Scientific evidence shows that 80% of chronic disease including cancer can be prevented by lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, restorative sleep, stress reduction, and loving supportive relationships.
I am a doctor. I know all about disease. What I didn’t know was how to be healthy and stay healthy. I realized that despite my substantial medical education, I have more to learn. Traditional western medicine has a lot to offer. I spent many years of my life training and practicing in our medical system. I utilized all of the conventional, prescribed treatment options available to me for my breast cancer. Even though I may not have benefitted from chemotherapy, I slogged through and still suffer some consequences of, 16+ weeks of being bald and feeling crappy, because, at my age, it didn’t feel right not to.
In addition to listening to my oncologists, I did my own research, as many patients do. I found lots of interesting, helpful resources. Shortly after my diagnosis, I was given a copy of the book Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber. For a few months, I did not even crack the cover. I figured I knew most if not-all-there was to know about cancer and treatment. Sometime during radiation therapy, I picked it up, and once I started I couldn’t put it down. It discusses numerous lifestyle interventions that have scientific proof of preventing cancer or cancer recurrence.
In addition to diet and exercise, there is a wealth of scientific data supporting the mind-body connection, and it’s health effects. When I look back at the way I was living before my cancer diagnosis, what stands out for me is stress, anxiety and lack of sleep. I knew I was stressed. I knew I was miserable, yet I didn’t know how dramatically it was affecting my health. I knew I was sick all the time with colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and an ear infection that resulted in a ruptured ear drum. But, I kept at it–going back day after day until the day I was diagnosed with cancer.
At that point, I finally stopped working to take care of myself. While I realize not everyone has this luxury, for me it was necessary. Within a week, I felt better, I slept better, people thought I looked younger, and this is AFTER a cancer diagnosis. The stress, anxiety and lack of sleep, without a doubt, contributed to my cancer diagnosis. Would I have still been diagnosed with cancer at some point? Sure. Maybe. But maybe not. Once I removed myself from my work environment, I could see how dramatic the health effects of stress and anxiety were. I could kick myself for being so stupid. I wish there were someway I could have appreciated what was happening to me before it was too late.
My cancer diagnosis was a wake-up call, and I am grateful for it. I can now enjoy and appreciate the rest of my life. I want to provide the wake-up call for others, to make lifestyle changes BEFORE a significant medical problem occurs.
I had breast cancer, so you don’t have to.