It has been a long time since I was diagnosed with cancer, however I am going to write this post in case there is some-one newly diagnosed reading my blog.
Even if you have known something isn’t right in your body, or you have an obvious lump like I did and you suspect it is cancer, it is still a shock. If we had a choice, we would all choose a life in which we were always healthy and happy. Cancer doesn’t fit into the ideal scenario, so we don’t want it.
Cancer is associated with all those negative words that I mentioned in a previous blog called “The Language of Cancer”, so I doubt there are too many people in the world who have been overjoyed on being told they have it. Mostly, we are afraid we will die and/or experience pain and loss of our current lifestyle. Our minds will probably attach a myriad of other fears to these main ones as well.
I can’t tell you that you won’t experience physical pain, but you may not. It depends on where the cancer is, what type and your mental attitude. For the first 12 years of having cancer in my body, I experienced almost no pain. I doubt I would have taken a packet of panadol altogether over those years. The last 12 months have been a different story, however I still have no pain most of the time and I have stage 4 metastatic breast cancer with many metasteses throughout my body . Don’t have the expectation that you will be in pain.
I also can’t tell you that you won’t die from cancer. You may; you may not. However, I can confidently tell you that you will die someday. It’s not negotiable. Having cancer is a good time to make peace with death. There are huge benefits to doing this that I will share with you in another blog.
What I can tell you though, is that your mind can make a big difference to how you experience cancer. Not just mentally and emotionally, but also physically.
My first suggestions to you are these:
Tell yourself everyday, many times a day, that “I am a well person with cancer”.
We have trillions of cells in our body of which there may be a few million that have formed into a tumour. Lets not forget the healthy ones of which there are many more!
Remind yourself that your body knows how to heal itself and will make every attempt to return to balance. It does and it will. Your body has not become your enemy. You have some rogue cells that have for whatever reason decided not to die (apoptosis is the official term); they are like outlaws who have decided to do their own thing and not contribute to the overall well being of the community they live in. Like any good community, the other members will do everything they can to address the situation. I repeat: your body has not become your enemy. Trust it and start listening to it.
Next, stop eating sugar and processed foods, reduce your meat intake and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. There are two reasons for this suggestion. The first is that it will give you a sense of empowerment, and you are less likely to fall into the role of cancer victim (I really, really dislike that term), and two, it will support your body to heal. Cancer cells are anaerobic – they feed on sugar. Processed foods have very little nutritional value compared to fresh fruit and vegetables and are often full of salt or sugar, plus numerous chemicals. Your body will thank you for making these changes. If you feel you haven’t got the time to be making your meals from scratch, I suggest you invest in a high powered blender or at least the highest powered nutribullet and start making yourself smoothies. They taste delicious, are nutritious, quick to make and fill you up. There are millions of recipes on line, or buy Jason Vales book Super Juice Me or Sally Obermeders Super Green Smoothie book. If you want to get really serious, buy a cold press juicer and start juicing.
Start doing some exercise if you haven’t already. There are lots of studies out there showing that regular exercise increases your chances of healing. At least go for a walk everyday, preferably in nature which comes with its own positives.
Start saying NO. Having cancer is a great time to start saying no and begin culling out of your life the people and activities that aren’t really supporting you. As you become more self aware, you will recognise easily who and what they are. This doesn’t involve being mean, but simply making it clear that you need to put your well-being first. It is not being selfish (unless you go overboard and expect everyone to serve you). You are important.
The last suggestion (but by no means the least important), is that you take personal responsibility for your health. Unless you are fortunate enough to have an Integrative Oncologist (one who uses nutrition and other so called “alternative” treatments as well as mainstream treatments), your Oncologist has been trained to recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, drugs or possibly immunotherapy. Most Oncologists have no clue how to support the body to heal. This is not their fault, it is not what they are trained to do, so don’t expect them to do it. They also pay little attention to how your mind affects your well-being for the same reason.
I believe a holistic approach to healing cancer is the most intelligent. Use everything at your disposal. As well as your Oncologist, find yourself a good naturopath, herbalist, chiropractor, mediation teacher, psychologist or counsellor who will help you not only to survive, but to thrive. (And help you with the side effects of the medical treatment).
Connect with your mind, body and spirit.
One last thing: be very careful about asking for a time-frame if the prognosis is bad. Unless you are very strong minded, it has a way of lodging in your sub-conscious. The mind is a very powerful thing and can be our worst enemy. It is well known that people have been told they have six months to live, and because they believe it, that is what happens. There are many, many people out there like me who are living well with cancer many years past the date Doctors predicted they would die. There are also many, many people out there who are cancer free when Doctors expected they would die. Read about these people. Focus on the positive stories. Why couldn’t you be one of them? Get your Will written, your affairs in order (that is just commonsense), then continue living life!
Cancer WILL change you.
You have the power to make that change a positive one.