Nearly two months ago, I found what no woman wants to find on her body: a breast lump.
Breast cancer affects one in eight women and is the #2 cancer killer of women.
I was horrified when I ran my hands over my right breast to notice a hard bundle of tissue that had not previously been there. I will never forget the shock and fear that followed. Questions began to race through my mind, 'how could THIS be here?' and 'what did I do wrong?'. I was in a state of panic, trying to pinpoint the cause of this new intruder. My brain was looping questions to find the answer to how I could have THIS? I began revisiting all of my recent meal choices, environments and behaviours. Rationalizing my lifestyle and physical health, I was convinced that I shouldn't have THIS problem. Besides, I am relatively young, physically active and eat fairly nutritiously. The 'Why me'? mentality was shrieking fear to my core.
Where Western Medicine gets lost
The mind-body dualism dominates our medical system. Most physicians and disciplines of health studies are in denial about the interconnectedness our emotions have on our physiology and organic composition as humans.
I felt diminished to a physical body when I went in for medical testing - having a middle-aged man walk in, not introduce himself and directly question the nature of the lump and follow his brief questions with a quick, cold assessment of the qualities, size and texture of my breast tissue. He then would wash his hands, ask me to re-dress and refer me to another specialist. The cycle continued throughout a mammogram, ultrasound, and a final biopsy with an ultrasound.
Not once did any health professional inquire about anything outside of the realm of my emotions, beliefs, and concerns. There was never a connection made between my emotions and experience.
Following the painful biopsy, the radiologist blankly said, "It looks abnormal - I'd like it out". I lay in the dark room in front of a blaring ultrasound screen with tears running into my ears, silently listening to my heart break. He came back to the room with a surgeon's business card and said to follow-up with this physician to have the lump removed.
His last piece of advice, "If you are trying to get pregnant, I suggest you wait. It is not good to start with pregnancy now". I sighed, feeling helpless and tucked the business card in my jacket.
Our breasts represent much more than organs of sexuality, intimacy and femininity — they symbolize our primal need for motherly love, support, security, and nourishment. This is reflected in their primary function. They are an integral component of our self-image and connection to our sacred role as woman, lover and mother. Our heart, breasts, and other nearby organs are literally a physical extension to the energetic Heart centre, a deep emotional conduit in our physical and subtle layers.
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Canadian women. The incidence rate of breast cancer among Indigenous people is on the rise.
Emotional balance is where attention between inner and outer world is evenly dispersed. When we are too focussed on our outer world, we live in the realm of anxiety. When we are too focussed on our inner world, we live in the realm of depression.
I have always believed in the power our body has to restore itself, and its innate intelligence to get back to balance. So what questions did I really need to ask myself? How could I shift my mentality from self-blame, anxiety, and fear to getting back in touch with what I am missing? I began to think about the emotions I still have to let go of...
<< Sometimes I feel like a motherless child >>
As a young girl, I was often the mean girl. Years of suppressed resentment would result in bouts of explosive rage and anger towards anyone in my path. This was a reflection of my home life, living with a disabled father with a short fuse of a temper - he lost his mother to breast cancer at the age of 12 and never had a chance to mourn her. I never could understand this and felt a lot of rejection from my absent mother, which fuelled the anger I was harbouring.
My favourite physician, Dr. Gabor Mate states: "We human beings are biopsychosocial creatures whose health or illness reflects our relationship with the world we inhabit—including all the variables of family, class, gender, race, political status, and the physical ecology of which we are a part". We have various layers that are more than our physical make up but also our spiritual, emotional and mental layers that influence our health and balance.
The breasts are organs of giving and receiving. Also notice their close proximity to the heart chakra. It has been have also found breast masses resolve on their own with emotional and spiritual healing. Breasts are dynamic the same way the rest of our bodies are, they adapt through changes and stressors.
Although the vast majority of lumps found are benign, it is important to maintain breast health and check our breasts for changes regularly. Always check in with a physician or other trusted health care professional if any changes, lumps or bumps are observed.
Daily Activities to Adapt into your Breast Care Regime:
Massage Breasts Daily - this is is the very best thing we can do for our breasts. Massage is effective at moving lymph. As long as lymph moves, toxins can be removed, ducts do not become blocked, and less accumulation occurs. Do this without interruption, make it a connection with yourself. Castor oil may be used (warm if desired, add rose scent if desired). See a Breast Massage Ritual in this Ayurvedic guide.
- Hydrate - Drink plenty of quality spring water to help with circulation and removal of toxins.
- Sweat - Perform regular, vigorous exercise, which not only helps you break a sweat but also is great for a healthy heart and eliminating toxins. This also helps to circulate lymph and blood cells throughout the body, providing nourishment and natural detoxification.