Throughout my journey and since my original diagnosis in October 2015, I have come across many family members, friends, and even strangers who have made me aware of some sort of study, holistic treatment, or story about someone they knew or have heard of that “this or that” worked to magically “heal” someone of Cancer. Though I am so so thankful for my amazing support system and absolutely wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, I must take this time to very kindly say, please…BACK THE FUCK UP!
Okay, okay, let me explain my rage. Beginning my breast cancer journey at the age of 26 years young… I received the news and was extremely upset like anyone naturally would be. I’ve been through a windy road these past couple months and naturally I have had my own ups and downs. However, NEVER EVER EVER did I feel that my life was over, nor acted like I was “dying”, because NEWS FLASH, I am NOT! Let me break this down for you so we are all on the same page here.
Cancer. Why the fuck is that word so hard to say? Even to this day, when I come into situations that I am forced to actually say, “I have breast cancer” the words roll off my tongue in a very “awkward” and sort of unsettling way, but why? I’ll tell you why, because our society has made it that way! Why do WE make “cancer” this big scary disease? Why is it that as soon as someone is diagnosed with “cancer” is it like a death sentence? Or better yet, why does society gauge or rate “cancers” like one is worse than the other?
(ATTENTION: THIS IS MY OPINION AND MY OPINION ONLY)
In my eyes, CANCER is just a diagnosis. It is exactly like the diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease in the fact that it effects your mortality. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases killed 17.5 million people in 2012, that is 3 in every 10 deaths. NOT CANCER… Heart disease! Guess what, many of my own family members have heart diseases or at very high risk for heart disease due to other conditions that make the pre-disposed. So, WHY when I was diagnosed with cancer did people find it okay to shove information, treatments, and studies down my throat when someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes for instance is “normal” in our world and not “a big deal”. Why do people think I am going to die, or I have to now “be strong and fight” because I have cancer?
Your probably thinking what is this girl talking about. Okay, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and CHOSE to go through traditional treatment of chemotherapy. I made the decision to treat my condition through the use of doctors and tests that have been scientifically proven to have some sort of effect to lengthen my life. That is the “goal” once you are diagnosed with any condition in actuality unless for religious reasons you don’t believe in modern medicine or something. Can you BELIEVE, I had close FAMILY members and friends angry with me for doing what our “society” encourages to be the right thing to do when treating a medical condition?!
This is what people don’t get…You can’t take CANCER away. “Fixing” the problem is hard, but the end goal is simply just not to die. In our modern world today THERE IS NOT going to be a magical cure because Cancer treatments and fundraising makes way too much money for our selfish society to give up! Can you please explain to me why our society thinks it is okay to make billions of dollars on a simple medical condition… on Cancer? Why not support a race for coronary artery disease or COPD… BECAUSE IT DOESNT HAVE AS MUCH “SUPPORT” AS THE ALL MIGHTY CANCER!
Even before I was diagnosed, just from having friends or family who have fought their battles with cancer, whenever I see a special colored “ribbon” for whichever specific cancer it represents, I often found myself spending the extra money and wearing it in celebration or in memory of that loved one. To tell you the truth, every time I see a fucking little pink ribbon, I want to actually wrap it around my throat! The way I see it is that these ribbons, colors, and symbols our culture has drilled into our brains, have normalized the fact that this condition still exists in our world today. How pathetic is it that in the year 2016 despite our ability to send a person to walk on the damn moon we cannot “cure” multiple diseases?
Cancer literally makes a killing! Do you know how much money a year CANCER makes? As per Google, “In 2012, the reported spending on cancer treatment was 124.6 billion dollars”. (I’m allowed to use google considering I am not in school anymore— HELLS YES its a reliable resource in my eyes!). ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I didn’t stutter with that number either… we are talking BILLIONS of dollars, on what?
As a patient with cancer these numbers obviously piss me off, but reality is that this is the world that we live in today. Money makes the world go round. Although many of us don’t want to admit it, it is entirely true. I am simply a number, a statistic, just another young woman with breast cancer in the grand scheme of things. Truthfully, that is NOT okay in my eyes! Actually I am Meghan Elizabeth (Franz) Koziel, a 26 yer old Occupational Therapist by day and damn Super Hero by night! I am not “cancer” and “cancer” is not me!
Lets talk about the many “life changes” people forced upon me once I was diagnosed because this has a direct effect with MONEY!
Organic diet. Now, I can tell you from experience that organic foods are 100x better than the processed crap that are covering our food stores from floor to ceiling… however did you know that organic foods are sometimes DOUBLE the cost of our “normal” foods that are actually pumped with GMOs and pesticides which are proven carcinogens. Did you know that other countries actually BAND some additives and preservatives that we Americans intake on the daily? We are literally placing these cancer causing foods into our own mouths because… its cheaper. Our government is making it legal for cancer causing chemicals be ingested by infants, children, teens, and adults of all ages… Could it be so every tomorrow a new person is getting sick and needs medicines and treatments in order to “live?”
“The cancer must be in your water!” Sad, but possibly true… how pathetic is it that looking at my situation and both myself and my puppy being diagnosed with cancer at the same time I was actually encouraged to contact the water company to examine the local risk of ingesting toxins from my water! Good ole H2O! Pocahontas was able to drink out of a running fucking river with fish and raccoon poo floating downstream, and was never known to have “cancer”, but in 2016 I PAY for “filtered” running water and your telling me we haven’t found a way for it to be the purest damn water ever known to man? Okay, well then I’ll PAY MORE MONEY to drink bottled water! WRONG!! The plastic that the bottle is made of and that the water sits in on the shelves for who knows how long is also cancer causing and can make you die!
Oils, teas, and plants Oh My! The day I received my biopsy results that I had breast cancer, my family immediately made an order for CBD (aka hemp oil), I was given an aroma therapy diffuser, and gifts of teas and Himalayan salts were the norm. Although to me, these gifts have been very comforting and relaxing and in my mind using these things in conjunction with modern medicine does no harm at all! I actually find the relaxation benefits of many of these things to be highly beneficial mentally, however… THERE IS NO PUBLISHED LITERATURE THAT ANY OF THIS HAS A DIRECT EFFECT ON “CURING” CANCER! I support the more holistic lifestyle and utilizing these things even daily to promote healthy living, but newsflash THIS STUFF IS NOT GOING TO CURE ME!
This seems to be the truth as I investigate more and more. Cancer represents big money to the pharmaceutical companies and the health industry alone. Now I am not going to be a crazy advocate and grab my posters and megaphone to stand and strike on the street corner, but it is the scariest of thoughts! These companies and sadly some “non profits” supporting different diagnoses have been also found to not use majority of the funds for good use and to directly benefit patients. Many of them simply do NOT have a vested interest in prevention, therefore there will not be a definitive CURE anytime soon. In my case, I was genetically predisposed to breast cancer… Basically I pulled the short stick and the only thing to do is what science has proven to expand my life which is chemo, surgery, and radiation.
If I took every single persons recommendation for treatment approaches, I would probably look like Bob Marley and smoke as much if not more plants than even he could ever imagine. I would live in some foreign land slightly similar to Loompaland eating only organic worms and bugs like Simba from lion king and perhaps the mysterious cocoa bean, raw and organic of course for dessert. I would rub oils and salves over every orfice of my body, and walk miles upon miles to bath/ drink only water from the Fountain of Youth. I would sleep in a cave filled with Hymalyan salt walls and have absolutely no electronics in case they send off harmful rays that will evntually kill me. Any flower I come across, I would ever so carefully dig it up to protect the root because duh thats the “healthiest part”, and gather random leaves just so I can Drink cup after cup of tea because my body will need this in order to live. Oh, and Dont forget my fruit and veggie, antioxidant rich diet! I will never ever kill an animal for food because that is simply “inhumane” and I will just hope and pray that the circle of life continues to monitor the animal population because I cannot assist in using them for food or items to live off of. The only electronic appliance I shall own is a juicer because basically I will be on a liquid diet and if I dont drink a quart or carrot, beet, and grape juice daily… I am sure to just die!
Do you see how fucking ridiculous this all sounds?! This is what my life has been since I was diagnosed. Do people attack you with these sorts of treatments when your diagnosed with asthma? Oh I am sure they do for coronary artery disease, right? What makes it right just because I have breast cancer (let me mind you once again, it is just any other medical condition) for people to clobber me with these alternative treatments that may have worked for one or two random people across the universe but do not have substantial evidence to be more of a cure than ignoring that I have cancer all together. Nobody can tell me that I am going to die any sooner than you are just becuse I have the almighty “cancer”! Truth is, people wake up in the morning and die driving on their way to work… Did the oil or tea help to keep them alive?
What I want you to take out of reading this post is this. If a friend, family member, or aquaintance is diagnosed with cancer or any disease for that matter, be supportive. Instead of sending crazy ailments that “are sure to cure them”, send them inspirational quotes or a card that is so funny they cant help but laugh! Make them smile with mail and small gifts to brighten their day. Buy them one of those huge lollipops or a pack of bubble tape and have a contest who can blow the biggest bubble because its fun! Make them gifts, homemade gifts are the greatest! From kniting them a blanket or hat when going through treatment to buying them comfy soft socks to keep their toesys warm, these are the things that make a huge difference! Sure, Hymalyan salt lamp, oils ,lotions, and teas are wonderful gifts… But do not expect them to use them every second of every day!
The best gifts i’ve received along this journey had NOTHING to do with my cancer at all! Recieving a box full of letters from long lost friends with a sprinkle of glitter is sure to brighten anyones day. Im pretty sure I had a smile as wide as a Chesser Cat and may have shed tears of joy because of how it brought back so many memories! Jewlery and accessories or a new pair of pink sparkly heels literally made my day when I was down in the dumps, bald, and going through chemo. A “box of sunshine” after a surgery filled with anything and everything yellow! From a comfy blanket to chapstick! So thoughtful and amazing! Cards with words of encourgement and quotes make you know that people are thinking of you. Useful things like pajamas, lotion for chemo skin, or post-op drain holders are one less thing the “patient” has to buy. Even cookbooks are interesting and come in handy! And you can never go wrong with making frozen meals or better yet having a random pizza delivered to someone when their so busy with treatments or surgeries it’s such a wonderful idea because it is one less thing that person has to think about on a busy day.
The most cost efficient gift of them all…CALL them! Do not be the person that is there when the worst hits, but non-existant on any other day. After the initial month or two pass and someone is in the middle of treatments or surgery, go make a surprise visit, i’m telling you it will make their day! Even something as small as a text message or as personal as a handwritten letter through snail mail… These are the true “cures” to disease. Life is about taking risks… Do NOT ever force someone into a bubble and make them feel like they have to hide because at any minute death could be knocking at the door, because in reality it already is!
On my very first doctors appointment with my AMAZING oncologist Dr. Jane Raymond, she said something to my mom and I that stuck. She said, “Beating Cancer is 80% mental, 20% physical”. She encouraged me to get back to work and my normal everyday life because I AM NOT DEAD! I AM NOT DYING… I still have a long, sparkly, adventurous life to live!
My philosophy on life is that with love and laughter brings life! So focus more on making amazing memories, not losing out on the very precious minutes we have on this earth for he said/ she said type ailments. If you want to eat a damn Big Mac, you should eat a damn Big Mac and super size the shit! If you want to drink a Dr. Pepper at dinner, honey… drink that damn Dr. Pepper! When someone is sick, brighten their day with small acts of love and kindness without focusing cherished time on ailments that have no scientific proof of curing anyone more than that of a smile.
In college I created the mission to change the world one smile at a time. Literally all you have to do is smile at someone to change their entire day. So lets get our pearly whites ready.. hit up your local dentist, and make someone feel better by simply smiling! Now that my friends is proven to work miracles!