Guest Blogger – Khevin Barnes!

A Cancer Survivors Perspective
By Khevin Barnes

Side Effects: The Secret Side of Drugs

One thing that most of us do as we enter the cancer arena for the first time is to consider the various methods of treatment available to us and their possible side effects. From the very start as I began to research my options with breast cancer I had trouble with the phrase “Side Effects” and I don’t imagine I’m the only one.

First of all, losing one’s hair, nausea and vomiting, lymphedema, blood clots and depression are not what I would refer to as “side effects”. They definitely aren’t pushed off to anybody’s side as far as I can tell. These symptoms are in the forefront for cancer survivors. They’re not a side show, or a side dish. They’re in the center ring. Center stage. Grand Central station.

They are the main event.

These so called “side effects” are what many of us experience day to day while the numerous treatments and methods and experimental drugs are doing their magic quietly on our cancer cells.

Somewhere in the background of our amazingly complex bodies, our own immune systems are busy trying to heal us. Silently. Diligently . And what we are actually feeling is a result of those chemicals which have been infused into our bloodstream which the medical practitioners hope will aid us in some way.

And why is it that the so called “side effects” of drugs are listed last in the dosage instructions and in the tiniest print available? The obvious answer is that they don’t want us to see it, but the bottom line of course is that nobody knows better about what our bodies accept or what they reject than us. We owe it to ourselves to read the fine print. To ask questions. And to make choices based on our personal experience and the feedback we get from our own bodies.

Rarely is a treatment for cancer completely free from unwanted side effects. Each of us weighs the benefits against the negative experiences, and in the end, our quality of life is just that.

Life with quality.


About the Author: Khevin Barnes is a Breast Cancer Survivor, song writer and stage magician. He was diagnosed with stage one, grade three invasive breast cancer in May, 2014. He lives in Vail, Arizona and travels wherever he’s invited to speak to women and men about Cancer.

Visit his page

One in Eight

Marcin Mazurkiewicz FotoBlog
Marcin Mazurkiewicz FotoBlog

Τhe statisticians tell us that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her life time. A woman’s lifespan is estimated at 88 years. One in eight would mean that almost everyone knows of one woman in their circle who has been or will be affected with this hideous disease.

One in Eight. That one in eight woman is your mom, your sister, your favorite aunt, your crazy aunt, your grandma, your best friend, your distant cousin, your mother-in-law, your niece, neighbor, lover, co-worker, manager.

That one in eight woman could be you. One question is when did Breast Cancer become so aggressively mainstream?

Former First Lady Betty Ford, songstress Carly Simon and scores of other women who battled breast cancer decades ago, have stated that breast cancer was once a social taboo few would even discuss. One school of thought for this vocal explosion is that it has occurred through the natural order of enlightenment and illumination which forced the issue to the forefront of our social consciousness.

Some on the other side of the issue believe that it has become a targeted, exploitative, money-making conglomerate that does little to deal with the real effects this disease has on the average woman, yet showers the pockets of those “marketing” it for its namesake.

Let’s consider that cancer has been around for centuries–since the days of Hippocrates. Yet despite billions of dollars in research and the prevalent gorge of modern day medicines and treatments, there is still is no cure. Some would argue that there is something slightly obscure with this picture, while experts in the field convince us that these things take time to research as technology and science evolve. Whatever side of the fence you stand on, the bottom line is that breast cancer is an insidious disease that has disrupted, ended and ultimately changed the lives of all who have been affected by it.

Answers from the simple to the extremely conflicted of how and why breast cancer spreads is regnant. Some studies and layman’s inference claim its associated with a woman’s lifestyle; too much alcohol, lack of exercise, delayed motherhood, hereditary conditions, lack of oxygenation, poor diets, depression. Others believe its mind-over-matter, the environment, inherited genes, religious and spiritual shortcomings or divine retributions. The list goes on. However one of the most insidiously tacit forms of “internal diagnosis” to come to light from the medical complex is the belief that every woman with breast cancer is individually responsible for contacting the disease. In other words, its her own damn fault she has breast cancer thus extending a narrative that bolsters the approach to “shame” women for not aggressively overseeing proper physical health.

Irregardless of any of the above viewpoints, this is a challenge for us particularly since there is no consensus on what the ‘true” answers are. Lets face it, we all want simple answers and the honest truth is that it may never be revealed. For the millions of women who don’t fit into any of the “fixed” answers or theories out there, they mean very little when she is told, “You have breast cancer”.

What becomes her focus then is that she must fight against it, beat it back, and survive it for the long haul. And yet should it overtake her, that she is able to leave terra-firma with grace, dignity and peace. The one clear thing that we do know and cannot dispute is that cancer carries no favors and has no distinction on who becomes its host.

Cancer itself is a long-tern condition. Even with full recovery, a healthier lifestyle, medication and various side effects, there is still that silent threat that the disease can manifest itself years later. In the meantime we are required to embrace the standards for “the cure”. That it comes in the traditional and/or perhaps alternative medicines and treatments. But is that the end-all? Does the breast cancer conversation need to change for every woman this disease will or will not affect?

Let’s hope that if we do change the conversation, that we begin talking about the one in eight becoming the none in zero.

~Cassie Lang- Author

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