I lay on the hospital exam bed as the technician
rolled the sonogram wand around my right breast looking for the three cysts. I
could see that she wasn't getting the results she expected.
Over a year ago, a mammogram confirmed several
lumps on my breast that I’d found while performing a home breast exam. After
the mammogram, the doctor requested a sonogram to look more closely at the
lumps. Not convinced by the sonogram, he asked me to have a biopsy. I was then,
without explanation, referred to a surgeon. The surgeon told me that I might
have cancer, and that surgery was the solution.
"Wait one minute,” I said
nervously, “This is the first I'm hearing of this. Do I have cancer?” “Well,
no, but you might. When we remove the cyst we could find cancer,” he answered.
My head was spinning. I took a deep breath. I asked him to repeat everything
thing again and explain the prognosis.
After leaving the appointment, I decided that I
would try alternatives to surgery. I started by seeing a Chinese herbalist and
acupuncturist. I ate as much raw food as possible and removed sugar and
processed food from my diet. I made it a point to meditate and practice yoga
every day. I gave myself six months to see whether my efforts would make any
My choice is not a quick fix, but I find I’m learning a lot about myself in the process.
Last week I returned to my doctor for an exam. The
technician had a difficult time finding the cysts, because I refused the
titanium marker they wanted to implant inside of my breast tissue. The doctor
examined me, and she determined that the cysts had not changed and that there
was no blood within them. She asked why I had refused the surgery. I told her
that I don’t take surgery lightly, and I wanted to give my body a chance to
heal with less invasive methods. She confided that this type of surgery is
often done unnecessarily—the cysts often are not cancerous and just need to be
kept under observation.
Before I left that day, my doctor she asked me if I was OK walking around with these cysts in me. “Yes,” I said, “it's not like
I'm in danger of them exploding.” The tone of her question implied that she
rarely encounters patients who trust themselves, know their bodies and
challenge the status quo.
I left the doctor's office feeling satisfied. I had
succeeded in setting my body on a track toward healing. It has meant changing
my lifestyle, my eating habits and managing my stress. But I happen to believe
that the illness is often rooted in imbalances in our lives. My choice is not a
quick fix, but I find I’m learning a lot about myself in the process. It has
not been an easy journey, but an empowering one.