The doctor looked at me while holding my test results, then placing them into my hands. I looked back. I was afraid I had a serious problem. Lumps had emerged in one of my breasts, and I immediately made an appointment. I was only 29 years old. “You have fibroids, and the main thing you need to do is….”
I held my breath. I always hate when I get the ‘what I need to do news’, as it is never something I would want to do.
“You must give up all sweets and coffee.”
“Coffee?” I asked. “Why do I have to give up coffee? What does coffee have to do with lumps in my right breast? I only have a few cups in the morning. I don’t have cancer, so why, WHY do I have to cease all intake of coffee?” I became nervous, scared, a bit upset, because I love coffee. I love the smell, holding the cup and the way the aroma hits my mouth before I drink it in. Coffee makes me feel good. Coffee fills my home with it’s “wake-up” smell. Coffee is my drug. My heroin. My cocaine. My elixir of choice. I am shattered this man says I must no longer have the one food item I more than love, I need.
I like sugar, too, but sugar makes me fat and sick and has no real smell. Sugar is like a neighbor you say hi to when you see them. Coffee is the fellow that shares your life.
I went home. I held my coffee pot and worried. Will I be able to stay away? Can I do this? I had recently read a study conducted on coffee drinkers. They were less likely to commit suicide. Why? Because coffee drinkers always have a reason to wake up in the morning! We always have a friend. Do you think Starbucks is just a coffee shop? No, it is not. It is a gigantic, franchised hug sent from those who know. Consumption of coffee for me has always been about 2 or 3 cups in the morning. It is all I want. I know there will be more in the morning of the next day, where I will want to get out of bed to start a pot of the stuff that makes me happy to start my day. Two or three cups. Not bad. I don’t shake and have coffee jitters. So, why did that interfere with the physiological make-up of the tissues in my breast?
I had given up coffee for about a month. I was feeling good. The coffee headache was long gone. I put the pot away so I wouldn’t see it and miss it and be tempted. I was going to school at the time and had started my journey towards my bachelor degree at Pierce College in the Tacoma area of Washington state. I had morning classes. It was necessary to walk past a coffee cart (they are everywhere in Washington!) to get to my class. I had to write a mini-paper on some subject. It has been awhile and whatever I was writing, put me in the library for hours to research the topic. While in the library, I came across archived copies of The New England Journal of Medicine. On the cover of one of the magazines listed a study on breast fibroids; what causes them and what works to combat them.
Coffee and sugar had no significant impact on the forming of the fibroid tissue. There was no link to causation, of cessation of development. NO LINK. My doctor lied to me. Did he have stock in herbal tea? Was he sadistic and just like watching the faces of his clients as he took the one thing away they loved?
I made an appointment and carried a copy of the article with me. Yes, he was aware of the study and other studies that had been done exonerating coffee, but his take on telling me to give up coffee and sugar? “Wouldn’t hurt, would it?”
I left his office and then took my little girls to the mall. Our first stop? A coffee cart. Starbucks was a baby back then and she was everywhere. “Venti non-fat latte please.” As the barista whipped up my drink, I noticed a flood of happiness mixed with adrenaline was already flowing in my being. I took the cup and savored every bit of it. Then I went back and ordered a second one-
“Let’s go down here now…come on girls.. keep up with mama!” Shannon, who at four years of age insisted on wearing her patent leather shoes everywhere was not happy. Her feet hurt and she wanted to go home. I carried her. “We have shopping to do!” was my caffeine-laced battle cry. I didn’t stop until they both started crying because they were tired. I had abused coffee, and it set me on a rush that then hurt my girls.
“No way we are going home yet, now stop your crying, Dillards has a sale!”
I couldn’t sleep that night because my body was no longer used to the caffeine; however, the morning was welcoming. I had a cup of coffee to start my day. The best part of waking up.
“Your heart is enlarged. The muscles are weakening. This is not good. You must not drink coffee.”
Fool me once, fool me twice?
My heart is fine though I do have a pacemaker. It is not enlarged, the muscles are not weakening. I have no idea why in one visit I was a candidate for a heart transplant and the next time I was in fine shape, pacemaker and all.
Did I give up coffee when I was told to the second time? Nope. And I boldly told my cardiologist that I drink 2 or 3 cups a morning. “Hey doc, did you know a person is less likely to commit suicide if they drink coffee every morning?”
My doctor told me what ever I was doing was working, and to ‘keep it up,’ with the exception of extra cups of coffee. “No more than 3,” he demanded.
On doctors orders I have no more than 3 cups of coffee a day. Thanks Doc, and The New England Journal of Medicine.
I have never asked…how big of a cup are we talking about?