Stage 2, California
“Hi there, my name is Keiko and I reside in sunny San Diego.”
I was diagnosed with triple-positive, stage 2 breast cancer on my 33rd birthday. I felt my lump on my breast while I was stretching one day and in addition, they’ve found another small tumor on my lymph node which I’ve never felt. When I felt the lump, I had no idea how long it had been there and was surprised that I didn’t notice it before it had already grown to the size of a grape. I made the appointment with my primary doctor and she referred me to get the mammogram done right away. On the day of the mammogram, the Dr did an ultrasound and followed by an immediate biopsy. While I was getting an ultrasound, my radiologist looked at the screen and told me “I am 90% sure this is cancer, and if your lab comes back negative, I would be very surprised”. I’ve never checked my boobs monthly and I had no awareness of breast cancer until then. I had a misperception of cancer that only genetics or unhealthy and older people get cancer. I have no history of cancer in my family and didn’t have the BRACA genes, I was young and healthy so checking my breast never really crossed my mind. At that time, I considered myself a health-conscious person because I was eating organic foods and I always exercised. I was so shocked to find out not only I have breast cancer but I was also HER 2 positive which meant the more aggressive type of tumor.
While I was going through the chemo treatment, I discovered holistic medicine and it helped me a lot to manage some of the side effects and keep my immune system as strong as possible despite 5 months of harsh chemo. After I was finished with my active treatment, I became very passionate about a holistic approach to cancer so I decided to go back to school to study holistic nutrition and health. People who haven’t experienced cancer think once you are done with the active treatments, you can put everything behind you and just move on. That’s not always the case and with breast cancer specifically, many of us struggle with dealing with new “normal” after surgeries, and being on the hormonal treatment can bring a whole another issue.
My anxiety actually got worst after I was finished with treatment and no matter how much healthy foods I was consuming or meditations and prayers I was practicing, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I was constantly worried that what I was doing wasn’t enough and fear of recurrence was very overwhelming. This is because, at the beginning of my healing journey, I was so focused on external practices and was missing to look at other parts of my life. What I learned was our body-soul-spirit-mind are all connected and in order to truly heal and thrive, we have to work on all areas of our life.
I now work as a full-time holistic health coach & nutritionist to help other young breast cancer survivors with evidence-based holistic prevention. Life after breast cancer can truly be better than before cancer and instead of being just a survivor, you can become a thriver! My approach is respecting everyone’s bio-individuality because what can work for one person may not work the same for another person. There is so much information out there about different types of diet, what to eat or not to eat after breast cancer and it can all get very confusing and overwhelming! I don’t believe there is only one way to eat or heal after breast cancer and I love working with my client one on one to guide them to discover what works best for them based on their bio-individuality so they can feel empowered and in control of their own body and mind. I truly believe it is my calling to help other survivors to get there and see them transform physically, emotionally, spiritually.
If you are going through the treatment right now, hang in there and if you are finished with treatments but feeling anxious, don’t worry, you are not the only one and that’s totally normal and okay. After all, you just went through hell and were diagnosed with a life-threatening disease! But just know that you don’t have to stay that way and wish to have your old life back. There are ways to love your new and better version of yourself after breast cancer.