Bif Naked Shares How She Accidentally Discovered Her Own Breast Tumor
When your career heights take you around the world on tour — from Russia to Central America, from India to touring all over the U.K., Europe and North America - for twenty years - how do you deal with breast cancer? Find out how international recording artist, Bif Naked accidentally discovered her own lump and the advice she has for young women everywhere.
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
My spirit animal is, probably a cat (because I am currently in love with my manager's senior cats, whom I babysit.) I am quite smitten with felines, having experience with living with my dogs for almost twenty years until they both died, leaving me crestfallen. The cats have healed my heart.
WHEN WAS YOUR DIAGNOSIS AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
I was diagnosed when I was 36, just weeks after my wedding. It was the fall of 2007 and I started my treatments and had my surgery in January of 2008. Breast Cancer would turn out to be "the best part of my marriage" and I am now very gratefully divorced.
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU HAD BREAST CANCER?
I found out I had breast cancer by accidentally stumbling across my tumor while scratching my armpit, basically. At the top of my chest, (upper left quadrant of my breast) I felt what resembled a "dried chick pea" under my skin. I instantly KNEW it was a tumor. It was confirmed through the resulting biopsy.
WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON YOU CONFIDED IN ABOUT YOUR ILLNESS?
I didn't have all that much opportunity to confide in anyone, due to my occupation. I am pretty confident one of the nurses at mammography put on social media that I was there. It started to spread and we started getting phone calls and emails from media. I did a public interview with George Strombolopoulos which aired nationally in January of 2008, and announced that I had cancer. It was super embarrassing for me and I was extremely self-conscious about the whole thing.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE PROBABLY DON’T KNOW.
Something people probably don't know about me is that after my cancer battle, which included surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and ovariectomy, my kidney failed and I had to have heart surgery. They thought I had a tumor in my kidney, but it turned out the infarct was a mystery. They still don't really know why it happened, but I didn't wind-up losing my kidney, and I did get a wall built in to my heart. My heart surgery was the best time of my life, as I was awake during the entire thing. I loved every minute of it and would do it again, and again if I could. I felt my heart rhythm get rewritten.
AFTER YOUR TREATMENT, WHAT DO YOU NOW MAKE TIME FOR IN YOUR DAY?
After my treatment, I am more protective of my privacy, and make time for HAVING private time. One of the many gifts cancer gave me was this perspective as I had to experience being a chemo therapy patient without any privacy. Plus I was in the studio making a record during that time, and still working full-time. I might choose to stay home and cook or nap or read, should I do chemotherapy and cancer treatment again. LOL!
IF YOU COULD BE A SUPERHERO, WHAT WOULD YOUR SUPER POWERS BE?
If I could be a superhero, I would hope that my powers would be to absorb or take-on all the sorrows of others, and make them my own to conquer expertly, so those others did not have to experience that suffering. I try to do this in my own practice, in a way. Haha! I will let you know if it ever works. :)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE RECENTLY DIAGNOSED?
I work with recently-diagnosed (rookie) patients all the time, in my peer-to-peer volunteering and I always tell them to "be patient". Patient with themselves and how their body will not react consistently to chemo or medicine or radiation, etc. And, patient with others and patience when THEY will have to console OTHERS about THEIR cancer. We can't control how other people react to our cancer, or how those people treat us during our cancer. It is a very revealing time. It takes a LOT of patience and non-judgement. Patience got me through everything. Patience with myself and patience with others.
IF SOMEONE WROTE A BIOGRAPHY ABOUT YOU WHAT WOULD THE TITLE BE?
If someone (else) wrote my store, a biography about me, it would be titled: "The Unauthorized Biography of Bif Naked" Or "The Indian-born, Canadian Kid Who Reluctantly Became A Singer Instead of a Ballerina" LOL!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 16 YEAR OLD SELF?
The advice I wish I gave my 16 year-old self would be to WEAR SUNSCREEN ON MY HANDS. LOL! I can't believe we didn't do this, never mind our lack of sunscreen slathered faces. Really, it is my only regret in life. The other thing I would tell my 16 year-old self would be "you are good enough". I have been chasing this belief ever since, like most of us. :)
WHAT WAS THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED?
The toughest challenge I think I have ever faced, so far, was my heart surgery recovery. I was on medication to combat my pro-coagulant blood disorder and I had T.I.A.s and about fifty ocular migraines in the first five days after my surgery. I was rendered vision-impaired. It was tremendous for me, and I realized how selfishly attached I was to being sighted, and the challenge was to LOSE my attachment to that. It was quite a time.
WHEN DO YOU LAUGH THE MOST?
I laugh the most when in the company of my boyfriend, Snake. He makes me laugh more than I have ever laughed with anyone in my entire life. He is a blessing from God, and brought limitless Joy into my life.