Tag Archive | World Cancer Day

Cancer Roulette


It really saddens me when I hear comments like, “I ate a vegan diet, ran 5 miles a day, was in perfect mental and spiritual health, BUT I STILL GOT CANCER!”  It certainly perpetuates the myth, “There is nothing I can do about cancer”, which is one of the four common myths recognized by World Cancer Day.  (You can read the other myths here.)

A few years ago, I met a middle aged man in a hospital.  He was overweight, a heavy smoker, and had just suffered a near fatal heart attack.  While his doctor and his family pleaded with him to make lifestyle changes, the man refused, saying, “My grandfather was over-weight his whole life and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, and he lived to be 93!”

When I mention to people that I eat a mainly plant based diet, I often get comments like, “I don’t believe that diet has anything to do with cancer.  My great-aunt Ellie ate a medium rare steak every day of her life, and she lived to be 100.”

Do you see something wrong with the logic in these three examples?   I am happy for great-aunt Ellie, God bless her, but folks, if you are going to eat a medium rare steak every day of your life, aren’t you begging for a heart attack, stomach cancer, and a host of other illnesses?   I would imagine that chubby great-grandad had great genes, if he lived to be 93 while smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, but would you want to play cancer roulette with your life?  It is a sad fact of life that some people who take excellent care of their bodies get sick anyway, but is that a good reason to “let yourself go” when it comes to healthy living?

Here is what is flawed with the logic:  You cannot take a single case study and use it to justify your opinions when it goes against a multitude of scientific studies which suggest otherwise.  Sure, there are some cases of people who smoked all of their lives and lived to be a ripe old age without major health complications.   However, there are literally millions of cases of people who smoked cigarettes and died from illnesses related to their habit.

I am sure that there is a delicate inter-play of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle choices in the game of cancer roulette.   I am equally sure that by practicing a healthy lifestyle, I am removing some of the bullets from that gun.  That does not guarantee that the cancer bullet won’t get me in the end, but if it does, I will die knowing that I did my best to unload that gun.  What about you?  I would love to hear your opinions!


World Cancer Day

world cancer day

Today, February 4th, is recognized as World Cancer Day.   The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day centers around debunking the myths of cancer.  In particular, the message is focused on these four common myths:

We don’t need to talk about cancer.

-Cancer….there are no signs or symptoms.

-There is nothing I can do about cancer.

-I don’t have the right to cancer care.

It is the third myth….”There is nothing I can do about cancer” that really grabbed my attention.   When my treatments ended, I really believed that there was nothing I could do about cancer.  I felt like a helpless victim.  But not anymore!

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the “Radical Remission of Cancer”; those seemingly miraculous cures of “incurable” cancer.  You can read about it here.  Once thought a fluke of nature, and referred to as “spontaneous remissions”, researchers are now discovering common attributes among these miracle survivors.   I am very interested in reading Dr. Kelly Turner’s book, “Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds”, due to be released next month.  After examining more than a thousand cases of radical remission and interviewing survivors from all over the world, Dr. Turner has uncovered 9 common threads among these miracle survivors.   I cannot wait to learn about her findings!

In our book, “100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It”, we make reference to  a similar book by Tami Boehmer (“From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds”) .   In her book, Ms. Boehmer  found 8 common characteristics among the people she interviewed.  These were:

-refusing to buy into statistics and the death sentences many of them were given

-never giving up, no matter what

-relying on support from family, loved ones, or support groups

-choosing to look on the bright side and see the gifts cancer brings

-giving back and making a difference in other people’s lives

-having a strong sense of faith

-being proactive participants in their health care

-viewing their lives as transformed by the experience

It will be interesting to find out whether Dr. Turner found similar characteristics among her miracle survivors.

My co-author, Susan, and I have our own theories on how to increase your odds of surviving cancer and reduce your risk of a cancer reoccurrence.   We believe that the most effective treatment focuses not just on healing the body, but also on healing the mind and the spirit.

Healing the Body

We believe that your fight with cancer does not end when your treatment ends.  Rather, it requires a lifelong commitment to healthy living.  Like Tami Boehmer, we encourage people to be active participants in their own health care.  We also promote healthy living practices such as exercise (which can reduce your risk of a cancer reoccurrence by as much as 40%) and eating a mainly plant based diet (which can reduce your risk by as much as 30%).  “100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It” talks about hundreds of other healthy living tips for cancer prevention.

Healing the Mind

We are also strong believers in the mind-body connection and through our research we have learned that your mental attitude can impact a great deal on your physical health.  Therefore working on healing your mental state is as important as healing your body.  There are actually exercises that you can do each day, such as practicing affirmations, which can change your mental outlook.  This in turn can have a positive impact on your physical health.

Healing the Spirit

Finally, we believe that true healing requires a healthy spirit in addition to a healthy body and mind.  Having a sense of hope and faith have been linked to improved physical health.   There are many other practices presented in our book, such as forgiveness exercises and mindfulness, which can promote a healthy spirit.

Cancer is a disease that not only wreaks havoc on the body, but can also leave deep emotional and mental scars and sometimes a broken spirit.  If your goal is to give yourself the best odds of surviving cancer, you need a plan!  This plan must address the health of all areas of your being: body, mind and spirit.