(My dad “Chip” with his Chow Chows and my mom, just before his accident in 1985)
I’ve had several new clients call this summer with similar diagnosis: Stage (2-4) Metastatic Breast Cancer and they are reaching out because they are all but one receiving western treatment (radiation and chemotherapy) and having terrible side effects. We have sat together this summer in the shock, the fear, the despair, and also the hope when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. I’m so grateful that they called and that I am now on their growing team of support. It is truly an honor to walk alongside someone on their journey through cancer. So, thank you and my heart holds a deep space for you.
But let’s back up just a moment because cancer is such a hot topic these days. It also seems to be the dis-ease of our time. Based on recent evidence, 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Despite the statistics, everyone is terrified to receive a diagnosis like cancer as it feel like a (mega-suffering first followed by a…) death sentence. And then if you do get diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like the most frightening, isolating, and overwhelming experience of your life.
My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer when he was 31 years old. His diagnosis was shocking and it perplexed our family, friends, and his team of doctors. My dad never smoked a single cigarette in his entire life. Not only that, but he was active and healthy. That was, until he was in a terrible accident at work and slipped into a 3-month long coma. It was when he awoke that they found the cancer in his lungs.
So why him? I had wondered for most of my life after hearing all the: “smoking = lung cancer” insinuations. And now after studying medicine for years, in my opinion, I think his guard was down after his accident. He had suffered a lot: brain damage, paralysis, and many broken bones (not to mention 3 months of NO activity, immune-suppression, and exposure to a hospital environment – and hospital food). And though he fought hard and the cancer went into remission for several years, when it came back it had metastasized in several organs. I think perhaps one day lung cancer would have presented itself anyway, but for him, not that soon and not without the accident taking his system down first. He died when he was only 35 years old.
Whether or not you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is SO important to stay healthy and strong and there are so many simple ways to do this. If there is one thing we know for sure, whether or not it runs in your family, is that cancer seems to be able to express itself the more we let our guards down. So what takes our guard down?
#1. STRESS! STRESS! STRESS!
#2. Things that tell our body we are stressed, like SUGAR!
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Keeping stress low, eating a nature-based diet (nothing processed!), exercising and getting outside every day, and indulging sometimes, too! These things will give you a good foundation. Having a strong community around you, tying up loose ends, and finding gratitude every single day will also help. Sounds simple, I know. But we all know it’s not that easy. This is why people say cancer is our great teacher – because it teaches us to slowwwwww, wayyyyyyy, dowwwwwwwwwn, to live life one step at a time, and to “keep it simple” by enjoying what is here and now. This means turning our back on the status quo sometimes, (hallelujah!).
One of my most influential teachers is Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. She writes extensively on this subject and has many resources for understanding the relationship between cancer and inflammation, as well as cancer prevention. Check out this incredible free online Cancer Prevention in the 21st Century resource she has put together and generously shared.
Acupuncture is reported to help with the side effects of cancer and its Western treatment but is not considered to be curative. In fact, metastatic breast cancer is not considered curative at all through the Western medical lens though I will say that I have seen women cure themselves through lifestyle changes such as diet, meditation, therapy, herbs, supplements, and creating an otherwise less stressful environment for themselves to heal. Acupuncture (and moxibustion) can help improve your quality of life by boosting your immune system, strengthening your digestion, boosting your spirits, and maximizing your resiliency. When we are strong in spirit, we are strong in mind and body and just plain have more “oomph” to handle what life throws at us.
Cancer has touched my life in so many ways through my own family members and through clients I work with each week. My heart goes out to those who are working with it directly, every single day; my heart goes out to the partners and families, too. I see your fierceness and your bravery!!!
If you or someone you know is struggling either with their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of someone near and dear to them, please don’t hesitate to call. I have some really great resources for you in the Boulder area as well as tricks and tools for helping you to get back your joy and your energy.
For more information on Dr. Low Dog, click here.
For statistics on acupuncture as a support to people with cancer click here.
For basic info on the latest cancer research click here.
P.S. One thing that I would like to point out about cancer that many people are unaware of is this: we ALL, already, have this in us. Yes, we do! We are fighting these mutated cells inside our bodies, as we speak! It is important to know this because some people think that you either HAVE cancer or you DON’T; that it either runs in your family or it doesn’t. But that’s not exactly true! Cancerous cells are always around. As long as we stay strong in body, mind, and spirit, then we stand a good chance to continue fighting not only cancer cells, but the multitudes of bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and toxins we are exposed to every single day just by being ALIVE!