“Finding the Perks to Beat the Odds” is the title of my recent TEDx Talk (link above). The title was not chosen by me, but rather by the TEDx committee. When I first heard the title, I was a little dubious. After all, what kind of a message do I want to convey? I mean, do you think I actually BELIEVE that finding the perks of having cancer helped me to overcome the disease? You betcha!
I remember when I was doing my under-graduate degree in Psychology many moons ago, I was fascinated by stories about the mind-body connection. I remember one study in particular of a person with multiple personality disorder, who was diabetic and required insulin as one personality, but was perfectly healthy as another. (You can read more about it HERE.)
Is it really possible that the mind is powerful enough to turn disease on and off in the body, as this study suggests? While the study cited above is rather dated, recent research confirms the power of the mind-body connection. Best-selling author, Lissa Rankin, in her book, “Mind Over Medicine”, presents hundreds of examples of how the mind-body connection can be used to induce healing. While it may sound rather “woo-woo”, the underlying premise is actually based on Science. It is a well-established fact that the stress response can wreak havoc on the body, and disrupt its healing mechanisms. So when we are under stress, from let’s say for example, being diagnosed with cancer, the body is catapulted into “fight or flight” mode. This is NOT the ideal state for healing. The time that the body is best able to do the job of healing itself is when it is in a relaxed state. (Which is precisely why babies and teens sleep so much….in this relaxed state, they are better able to grow!) So if you want to put your body into the perfect healing mode, you must RELAX! Anything that you do to help you to relax, and turn OFF that stress response, will help your body to heal. That’s why things like practicing gratitude, gardening, meditation, and yes…blogging the perks of having cancer, were all important parts of my survival plan!
(Note: if you need help in designing your own survival plan, please sign up for our free kickstart cancer survivorship program at www.cancerplan4life.com)