culprits. I planned more fun activities, took more trips and stopped worrying about anything that wasn’t life-threatening.

The day after my diagnosis, I threw away the diet soda. I went from “Aspartame is fine! Why would it be in my soda if it’s bad for me?” to “Fake ingredients are making me sick!” Everything I’d ever thought about pretty much anything was challenged overnight after getting that dreaded cancer call, and I guess you could say I was in full panic mode. Can you relate?

“Nope! Not buying THAT anymore!” I screamed to myself as I rounded the aisles at the grocery store. I quit the processed foods cold turkey, and I went strictly organic. I stocked my fridge with fresh produce and lean meats. No more steak or barbeque for me, and as a Texas girl, that was pretty hard. I limited my protein to chicken, turkey and fish. That menu eventually dwindled to just fish. And, now, six years later, I’m strictly plant-based.

I gave away all my chemical cleaners and purchased plant-based substitutes. I threw away all my lotions and makeup and replaced them with paraben-free products. I stocked up on essential oils. I limited alcohol. The list goes on and on.

So why am I sharing all of this with you? It’s not about the changes I made because, quite honestly, I can’t even guarantee that any of them will do the trick and keep me in remission. And I’m certainly not recommending anything to anyone. I’m not a doctor. I’m just recognizing that all of my actions stem from a very real place. First, my need to do something in the fight against cancer. If I can’t do anything large scale for mankind, at least I can do something on my own personal front. And second, I did something to gain control of what was happening to me as I faced my biggest life obstacle to date. Even if all my efforts turn out to be in vain, it’s allowed me to feel more secure in an otherwise insecure situation.

Some people have expressed opinions that my response to cancer has been overkill – that breast cancer was purely my dumb luck, that none of the stuff I essentially erased from my life caused my cancer, and that quite honestly, I should just “live it up” and quit limiting myself because “you only live once.” Granted, not a single one of them has ever faced cancer.

Whatever YOU’RE doing, I get it.

Keep livin’ victoriously,

Victorious Val

Follow Val on Facebook at Victorious Val & the Breast Cancer Crusaders