How I Handled My Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer is frighteningly mainstream these days. My teenage daughter has attended several funerals. At her young age, several of her friends have lost a parent at the hands of this disease and its harsh, dangerous treatments. Countless other friends have a parent (or two) that have been diagnosed with cancer but have thankfully survived. What is going on?

When I was growing up, cancer was a rare, distant disease that did not affect anyone that I knew personally. It was unheard of that a parent of a friend lose their life prematurely. I don’t remember anyone having lost a parent. Now it is difficult to find a person who has not been closely affected by it. This speaks to our environment and what we are feeding our bodies.

Nutrition is vital to good health. Somehow, in our current world of fast food and convenience meals, this message has been lost and replaced by nutrient lacking food stuffs that have taken the place of wholesome, healthy foods. People would rather give up their health and fitness for a sloppy, fatty burger, fried foods and baked goods containing all kinds of bad fats, chemicals, additives and lacking any nutritional value.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I took a different approach. I scoured the internet for information about my disease, its stage and what my ultimate prognosis might be. The more I read about the harsh treatment options available, their potential benefit, and how they might affect my health long term, the more I was desperate to find alternatives. I started with revamping my life. I got rid of everything I was regularly using and cleaned house. I replaced the harsh chemicals I used in my home and on my skin and replaced them with less harmful options (of which there are many these days). I also took stock of my diet. I came to realize that the diet I had thought was healthy, was far from it. I was vegetarian, but I was eating all kinds of processed foods and things that were not providing me with much in the way of nutrition. I essentially went through a total cleanse of my system to detox my body by simply eliminating the bad stuff and replacing them with healthier versions.

One of the things I did was to take some blood tests to find out what I might be allergic too. I did this for my overall health and recovery. I was basically not feeling well and wanted to be sure I was doing all I could to improve my body and mind. I found that I had allergies to eggs and dairy products – foods I ate regularly and probably to excess. When I cut those items out of my diet, I rid myself of many of the migraine headaches I had been suffering from since I was a child. I also lost over 40 pounds as a welcomed side effect. I relearned how to cook. I adopted what I call a “clean” vegan diet. I eliminated processed foods, white foods, refined sugars, and foods that have any ingredient I can’t pronounce. I purchased cookbooks like Everyday Raw, Living Raw Food, Skinny Bitch, and Crazy Sexy Diet (to name a few of my favorites) and revamped my life. I started cooking from scratch and have been delighted with the results. It takes a strong level of dedication, but I am now comfortable with my new way of cooking and feel better than ever.

The nausea, sluggishness and overall ill feeling I had been experiencing on a regular basis disappeared.  I had gotten to the point where I didn’t really know what it felt like to feel good. I felt older than I was and not at all vibrant. This has all changed. I feel young again and energetic. I contribute this directly to my diet.

As for my tumor, I had it removed from my left breast (three surgeries total). But, I refused the radiation and chemotherapy treatments that were recommended. I found excellent medical doctors who recommended more than the traditional forms of treatment. They are open minded and aware of cutting edge ways of taking care of health in order to build up my immune system and restore my health. I have been healthy and feeling well for the past 3 years. I am monitored regularly and there has been no sign of my cancer returning. Early this year I surpassed the 2 year mark. With the type of aggressive cancer I had, this is a vital landmark in terms of recurrence. The chances of cancer returning drop dramatically after the two year mark. They drop even further to minuscule levels after the 5 year landmark. This is a landmark I am confident I will reach without incident.

The important thing to remember when you are facing cancer is that you do have options. Don’t stop at one doctor’s opinion. It is your life in the balance. See multiple doctors and go with the one who you feel most comfortable. And most importantly research! Take control of your situation. Learn all you can about the treatment options that are being offered and then go beyond and see what is available that is not necessarily traditional. There are wonderful doctors out there on the cutting edge that can offer advice on other options available. You have to feel comfortable with the choices that you make. It is your life after all.  More and more of these options are coming to light in recent years. Often people do better when they refuse the harsh treatments that are offered and choose a different course. Again, it is all about your comfort level. So, know as much as possible so that you can make informed decisions.

The year 2009 was a brutal year in my household. My husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer six months after my diagnosis. He needed to have his left kidney removed. It contained a 6 cm tumor. So, we were in our recovery as a team. This helped tremendously. We were there to support one another. And, two heads are better than one when it came to deciphering the best treatment and recovery options. A couple of documentaries that helped us to make the ultimate decisions we made are “Crazy Sexy Cancer” with Kris Carr and Food Matters”. They enlightened us on the importance of diet and lifestyle in recovery. Also, “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life” is a wonderful book written by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber who himself survived terminal brain cancer for 19 years, a much longer survival rate than most, by taking his life into his own hands.

Do not give up! You do have control over your well being. Attitude and a positive outlook are key when you are faced with cancer. It is not the draw of the cards at play. Help yourself, heal yourself and explore every avenue.

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