Asking What If? What About? Why?

Like all women who have found themselves in this situation, I couldn’t help but ask myself if I had done something wrong to cause the breast cancer. What if I had not stood in front of the microwave while it was on? What about all the pesticides I sprayed in the yard, or all the preservatives in processed foods? Or the hormones given to cows to produce the milk I drank daily? Maybe it was the caffeine in the tea and coffee that I drank. I only breastfed one of my babies…would it have changed anything if I had breastfed both of them?

There is no history of breast cancer in my family. No history of any cancer. I had to have done something that the rest of the women in the family didn’t do. Well, I have absolutely no idea what it could have been.

How many times have you heard patients/survivors ask, “Why did I get breast cancer? I must have done something wrong. Or not done everything needed in order to keep from getting it. Maybe this is God’s punishment for something I did in the past.” And it goes on and on with the endless questions a thoughts that overwhelm you when you are diagnosed.

You have to understand that a person does not in anyway get breast cancer because they are or where a bad person or because of karmic payback. Or does God punish a person by giving them cancer.

Women over 50 are more likely to get breast cancer than younger women. African-American women are more likely to get breast cancer than Caucasian women before menopause.

And they believe that the greater a woman’s exposure to estrogen, the more susceptible she is to getting breast cancer. Estrogen tells cells to divide, the more they divide, the more likely they will be abnormal in some way, possibly becoming cancerous.

A woman’s risk for breast cancer is increased if she starts menstruating before the age of 12, has her first child after 30, or stops menstruating after 55, or has a cycle that is shorter or longer than 26-29 days. (The on my one that does not fit me was having my first baby after 30) Women who took birth control are at a slightly higher risk, which this risk goes away 10 years after you quit taking them.

The link between diet and breast cancer is still being debated. But there are processed food that contain products that can cause cancer or have caused cancer in lab rats. There are produces in your nail polish and make-up that can cause cancers. And studies have shown that women who ate a diet high in fat were more likely to get the disease than those who didn’t. Being a heavy drinker of alcohol can contribute to your risk of breast cancer.

If they understood or knew why or how certain women get breast cancer and others don’t, they would be able to give us a cure. If it was because of our diet, we could all change our way of eating. If it had anything to do with exercise, we could add more time to finding an exercise program that would keep us from getting breast cancer. If it had anything to do with us not spending enough time worshipping God, there would be a seat in any church empty. But we know that this is not the case.

Let’s be honest, we all know everyday people who lead a healthy lifestyle, who faithfully workout, with no history of breast cancer in their family, still get this awful disease. Even though eating right, never smoking, exercising and having no family history of the disease doesn’t necessarily mean we are safe from getting this disease. There is so much they don’t understand, so, don’t go buying into every new story you hear about either curing or keeping yourself safe from getting this disease.

Bottom line is, they don’t know why some women get this disease and why some don’t. One week coffee is bad for you, the next it is good for you. We hear about exercise programs that are really great after breast cancer, or to help preventing it in the first place…they are trying to market their program to us so they can make a lot of money. And sadly, they don’t care if their claim is true or not, because they will make a fortune before anyone can prove that it isn’t true.

If you have concerns about the things you are doing in your lives that may not be healthy, discuss this with your doctor. But you need to remember that no one person, not even the experts have all the answers. However, your doctor, who knows you and your situation is in a better position to help you make any changes that are warranted. And learning how to enjoy your life each day, even through all this chaos, is the only way you can truly become healthier. You have to learn to appreciate that it takes a balance of everything and everyone around you and you can stop abusing yourself mentally over “why” this happened to you.

I constantly remind myself that doubt and faith cannot coexist in the same heart. If I doubt, my shields of faith slip away. I had to work hard with the shame, doubt, worry, guilt and sorrow for what could or might have been. Prayer helped me face each day with renewed courage and faith. God provides us with protection; just remind yourself how to claim it.

There is no turning back. There is nothing we can do to change what has happened. We need to move forward. We do have an influence on what the future holds. Look forward to the days ahead…family, friends and the Lord by your side.

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