I guess I was naive to think that cancer would not touch our family. It has become so common.
On October 31st of last year my sister (age 45) was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. It had metastasized to her lungs and liver with a very rare form -a BRAF genetic mutation. I was there at the time of diagnosis. Surreal. Was this really happening? How could my sister who only had minor symptoms for a few months be so sick?
While most cancer is not genetic, still in the back of my mind I was thinking that we had no family history of cancer besides a grandfather with prostate cancer. Overall our family was very healthy. But more and more we are hearing of cancer diagnosis in people including small children with no apparent reason.
I was angry and grieved. Yet my resolve doubled to do my part to keep others healthy. As a naturopath and an owner of a wellness center, it has always been my cause to be preventative.
Whether you become my patient or simply read this blog, I want to give some advise about preventative medicine from a naturopathic view:
- Diet: eat real food. Our digestive system is not able to break down an overload of foreign chemicals. When the digestive system starts to back up, it slows down many other important processes as well. By minimizing processed foods and choosing whole organic foods we supply our body with the nutrients it needs and also lower our toxic load. Also by choosing organics we are saying no to the use of harmful pesticides and insecticides.
- Limit exposure to toxins: use natural cleaning and body care products. We are exposed to more chemicals than ever before. The US Department of Health estimates 2000 new chemicals are being released every year. By choosing non toxic products we are helping our environment become less toxic. According to Julian Cribb, author of “Surviving the 21st Century”:
“If consumers demand safe, healthy, green products and are willing to pay industry a little more to make them safely, we can cleanse our planet within a generation.”
- Stress. While we all have stress, finding outlets for it and stepping away from work is important. Find something that gives you joy in your life. If chronic stress is not dealt with, it also becomes a burden on our bodily functions, such as adrenals, digestion, and proper sleep function.
- Not moving: sedentary lifestyle can cause issues. Just looking at our lymphatic system which is part of our immune system. We must move in order for it to work. The lymphatic system cleanses the body of unwanted toxins and waste. The only way our lymphatic system pumps is by our body moving. When the lymphatic system is stressed, it isn’t able to carry essential white blood cells and makes recovery from illness a longer process.
- EMFs. The ever increasing use of our electronic devices now exposes us to more harmful magnetic fields. Studies are showing the potential harmful effect of EMFs. While there is still debate on this topic, it is a good idea to limit your exposure. Turn your phone on airplane mode when not in use. Go for a walk or read a book instead of using an electronic device. Give yourself a ‘brain break’ to process the events and emotions of the day. When too distracted by anything, including your cell phone, you may be unaware of toxic stress build-up.
- Supplementation. With all the stressors we are exposed to each day I do believe in supplementation. Even with eating a completely healthy organic diet, you cannot control the toxins in our environment. Working with your practitioner to devise a program that is specific to you is best. Also know your source for supplementation. There are a lot of products that use bad quality or fillers.
If you practice all of these things, you will likely have much better health and energy. But even with doing ‘everything right,’ the body is a complex organism and is still an unsolved mystery. Take heart. It is human to feel angry and sad at cancer diagnosis. We can all work together to do our part to support the body’s innate healing and support a healthy environment free of harmful toxins.