The word ‘cancer’ encompasses over 200 different diseases, yet when it affects an individual it takes on a greater significance, a different tone, and much more meaning. The day my doctor told me I had breast cancer, she also said it would not kill me, but it would change my life. A diagnosis of cancer is a chance for deep reflection and profound change. It is a balance of hope, optimism, and being realistic. It is about figuring out priorities, understanding relationships, and considering future plans. And she was right. With my cancer, an uninvited teacher had arrived.
I had a lumpectomy in August 1998, after having discovered a lump in my right breast earlier in the Spring. Several weeks later, I underwent removal of lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread. I was lucky, the lymph glands, bone, and liver scans were clear. Only a course of radiation was in order. During the following six weeks, I had radiation treatments 5 days a week, and coped with the physical and mental side effects of extreme fatigue and skin irritation.
Over the last few years I have been able to look back at my own treatment experience from a different perspective. HERE is my account of how aromatherapy helped me cope. You can click HERE if you are interested in the full-story via audio interview with K. G. Stiles.
Many supported me during this time of my life and one particular gift stands out. Robbi Zeck, ND and aromatherapist from Australia gave me a book called “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” by Dawna Markova. She who wrote the poem of the same name that mentioned in a previous blog. This became my mantra for the years following my cancer. I knew I still had some living to do.
Interestingly enough, there was no research for me to look at back then. Now we have the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information, a summary which provides an overview of the use of aromatherapy and essential oils in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. THIS SUMMARY includes a brief history of aromatherapy, a review of laboratory studies and clinical trials, and possible adverse effects associated with aromatherapy use.
Over the last few years I have been able to look back at my own treatment experience from a new perspective. I am grateful for the experience, for the awareness of better health and habits. I don’t call myself a “survivor”, which promotes something awful happened and keeps it alive, but I choose to be a “thriver”. I don’t support the pink ribbons due to understanding the pinkwashing that goes on. Now 15 years later, I have an exit letter from my surgeon. No more yearly visits, no checking, and certainly no worries. In reality, I forgot about it long ago, fired my oncologist for making me wait 45 minutes, and have released my contract with all negative health issues. This body is healthy and this is my greatest gratitude. Cancer was the greatest teacher, uninvited or not!