I wish I could say that I was cool and calm when I got the diagnosis. I probably looked cool and calm because when I’m really stressed I retreat into a no-feeling land and turn into a robot.
So it was a robot that faced the doctor, and all I could do was look down the notebook I had and ask him questions and write down his answers, cursing my shaky hand. I have always taken copious notes, and this habit was to stand me in good stead in the months ahead. If anything it gave me something to do, otherwise wound up like a tight spring, I would have burst into tears.
There was a cancer nurse in the room when the diagnosis was given, and it was a nice touch, but it was for me, ominous because it made me think that she was there in case I went hysterical or started crying. Which made me all the more determined not to show any emotion.
I’m sure if I’d burst into tears it would have been more in line with the type of reaction they were used to.
The main thing was that when I heard the treatment protocol: breast conservation surgery (or lumpectomy), radiation and (possibly) chemotherapy – I just went cold.
I am sure that there are people who would have fallen at the feet of the doctor and given him charge over their bodies, but that wasn’t me. I’d always led a fairly holistic life – I used homeopathy for my cats and had been to detox spas in Thailand, that sort of thing. So the thought of radiation, chemotherapy was like torture to me.
I had watched my father die painfully of cancer, his body turned into a yellow skeleton, his liver and body poisoned by the chemotherapy.
So I asked for time to think.
I returned a week later and after an hour of discussion, managed to buy myself two months to try complementary therapies.
The consultant wasn’t happy, it was a very fraught hour and I’ve never had to argue my case as hard before. But he was kind enough to agree to monitor the treatment. I was to return in two months time for another scan.
I settled for a course of Ayurvedic treatments and high doses of nutritional supplements.
The supplements I got from a doctor who practised in Harley Street. The address alone should have rung a warning bell. Basically, I paid £800 for a month’s worth of supplements. But when you’re desperate, you’re desperate and cancer patients are desperate and vulnerable. I had a moment of faintness when I realised that that would almost pay my mortgage for the month and then I went ahead and got them. The doctor claimed that was a 40% success rate in getting cancer patients to remission. What price healing, eh?
I also had the results of the mammogram checked against a breast thermography scan at the same clinic. All I can say is that contrary to the hype, they are not as accurate as a mammogram and ultrasound combined. The tumour showed up as a slight anomaly, but the doctor was honest and told me that had he not seen the mammogram, he probably wouldn’t have thought the breast thermogram signficant.
The Ayurvedic practitioner claimed that he had cancer patients whom he had helped with his treatments. We settled on a regime of detox, called Panchakarma and also Ayurvedic herbs. The detox consisted of full-body massage with sesame seed oil infused with herbs before sitting in a small sauna pod. The theory was that this would draw out the toxins. The herbs were to balance the body according to my Ayurvedic body type. Finally there was weekly accupuncture sessions to balance the energy of the body as cancer meant that the system was out of balance.
Each session of panchakarma cost me nearly £200 and each weekly visit with accupuncture and herbs about £70.
I also followed a strict diet – no wheat, no dairy, minimal meat, very little fruit, no sugar.
I bought a juicer as all the anti-cancer books said that juicing was an integral part of healing the body and ensuring the body got an intense dose of nutrients in natural form.
So two months came and went and the date of the scan arrived, and I felt on top of the world.
So when the results showed that the tumour had grown, albeit slighly, my world came crashing down again.