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Carla (Breast Cancer Survivor)

Carla (Breast Cancer Survivor)

I was 36 years old when I first felt a small lump in my left breast while taking a shower. I immediately called my insurance company and scheduled an appointment with a radiologist. The doctor told me that I was too young to have cancer and that it was probably just a cyst. I was sent home with a few medications. 

A few months went by, and I could still feel the lump in my breast, so I decided to get a second opinion. The second doctor ran multiple tests, and I was not told the diagnosis until they were absolutely sure a few days later. I was finally contacted by the doctor, and they told me that I had breast cancer. 

My initial reaction to the news

Funnily enough, I was relieved when I heard the diagnosis because up until then, the doctors refused to tell me what was going on with my body. I was determined not to jump to conclusions until I knew for sure, but I already had a hunch that it was cancer. 

There was no history of cancer in my family, except for my half-brother, who had skin cancer in his early 20s, but that was a genetic predisposition that he had from his mothers family, so I was not affected by it. I am a very positive person and was a nutritional coach, so I believed I would get through this because I had all the tools I needed to overcome it.

The treatment process that I followed 

By the time I was diagnosed, the small lump I initially felt had grown to a 3 cm tumour and spread to the lymph nodes. So, the doctors suggested that I start the treatment the very next day. The biopsy showed that I had the hormonal type of cancer. I knew the hormonal treatments would affect my fertility, so I went through two rounds of hormonal stimulation to freeze my eggs.

I needed time to listen to my body, so a month later, I started with four rounds of AC treatment, a type of chemotherapy, and later had ten rounds of a different kind of chemotherapy. 

Alternative therapies that I took along with cancer treatment

Being a nutritional coach, I already had substantial knowledge about food practices, and after cancer came into my life, I decided to research fasting and cancer. I read a lot and designed my own diet and fasting schedules, and those specific practices really helped me during the chemotherapy treatments. 

During the first four cycles, I used to fast before and after the chemotherapy sessions, which really helped with nausea. I did not vomit throughout the treatment, and except for the first day after the session, I used to be able to move around and do my work.

I included a lot of natural supplements into my diet and tried to avoid allopathic medicines as much as possible. I took a lot of walks and made sure my mental state was always cheerful, and engaged myself with activities throughout the treatment.

I never let go of the material things I did, even during treatment. I stuck to my yoga practice and tried to go trekking every once in a while. Keeping my physical health on par helped me feel a little more comfortable with my body and really saved me a lot of trouble through the treatment.

My motivation through the treatment

One main thing that helped me get through this journey was going public. I felt that going through the treatment with a more open approach saved me a lot of struggle and brought in a lot of support from friends and family. 

Reading and researching about my disease and taking myself through the process engaged me and kept me occupied. I understood what was working for me and worked with that information.

It was obviously tough because my body was going through a lot of changes, and it was like I was dealing with a different version of myself that I was not familiar with. There were people around me telling me that this was temporary and that I would recover soon, but they were not experiencing my journey, so in the end, I had to pull myself through it.

My learnings from this experience and my message to patients

The biggest lesson that cancer taught me was that life is now. I went through life feeling immortal, and cancer came and reminded me that anything could happen at any time. It made me realise that I should live to the fullest and make sure I have no regrets. 

Up until I had cancer, I had so many complaints about myself and my body; cancer was a wake-up call that made me realise that my body was perfect and started me on the self-love journey. The process also made me realise that different things work for other people. You have to follow standard treatments, but finding what works for you and including it in your treatment can take a long way.

One piece of advice I have for all the people going through cancer is to own yourself. Once youre diagnosed, there are a million things you are advised to follow. It is easy to lose yourself in the process and spiral, so it is essential to know your body and follow what you are comfortable with, rather than blindly follow the direction you are given.

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