Yesterday my mom was declared cancer free after a terrifying and painful (although, thankfully, not too long) battle. I learned about my mom’s bladder cancer in September. It was devastating. Somehow as a full grown adult with two kids of my own, and a dad already in assisted living with Alzheimer’s, this was the first moment I realized that I will lose my mom one day. I LOVE my mom. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a (sometimes extremely) bumpy road of it over the years. That’s because we’ve got the kind of unconditional love that can stand up to a bumpy road. I booked a flight home pronto and spent three weeks with my family while we got more information, a more complete diagnosis, and made a plan.
I have always been the health-nut-sort-of-one in my family, well sort of. At times I’ve also been the practically-falling-apart-partying-way-too-hard sort of one, but hey–I was a vegetarian doing reiki and yoga so that counts for something, right? To my step-dad and siblings’ encouragement (both of which I have grown enormously closer with through this experience), and my mom’s eye-rolling resistance, I spent the next three weeks shopping and cooking with my mom, and applying my ceaselessly curious researcher brain to cancer and nutrition (Well, nutrition had already been a passion). Today, my mom is better (I can’t say she was a compliant enough patient to credit the nutrition, I think it was the love and the stubbornness), and my once vague plan to become a health and wellness coach began to get more timely and specific. I’d like to share with y’all a little bit of what I’ve learned, and some resources to get you started.
- the things that you can do to live an anti-cancer lifestyle are the same things that will help you live an anti diabetes, anti-heart disease, anti-osteoporosis, anti-IBS, and so on and so on sort of lifestyle
- these things will also give you a more energized, sleep better at night, less susceptible to anxiety and depression sort of lifestyle
- the research is not vague and rarely contradicts itself; there is ample information out there for us to know what to do to dramatically reduce cancer risk
- There are valid and complicated reasons that we don’t DO all the things we “should” do in addition to simply not always knowing what to do–will isn’t enough. Living up to these standards is NOT a simple matter of will power or self discipline, but there are resources available to help you make changes. Counseling or coaching may be a great option.
- Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Shreiber MD, Phd is one great resource to get you started
- Crazy Sexy Diet and other works by Kris Carr are also great, and I would say take it a step further.
- The Anti-Caner lifestyle does not mean deprivation, it can actually be extremely juicy, alive, and inspiring, but it DOES require a major paradigm shift and some serious reprioritizing.
- Cancer is entirely linked with inflammation, so anything that causes inflammation in you creates a procancer environment (some of this is individual, some is pretty universal).
- Dairy is pretty much always a bad idea. so is meat. and sugar. bummer, I know. But as this blog unfolds, I will introduce you to some amazing and genuinely satisfying work-arounds for these things.
- We are not going for perfect. We are going for better. Ultimately, we are going for what my dear friend Kate calls her 95% rule. In other words, she doesn’t eat those things 95% of the time. if you eat them 100% of the time…you might be going for 50%, or meatless mondays, or something. We’ll figure it out. You’ll see.
- organizing around cancer as a way to improve your relationship with your health and your body is kind of fool proof. I don’t know about you, but when I have set out to “get in shape” and it’s been aesthetics as the organizing principle, it’s like a house of cards. down deep somewhere, I find the beauty standards superficial, externally imposed, and stupid, so at best their motivation doesn’t last, and at worst, I rebel against them altogether. My brain can’t seem to talk me out of thinking that living a really long time with a great deal of vitality is a great idea.
So, stay tuned for more tips, resources, and recipes. And let’s all take a green juice (or maybe red wine) toast to my mom’s health and to yours!