An alchemical journey with breast cancer based on Kathy’s personal experience of the disease. We follow her passage through the ravages of orthodox treatments and a host of complementary therapies. There is strong spiritual dimension to this tale of transformation which brings Kathy face to face with her own mortality and with Goddess. An inspiring read for all cancer sufferers and their carers.
128 pages, illustrated, ISBN 1 872983 08 1
£8.95 plus P&P
Printing single copies of this book extract for personal use (only) is permitted
To my beloved Mike
To Ariadne of the Red Thread
And to all the many people who
helped me get well again
This book is written in the form of a variegated diary of experiences Kathy had while she was threatened by breast cancer. The book is particularly valuable for awakening women faced with this challenge, or similar challenges. It shows how Kathy, on her own journey, got to the bottom of what ailed her, as part of her healing process – as well as her experiences with both hospital treatments and complementary therapies. On this page is the introduction to the book plus a selection of entries from that diary.
Breast cancer is a frightening and dangerous disease which now in the British Isles afflicts one in twelve women at some point in our lives and kills over 1400 women every year. And these figures are rising. It is said to be caused by environmental toxins or a genetic susceptibility to the disease, but no-one knows for certain why one woman contracts breast cancer rather than another. Each woman who suddenly finds a lump in her breast, is thrust headlong into an intense and painful physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experience. She has to quickly find her way through the maze of conflicting orthodox treatments and complementary therapies on offer to help her heal, while the threat of death from this killer disease hangs over her head.
This book is the story of my personal journey with breast cancer based on excerpts from the diary I wrote at the time. It tells of my experience with orthodox cancer treatments and with a whole range of complementary therapies, giving you an idea of what is available and which ones worked for me. At the back of the book I give a list of the things I tried and where you can find them if you are on this healing quest. The list is ever increasing as new discoveries are made about cancer.
I had never considered for a moment that I would ever get cancer. I had never had any major illnesses in my life. I was forty eight years old and had lived a seemingly healthy lifestyle for many years and was outwardly a happy and creatively fulfilled woman. I found that in order to heal myself I needed to understand why I had caught this disease. I knew there had to be underlying reasons why I had cancer, as well as there being toxins out there in the world which had given it to me.
My experiences began with a ceremonial walk into and out of the great Labrynth on Glastonbury Tor. Symbolically this journey continued day by day throughout my illness in my dreams and in visions as I saw myself following Ariadne’s Red Thread and the Light from her Flaming Torch through the dark passageways of an Underground Labrynth. Ariadne is the ancient Kretan Goddess and High Priestess, whose Red Thread leads us into the centre of the Labrynth where the Monstrous Minotaur lives. The Minotaur can kill us or transform us. On our return journey from his lair Ariadne’s Red Thread shows us the way out of the Labrynth back to renewed life. At times during the illness when I had lost all sense of what was happening to me I hung on to that Red Thread, even though I had forgotten why I was holding it. I have called this book, BREAST CANCER Hanging on by a Red Thread in honour of that dark time when I clung on by a thin red thread to life.
Amongst other creative activities I am a sacred dramatist and in the year before I became ill I had written a new play entitled And They Call Her Name Wisdom. This sacred drama is about alchemy and the pursuit of Wisdom. Alchemy is the physical and spiritual quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone which can transmute base metals into gold, a substance which heals all disease. The alchemical quest is an allegory of the search for the divine feminine healing energy of Wisdom, who is described in all the major spiritual traditions of the world. Before I wrote the play I had done a lot of research into alchemy but it is an arcane subject veiled in mystery, which can only truly be understood by those who are practising alchemists. I had written the play mainly from inspiration without really understanding the complexities of the alchemical process.
When I became ill I soon began to see my experience as part of an alchemical journey, in which I was being transformed by the disease, not only physically but also psychologically and spiritually. I was being taken through a process of radical change on all levels, which I could not resist. Our Lady Wisdom was calling to me to transform my life and because of the aggressive nature of my cancer, it was for me a case of transform or die. Not all experiences of breast cancer are this extreme, but I can be a slow learner and sometimes need to be jolted awake in order to learn what I need to learn.
I know just how hard and desperate the experience with cancer can be and I hope that this small book will inspire those of you who have cancer to continue on your journey towards healing and wholeness. Disease presents us with the opportunity to heal areas of our lives that have lain wounded for decades and even centuries. I pray that you may be healed of your disease. I also hope that this book will help the families and friends who care for cancer sufferers to understand the depths of this experience. Finally I hope it may help broaden the approach of the incredible and dedicated doctors and healthcare workers who daily deal with this disease.
I live and work in the small country town of Glastonbury in Somerset, also known as the mysterious Isle of Avalon. I am a writer, healer, teacher, sacred dramatist and initiator. I have been involved in many community projects over the years and am a co-founder of the Isle of Avalon Foundation, Library of Avalon, Bridget Healing Centre, the Sanctuary at Glastonbury, and of the Glastonbury Goddess Conference.
Excerpts from a Diary
Monday August 14th 1995
…For the last six weeks or so I’ve had a slight pain in the side of my right breast. It’s like one of those pre-menstrual aches you get in your breasts before your period comes, but it doesn’t go away after I start bleeding. I have ignored it for a while. It feels a bit like the mastitis I got when I was breast feeding. I told Mike about it. He said Go and get it looked at, but I thought it would just go away. It hasn’t, so today I went to see the doctor. She felt my breast and seemed a bit concerned and is sending me to Yeovil Hospital for some tests. I know it’s nothing. Cancer doesn’t hurt. Anyway I couldn’t possibly get cancer. It’s not in my life plan. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years and I’m too healthy, happy and creatively fulfilled.
Wednesday August 16th
Today I went to Yeovil Hospital for tests on my breast. I wasn’t really worried and went on my own, thinking, It can’t be anything. Having a mammogram hurt my sore breast as it was squeezed between those two plates. Ow! But funnily enough afterwards the pain went away. The breast still feels a bit swollen underneath but not lumpy. They did some ultrasound scans and then stuck this big needle into the swelling in two places and took a biopsy. Now its all bruised. They’ve told me to come back next week for the results and to bring someone with me. If it is cancer doesn’t sticking those needles in help spread it if it’s there? But it isn’t. It can’t be. We’re going on holiday to Iona next Friday, the day after we get the results. I’m really looking forward to being in that peaceful place again.
I was starting to feel a bit worried and went to see Geoff Boltwood the healer at the Tareth Centre in Glastonbury. He produced beautiful perfumed healing oils from his hands which was extraordinary. I put some of the oil on my breast but I don’t know if it did any good. He said not to worry he thought I was going to be here for a long while yet. Jaana came round and gave me lots of love and healing. She is very kind.
Friday 25th August
Yesterday at 11.45 in the morning Mr Payne – what a name, the surgeon at Yeovil, told me I have a malignant cancerous tumour in my right breast and because of its size and position all he could offer me was a complete mastectomy.
He told me, just like that, baldly, no empathy, no feeling, nothing. Mike and I just went into complete shock and sat there numbly. Then it was, Do you have any questions? How can you think of any questions, let alone a sensible one, when you’ve just had the biggest shock of your life? Then we were ushered into another room with the breast care nurse, where we clung to each other and cried and cried. After years of not crying at least this was something which made Mike cry.
I can’t have cancer. It’s not true. I don’t want to lose my breast. I don’t want a mastectomy. I don’t want to die. Then it came into my mind that I could ask for a second opinion. I knew from somewhere I’d heard that you didn’t have to have mastectomies these days. You can just have the lump removed. I asked the nurse if I could get a second opinion. She went to talk to Mr Payne.
She came back and said I could go to another hospital and get another opinion, but if I did it would mean that I would lose my place in the queue for surgery and that would delay my treatment and that could mean the cancer could spread and that was dangerous. What a frightening choice.
I never ever thought I would get cancer. It can’t be happening to me. I don’t want to die. I want to live. There is so much I want to do, so much creativity I have inside me to put out into the world.
On the way home from the hospital we went to see Pauline Watson, an old friend who had breast cancer herself a few years ago. She’s still very much alive, though it was a huge and traumatic journey for her. Knocking on her door was a good way of removing the distance that had come into our relationship. She was great and informative. Eye to eye she was there, a friend of the heart. Maybe now our friendship will grow again. Maybe I can find my friends once more.
She looked at my astrology and said something about my missionary zeal which takes no account of itself and that the message now is that my first duty is to love and protect myself and to forget about everyone else. I realise that I don’t know what that means – to love myself. She said I should only do the things that are good for me and stop doing the things that aren’t good for me. She said I should go to Taunton where she had been treated, where there was a specialist cancer unit, that they were good. She said I should do it all – orthodox and complementary medicine. Everyone she knew who had used only complementary therapies was dead. Cancer is a killer! She also said something in passing about Ariadne’s red thread and I suddenly remembered the Labrynth walk of just a few days ago and my rededication to Ariadne and asking for transformation. Oh Ariadne, holy one, I didn’t mean like this!
I read somewhere, Cancer can never occur in a healthy body. A healthy body is in a position to recognise cancer cells and reject them. The defence systems of the body can become damaged in many ways and will eventually lose the power of being able to reject the cancer cells. Without knowing it on a physical level my defences have become damaged.
The book where I’m writing this diary was given to me a few months ago by Polly Bauer as a wealth journal. I couldn’t imagine at the time how I might use it, but now I have a use for it. I had written Wealth feels warm, abundant, generous. Somehow my cancer must become my wealth.
I rang my mother and told her I have breast cancer. It was hard to tell her because I don’t want her to worry, because there isn’t much she can do except worry. She was shocked and was very sweet and loving.
Saturday 26th August
I woke this morning feeling very frightened. I sat in the garden as the sun rose in a blue, blue sky and cried and cried. I feel so scared. Now I can feel it in my body. I have cancer. This is really hard.
It was all arranged that I should go to Sedona in Arizona at the end of October to teach some Goddess workshops, so last night I had to ring Nancy (Safford) to tell her I won’t be able to come. I’m so pissed off. I was so looking forward to going there and Mike was going to come too. Maybe I can still go after the operation. I might be better by then.
And what about the play And They Call Her Name Wisdom, which I’m supposed to be directing this December? Will I be able to do it? We have been given a grant by the Foundation for Sport and the Arts to produce Wisdom this autumn. The play is an alchemical allegory about the pursuit of wisdom and the quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone – the stone of the Wisdom of Sophia. I have connected the physical processes of alchemy described in the ancient texts to the myths and legends of Glastonbury and Avalon and I trust that something alchemical and transformative will happen in the process of performing the play. I don’t really know that much about alchemy. I know it’s to do with purifying the soul rather than transforming lead into gold. And I love all those wonderful words that our Lady Wisdom has spoken through the ages, whether as Hokmah, Sophia or Isis or as I hear her speaking in my ear. I also felt a very strong connection to the Nine Morgens as I was writing the play and a direct communion with Merlin as I wrote his speeches, as if he was writing them.
I wrote the play about a year ago and first we were geared up to perform it last December 1994, but less than three weeks before the performances were due to take place the young woman playing one of the main characters, pulled out and it was too late to find another one. We decided to cancel the performances and wait until the flow had returned. Stopping the production midway was energetically a bit like being hit by a truck and felt weird, but at that point there was no other choice than to stop or do the whole thing badly. It was the first time I’ve ever stopped a play from happening. The energy rocked back and forward for quite a while after that. It didn’t feel nice at all. I couldn’t understand what was going at the time, why the play didn’t happen then. I still don’t really know why.
Also I hadn’t heard by last December whether we’d been awarded a grant to produce it or not. That only came through this March. So we were planning to do it again this year 1995. Will I be able to direct it? Will I be well by then? I might try asking Sue Palmer if she will direct it. Is this the way things are meant to go for Ariadne Productions? I have always directed the sacred drama. Is someone else supposed to do it now? Should I let go of it?
I have just thought I might have cancer elsewhere in my body, It might have started somewhere else completely, in my lungs say. It’s too much to think of. I wanted to wake up this morning and find that it had all gone away but it hasn’t. We haven’t gone to Iona. Mike and I are too shocked. I know nothing at all about cancer. Only that if you catch breast cancer early enough when it’s small, it can be cured. What is early enough? What size is small?
It’s still so unbelievable. If I who am healthy can get cancer then anyone can. I read that 1 in 12 women now get breast cancer. On Long Island where I stayed in June with Colleen and Fred 1 in 8 women get it from the pollution. The cure rate, at 50%, has stayed virtually the same since the 1950s. All the research into cancer and they still don’t know how to cure it. It’s caused by pollutants in the food, in the water, in the soil, in the air. Suddenly the world feels like a very poisoned place. But why has it happened to me?
I think it’s to do with all the verbal and psychic attacks on me made by particular people in this community. A couple of months ago a woman came up to me in the street and out of the blue started shouting at me in my face. She accused me of plotting against her and her husband and how all her troubles were my fault. I was astonished. I didn’t shout back but tried to turn away physically from her anger, trying to let it go past me. Which is something that I do – I’m afraid of answering back to people who are angry with me. I am so shocked in the moment of it happening that I hold onto my own reactions even when unjustly accused or even especially when unjustly accused. I turn it inwards on myself.
That argument with Bill at the gender party. He said he wanted men and women to meet in the middle of the gender experience. I said there was no meeting in the middle. If he wanted to learn anything new he needed to come over to the women’s side for a while and listen to us. There is no true middle ground because the poles are not equal, everything has been weighted in favour of men for so long. As women we have been learning something new together over the last twenty years and men need to let themselves hear about it. I even said how afraid I am to speak my truth to a man because I feel that if I say what I really think about the world and what men have done to it, then the man will kill me. So I said it to Bill and everyone in the room and he got really angry and I could feel his unspoken rage at me, but he said nothing more and from then on there was no movement. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to push it any further.
He took his anger out on me later by writing a ten page report full of criticisms of the Foundation and by implication of me and on the final three pages claimed that the only way things would improve was if I left the Foundation. Barry had employed him as a consultant to help us with organisation. We had opened up to him thinking we were working together. We told him about all the difficulties we’ve had as well as all the triumphs, but he chose to focus only on our shortcomings. This was only a few weeks ago. At first when I read the report I felt profoundly depressed and sad and hurt, that anyone could pour out such hatred under the guise of objectivity, a mean patriarchal trick, and not see all the good that everyone in the Foundation does selflessly for others and all the hundreds of people who have benefited and continue to benefit from its work. All the people who have generously given their time and energy, and me. But I couldn’t say any of this directly to him. I was too afraid of the confrontation. Instead I absorbed all his crap.
And there have been many other times over the last few years. I have been a scapegoat in many communal situations, in plays, in the Assembly Rooms, just for speaking my truth, wanting to openly acknowledge spirit in this sacred place. There must be a victim in me wanting to be scapegoated, who thinks she deserves it, to draw it to me. I don’t express my anger out there, instead it seems I absorb all the shit that people care to send my way. Mostly they never say any of it directly to my face, they say it behind my back. Glastonbury can be a bad place for destructive gossip. Is it that people want to wound me deliberately, or do I open to them and don’t see where they’re really at and then they hurt me? And it’s that male Gemini energy again which can really do me in. The nice twin seduces me in and the nasty twin tries to destroy me. It happened with Emmanuel and now Bill.
Shortly after we received the report Bill was sacked. I didn’t manage to express my anger directly to him. I just absorbed the attack. But he had ripped us all off. Barry paid a lot of money for a critical report whose main theme apart from attacking me, was that the Foundation should try to get government funding to teach subjects that nobody here in Glastonbury wants to either teach or learn. He did give us one good idea in a meeting, that of expanding the Foundation course brochure into a magazine, which we’re going to do. It will be called AVALON magazine. The rest was complete junk.
Cary came round last night and I began to feel how cut off I have become from people without noticing it. Trying to do it alone. In protecting myself from being hurt I have protected myself from being loved.
What a lot of words today. I have entered Ariadne’s labrynth. I have walked into the entrance and the path turns to the left on the third level – the place of the mind – and I’m trying to work it all out in my head as quickly as possible. Then round we go, on and down to the second level – the emotions. I am journeying to meet the Minotaur once again. I have a Taurean Sun and Moon in my birthchart and the Minotaur is one of my inner daemons.
Saturday 2nd September
Suddenly there’s a huge amount to learn. I have to change my diet. Although I have been a vegetarian for the last 25 years, it’s not enough. Pauline became macrobiotic when she got ill. That’s quite a hard diet with lots of things in it that I don’t really like to eat. I’ve just read a Bristol Cancer Help Centre book, The Bristol Experience by Liz Hodgkinson and Jane Metcalfe and they recommend no dairy, no salt, no sugar, no coffee, no tea, no chocolate, lots of raw and juiced foods. I’m doing it. I have become an instant vegan and feel terrified to eat anything that isn’t organic or contains even a trace of dairy products. Luckily there is an organic vegetable stall in the market every week, but organic food is much more expensive than pesticide-laced food. There is some evidence that cancers may be triggered by pesticides and other pollutants in the environment. Breast cancer is connected to the rise in oestrogen-mimicking substances found in plastics which leach out into food and water and there is also a connection to oestrogens in milk and dairy products from things they give to cows. I used to eat quite a lot of cheese. Maybe that was it. I’ve stopped eating all dairy. The other difficulty is that the macrobiotic diet recommends no raw food at all as it’s harder to digest, while the Bristol diet recommends at least 50% raw food. Which is the right one? Whichever works. I just have to go with what feels right for me.
On Thursday my doctor, Phil Jackson, sent me to Musgrove Park Hospital where they have a specialist breast cancer unit. I was very scared going there, but they are so good compared to Yeovil, calm and reassuring and they gave us lots of information. They said I could just have the lump removed and not the whole breast, even though the margins are small – that means the cancer is close to the surface of the skin. Allelujah! I didn’t realise how much I really object to having my breast removed. They gave me Tamoxifen, an oestrogen blocker as breast cancer feeds on oestrogen.
After going to Taunton things felt much better – a relief. They seem to know what they are doing. They gave me confidence. I go in to hospital next Tuesday to have the lump and the lymph glands under my arm removed on the Wednesday. They check the lymph glands to see if the cancer has spread into the rest of the body. I’m scared. I love Mike so much. He is being so strong for me, so great. He makes all the difference.
After we’d been to the hospital we went into Taunton and bought an electric juicer. It’s recommended in The Bristol Programme that you juice lots of carrots and fruit, anything with vitamin C and A, to get the antioxidants. Cancer cells are badly formed ordinary cells which multiply and aren’t recognised as different by the body. Ordinary cells get triggered into becoming cancer cells when there are too many free radicals – positively ionised particles, and antioxidants help remove them. I think that’s it.
I read in The Bristol Programme that cancer personalities are often do-gooders, kind, nice people in the caring professions who like helping others. They are uncomfortable expressing negative emotions particularly in their own defence. They find it hard to say no. They have a low self image. I hear some echoes of truth.
I read what I wrote a few months ago about wealth, then I write two others: Health feels alive, energy, activity. Cancer feels dark, dense, compacted, blocked, fearful.
I went to see Lili Redhouse, the Chinese herbalist at Wookey Hole to get herbs to boost my immune system. She also does acupuncture an.d is the first person I’ve talked to who seems to know anything about cancer in a holistic kind of way. She is good. I will get herbs from her all the way through. I will get vitamins and minerals from Phil.
The Bristol Cancer Help Centre recommends:
- 2-6gms Vit C with bioflavonoids a day, depending on the state of the cancer
- Beta-carotene (Vit A) 6mg three times a day
- Vit B 50mgs a day
- Selenium 200 micrograms
- Zinc 100mg a day at night, reduce to 30 mgs after 3 months Starflower or Evening Primrose Oil (Vit E) some say not for breast cancer, but I will take it.
- Co-enzyme Q10 which helps the other vitamins work Kelp tablets, linseed oil.
Saturday 9th September
On Wednesday I was taken down to the operating theatre about 9.30am in a wheelchair along long windy corridors. I felt very cold. I had decided not to have the pre-op injection as that’s the one which takes longer to recover from after the operation. I took homoeopathic arnica to help reduce the effects of the operation. I lay down on a trolley feeling very frightened and alone. They put a needle into the back of my hand and gave me something to relax me. I felt warmth come round my back. Then they put cold anaesthetic in my hand. I was thinking about being surrounded by a circle of light, of all the people who were thinking of me at that moment and holding me in the light and I thought of lying on the back of a big white swan and then I was gone into the blackness – into nigredo, the first stage in the alchemical process.
There’s nothing quite like anaesthetic blackness. It is just that. One minute you’re awake and the next nothing. Its not like being asleep where there are dreams and energy. It’s horrible. My basic fear is that death might be like that, just a complete extinction. Then the next thing you know, hours later, you’re awake.
I came to feeling a lot of pain under my arm and breast. My first thought was that they had said there would be no pain! Then they gave me morphine but everything still hurt. And then I felt cold, very cold, and I went off into a painful sleep. The day and night just disappeared.
The next day when I tried to stand up to go to the loo I was so faint I couldn’t walk, my blood pressure was very low after the anaesthetic and losing blood. There were two drain holes with tubes coming out of them in my side where the extra fluid and blood came out of my breast and armpit into a bag. I had a shooting pain every time I moved and I couldn’t tell whether that was the wound or the tubes still inside my body. It kept me awake. The surgeon Mr Ramus came and said they were pleased and thought they had removed all of the cancer as well as a patch of pre-cancerous cells surrounding the tumour. I was longing to see Mike.
Barry came to see me which was really kind, and then Pauline, and Charlotte, who is another breast cancer survivor. Mike brought Iona and Torky, my beautiful children. We are playing down the seriousness of my situation for them. I don’t want to worry them unnecessarily. I could be completely better now. I don’t want them to be badly affected by this.
I came home from hospital yesterday evening after the drains were removed. One of the tubes was very long and went all the way through my breast. The sharp stabbing pain went when they took the tube out which was great. I was very glad to come home. Everyone in hospital was very kind but I felt lonely particularly at night when I couldn’t sleep. My bed was right next to the nurses’ station and they talked all night and with the pain, kept me awake. It is lovely to be in my own bed again. Mike is wonderful. He looks after me and takes care of me through all this horror.
I just had a look at the wounds in a mirror. It’s OK. My left breast looks long and pendulous and my new breast has a great cut underneath it. It’s almost back to the shape it used to be when I was younger a bit skewed around to the side. Nipple to the right. I will need some new bras. In some ways it’s an improvement. There’s a big cut in my armpit that hurts a bit more. I didn’t really realise what having the lymph nodes removed meant. My arm has filled up with lymph. It’s all puffed up and the skin feels stretched tight over the inside.
Looking at the life line on my hands. On the left one a second line is added in parallel to the life line. On the right there is a break and slippage, like an earthquake. It then joins onto a smaller parallel life line. This is obviously the break in the line of my life. I’ve wondered for a while when this would come in my life. But maybe I will survive.
Thursday 28th September
I had a good talk the other day with Phil about my fear of dying. I have spent my whole life being afraid on some level or another, of the dark, of violent men, mad drivers, all sorts of things. Those first years I lived alone in Wales I was so afraid each night that someone would come to get me, that someone would walk across two fields in the dark just to attack me. The one time that a friend did turn up unexpectedly in the middle of the night he walked right into my bedroom and I just woke up and said Hello, and felt no fear at all. So its a fear of things which aren’t real. I used to leave the farmhouse door open to see how far I had gone in overcoming my fear, but the fear persisted and has continued on through my life.
The root of it is my fear of dying. Whatever I have done to try and change it the fear has stayed there. After this experience maybe I will no longer fear death. I feel that it’s really incarnational. That it’s a fear that I came in with, that I had when I was born. It’s something to do with the way I died last time which I think was a sudden and horrible death during the second world war. Until now death was always something far away that would happen one day in the distant future. Now it is right here in front of me. I feel I could die so quickly. We all could yet we don’t think about it normally.
Phil asked me what I would miss most in being dead Iona and Torky, my children, who I really can’t bear to think of leaving it would damage them too much. Then there is Mike, I would miss Mike so much. I would miss making love, making love with Mike. I love the ecstasy of our intimate spiritual lovemaking. When you’re dead you can’t touch people physically. You can’t hug them. I would really miss physical touch. It’s the Taurean in me.
After the experience of the healing circle I felt that that would actually be a wonderful way to die. To lie dying in the Miracles Room and let go peacefully surrounded by many friends. It would be lovely and they would all get a hit of the numinous Otherworid too. I just realised that’s probably why in the old paintings all those people waited around the death bed. It wasn’t just to feel sad or waiting to get on to the next monarch or whatever. It was as a support to the dying person and to experience the energy of the in-between worlds. We have forgotten how to support each other in death.
Mano has just given me a free massage. I must have been storing up good karma somewhere for all this that people are giving me. I am healing.
I think Essiac is a diuretic. I peed four times in a row in the night. I also began bleeding today. Is this the last time ever? If I have chemotherapy it will probably destroy my ovaries and give me an instant menopause. I’m not ready for all that as well.
Wednesday 4th October
On Monday Peter Hunt came and gave me acupuncture to boost energy levels in my kidney and liver meridians. It was kind of him. And Nutana came and gave me a foot massage and a lovely statue of the Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet which Lloyd has made recently. Sekhmet is goddess of powerful and dramatic healings. Nutana said she thought I could heal without having chemotherapy. I didn’t have to do it that way. I could do it just with alternative therapies and the help of my friends. She sees me as being much stronger than I am. I feel I need all the help I can get. I am nobody special.
Yesterday Mike and I went to see the consultant at Taunton, Dr Elizabeth Whipp, where do these doctors get their names? We had to wait an hour and a half to see her, but she seems very good. She is a big woman with lots of vital energy. She told us that my tumour was grade 3 – the most aggressive kind of cancer, at stage 2 beginning to spread. It was 3.2cms in diameter – rather large. (1-2 cms is small). The tumour was near the surface so that the margins between the tumour and the skin, were small on the outside. The cancerous cells were in the middle of a patch of pre-cancerous cells and they removed it all.
There were cancer cells in two out of the eight lymph nodes they removed from under the arm, so the cancer had begun to spread but I could be completely cured right now. They could have removed everything. Chances of survival to 10 years are 50/50 without chemotherapy and radiotherapy and 85% with. Without additional attention the chances of it coming back in the breast are 1 in 3. That sounds rather high. Everything is percentages and chances. I want to know what is going to happen to me. I want it to be gone completely. If it comes back they recommend mastectomy. It looks like I will have to do it all, chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. I want all the chances I can get.
With chemotherapy they give you several doses at regular intervals. Cancer cells are malformed ordinary cells which are easier to kill than ordinary cells. The idea is that with each dose of chemicals about half of the cancer cells are killed and half struggle on and begin to grow again. Then half of those are knocked out by the next dose and soon. The idea is that by the fourth dose they can’t get up off the floor whereas the normal cells of the body can recover. The quicker growing cells found in the hair and nails are also knocked out, which is why the hair falls out. Chemo also destroys the ovaries and I will probably become menopausal although some women’s periods do come back. I have been pre-menopausal for a while now with my hormones going haywire and starting to get hot at night. It could have been the pre-menopausal surges in oestrogen levels which caused the cancer.
Dr Whipp seemed to suggest that three months of high dose chemo is better than six months at a lower dose, although with the high dose you lose your hair. She said six months of feeling low grade illness can be a long time whereas with the higher dose you feel really ill and then it’s over in three months.
What shall I do? I want to be well for the Goddess Conference next summer and I will have to have the radiotherapy as well after the chemotherapy. If I have the shorter higher dose I will finish it all by about April. If I have the lower dose I will only finish all the treatment by the summer and wouldn’t be able to do the Conference. I may just have to lose my hair. I hate being ill. What a choice. It’s such a daunting thing to look forward to. This is very hard, Ariadne, very hard.
Quality of life now on a 1-10 scale (10 high):
I need more exercise, rest and fun!
Wednesday 11th October
I followed Denise Linn’s visualisation on tape of going to the City of Healing to meet the inner healer. It was very powerful. I found myself walking past large buildings made of big square stones. I could see the stones under my feet and to the sides. The healing temple had large decorated double doors. Opening them, inside there was a black panther who changed into an old woman – my ancestral figure who I have met before. She appeared in our kitchen once and is my ancestral spirit teacher. Then she changed into Ariadne and then Sekhmet and Tara and then to a lioness. She is a shapeshifter.
She spoke to me, I have been with you since the beginning of time. I accept all that you are. I have seen your struggles, your failures, your triumphs. I love you unconditionally.
It made me cry to be so accepted.