On Cancer Fighter Friday we shared incredible words from @richindigauntie. On her experience battling cancer as an Indigenous women, on her journey through western medicine, and the absolute importance of centring traditional healers and her culture into her care. Her story inspires to continue to redefine care, so that we can inspire and fund the best integrative cancer care possible for all patients.
Thank you Vicky for sharing your story with us, and allowing us to share it with our community. Your story is inspiring, impactful and hopeful. It encourages us to continue the fight to ensure all patients have access to integrative cancer care, the kind of cancer care patients want & need, whole body, mind and spirit.
THIS WASN’T PART OF THE PLAN.
Certainly not a part of MY plan.
I didn’t have time for this, quite frankly.
Nor did I have a desire to be treated by western medicine.
It took me a year and a half with this mass of cells in my body that were ‘abnormal’ to reconcile my journey into western.
First I had to sit.
With my Ancestors.
Then I went into community.
I sought others who had gone through this journey.
And I continued to live my life.
‘Cause despite having this thing in my body, I felt great! Full of energy, by all intents and purposes, healthy.
If ever there is a mind***k it is that.
BUT because I was already 10 years into my healing journey with money and abundance, and because of the work I do, I was able to take the time I needed to focus on my care. I went through my treatment on my terms. I didn’t have to cater my healing around a job schedule, etc. Had I received this diagnosis a few years earlier I would’ve had to do that.
As an Indigenous woman, I have hesitancies with the western medical system. In my experience, it often treats the symptom, when I am looking for a cause. They find a mass of abnormal cells and they want to remove it, but I want to know why it’s there in the first place and address that. This also stems from my culture and my beliefs. Indigenous people have been around for thousands of years without this medical system. It’s a new system for us to have to work with. This process has been a process of listening and trusting my intuition, what I call body intelligence, and my diagnosis had allowed me that with a bit of time and space.
The hospital had both an Indigenous Patient Navigator and an Elder accessible to me, so I was able to have cultural support and hear the experience of another Indigenous woman who had gone through a similar diagnosis and had similar hesitancies.... continue reading at the link in our bio
Knowing that the Indigenous Patient Navigator was there for me was so incredibly valuable. It was immeasurable to my feeling grounded and supported, having someone by my side who understood my perspective. He affirmed that I was doing the right thing by communicating my needs.
It’s so important for the healthcare teams to know these kinds of supports are available for patients and to implement resources to offer them, not only for Indigenous People, but for Black women and other people of colour, immigrants, etc. I think of everyone who goes through this system, and they all deserve a patient navigator like I had who understands them and can help. I’m so blessed that I had someone there. I want that for everyone."
A key component of the Carley's Angels funded Cancer Experience Program at The Princess Margaret Cancer Center is the indigenous cancer experience and making services such a resource navigators, access to traditional indigenous medicines and elders part of their cancer journey. Integrative cancer care is combining western medicine with traditional cancer care practices and we're here to ensure all patients have access to it!
To learn more about the Cancer Experience Program and support it, please click here.