MIND BODY SPIRIT
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DISEASE. Get your mind, body, and spirit right and ready for battle.
Get empowered, let go of fear and confusion, and beat the hell out of colon cancer. YOU CAN DO THIS!
So you’ve got cancer. That means it’s game time.
I know you’re nervous. I know you’re worried. And maybe you’re feeling sick or weak or sore. Maybe you’re fresh from surgery or maybe you’ve gotten a scan result that makes it abundantly clear that you have The Big C. The cancer living in your body could be Stage I or II or III, or Stage IV. Statistics may not be encouraging, surgery can be scary, and chemotherapy and radiation are not what you’d call a walk in the park.
But there’s hope.
Cancer is an insidious disease for many reasons, but mostly because it tries desperately to strip us of our hope and optimism. When people hear the word “cancer,” they often give up. They let fear or anger or anxiety get the better of them, which is never good. Imagine your diagnosis as if it was a sporting event. You’re on the biggest stage of your life (the prize is your life) and you’re facing a formidable opponent…except you had absolutely no idea about your opponent or that there was even a game going on. Cancer was quietly racking up points behind your back as you went along with your normal activities. Up until your diagnosis, cancer was winning in a lopsided and unfair fight. Of course it seems like it has the upper hand: you didn’t even know what you were fighting. But now you do, and that means the game is on and it’s going to be a fair fight this time. You have the power to take control of your disease and see to it that it doesn’t win this battle. Your attitude, spirit, strength, treatment course, and healthy lifestyle choices are all in your arsenal. Cancer is no longer an unseen assassin that will wreak havoc on your body without your permission. You won’t give it permission ever again. In fact, you’re going to send it packing.
Leave fear and worry in the past. It’s time to win this game and win your life back. You’re a cancer warrior now.
So who’s on your team? Choosing your doctors.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you’re waging war against cancer is to assemble the toughest team possible. That includes your medical team — the doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurse practitioners that will help you through the nitty gritty of your treatment. When you choose your doctors, do your homework. Is your oncologist experienced with colon cancer primary cases? How many of your surgeries has your surgeon actually performed? What is the treatment center like — do you feel comfortable there? Do you have open lines of communication with your doctors and their staff? There are many, many great hospitals and doctors out there. The most important thing is that you feel 100% confident and trusting in your medical team. You want to know that they are focused on you and helping you achieve your health-related goals. Do your research on doctors, cancer centers, and treatment plans. Talk with several oncologists or surgeons before you choose yours. Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
And always remember: your doctors are incredibly important to your victory over cancer, but the real leader of your team is YOU.
Your Treatment Plan
What’s the plan of attack?
Choosing your treatment path.
Chemo? Surgery? Radiation? A little of each?
No matter what your treatment plan is, make sure it’s right for you. Have your medical team describe the plan in detail, listing any and all potential side effects so you know what to expect. Make sure you’re comfortable with your plan, and remember — this is YOUR plan. Nobody but you will walk through it, so own it, love it, and believe in it. Battling cancer isn’t easy. At times, it will test your will, resolve, and sometimes, even your faith. But soldier on, soldier! Take your pre-meds, post-meds, vitamins, and supplements. Stay hydrated. Sleep like a rock. And work out daily or as much as you’re able. You will get through treatment, and getting through treatment is half the battle.
Go “Rocky Balboa” on cancer: exercise and fitness.
A big part of being a cancer warrior is looking…and, more importantly, feeling like a warrior. This means it’s time for you to dust off those gym shoes and get moving. Think of it this way: if you were about to face a challenging opponent in a test of physical prowess — say, an arm-wrestling match or a race — you wouldn’t just show up for the event unprepared, would you? You wouldn’t. You’d train, you’d practice, you’d get your body in the best shape possible so that your chances of success are as high as possible. A battle with cancer is no different. This is your time to get as strong, fit, and tough as possible. You are going to be tested physically, so why not get prepared now? This is your “Rocky Balboa” time, so get training and get in the ring! Building muscle is important. Building cardiovascular strength is also important. Think of the exercises you would do for pleasure, and make them a permanent part of your life. Lift weights, swim, hike, play basketball, box, run outdoors — do whatever it is that ignites your passion and holds your attention. Mix it up if you need to — 3 days a week with a particular exercise, 3 days with another, and rest for one day. The stronger and fitter you are, the better you’ll feel. And the more primed and ready your body will be to fight your opponent.
Feed your body, not cancer: diet tips.
There is pretty solid evidence that cancer loves animal protein. We also know that colon cancer especially loves processed meat and red meat. Most of what we read is about what we can’t eat, but it’s time to change the dialogue and focus on what we can eat: the foods that will serve us best in our quest to become cancer-killing machines. Feed your healthy cells with foods rich in nutrients and devoid of those things that cancer likes to snack on. A vegan diet filled with unprocessed, organic foods is the best way to go. Want an example of a daily diet with a couple of options for each meal? Well, look no further. Here it is:
Breakfast: oatmeal, cereal with almond milk, tofu scramble
Lunch: salad loaded with veggies (carrots, beets, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, hearts of palm, artichokes), veggie burger, chili beans
Snack: almonds, Brazil nuts, strawberries
Dinner: portobello mushrooms, baked potato, wild rice, steamed asparagus; veggie sushi (don’t forget the ginger); brown rice-based pasta with tomato sauce and fresh basil
There are plenty of variations and many great vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants out there. Your tummy will be happy, and the rest of your body will thank you, too. Meanwhile, you’ll be choking the life out of those cancer cells.
Get your head in the game: meditation and guided imagery
Much of this cancer-killing business is mental, and some of the best things you can do when battling cancer take place in your mind. Meditation is a great way to focus your positive energy on healing and wellness. At times, your thoughts might be scattered — you may worry about medical bills or treatment-related side effects or the pain of the physical challenges you may go through — but meditation helps bring things into focus. There is one goal: beating cancer. And the quicker you focus on that, the better off you’ll be. Imagining your body at rest, at peace, and healthy has a profound effect on how you perceive of your overall wellness and your (winning) battle with cancer. Guided imagery, a form of meditation where you are assisted (or guided) in visualizing certain places or events, is particularly powerful for the cancer warrior. I would suggest picking up some of Belleruth Naparstek‘s Guided Meditation CDs on fighting cancer. Even if meditation isn’t “your thing,” try it out. You want every weapon in your arsenal when fighting this foe.
You’re not afraid of cancer OR needles.
The benefits of five-element acupuncture.
Another alternative treatment that you can add to your conventional cancer-killing regimen is five-element acupuncture. Five-element acupuncture aims to balance the body’s energies so that optimal health and healing can take place. Treatments usually take about an hour, and consist of needle placement (don’t worry, they are very thin) in various spots depending on what your body needs at the moment. This ancient form of Chinese medicine is extremely helpful for combating chemotherapy side effects and helps you feel revitalized, relaxed, and ready to continue your battle. The particular type of five-element acupuncture that works particularly well for cancer warriors and non-cancer warriors alike is Five-Element Worsley Acupuncture. Here’s a bit about this type of acupuncture from the Worsley Institute’s website:
Professor Worsley realized that every human being has one true cause of disease. He called this unique, original and distinguishing discovery the Causative Factor (CF). When the CF is diagnosed and treated, the cause of disease resolves and the symptoms signaling the imbalance disappear. Worsley’s profound insight into spirit, how we can experience its presence within us, and his revolutionary discovery of the CF are the means by which WA diagnoses and treats the cause of the illnesses that arise when spirit is not fully integrated into our lives. This lack of integration causes great unhappiness, alienation and disease in the modern world. Worsley pioneered and devoted his life to teaching that, in most cases, the cause of physical, mental and spiritual distress in our modern times resides within us rather than in external circumstances. This style of acupuncture elegantly restores our balance and harmony and returns us to the health and well-being that is our natural right.
Read up on your adversary: best books to consult
Battling cancer isn’t just a dogfight. It’s an opportunity — a golden opportunity — to learn about your body and how to take care of it. As with any education, consulting good books is key. Here are some of the best books around:
Cancer: 50 Essential Things To Do; Greg Anderson
Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient; Norman Cousins
Crazy Sexy Diet; Kris Carr
Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques; Peggy Huddleston
You Can Heal Your Life; Louise L. Hay
The China Study; T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II
And one of the best documentaries regarding how diet affects our general health — and can help us fight cancer: Forks Over Knives
Access your own healing energy: the benefits of reiki therapy.
When used as a supplement to your conventional cancer treatment, reiki therapy can strengthen your body, mind, and spirit, and help put you in the best place possible to square off against cancer. So what is it, exactly? Reiki therapy is the process of healing using the power of energy. The ultimate life energy source — called the Universal Life Energy — is the main foundation of Reiki. The aim of reiki therapy is to control that enormous energy and use it to heal, improve, and balance one’s self as well as others. The key tenet of reiki is that our bodies are governed by energy, which can either be free flowing (ideal) or stuck in certain points (less than ideal). When receiving reiki treatment, a patient relaxes on a table while the practitioner simply rests her hands on our near the patient’s body, helping restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It is non-invasive, deeply relaxing, and a great way to heal and rejuvenate your body. Get more information on The Gloria Borges Reiki and Guided Meditation Program here.
Get going on your personal cancer-killing adventure.
You might be scared, angry, frustrated, and bitter. You might be worried or anxious about what the future will bring. You might be nervous that treatment will be too difficult or that it won’t work. You might fear death. Take a deep breath. It’s perfectly okay to feel this way. It’s perfectly okay to have these feelings. But eventually — sooner than later — you need to let them go, too. How can you truly tackle this physical, mental, and emotional challenge with an attitude weighted down with negativity? You can’t. It’s too difficult a task, and fighting this disease is a difficult task in and of itself, so why make it tougher?
Cry if you need to. Scream if you need to. Break something if it makes you feel better.
But after that…
Let. It. Go.
You were born to beat this disease. You were born to fight for your life. You were born to enjoy every moment of your life, even the tough ones. You are not alone and you won’t ever be alone. So get your game face on, get your head right, and get empowered. And then get going on your personal cancer-killing adventure.
You know how listening to your favorite music can transform your mood, put a smile on your face, and help you forget about whatever it is that’s bothering you?
Yeah, music is magical like that.
Every cancer warrior should draw upon the therapeutic qualities of music during (and after) treatment. This is your time to create your cancer-killing soundtrack. So dig deep through your vault, find the songs that mean the most to you (think about music that energizes you, makes you smile, or calms you down), and create your own cancer-killing playlist. You can listen to your playlist all the time or whenever it suits you best — when you’re working out, while you’re getting chemo, and on the way into the operating room (make sure you negotiate this last one with your surgeon — you should be able to make it happen).