Walk In My Shoes…

Is it ever okay to bully someone? To force your opinion onto someone to such an extent that it makes them doubt themselves and feel scared? I don’t believe it is, and yet this is what happened to me when I started to seriously consider not continuing with chemotherapy.

I was a member of a forum for people with Inflammatory breast cancer for 2 years and found a lot of support and help from other members. The admin of the group has never had chemotherapy because she has never had cancer, and yet when I spoke to her about my feelings regarding stopping chemo she said ‘It will spread really quickly and you’ll die’, and ‘I’d hate for you to go downhill rapidly’. I am usually a strong person, but with something of this magnitude it is hard to ever be completely sure if you are choosing the right path. We had several conversations, both over the telephone and via text. After I had spoken to my oncologist and she had agreed that chemo wasn’t that great, I told this woman, and yet still she tried to tell me both the oncologist and myself were wrong. Fair enough, she blocked me on facebook and that was that.

After some consideration I decided that I would like to rejoin the forum so that I could help inform other members that there was another way should they wish to look into it. I put in my request and was turned down! This woman had obviously decided that she did not wish me to impart my knowledge to others in the group and, even though she does not have cancer, proceeded to block me from the group.

I am aware, whilst writing this, that I may sound bitter. I am not. (Although I was for a while, I’m only human after all!) I just feel very strongly that unless you have walked in someone else’s shoes you really shouldn’t force your opinion on that person. We each have our own path and I feel that this should be respected by all of those around us. This is not just the case regarding cancer treatments, but in life generally.

Luckily, most people I have come into contact with have respected and understood my choices and have been very supportive. Having said that, ALL the nurses I have spoken to have also been very negative about stopping conventional treatment. When I was having Herceptin (a targeted therapy for HER2 positive cancer), I mentioned that I may not have any more chemo, and again I was met with comments such as ‘But you have children, you can’t refuse chemo’, and ‘How can you even contemplate that?’

I guess that those involved in conventional medicine are always going to believe that theirs is the only way, but I feel very uncomfortable that if you mention any other possibilities you are met with such negativity. In my experience, the nurses on the chemo wards have never even heard of alternative treatments. I once said to my nurse ‘ I’m thinking of trying alternative treatments’, and her reply was ‘Are there any other treatments?’ We are so entrenched into the conventional medical model and I find this so scary.

I do believe things are changing, albeit very slowly. Since giving up chemo and researching other treatments I have found  a lot of people who know the ‘truth’ about cancer, both how to prevent it and treatments to cure it. There is a lot of information out there, and also a lot of research. My worry is that people who are diagnosed with cancer are fast-tracked into the conventional treatments and literally don’t have time to think about the next step they should take. I completely understand this, it’s a very scary time…. I really hope, though, that increasingly people will hear of alternatives and look into them before they go down the conventional route…I certainly wish I had….

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