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I am one of the lucky ones. I am strong and cancer free eight years after my initial diagnosis of cervical cancer. It is not a status I take for granted but nor do I dwell very much on being a survivor or entertain its return either.
However the recent passing of influential, bright, young, healthy-living babe, Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough, has caused me to reflect on my own process of dealing with a life-threatening illness, my chosen treatment plan and following what seemed to many people to be an unorthodox path to travel.
It’s tough hearing people criticising and dismissing her treatment decisions as “quackery”. I too was labelled negligent and naive by the oncology staff and friends. Which makes me shudder to think that had things not turned out so well for me, my children would perhaps now be hearing the message that I “didn’t do enough” to stay alive for them.
You never really know how you will cope with hearing that you have cancer. It’s that “nightmare” that other people get. Most of us though, have an idea of what treatment will be. It’s assumed you will have surgery, do rounds of chemotherapy where you become tired and nauseous and maybe have radiotherapy to make sure they “get” any remaining cancer.
For me, I knew too well how sick you could become with chemo. My stepdad suffered to the end with standard hospital treatment and not long before I was diagnosed, my favourite uncle had also passed away, after submitting to the gamut of hospital therapies. I struggled to see the benefit to their lives by going through any of it.
I am also a Naturopath. I practised natural healing and knew a lot about alternative cancer treatments. Some of it seemed too “woo woo” for me. Some of it was backed by good research and showed itself to be of enormous benefit. Some of it I had used with patients already and some of it I wished my stepdad had taken up, but didn’t.