This is the seventeenth post of a series which begins here.
3 August 2017
‘Did you know there is a 4% chance breast cancer is hereditary, and only if two immediate family members have had it will you be checked for the gene? As you know I’m not a Googler, but I did do a little research about causes of the disease and apparently you’re more likely to get it with advancing age or if you’re overweight. On that premise I don’t understand how my mum or how I got it. I’ve given a lot of thought to similarities in our lifestyles that may have triggered it. Maybe we got cancer because we were both binge drinkers in our younger days, but I don’t believe that. And it’s definitely got nothing to do with dying your hair, your gran never dyed her hair,’ I said.
‘Men can get breast cancer too, can’t they?’ Marcus asked.
‘Yes, that’s true, they can.’ I answered.
We were walking back home from the village shop. When I was a little girl I used to like walking on the sunny side of the street and as a big girl I like to uphold my old tradition, it’s not superstition, I just like it in the same way as not walking on cracks in the pavement or walking along kerb stones, but not touching the joins or edges. On the opposite side of the road a small stand of Sycamore trees grow thickly. Light filters through the topmost layer of leaves which cast shadowy patterns on the white-washed wall I’m lightly trailing my hand along. It felt warm in the sun. The good old sun. ‘Women with low levels of vitamin D are at a higher risk of breast cancer.’
‘Where d’you get vitamin D from?’
‘Sunshine, Marcus…of which Scotland is distinctly lacking during winter months…You know, you need to look after your immune system and keep it healthy. Eat fibre. Eat your fruit and veg. Eat well. Drink plenty water, at least two litres a day. If you have to drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Get outside for a half hour walk every day, absorbing vitamin D from the sun that will help your immune system to function properly. Try to worry less and keep stress levels down. Prolonged stress will cause high levels of cortisol, white cells drop and the immune system is not as effective. That’s why you become more prone to colds…and some of those white cells fight cancer…’
‘Jesus Mum. Cringe,’ Marcus groaned.
‘What do you mean, cringe?’
‘You sound like you’re doing Ewan MacGregor’s bloody ‘choose life’ rant from Trainspotting!’
I laughed. It was funny he should mention Trainspotting.
Trainspotting was screened the same year my mum died from cancer and here we are, twenty years on, the sequel is out and I’ve got cancer. History repeating itself tidily in tens.
‘I didn’t mean to sound all Trainspotting! Anyway the point is, look after your immune system and it will look after you. Give more thought to what you’re shovelling into your face. If stress – like Uni workload or money or anything – becomes part of your life, deliberately make time in each day to relax for even just fifteen minutes. Do this and you’ll discover you’re able to better manage new problems as they arise.’
‘You’re the only thing giving me stress right now, Mum,’ Marcus joked. We laughed.
Choose laughter. Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. Choose life.
And if cancer chooses you, choose a positive mental attitude and choose to smash it in the face.
We all have cancer cells in our body but what triggers the change to make them become active? My personal belief is that it’s entirely random. What do you think?
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