Not all cancers are the same. Most people don’t realize that there are at least 14 types of breast cancer alone. It’s bad enough to receive a cancer diagnosis, but just wading through the conflicting information that is out there can add more stress. It’s like a huge puzzle with thousands of pieces…and there isn’t a magic pill you can take to make it all better.
Each person is unique – two people might have the same “type” of cancer, but the cancer may have developed for different reasons. We really shouldn’t just look at the body as “individual parts” but as a system. Focusing on prevention and determining the underlying causes are the best ways to approach cancer.
Cancer basically results from an imbalance in your body. There are many things that can contribute to cancer growth too. Many studies have shown that diet, lack of exercise, negative thoughts and feelings, and environmental toxins can influence the formation and progress of cancer.
I focused a lot on nutrition while going through chemotherapy after receiving my 2nd breast cancer diagnosis last year. Having a strong immune system helped reduce the toxic affects of chemo. That was fun!
The cancer center where I went had a great staff, but the information provided to prep for the “experience” seemed contradictory to me. There was a video of what to expect and how to deal with the chemo affects. The video focused a lot on how a “healthy” balanced diet was critical…yet the waiting area was loaded with junk food…
For example, for each appointment you are in the chemo pod for at least 2-3 hours with a toxic I.V. drip. The cancer center only offered high glycemic snacks like sugary drinks (soda and sports drinks), cookies and doughnuts. (But it’s free!!) You may get a quick boost of energy from that extra sugar…but your body is going to be fatigued from the chemo already and that unnecessary sugar will make you crash hard, making it harder to recover. I drank only water and brought my own apples (a low glycemic food).
Cancer is intimidating but there is hope. There are targeted therapies available and there is promising new research being done regarding cancer genetics and subsequent targeted genome therapies. Here is a link to the Disrupting Cancer interview by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We definitely need more pioneers like Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. And earlier this year HBO aired a special Vice episode called Killing Cancer and the potential to use viruses to stop it.
The takeaway from my cancer experiences can be summed up in a simple manner. In addition to reducing toxin exposures in your environment, you need to keep your body balanced and immune system running as smooth as possible. This can be achieved by focusing on these four actions every day:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Make sure to eliminate foods you are sensitive to as well. It was discovered that I have a casein protein “allergy” (from dairy) that was causing inflammation for years.
- Get enough sleep
- Lack of sleep affects your cortisol level (also called the stress hormone). Cortisol is critical to the immune system, and the lower your cortisol level, the more that stress can affect your body in a negative way.
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Make sure you at least walk a minimum of 30 minutes per day. It’s good for your brain too (promotes psychological well-being).
- Control your stress levels
- Stop worrying so much — easier said than done, right? Take regular breaks and do deep breathing exercises at a minimum.
- Reducing your stress is related to exercising and getting enough sleep.
And here’s my advice if you are ever diagnosed with cancer:
- Get a 2nd opinion
- Be your own health advocate
- Follow a Due Diligence process
- understanding the pathology report
- understanding the diagnostic tests
- understanding your options
How we live, how we connect with others (through our relationships), what we eat, and how we use our bodies determines how our bodies (the system) respond. Remember that each person is unique, so find out what works best for you, then develop a plan and follow that. Consult with a Lifestyle or Health Coach, or someone in the functional medicine field if you’re not sure.
Bonus: Having a positive mind-set has helped me the most.