By Patricia Borromeo
“You have cancer” are the most dreaded words a patient can hear from his physician. My first encounter with the disease was March 2001. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), cancer of the lymphatic system. I was treated with 8 cycles of chemotheraphy and 20 days of radiation for eight months. Then, CT scan and blood work showed that I was officially cleared and was declared on partial remission.
I tried to get my life back on track while continuously monitoring my health. On July 18, 2002, I was told “Your cancer is back.” I was faced with my worst fears. That wasn’t all that I had to contend with that day. I also had to deal with the death of Noelle Hechanova, a dear friend and fellow cancer traveler. I was devastated.
It took me a few days to come to terms with my fate. I immediately took responsibility for my healing. I studied all the risks and benefits of doing traditional medicine, alternative or a combination of both. I listened to all the professionals as objectively as possible, got their perspectives and thought hard about the advice they gave me.
I also researched on the internet and spoke with other cancer survivors who had tried different alternative treatments. In the end, the decision was mine and mine alone. It’s my life and my body after all.
The new protocol for the recurrence of NHL entails high dosage chemo and stem cell transplant. It was a very aggressive form of treatment, risky, horrendously expensive and no guarantees for a cure. Alternative medicine seemed much more attractive to me at this point. I was not willing to put my body through all the physical and emotional pain I had gone through the previous year.
I¹ve decided that this time I want to be totally involved and an active participant in my healing process. I want to take charge of my recovery. I want to be able to reach into my soul, mind, and heart which doctors are not particularly an expert on.
Hence, alternative medicine was the path I chose. Quality of life at this point in time is very important to me. My body let me down and I was not going to allow my spirit to escape me.
There was a lot of pressure on me to do traditional medicine especially coming from a family of doctors. “Why?” they ask me. Why not? I reply. I am fortunate to have a support group comprised of my loving family, unfailing group of friends and compassionate cancer survivors and warriors, and that¹s all that matters.
I once read that if cancer or any other illness returns, it is not because it had not all been taken out. It means that there are still certain issues which have to be resolved in your life. I am using this time to go deeper into myself and explore my inner spaces. I believe that the mere fact that I’m making an effort to change my lifestyle, way of thinking, becoming more spiritual, acting and believing as if I am already healed, victory is inevitable.
It is a personal journey I must undertake. The same treatment may not work for everybody. I have chosen this path because it is what I believe in and have confidence in. God gave us the gift of life and we should not waste our time doing things that are unworthy of the little time we have. God gave us the ability to think, change things and fight for what we believe to be right.
If God were going to take me away, I want to live life the best way I know how.
As someone once said, “I may have cancer but the cancer doesn¹t have me.”
Patricia Borromeo was directress and teacher in her own pre-school, Tea House. She died of metastatic Lymphoma Non-Hodgkins. She was 31.