I think everyone “knows” what cancer is. It’s bad. It’s scary. It can be life threatening. The treatment for it sucks.
But when you break it down to just the basics, normal cells go through a programmed life cycle of birth, life, and then death. Some cells become damaged and they no longer follow this protocol. The don’t die. Instead, they multiply. The push out healthy cells. They invade tissue. This is all that cancer is (in a very simplified way). I knew this before I was diagnosed. What I wondered when I was told I had it was how in the heck did I get it? I consider myself pretty healthy. I could not understand why immune system failed me. What did I do wrong? One too many sodas over the course of my lifetime? My love of candy? The fact that I stopped running as my primary workout? What was it? I didn’t know. I always thought my immune system kicked ass. I’m rarely sick. Weird things don’t really happen to my body. I heal well. Before I got cancer, I worked in the same office as people who had a sinus infection, bronchitis, and colds; I didn’t get any of that. Heck, WHILE I was going through chemo someone in my office had pneumonia. My white counts were low a lot of the time that I went to work. I didn’t get any type of infection during treatment despite having little-to-no immunity.
This just did not add up for me. How could my immune system stop me from getting colds, but not stupid cancer?
I then read something about cancer that I didn’t know. Maybe a lot of people know this, but I didn’t. I think I have been
semi-brainwashed by a lot of “junk” out there surrounding cancer. Like, have you ever heard that everyone has cancer cells in them but their immune system kills them off if it’s strong enough? Or that eating asparagus will magically cut your risk of cancer in half? Or that eating any type of animal protein basically puts you in the danger zone? I’ve heard a lot of foolish things about why people get cancer. A lot of them I know are stupid but I couldn’t help but think I did this to myself. Maybe I had one too many hamburgers in my lifetime. Or too many Swedish Fish ultimately led me down this path. And even though I know people who chug soda like it’s their job or eat way more fast food than I do and they don’t have cancer, I still had this mentality: it’s my fault. Until I read that the reason cancer functions the way it does is because your immune system does not recognize cancer as foreign. After all, these are your own cells (duh). They’re just your own cells gone rogue. So typically, your immune system does not try to fight them.
And it all makes sense to me. No matter how many different ways I have thought about this, it did not make sense to me that someone who rarely gets sick couldn’t “fight off” this cancer. I feel so much better. I have stopped thinking that this was all my own doing.
I have my own hypothesis as to the cause of my bc, but I will save boring you with that for another day.