I keep wondering why I got a cancer that is uncommon in someone my age. I have a knack for blaming myself for anything negative that happens in my life. Do I know that people get cancer no matter what size their body is? Yes. Do I assume that despite that fact this is my fault? Absolutely.
I’ve never had the best relationship with food or my body. No matter my size, I haven’t been happy with it. When I was smaller, did I know that the general population found (me) attractive, sure. Did I ever feel attractive from my own perspective? Rarely. I could list all of the things I’ve been grossed out about my body, but I’m not going to.
I’ve consistently gained weight over the last several years. That is in part due to messing up my ankle in 2017. However there was a pretty big jump from 2020-2022. I could blame many things: depression, stress, not as much movement, eating habits. I can say it is definitely not bc of overeating. I don’t have a love affair with food like many that I know. It is always difficult for me to decide on what food to eat. I go through many options in my head, and they often sound unappealing. I definitely have food aversions due to textures. I’ve never been someone to enjoy fruit. I’ve always said “I eat green apples, the juice of oranges, sometimes grapes, and pomegranates.” I like many cooked vegetables, but I’m limited with fruit. Do I get mad at myself for gagging when trying to eat certain “healthy” foods? 💯 Have I tried to train myself to just get over it and eat those foods? Yep. Have I stocked my fridge with “healthy” foods to try to change my eating habits? Too many times to count. But guess what I do when my fridge is full of those foods? I don’t eat. Honestly I don’t eat that much when my cabinets and pantry are full of the less healthy or unhealthy foods, either. However, I am more likely to just grab something to put in my stomach when there are foods that I like. Am I saying I only eat foods that are considered unhealthy? No. I am saying that I can easily come to the conclusion that I can blame myself for this cancer because of my food choices and preferences. I can believe this because I look at the risk factors, and I look at the recommendations for what to do as a survivor. Does that information explicitly say, we actually don’t have any solid evidence for most of these factors and recommendations? Yup. Does that matter to my brain that seems unable to not blame myself for everything negative thar happens in my life? Nope.
Sometimes we like to blame people for having cancer. It gives us some sense of control. You might say to yourself, “I would never.” I mean, I can’t say that I truly do blame anyone, but I can’t say that I haven’t thought it. I’ve comforted myself with “Oh, I won’t get this disease because I don’t do that.”You can say to yourself that you can choose a lifestyle avoiding all of the risk factors for cancers and diseases. But can you? Can everyone?
There are for sure factors that are out of our control, but those are less comforting and harder to study. There are systemic and environmental factors that increase risk of disease and cancers, but those aren’t easy to control or change. Instead, it’s easier to blame the individual for choices they made, not choices our society made. And boy does that extend to so many other issues. Blame the individual not the systems.
When is it easier to not blame the individual? When we know it’s a hereditary cancer. We are learning more and more about genetic markers, and thankfully, that has advanced treatments. I contributed two tubes of saliva for the purpose of research and for me to find out if I have any other markers that have been discovered. In that case we can blame something that we are comfortable knowing we don’t have control over. So why do we still default to blaming the individual? The illusion of control.
Trust me, that is a sweet, sweet drug for me. Whether it is the irrational mindset that if I worry enough about it, it won’t happen or similarly, if I don’t worry about it, then it will happen. If I come to peace about something, then it will definitely happen. That’s like giving it permission to happen. A lot of good that did me. In fact, creating that stress in my body increases my risk for disease, so, “Way to go, irrational brain!” And there I go again, blaming myself. I told you I’m good at it!
**Note: I have been working on changing my perspective on my body and relationship with food. When I say “healthy” and “unhealthy” food, I mean those that we as a society label as such. I am of the opinion that all foods have their place in our lives.