Whatever Works

Fun adventure with Auntie N to the Newport Aquarium!

Fun adventure with Auntie N to the Newport Aquarium!

Everyone is talking about Angeline Jolie & her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.  And everyone’s asking me what I think…

So what do I think?  I think preventive surgery is a very individual decision.  A decision that is best left to the individual to make.  Would I have done the same thing?  Who knows.  My doctors continue to push me to do surgery to remove my ovaries to shut down estrogen production and help “prevent” a recurrence but I have decided (for now) to refuse that surgery.  That’s what works for me.  Undergoing a preventive double mastectomy is what works for Angeline Jolie.

Whatever works.

In general, I feel the medical establishment relies too heavily on surgery and pharmaceuticals to cure all of life’s modern ailments.  I firmly believe everyone would benefit from a more holistic approach to medicine and healing – One that looks at your history, stress levels, outside influences, and mental space just as much as the physical details of our individual body parts. We are so much more than just our individual body parts.  And I can’t get behind any treatment that espouses a narrow-minded, exclusive approach.  Us human beings are complex folks!

The reality is that everyone has an opinion.  A preference.  A different path.  What works for some, may not work for others.  I know I am constantly searching for my path, trying to figure out what works best for me.  Aren’t we all?

My diet is one thing I’m still trying to figure out…  After 8 days with the fabulous Antie N in town my body is still reeling from all the fun we had…  Way more booze than I’ve had in a long time (what I would normally consume over the course of 2 or 3 months I consumed in the span of a week)…  Less sleep…  Lots of indulging (in sweet treats, extra helpings, nibbles of cheese, and empty carbs)…  But it was so worth it!!!   We had a week of fun adventures, play time, girl talk, and truly memorable moments.  So I don’t beat myself up for the indulgences.  It was one kick-ass week with one of my bestest friends.  That’s what life is all about.  My body will re-balance itself.  I’m getting back up on the saddle again. 😉

I actually have Part I of my much anticipated nutrition consult with  Andrea Nakayama scheduled for next week.  I’ve been following her since I read about her in Whole Living Magazine way back in October 2011 – A month before I was diagnosed.  She is a functional nutritionist with a holistic, whole-foods based approach.  I’ve listened to many of her online talks about balancing hormones and restoring the health of our bodies through diet and natural remedies.  I’m so excited to consult with her team about fine tuning my diet and figuring out what works best for me & my body.  If her detailed intake process is any indication of what lies ahead I’m sure our time together will be totally holistic, and very thorough & comprehensive.  I’m psyched.

The other thing I’m still trying to figure out is what’s up for the next chapter of my life.

Auntie N and I are both at a crossroads in our lives.  Having her here this last week, and being able to process that and compare notes was so helpful & therapeutic (for both of us!).  Many people have encouraged me to write.  So I did.  I started writing stuff (other than this blog – which it seems I haven’t gotten around to writing much lately either)…  But I can’t quite seem to get into it.  I don’t feel compelled to write the other stuff yet.  I can’t find my voice.  There’s always something else that takes priority.  Maybe I’m supposed to be writing something different?  Or maybe just doing something different.

One thing I keep feeling compelled to do is use my experience with cancer, the lessons I’ve learned, the insights I’ve gained, and my training as a social worker, to help others through their own difficult periods.  Try to help them figure out what works.

Honestly, I’m just so damn thrilled to even be able to have concerns like this – about my career or fine tuning my diet – instead of living in a haze of treatment side effects and obsessively thinking about my own mortality.  It’s been 5 weeks since my breast reconstruction and reduction surgery.  I’m back to driving again, squeezing in some light exercise here & there, and doing most of my normal every day activities.  The pain is pretty much gone.  I almost feel “normal”.  I guess this IS my new normal…  Normal concerns about what to eat, what job to take, how to stay healthy…  But yet always with this underlying current of questioning, worry, and unknowns.  But I guess we all have that to some degree or another, right?

For now, I will keep searching for answers while still trying to remain open to life’s mysteries.  I will enjoy life and continue making memories.  I will respect other people’s decisions while continuing to honor my own.

And in the end I’ll go with whatever works best.

Peace.  – T

Outdoor painting with Grandpa

Outdoor painting with Grandpa

Nature walk through Wegerzyn Gardens with Auntie N

Nature walk through Wegerzyn Gardens with Auntie N

Making memories at the aquarium!

Making memories at the aquarium!

11 Responses

  1. Pictures and post bringing a smile to my face and warmth to my heart…
    So deliriously happy for you; for this juncture in your journey- of discovery, exploration, embracing the questions and “trying on” the answers. ENJOY!
    CANNOT WAIT for your next stop- MASSACHUSETTS!!!!
    Heading to Ptown with Christa today!!! Will say hi to Mom for you…
    Love, Auntie L

  2. I’m just about in tears because what you said is validating what I think. Also, it is wonderful to see your daughter and your dad both looking so happy. *hugs* to you all.

  3. I agree with you about the medical profession always pressing for surgery. And it’s not just for cancer. I’m constantly having doctors recommend gastric bypass surgery. Oh, let’s just rearrange a perfectly functioning digestive system so then I have to take dietary supplements for the rest of my life. Yes, losing weight at my size is hard. But so are a lot of other things and I’ve been (slowly) successful on my own so far.

    P.S. Your dad is a total goofball.

    • Oh boy! The push for surgery is out of control sometimes, ain’t it?? And I have to tell you again how in awe I am of you and your weight loss journey! Doing it the healthy way takes so much more time & effort. But like you said, I think it’s a better option than having your perfectly normal body mutilated. You’re doing an amazing job! Keep it up sista! Sending love to you & hubby… xoxo – T

  4. You are SO right. There is no right answer. What works is what works. And yes, isn’t it wonderful to let go for a moment and enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with? You never, ever get that exact chance back…might as well seize it! It’s true that the thoughts and worries are never far away but take the chance to ‘silence the beast’ whenever you can. Maybe your ‘beast’ is just a little too loud right now to write…that’s okay…we all have ‘beasts’ of one form or another, sometimes they are active, sometimes quiet…it’s what YOU choose to do about it that counts.

    Remember that there are no paths, no ‘shoulds’, no promises…there is just now. So keep on enjoying your now! As for Angelina Jolie…who is she and why is her story important? She’s just another human and this is her ‘what works.’

    Be well.

    • So true Annette! I constantly try to avoid the “shoulds” of life and aim to stay rooted in the here & now. Not always easy. But it seems like the best strategy yet. Thanks for the deep thoughts. Lots of wellness right back at you. – T

  5. Does my heart good to hear you so balanced and grounded, and especially having such a good time. Sure sounds like you’re smack on your right path, and I applaud you for writing about your insights and experience. Surely, that is important, and about all we can do; none of us, even Angelina Jolie ;-), know everything. Not even *me* (laughing). Goof on, all of ya!

  6. From the day of your diagnosis, you will just have to get used to making one decision or another at every point in time. It is great to know that you are not panicking and choosing to go your own way.
    My thoughts are with you.
    thanks,
    Chuck

  7. At one point, I realized that I sometimes had a strong opinion about something that wasn’t technically my business (like Ms. Jolie’s decision).

    I think, in most cases, the reason I have those opinions/feelings is because I realize that a decision might seem horribly wrong – for me. And it was stunning to realize that it wasn’t my decision to make, and was being made by someone with a completely different mind, body, and spirit – a decision that’s horrible for me might be the right one for someone else.

    And now I try to be careful about letting “bad for me” interfere with my thoughts about other people. If I were facing a similar situation, I might make a completely different decision. That doesn’t mean she made the wrong one for herself.

    I know I have a hard time stepping back enough to understand that; I think that’s why a lot of things like that cause a lot of energy, as people try to put themselves in her place, forgetting that they’re not her, and there are no stakes for them.

    • Couldn’t agree more… That’s why I said, “whatever works”. It’s so true that even if you try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you’re still you. Whatever you think you might do, or not do, can change in an instant. Always good to take a step back. Thanks for the insights. – T

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