We are all born with cancer cells but scientists say 2 out of 3 people will never develop the disease during the course of their lifetime. Why do you ask? Their body’s immune system has the ability to fight it off. Consequently, some may never know that cancer was ever a part of them. As an auto-immune diabetic, I often wonder what impact this revelation has on those of us who do not “fight off disease” as well as others. What happens to those of us whose bodies literally turn on themselves and attack the very thing that is trying to protect us and keep us in balance?
As a breast cancer survivor, people often ask me if I have a fear of recurrence. Most of the time, I can honestly say no. But through the daily management of my diabetes, I sometimes contemplate the intrinsic role that this autoimmune disease plays with respect to my cancer. I can’t help wonder if somewhere down the road my cancer will spring back to life , compliments of a weakened immune system.
For those of us who have cancer blaming genes , triggers can be the culprits of turning the gene on, guiding the key into the keyhole and unlocking an inevitable chain of events. Sadly, we don’t always know what those triggers are in our bodies. For me, I believe that one trigger created a domino effect, an autoimmune series of events that started with my miscarriage and ended with my cancer; my thyroiditis and diabetes floating somewhere in between the two.
When faced with my many different illnesses, it was imperative to dissect the different aspects of my health and manage each one individually with the hopes that somewhere in that management lays a little relief for something else, a reverse domino effect of sorts. I did just that and employed it as a means of survival, finding my way to the other side and ultimately wellness.
“Survival mode” is a common phrase tossed around when discussing traumatic situations and life-threatening illness. You live each day as a means to the next, never looking back at the day before, fiercely focused on the future while simultaneously struggling to make it to tomorrow. It’s a must-have mindset in order to get through anything as fearful or intimidating as cancer. Looking back at my time of illness, there are many things that are a complete blur to me. I hardly remember significant milestones and events that should be in the forefront in my memory. But I think that was just my body’s way of protecting me and empowering me to cope with the cancer instead of becoming overwhelmed by it. Something’s gotta give.
Now years later, I may be fuzzy on the details at times, but am grateful for my inner strength and my wisdom to not always feel the need to prevail over those absent memories I long for in life. It provided me with the coping mechanisms that I needed most to get through my illness and live life to its fullest with my family while tackling cancer at the same time. I call that …Darwinism-survival of the fittest, fittest at its finest.