Recently I was reading a blog about breast cancer and came across the website http://www.y-me.org/ which is designed to emotionally support those diagnosed with breast cancer. I called the hotline for more information about volunteering to be one of the peer counselors. Since I am 4 ½ years out from diagnosis, I didn’t think there was much that these people could help me with, but I was wrong. In addition to talking about how I can volunteer to help others, the counselor I spoke with offered to send me some information on fear of recurrence. It is certainly something I struggle with, and probably always will.
After talking with the counselor and reading some of the website, I started thinking of the name: y-me. It has been a long time since I have wondered this about my own diagnosis. When I was newly diagnosed, I often thought, why me? But not in the ‘why me and not you’ sort of way. I truly wondered what caused my breast cancer. I thought about it all the time.
I have virtually no family history of breast cancer (a cousin of my dad’s and her daughter are the only relatives I know of). What would cause breast cancer in my body at the age of 27? I thought about silly things like the very old building I spent so much time in at school as a child. I thought about all the processed foods I enjoyed over the years, along with more than my share of cocktails in my early 20s. Were any of these the cause of my cancer? I know now that I will likely never have an answer.
Despite this, I have made some lifestyle changes to help make me feel more secure and hopefully, healthier. During my treatment, I made the switch to organic foods. I only buy organic and hormone-free meats and dairy, especially milk. I work out regularly, even if my weight continues to increase. I barely drink alcohol at all. I make sure to get enough sleep and make a conscious effort to control my exposure to stress when I can.
Along with taking my daily dose of tamoxifen, these are the little things I do every day to hopefully reduce my risk of a recurrence of breast cancer. Or maybe to make myself feel better – like I am doing something to control my risk. It would be so much easier if someone could just tell me – yes, it was McDonald’s food, or second-hand smoke, or too much stress that caused your cancer. Just fix that and you will be fine. Then I would have an answer to my question – why me?