Sharing stories - cancer stories
Joy shared is joy doubled and a problem shared is a problem halved. My main point here it’s usually worth it to share a story. Below is an email I received from a person who watched my film and felt compelled to write, Naomi Murphy. And I’ve felt compelled to share her story, which she titled “What ate my mother IS eating me too.” (With her permission, of course.)

I first heard about your documentary early last year via the Changing Habits Facebook page. I have long been a follower of Cyndi, in fact, Changing Habits, Changing Lives sparked my own wellness revolution many years ago. However, at the time I had only been recently been diagnosed with a chronic form of leukaemia and I just couldn’t emotionally bring myself to watch the film – knowing full well that it would hit close to home.

So this morning, on a rare lazy morning I lay in bed and finally watched ‘What Ate my Mother and will it eat me?’ I was right – it resonated with me! While, I know that my cancer story undoubtedly has a lot to do with many events during my childhood, a naturopath that I saw shortly after I was diagnosed made me realize just how impactful the past 7 years have been on my life and how my ill health now is inextricably linked to stress, grief and unresolved emotions in my life. Here is just a little of my story.

I have CML – Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia – being chronic, my doctors have told me that this cancer is for life, treatment is for life (I don’t actually subscribe to that diagnosis though, so I know that I will get on top of this eventually). I was diagnosed on February 18 2014, my mother’s birthday, 3 days after my 32nd birthday. I had presented to my GP one day earlier for a routine pap smear and thought I would discus with her some unusual bruising that had appeared on my legs, a blood test the following morning revealed an exceptionally high white cell count and by that afternoon I was in the ER department with a 98% confirmed diagnosis. So apart from exposure to radiation what causes CML – bad luck apparently! Bad luck in pre-dominantly over 65 year old males. So how then did a very fit and healthy 32 year old end up with it?? Exceptionally bad luck perhaps, or maybe not. Maybe, I too tick a few crucial boxes in terms of predisposition and toxic exposure and then my cancer trigger was pulled as a result of emotional baggage and turmoil.

In 2006 I was living and working in far north Queensland as a teacher when Cyclone Larry ripped through my house, I lay on the floor as the roof was ripped off my tongue and groove 1960s Queenslander and god-knows-what fell from the ceiling all over me. The school site where I worked was also battered and torn apart. I sat working at my desk weeks later as a few men hosed an asbestos ridden building as it was removed from the school grounds. Both the house I lived in and the school where I worked were built and painted during the era where asbestos was commonly used, as was paint with benzene – exposure to benzene has been linked to CML cases. Toxic exposure – tick.

Later that year my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic pre-disposition – tick.

So now, not only have I weathered a very traumatic cyclone (along with many other unbelievable life events as a child), my Mum is then diagnosed with cancer while I am living miles away at the other end of the state. She lived with and fought her cancer for nearly 6 years. In September of 2011, one month before I was due to give birth to my first child – her first grandchild, she was told that the tumors on her liver were so large she could suffer a stroke at any minute and further chemo was needed to remove the imminent threat of death, but would only buy her a few more months. She was no longer allowed to travel (she had returned to New Zealand, her native home by this stage) and there was no guarantee she would ever meet her grandchild. Well at 5 weeks I flew my daughter to New Zealand to meet her Nana and my Mum managed to press on until August 2012 before passing away. Losing her is/was a grief like I have never experienced. 12 months after her death I returned to New Zealand with my daughter to try and get some closure, to try and actually deal with that grief. Within a month of returning from that trip my first CML symptoms appeared. 5 months later on her birthday I was diagnosed.

At the time, I too thought – just bad luck. Why me, why leukaemia??? Now… there is no doubt in my mind that while I had toxic exposure and genes which probably pre-disposed me to cancer/chronic illness, it was the incredibly stressful and traumatic events of my life, culminating in the loss of my mother that pulled the trigger on my cancer. ‘What Ate My Mother and Will It Eat Me’ just reaffirms this for me.

So what’s the take away then, how do I move forward from this? Well, again, the doco makes me realize that if I want to regain my wellness, thrive with cancer (and hopefully without the toxic drugs which presently keep my cancer at bay) then I must address the emotions and events I have buried, and furthermore I must continue to be unrelenting in laying down the foundations of wellness for my daughter, so that she doesn’t have to experience the grief of losing her mother, so that she doesn’t have to know cancer in her own body.

Thank you for an incredibly powerful film, I can only hope that our medical practitioners start to sit up and take notice, that they stop ignoring the power of food, the power of emotions, the power of environmental toxicity and the power of all these things when combined. Maybe then we will get the wellness revolution that our society so desperately needs.

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