Braving the Challenges of Wellness
You have a 1 in 2 chance of a cancer diagnosis, and what you know now can affect your outcome.
It sucks being surrounded by cancer; and the numbers show we all are or will be surrounded by cancer very soon. It is estimated that 1 in 2 Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. Let me repeat that, 1 in 2. If you live the average American lifestyle, which most people do, you have a 50% chance of receiving a cancer diagnosis. Age is no longer a factor, and gender doesn’t save you. Lifestyle is the lynchpin. So, what do you do?
I can tell you that avoiding cancer looks a lot like beating cancer these days, but without the stress. Why? Because 1 in 2 means we all need to start realizing there’s a good chance (or bad if you think about it) that we have it and just don’t know it yet. I’m not trying to stress you out. But receiving the diagnosis will. At that point, you will no longer be making calm, rational decisions. You will panic and turn your fate over to a system that cannot cure cancer. So, my goal is to help you do what you can to avoid the diagnosis in the first place. That’s why you’re here.
At some point, a breaking point, tipping point, whatever you want to call it; there will be a realization that what we’ve being doing, eating, drinking, breathing, how we’ve been living, has led to this health disaster. We’re not quite there yet, and it’s unfortunate because we stand to lose a lot between now and then. It’s the same health disaster that is contributing to all our problems today. Lack of wellness is crushing us as a society. I’m sure you could name three things, without batting an eye, that are getting worse, and were not a concern 40 or 50 years ago.
The Diagnosis Trap
One of the most challenging mindsets I have experienced is the cancer diagnosis trap. I call it that because it’s what happens to the thought process when a diagnosis is received. Unless you are prepared and armed up front, it’s difficult to avoid it once you hear the words, “it’s cancer.” Even the smartest people get caught in the trap. And it’s even worse when the diagnosis trap is followed up by a poor prognosis. The prognosis, if bought into, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that has a bad outcome.
I’ve experienced this trap too many times. And the older the patient, the worse it is because the abyss in front of them looks too big, too dark and too deep to cross. There may be a strong desire to live, but that is followed by a questionable belief by the individual in their ability to live. You see, when the initial attempts at treatment fail, the doctors say there’s nothing else they (the doctors) can do. And those words are what often seals the individual’s fate. The belief is shattered and the planning begins. Not planning for the future; planning for the end. And when that happens, there is likely no turning back. What is failed to be heard, is what’s behind those words, “there’s nothing more we can do.” The WE in that statement is the doctors.
It may be true there’s nothing more modern medicine can do. I am a strong believer that the only person who can return health to anyone is the individual him or herself. The things that make us sick are mostly within our control, but they are numerous. And because they have piled on over a lifetime, they seem impossible to shed. And that is the abyss. It’s the realization that to regain wellness, we must remove all the toxins that are making us sick. Toxic food, toxic water, toxic air, lack of meaningful physical activity, social disconnection and stress. Stress is a huge toxin. It comes by way of toxic jobs, toxic relationships, worry over money, safety, the future, the past. The list goes on. Again, I’m certain you could name three huge stressors in your life right now without batting an eye. All those things make a cancer diagnosis even more ominous.
Being prepared and armed up front means having this awareness. The awareness and acceptance that cancer is a result of lifestyle. Less than 10% of cancer is genetic. We can no longer look to family history and say, “I’m good.” History was not ridden with the toxins we are bombarded with today. If you think of the 10% as what has always existed, and the remaining 90% as new, environmental-based development, you also have hope and the ability to avoid cancer. But that means awareness and acceptance before the diagnosis trap. It means whittling away at the abyss now, so it doesn’t seem so big, dark and scary once you are propelled towards it with the words, “you have cancer.”
For those who are not in that position yet, I offer you knowledge and incentive. For those standing before the abyss, either their own or someone else’s, I offer you hope and insight. The abyss is conquerable if you can commit to three things: wanting, believing and doing. There is a lot of work to conquering the abyss, but it’s worth it. Many times in my life I felt like I hit rock bottom. I questioned my will to live. In some ways, I think that mindset is what created my illness, my state of dis-ease. It’s like a long, drawn out suicide when you slowly poison yourself with stress and poor choices. When I was diagnosed with cancer it truly was a reality check. I had to ask myself the tough questions. Do I want to be here? Is this life so bad that the abyss, and death, looks like a better alternative? Can I do what needs to be done to stay here? What do I need to do to stay here? Am I willing to do whatever that is, to stay here?
Today I want you to ask yourself those questions; now, while it’s easier to turn your health around. And if your answer to all of them indicates a desire to live a long, happy, healthy life, start working on those three stressors. If not, I want you to ask yourself why. What it is that has crushed your belief in yourself; your love of yourself? Because without even knowing you, I know you deserve to be happy, loved and living a life of grace. You just need to believe it too. Believe in your ability to conquer the abyss, and you can.
What are your biggest challenges to walking down the path to health and wellness? Leave your comments below.
Yours in Wellness,