Did I drink too much diet pop? Was it because my mom defrosted frozen spaghetti sauce in margarine containers in the microwave? Did I inhale too much second hand smoke in the bars in my younger years? Is it from a lifetime of mosquito repellant use? Why? What did I do? I’m a good person. What can I blame for getting cancer?
I remember my mom pondering the same question. I think it’s common for people going through cancer to wonder - what did I do to cause this? I'm searching the deepest crevices of my grey matter to place the blame on something so this all doesn’t seem incredibly random.
The first doctor I met with at the walk in clinic questioned why I didn’t have a family doctor. She made me feel like it was my fault that family doctors are a rarity in our province.
From my first medical encounters after learning about my cancer diagnosis I was carrying this feeling of shame around…why didn’t I know there was a lump in my breast? Why did I let years pass without having a mammogram? Why didn’t I go to a walk-in clinic sooner? Why? Why? Why?
I finally found a family doctor who was not accepting new patients but thanks to a family connection he took me on. At my first visit I was frantically telling him how I always had annual mammograms but my doctor retired...and she didn’t provide a list to help me find a new doctor...and during the Covid years I didn’t want to go to a doctor’s office but since then I called five different clinics and none were accepting new patients...and I tried to book a mammogram on my own but they told me I needed a referral….You have to read that as a fast run on sentence to get the full effect of how nervously and shamefully I blurted it out. He looked at me and calmly said, "this is not your fault." This is not my fault? Breathe. A weight lifted off my shoulders. This is not my fault.
I recently saw a commercial that declared 1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer. Those are pretty good odds. But if we live in fear of being the 1 in 2 or if we live in the past trying to figure out the “why”, we are missing the now. Right now is all there is. Now is beautiful and calm, it is full of wonder, surprises and sometimes tears, frustrations and annoyances. It is the sun shining through the window, the birds chirping, the warm cup of tea, the snoring dog, the friend who reaches out or the neighbour mowing his lawn too early. Now is everything. I choose now.
Maybe I did drink too much diet pop, was too zealous in fending off mosquitoes, inhaled too much second hand smoke and I think we have all learned since the ‘80’s that margarine containers don’t belong in the microwave. But In the wise words of Howard Jones, “No one. No one. No one ever is to blame.”
In February 2023 I embarked on a different journey. A cancer journey. As each cancer journey is unique, I'll share my personal thoughts and insights about my experiences in this blog.