A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Friday, March 27, 2009

All the Rage

I took a break from blogging over the past few weeks and, instead, spent time thinking about all the anxiety and frustration that cancer has introduced to my life.

I finally hit a wall after listening to umpteen “experts” providing dire cancer predictions if I did the least thing wrong. My oncologist wants me to avoid soy. My nutritionist said red meat and dairy are cancer-producers. I’m told that exercising 40 minutes every day reduces cancer’s recurrence—so, get moving! And in the news recently, there’s a study linking alcohol to breast cancer. And, on and on it goes. It seems like everything is off-limits, including rest.

All this has brought up anger about how much I've had to alter my lifestyle over the past decade regarding things that bring me pleasure, such as:

· Gardening: Dirt + Overwork= Lymphedema
· Wine: 1 glass of Pinot Noir = Breast cancer
· Gourmet cooking: No Meat + Dairy + Soy = Limited Menu Options.
· Eating: Processed/packaged Foods = Soy=Cancer; Sugar products = Cancer Risk.
Even CHOCOLATE contains soy!

This leaves me with nuts, grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Now, I’m all over these food choices – in fact, they’ve always been a mainstay of my diet. But to constantly hear that putting a spoonful of yogurt in my mouth, or buttering my French bread will cause my early demise…well, that puts me over the edge.

I've cut back on everything -- obeying everyone's "orders" and "rules" for my life. I eat mostly vegetarian meals and fish; organic produce. Drink gallons of water. Avoid desserts and never touch fast food or junk food. I take vitamins and exercise daily...I'm the ultimate "good girl."

While I enjoy a healthy lifestyle, I'd prefer that it be my choice rather than a requirement in order to live.

So, how does one attempt to live a calmer, less stressful life when she has all these hysterics coming after her!

My feeling is-- if I have to give up everything that brings me joy in order to stay alive, what's the point of living? (This is a rhetorical question -- I'm not contemplating dying).
This is a challenge for a lifelong Romantic, who tries to create rich experiences whenever and wherever possible.

My fantasy is to run an organic farm & vineyard along with a gourmet restaurant in the countryside. I'd be outdoors, working the land, cooking great food, connecting with people. But gardening, meat, cheese, wine—they’re all off limits! So, find another dream?

This begs the question: “What would JC do?!” (Julia Child, that is!) She’d eat a slab of meat, followed by a stiff drink. She ate (lots) and drank (lots) and was a breast cancer survivor and lived until 92. To that, I say, “Bon Appetite!”

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