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Editor’s note: The following post is by Barbara Gannon, who was featured as one of our Cancer Survivor stories in October 2017. You can find out more about Barb’s healing from a diagnosis of terminal Stage 4 mesothelioma and Stage 2 breast cancer here and here.
So you feel you have been handed a bad deck of cards…
So “they” say it doesn’t look good…
So it’s scaring you half to death…
Can I give you some “Aussie style” heartfelt advice? It’s time to “Toughen up, princess!”
Does that sound harsh?
Maybe it is. Yet you know what? It’s all done from a perspective of good and that is love!
Maybe you are feeling sorry for yourself: “why me, why now… why, why, why?”(By the way, you need to stop using the word “why.” Why does not resolve anything. You need to change your words!)
“But Barbara” (you say). “You just don’t know about MY cancer journey. It’s so different than yours (or anyone else’s).”
STOP Right There!!!
Stop now, for goodness sake, and please watch what you say. Don’t say it’s “MY Cancer.” Because you keep saying “MY Cancer,” and guess what, it IS yours. You have taken ownership and it’s becoming you.
It’s absorbing your mind, your psyche, your body, your very essence. It’s becoming the sole focus of your existence. That is not empowerment; that is becoming a victim. And as God says, that is one thing you are not.
Look, God wants you to stand up, be courageous, and put this disease in its correct place, where it deserves to be. You don’t “own” a flu, a cold, or a broken arm, do you? Nor do you own cancer! And yes, I know fully well this is more than a cold.
Yet, your words speak volumes about where your state of mind is, or is not… Be the STORM!
So, are you getting angry yet? Good!
Make sure it’s a righteous anger. The anger that makes you say “NO! No further!” The line in the sand is drawn… Cancer is NOT a Death Sentence, and by God I will prove it for his Glory! I am, and as many are also becoming (on a daily basis), a walking testimony to what God intended for us all – a happy, healthy life.”
A bit of Aussie “tough love”? Definitely! Will there be some who will get offended by my directness and matter of fact delivery? Most likely. Do I understand what you are going through? Yes, I believe I do.
Do I have the right to make these comments? Feel free to judge that for yourselves. I am still cancer free into my 3rd year since diagnosis, with NO CHEMO and NO RADIATION.
That’s right, you read correctly. And not a case of “she did chemo then turned to natural therapies.” Nope, I did NONE of these. Please realize that my healing was achieved with ALL natural healing treatments and a huge change in diet from the very start.
Incidentally, I had a terminal diagnosis and was given 3 to 6 months to live (Mesothelioma, aka Asbestos cancer. There is NO cure for this type of cancer and it’s pretty well a given that you die fast… and painfully).
That was 3 years ago. And guess what? I am still here! (I won’t go into my story in detail here, but you can read about it in this previous TTAC post).
Most of us have arrived at The Truth About Cancer some way or another. Maybe we or a loved one have been touched by this horrible disease called cancer. But let’s not beat around the bush, as the expression goes. It’s time for us all to stand up and take back control over our bodies.
I wish I could stand right next to you to give you a great big hug, a pat on the back, or if required, a kick up the bum (whichever is needed the most). Regardless, Be the Storm! Think for yourselves and learn to ask informed questions.
Let me briefly explain…
After my ongoing journey was published as a Survivor Story on TTAC, I had a lot of inspiring “Go Girl” type comments and for that I give a heartfelt thanks. Other comments took my breath away; they were beautifully sad, yet inspiring. Others were written from a point of hurt, anger, definite absolute frustration, and denial.
For those of us who are broken, for those of us who are angry, let me empathize with you. I have been there and it’s truly horrible. I understand that this is a scary place to be in right at this moment. I stand here beside you screaming “JUST DON’T GIVE UP!”
If handled in an informed, empowered way, this phase too shall pass. I stand here beside you to give you hope that cancer can be beaten. It is being beaten on a daily basis and with natural treatments. I say again, cancer is NOT a death sentence. Be the Storm!
Becoming the Storm
Instead of commiserating…
Instead of calling this “My Disease” and owning it…
Instead of wanting to give up…
Why don’t we do something completely different and very practical? Something so that you can take your power back and be informed with the ability to ask the right questions. The right questions lead to informed decisions about your own healing journey.
In other words, let’s become the STORM!
Stop being the rain! The rain is blown whenever and wherever by the storm. In this context I think of the rain as doctors, family members, or friends with good intentions who don’t support you in a positive manner while you are going through this fight for your life.
I am not saying that they are bad or evil. In many cases they are simply uneducated, or simply working from a place of fear.
I am also not telling you not to listen to them, but (and it’s a huge but), if they do NOT support you, ask yourself this then: “Who is the Storm?”
Who has the control… you or them?
Do you listen blindly to everything they say, and do everything they want you to do without question? RISE UP people. Start asking questions. I want to encourage YOU to Be the Storm!
What do I actually mean by “Be the Storm”?
Storm is control. Take control back!
Don’t be blown about. Take control back.
How do you do that practically? How do you cut through all the “noise”? How can you find out if what you’ve been told by “experts” (and I say that with caution) is correct?
It’s quite simple really. And this is how I did it. YOU need a method of measurement to be able to compare “apples to apples.” If you can compare, you can measure. If you can measure, you now have control, and most importantly, if you have control you can change the relationship you have with your health professional.
Instead of being a “deer in the headlights,” you can now ask relevant and informed questions about your journey of getting better. Most importantly you need to be able to measure your results – simply and without fuss.
In a nutshell, you are no longer only relying on what a doctor says. Your doctor effectively then becomes your support, working with you on a more “consultative” basis. Your whole relationship dynamic changes with your doctor (if you so choose), measuring/monitoring your progress together with you. It becomes more of a teacher/student type relationship, instead of a doctor/patient relationship.
When you have the “measuring stick” it allows you to focus on your healing, by having the ability to measure your progress on a meaningful basis. YOU take back control, YOU are empowered, and (yes) YOU now become the Storm!
The Storm is your empowerment. In other words, it is the ability to measure your progress for yourself, and to ask informed questions to assist your healing process.
I bet you are asking “What is my measurement stick?”
Simple! I learned to understand my blood tests in a very simple and particular way related to the cancer that I had.
Now don’t start freaking out on me and saying “but only my doctor can read test results.” Garbage, rubbish, and anything else you want to say. Always remember that you paid for these tests (or your insurance or healthcare service paid on your behalf).
You are entitled to ask for them, read them, and most importantly (if required) ask your doctors questions on the results of these tests.
Why You Need to Become the Expert
I encourage you to become an expert in reading and understanding, in particular, two (2) markers that show the inflammation and illness in your body.
Why? Inflammation markers basically show disease.
It sounds daunting but know this: it’s not. I did it, and if a determined Aussie can do it, I’m sure as heck you can do it. It’s truly empowering!
Side note: I have become so good at reading my results in a specific way I now use them as a measure to see if the Doc is any good. If I ask them certain questions (which I now know and understand the answers before I ask any questions), and if they don’t, won’t, or can’t answer these “tester” questions… I FIRE them). Be the STORM… take control!
These two blood test markers are:
- ESR (aka Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate). This test reveals inflammatory activity in your body. It’s not a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but it can help your doctor diagnose or monitor the progress of an inflammatory disease response.
- CRP (aka C-Reactive Protein). This test is a marker for inflammation in the body. CRP is produced in the liver and its level is measured by testing the blood. It is classified as an “acute” phase reactant, which means that its levels will rise in response to inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to DISEASE. The higher the markers are, the higher your body is responding to inflammation caused by dis-ease!
A third test I also recommend is getting your vitamin D levels checked. In disease, you will find the vitamin D levels are usually very low, so you need to build these up as well.
How Do I Use These Blood Markers to Improve My Health?
These blood test results are your baseline measuring stick. Every time I went to see any specialist I ensured that I would have a new set of blood tests done prior to these meetings (you are in control, remember). You have to ensure that the correct blood tests are ordered. Normally your GP (family doctor) will order these for you, but you need to tell them that they need to cover the ESR and CRP markers and vitamin D.
Be prepared as many GPs don’t like being told by their patients what they want. If your GP won’t cooperate, then FIRE THEM and find a doctor who will help. At the end of the day, YOU are paying doctors/specialists etc. They are in your employ. As an employer you have the right to interview, hire, and fire.
Does this sound just too bold for you? Well, this is your life we’re talking about, so repeat to yourself: “I AM the STORM!” You will have to be strong for your own sake.
Maybe you’re so accustomed to troubling, stressful situations, etc., that you’re continually braced for it; like sitting in a comfortable recliner and not being able to relax! It’s time to stop worrying and start believing God’s promises to you! You have not been brought this far to be abandoned. You just need to BECOME THE STORM, draw the line in the sand, and say NO FURTHER.
Remember and repeat: “Cancer is NOT a death sentence!”
Do you have a question you’d like to ask a cancer survivor? Post your question or topic you’d like covered in the Comments section down below. Try to make it one that is beneficial to many people (i.e. patients, caregivers, family), and not directly aimed at the type of cancer you’re suffering through. Think about the one burning question that you would ask a cancer survivor if they were sitting in front of you.
If you are a fellow cancer survivor we also want to hear from you. Share some of your journey. What advice do others ask you for? What piece of wisdom would you share with a loved one who has been recently diagnosed? Please share in the Comments section below.
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God wants you to stand up, be courageous, and put cancer in its correct place.
Cancer is NOT a death sentence.
It’s important that you’re able to measure your results.
Inflammation markers basically show disease.
Ask your doctor questions about tests and results.