The Anticancer Lifestyle
It was the first appointment with my patient after her diagnosis of uterine cancer and subsequent total hysterectomy. The prognosis was good: stage 1A with no lymph involvement. During her intake, I inquired if she was ready to adopt an anticancer lifestyle following this shake-up. It didn’t take long to recognize that she didn’t have a clear sense of what that involved, save for not using chemical herbicides anymore.
I didn’t have time to cover the basics of an anticancer lifestyle at that appointment, and my lamentation of that fact was the impetus to write this blog post. It is a simple concept to convey—live in harmony with nature—but challenging to implement for someone entrenched in a technological world divorced from natural rhythms. What is now deemed normal and healthy is far from how our ancestors lived when cancer was a rare illness.
The hallmarks of an anticancer lifestyle are not all that different from one aimed at healing from an autoimmune disease, heart disease, or any chronic disease. There are specifics that apply to each of these conditions and personalization that constitutes a holistic approach to patient care, but the basics of healthy living are the same. This is especially true when contrasting the essentials of health against the standard American diet and lifestyle. Here are the basics of an anticancer lifestyle in brief:
- Eat an unprocessed, whole-food diet.
- Get sufficient rest (upwards of eight hours a night).
- Be active daily, and exercise with a higher intensity on occasion.
- Avoid environmental toxicants.
- Heal emotional trauma.
- Embrace a spiritual dimension of life.
There are a number additions begging for articulation, but this is a good cornerstone. As the pyramid of optimal health ascends, there are increasing levels of nuance, but the foundation is always a return to natural rhythms with these basics of healthy living.
Granted, any one item on the above list could constitute an entire life’s work for a health researcher. For example, avoiding environmental toxicants is an incredibly complex topic that requires a broad understanding. The point is not to become overwhelmed but to instill awareness. Acknowledging the influence of environmental carcinogens is the first step on the journey of avoidance and remediation. Likewise, careful observation and study of diet is a lifelong process. Awareness of the basics is an invitation to explore each topic in depth as time permits.
For some, this list is revelatory if indoctrinated with the belief that cancer is only the result of faulty genes rather than a complex interaction of genetics and epigenetics (environmental factors). Some will choose to uphold that illusion because to do otherwise would force them to confront addiction, trauma, or laziness. It is more convenient to externalize the cause of cancer than add the additional psychologically damaging thought that choices also played a role in the etiology of the disease. That is one narrative.
A different story can be realized if the awareness of the anticancer lifestyle ignites a fire for change so hot as to burn away all obstacles to transformation. This is the path of personal empowerment, and like the metaphorical phoenix rising from the ashes, so too can the cancer patient adopt an anticancer lifestyle and rise from the depths of disease and despair to be reborn.