I had stage zero breast cancer in 2014. Because it was “high grade” and for other reasons that indicated a higher chance of recurrence, I chose to have radiation treatment. In fact, my acupuncturist and an energy healer, both women whom I trust deeply, encouraged me to do the prevention treatments and assured me they would help me through it. As they did.
Once you’ve had cancer, doctors have the tendency to be hyper vigilant. After an odd ultrasound, I had a uterine biopsy that was turned out to be benign, but was still very frightening.
I was at a radio interview with one of my clients telling her about the biopsy, when she turned to me and said “Maybe it’s time to change what you eat.” In addition to the blaming nature of her statement, what seemed particularly ironic was at the time she was drinking a large mochaccino with whipped crime in a styrofoam cup. I can’t even tell you how many carcinogens that contained!
The recent internet storm over Marianne Williamson’s remarks regarding new recommendations for screening for post-partum depression (PPD) reminded me of this incident, and many others that happened when I got cancer. There is an arrogance among those that are healthy, and have never known a debilitating illness like depression or cancer. What makes it worse is I know that before I got cancer, I shared this arrogance. I believed my healthy lifestyle, my reliance on a 12-step program and other things “protected” me from things like cancer. And people who got it were not processing their emotions correctly, weren’t detoxing their bodies, or a bunch of other reasons that were really just thinly veiled episodes of denial. No one can control who gets cancer, or depression or any other illness. Little kids get these things. They haven’t even learned how to be dysfunctional yet!
I’m sure I said all kinds of stupid things to people before I got sick. But I didn’t have a huge platform like Ms. Williamson, thank god. She is simply spewing nonsense, in my opinion and the opinion of many others who actually know something about PPD.
Now I know that opinions like Ms. Williamson’s and comments like my client’s are nothing less than denial and in many cases arrogance. Meditation and energy therapy helped me handle the side effects of my treatment. But based on some of the finest minds in medical and complementary healing therapies, radiation was the best choice for me. Some people can treat their depression with exercise and meditation. But for many (and until you experience real depression, you can’t judge this) medication literally saves their lives.
Ms. Williamson is lucky not to know someone whose life would be threatened without medication. Otherwise she would not make such dangerous statements. My client, despite her intense love of colonics and her supposed perfect diet, is just lucky. Children get cancer. Teenagers in loving families get depression. We could get any sort of life-threatening illness at any time. We must get over ourselves and stop judging people for being sick. It’s just a way to pretend like we will never get it. Which in my case, didn’t work.