There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dearly departed mother, Aurea. She died in January 2010 at 74 years young from pancreatic cancer. Just to give you some more history that is germane to the post, my father died of colon cancer in 1972 and my grandmother died of stomach cancer in 1992. Yes, sadly, my family has had its share of cancer!
As you can imagine, after my mother’s death in 2010, my life changed dramatically. I instantly became a “forty something” year old orphan and I felt it! I felt as though a layer had been removed and now I was completely exposed. When your parents are alive you believe you are protected and will be spared of illness because it is unnatural to think otherwise. I know this is not true, but I believe many still think it is. I guess that is still the naïve child in all of us.
The news on May 14, 2013 of Ms. Angelina Jolie having a double mastectomy got me thinking. Would I have any part of my body removed in hopes of decreasing my risk of cancer? After all, I saw firsthand how relentless cancer was to my father, grandmother, and mother, respectively. If I was told I had an 87% chance of contracting cancer, wouldn’t I want to do everything in my power to prevent this from manifesting itself?
During my studies to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach, we learned about the ravaging effects of inflammation on the bodies due to food sensitivities and poor dietary choices. We had many renowned physicians (Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Marc Hyman, Dr. Joel Fuhrman to name a few) lecture about genes, gene expression, and the perils of unmanaged stress. Dr. Lissa Rankin author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself fully supports this theory by saying in an article today on Dr. Frank Lipman‘s website, “Epigenetic research proves to us that environmental influences, including hormonal factors that are affected by your thoughts, beliefs, and feeling, affect how your genes express themselves.”
I don’t judge Ms. Jolie’s decision at all, in fact I think she is quite brave. However, my thoughts about disease changed dramatically after listening to these integrative medicine pioneers. This knowledge helped put my mind at ease because I don’t feel as powerless anymore. While I am not naïve enough to believe that I am “in control” of my destiny, I do believe that for many, living a healthy lifestyle increases the odds for long-term health and does help keep long-term illness at bay. I also appreciate that every body is different and what may work for one person may not be effective for another. In health coaching, we call this bio-individuality.
So, the question still stands, would I have any part of my body removed in hopes of decreasing my risk of cancer? For today, I would have to say, no, I would not. Does the thought of leaving my precious 11 year old motherless and my beloved husband make this decision difficult? Yes, it does, but for today, I stand true to myself and my lifestyle choices. Instead of living in fear that cancer will “get” me as it did my immediate family members, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing since 2010: treat my body with love and respect by feeding it non-inflammatory, seasonal, unprocessed foods as often as I can; exercise regularly; continue to find effective means to manage my stress; ask for help when I need it; be kind and compassionate to all living things; learn and grow from my mistakes; do my very best to forgive those who wrong me and whom I wrong; and most importantly, continue to nurture and grow in my spiritual life. I have learned that this is the true center of my being and what helps me get through all of life’s ups and downs, including occasional concerns about “getting” cancer. My prayer daily is to continue to trust that what we do daily to care for our bodies is enough. This is all we can do.
Do you believe that your lifestyle choices will contribute to your long-term health?
Do you believe that you are doing the very best you can do to keep long-term illness at bay?
Do you believe that living a healthy lifestyle could help you prevent long-term illness despite your family history?
Are you already living with chronic illness but believe that living a healthier lifestyle would improve or eliminate this from your life?
Do you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle but do not know where to begin?