The Choice of Life


By Kathleen Murray


February 29th, 2004 – achining with flu, then feeling an ache and pain from a lump in my breast. Oh yes … that lump … I’d forgotten about it. How long had it been there? Guilt. I noticed it ages ago – but only in passing – when was that? May have been the year before last, in the autumn – wasn’t it around the time when I was moving kilos and kilos of stones down from a nearby hillside, into a trailer and then wheel-barrowing them into the garden?

I rationalised that it could be an oedema: fluid forming around muscle tissue right on my pectorals. I used that rationalisation to comfort myself over the next few months – until I was given the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Next day on my daughter Joy’s fourth birthday I went to my doctor. I took an appointment with a woman doctor who had recently joined the practice. She asked a lot of questions and I felt intimidated as I answered ‘no’ to them all. No history of breast cancer in my family… she gave me the feeling of wasting her time. She did do a clinical examination and summarised that both my breasts felt fibrous and this situation could ‘just be me’. She did however give me what I was asking for – a breast scan and tests to determine whether cancer was present. I came away feeling humiliated and vowed never to make an appointment with her again.

Three weeks later, I went for a mammogram at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Before I went, I received a card for an appointment with a consultant at the Breast Clinic – this was not until the 18th May (10 weeks after the initial clinical examination at my local GP surgery). An accompanying leaflet suggested results would come through in 10 days. I hoped that it would be that quick. I wanted to know. I wanted it all in the past, dealt with whichever way was best. I used my rationalisation to keep the guilt at bay. How could I have neglected myself?

I began focusing in my personal meditations and daily healing sessions, asking for if there was anything I held within me that would have created a cancer to come to the surface. I actively wanted to work with it and face it.

On 18th May I dropped my four-year-old off at a babysitter’s for the day and headed into Aberdeen. I stayed as calm as I could, in order to answer lots of questions as to why I’d come for the appointment. At the first clinical examination, I realised that the lump was bigger than I’d thought. My breasts were smaller than usual (time of month) and when I lay on the couch and my breasts rested to the side of my body, so the lump showed more clearly – looking larger and more solid.

I was answering positive to questions put to me. This instinctively told me that the lump was cancerous and not benign. The surgeon came to examine me. She said that there was hardly a shadow on the mammogram, but after the examination she asked if I would stay for more tests: ultrasound scans and needle aspirations. The professor then interpreted the pictures on the screen – again this strengthened my feeling that I could have cancer, especially when she said, “I don’t like what I see here at all”. The needle aspirations were sore. No anaesthetic: just a needle put several times into the lump in my breast.

There were two lab technicians trying to get the tumour cells onto a slide to look at under a microscope. Afterwards I was shown into a room to wait. Finally four women came in together. First was the one who had recorded my details, along with the surgeon and two breast care nurses – one in training. The surgeon told me I had cancer. All the disbelief in me turned into emotion and tears came fast. I turned into mush and asked if they could give me a moment. I wondered how other women cope. I felt I couldn’t take any more information.

One of those moments when every emotion I had been suppressing came welling up, dissolving any right brain capacities. She paused only for a short while as the surreal scene unfolded. The surgeon showed no emotion at all. The first nurse looked distressed and uncomfortable. The older breast care nurse looked like a cardboard cut out and the younger one in training looked sympathetic and curious. The surgeon recommended removal of my right breast, because the lump was too big and my breast too small for it to be removed as a lumpectomy. Reconstruction was possible either in one operation or I could wait months before making any decision. My head was swimming.

How would I tell my children

The breast care nurses stayed, the others went. I spoke about the loved ones in my life who had had cancer (my spiritual family). The older nurse didn’t want to dialogue on the recurrence of cancer which usually kills people. She also told me not to bother looking at the information on the internet – it was too confusing. She gave me NHS booklets. I said I would be doing my own research.

How would I tell my children, my two girls? As a single parent how could I organise my life so it could be as normal as possible for the time I would be in hospital for the operation and when I would be disabled for several weeks – unfit to drive, cook, clean and lift my children. I was emotional but worked out that it could all be possible. I saw another GP at home who said he could arrange for the community nurse to bring in carers while I recovered. The surgeon was insistent that my breast be removed as soon as possible.

I started my research. I had been recommending the Phillip Day material to people who had come to me for healing, website: – so now it was time to engage myself in reading Cancer – why we’re still dying to know the truth and B17 Metabolic Therapy in the Prevention and Control of Cancer both by Philip Day and Great News on Cancer in the 21st Century’ by Steven Ransom; I was astounded at all I read…

Published in Namaste Magazine Vol 7 Issue 4
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