TORONTO, CANADA – The first time I was introduced to cancer was when my great-aunt died at 50 years old, when I was just a child. She died of brain cancer and it devastated my family. She was an amazing person and my cousins were just teenagers then when they lost their mom. So that was my very first experience and having an emotional connection to cancer.
Cancer has either impacted close friends of mine or my family. One of my best friends had testicular cancer, went through various treatments and really battled with that. Also, my dad passed away of metastasized skin cancer and he was just 61 years old. So cancer has been a conversation in my life since I was a little girl. It’s had both negative and positive impacts.
Although we’ve lost some of our loved ones to cancer, we also have loved ones that have beaten cancer. I currently have people around me who are battling cancer and we are creating a new vision for them. Cancer isn’t a solo disease, it impacts everyone, so we’re looking at; how can we do this together.
Meet Christine Nielsen
Before I proceed, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Christine Nielsen from Toronto, Canada. I’m the Founder and CEO of Contrast Consulting. I am an author, speaker, executive coach as well as business partner of JT Foxx; the world’s #1 wealth and business coach. Together we own IMN (Intelligent Millionaires Network) Toronto.
An early disclaimer, I am not a doctor or an authority on cancer. I am someone who has been personally affected by cancer and therefore chose to be more educated about it. As a result, I advocate for cancer awareness as much as possible.
The Fear Of Cancer
Initially cancer did become one of my fears because I saw how my great-aunt died, it was hard to watch that as a child. Now as an adult I see that who you are in your being matters. Your attitude impacts a lot of things. So I refuse to live in those fears, that is why I am actively looking for ways to combat cancer. Or, helping friends and family who are affected by it.
I like to sit quietly and change the wiring in my brain about that particular fear. Because I am a mother of three kids so I don’t have the time to allow that fear to live in me. As much as I can’t predict the future, it may or may not happen due to genetic risk. When your dad dies of cancer, it increases your risk of getting it.
When should you get tested for cancer?
It depends of the situation and person. Let’s say you do find out that you have a positive gene for any kind of cancer. Is that going to help you to live your life fully? Or change it for the worse? Because if you can’t handle knowing then don’t do it.
Having a positive gene for cancer doesn’t mean you already have it. It may or may not affect you later on in life. So really, if knowing is going to cripple you with fear, rather wait for the need to get tested.
But if you feel that knowing whether or not you have a positive gene for cancer will spur you to live a better life then go ahead. Versus a person who will get obsessed and depressed because you have this positive thing going on. I do know people who’ve been tested and it didn’t help them, the outcome made it worse. It is a positive thing to get tested but it depends on how you are wired.
The Benefits of testing for Breast Cancer
Again it depends, but early detection is always better with breast cancer. Personally, I did go and get tested. I have been getting tested since 19 years old because they found a lump. And I was followed by a really phenomenal clinic here in Toronto for several years. Knowing that we were on top of that gave me a level of certainty that was beneficial for me personally.
But knowledge is powerful if you’re going to do something about it. Yes, there moments of uncertainty when we had to do more testing and they thought they’d found something. When you get put on the six months watch list, it does do things to your psychology.
Which is why it is better to discuss it with the people around you who love you. If you are tested positive for something, holding onto the fears by yourself is detrimental to you. You need share your fears and concerns with your friends and community.
I know a lot of women who’ve battled and survived breast cancer. And it is hard, to go through the treatments and lose your hair for instance. It’s tough on their psychology and it’s hard to keep them positive.
Ladies, Know Your Breasts
We have monthly changes on our breasts so you have to check yourself regularly. You can start this self-testing from as early as when you hit puberty. This is so that you understand the changes in your breasts. You need to know where the nodules are, because you could also have fibrocystic breasts. It’s when breast tissue forms a lump which rarely leads to cancer. In Canada they draw tissue or liquid from that lump to determine if there’s any danger to you.
There are so many different types of breast cancer too. There’s also another type of breast cancer that cannot be detected by a lump. They call that the silent killer.
Advocacy for Cancer
If you know that you have a history of cancer in your family then you have to advocate for yourself. Understand if there is a lineage of cancer in your family, there’s all kinds of technology to find out these days.
Advocating for yourself is something that’s really challenging. Because if you are concerned about your body, and one doctor says you’re fine, go find out from another doctor.
Know the risk factors and monitor the changes in your body. Insist on getting another opinion. Educate yourself and become more aware of cancer and what it can do. Not by going on the internet and self-diagnosing though, that will only freak you out.
Also, advocating for cancer means supporting those in your community who are impacted by it. They are going through a lot, I mean it is really tough. Just be understanding, positive and supportive. Try not to dictate how they should live their lives just because they are diagnosed with cancer. A person battling cancer is really going through an extremely tough time. Just be there for them, it helps a lot.