Find your own way

From The Optimist Magazine

Summer 2014

Whether they choose traditional or alternative therapies, cancer survivors all embrace these six habits of mind.

By Laura Bond

When Laura Bond’s mother, Gemma Bond, was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer in March 2011, she refused chemotherapy and instead made extensive changes to her life, from dietary changes to a change in attitude. People were shocked by her decision, yet confidential surveys of oncologists reveal that many of them would do the same. So Laura, a journalist and qualified health coach, started a blog to highlight some of the limitations of conventional cancer treatment and share what else was out there. Gemma Bond is now thriving and free of cancer.

After interviewing more than 60 experts worldwide—most of whom are doctors—Laura reports her findings in her new book Mum’s Not Having Chemo. Far from being prescriptive, the book aims to open people’s minds to the wide variety of options out there “so they can make a decision based on information rather than fear,” says Laura. The book also includes strategies for -minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy, including two cutting-edge therapies in which patients do not lose their hair and rarely experience nausea. Find out more: laura-bond.com.

Illness strikes at the heart of who you are. It casts a spell of uncertainty over every aspect of your life, leaving future plans, daily routines and even relationships in disarray. So when you’re in that place of terror, why not look to those who have been in your shoes?

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of talking with countless cancer survivors—many of whom beat the odds by eschewing conventional treatment. I have also interviewed over 60 experts around the world—from leading oncologists to energy healers—and was surprised to learn that inner strength, faith in a treatment and a willingness to “let go” could be just as important as high-dose vitamins, dietary changes and cutting-edge therapies in overcoming cancer.

Not every cancer patient will relate to the emotional components of cancer. For some, environmental toxins, junk food and damaged genes will have a more important role to play. But cancer is a multifactorial disease, and getting on top of your emotional health is just one more step you can take toward healing.

So what are the common threads that lead to the path toward recovery? Here are six characteristics that cancer survivors commonly share and you can learn to cultivate when life throws you a curveball—or a blessing in disguise. Because how you view your diagnosis may be more important than you think . . .

1. Embrace change

Seeing cancer as a wake-up call is undoubtedly more life-affirming than seeing yourself as a prisoner of the condition. “A lot of cancer patients I meet who aren’t doing so well feel that everything they have to do is a punishment—from juicing kale to having chemo,” says Dr. Kelly Turner, cancer counselor and author of the forthcoming book Unexpected Remission. “A lot of them are resisting change; they just want to go back to their old life.”

A willingness to discard old diets, habits and thought patterns was common among the survivors I spoke to, even as the practical steps on their journeys diverged. When Nicola Corcoran was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 40, she decided to make big changes in small, manageable steps. First she tackled her diet, replacing salt, sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol with nut milks, short-grain rice and vegetables juices. Then she started detoxifying and boosting her immune system with a raft of natural treatments, including high-dose vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide infusions and hyperthermia (heat therapy).

And soon after her diagnosis, she also started addressing her emotional health. “I try not to be motivated by fear, but rather to live in the present, guided by my intuition,” she says. “I now find myself observing situations and seeing what I can learn from them, rather than judging or using old behavioral responses.” Corcoran is now cancer free.

Change seems to be the “open sesame” for recovery, whether you embrace conventional medicine or choose the alternative path. When researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, looked at survivors who had experienced unexplained survival time after being told their condition was terminal, they found that a willingness to take action was key.

2. Find joy

Having a sense of joy is the second most important factor for predicting cancer survival, according to researcher Sandra Levy, associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Feeling euphoric also provides free access to interleukin-2. The synthetic version of this molecule—the cancer drug Proleukin—costs around $40,000 (£24,000) and comes with a long list of side effects. But according to medical research, you can boost your own levels of interleukin-2 just by being relaxed and joyful.

It sounds so simple. But is it, really? One in three British workers fail to take their full annual holiday entitlement, according to a recent survey. Instead they put in 36 million hours of free overtime. The relentless pressures of 21st-century life mean that many of us have forgotten how to “let go.”

Prior to getting cancer, my mother, Gemma Bond, admits that she was “just going through the motions.” She felt like a slave to her to-do list and would always postpone pleasure in lieu of one more task. “Now I stop myself when I start hearing that internal dialogue and make time to do what I love, whether it’s listening to an inspirational speaker on my iPod or walking around the garden barefoot in the mornings with my dogs and my gardening gloves,” she says.

Finding pleasure and fulfillment is key to recovery, says Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of Peace, Love and Healing. “Do I have enough play in my life? That’s what patients need to ask themselves,” he says. “So find things that help you lose track of time. Because then you’re in a trance state, and that’s the healthiest state to be in.”

3. Be a difficult patient

Dr. Lawrence LeShan, regarded as the pioneer in psychological support for cancer, cautions against being a compliant patient. “While the meek may inherit the earth, unless you are in a hurry to inherit your six feet of it, do not be meek,” he quips in his book Cancer as a Turning Point (Plume).

Refusing to lie down quietly can make you unpopular, but it also can help you heal. Researchers from Yale University found a direct correlation between an active immune system and a negative opinion of the patient by the head nurse on the ward. A recent British survey found that cancer patients were “dying of politeness” and that those who refused to take no for an answer had a better chance of survival. “Too many people say, ‘Yes, doctor, no, doctor, three bags full, doctor,’” says British scientist and professor Jane Plant, author of Your Life in Your Hands. “Instead they should make clear that they want to be fully involved in decisions.”

Plant was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Despite a radical mastectomy, 35 radiation treatments and chemotherapy, the cancer kept coming back. The final time, when a malignant lump appeared on her neck, the doctors told her there was little they could do. But Plant, like many cancer survivors, refused to accept the medical verdict. Instead she embarked on a dedicated research campaign that led to her discovery that dairy was the root cause of her disease.

Without fail, the survivors I interviewed had the confidence to ask difficult questions, to do research and insist on further tests if they felt that something was wrong.

4. Trust in the treatment

A cancer diagnosis can leave you paralyzed with fear and unable to access your rational brain. Many experts therefore recommend giving yourself a week to process the news and look into all your options. But once you’ve done your research and decided on a direction that’s right for you, it’s important to put your faith in the treatment plan. “Belief is the first, most important factor,” says Lynne McTaggart, author of The Bond: The Power of Connection. “What do you think will work for you? If you have a strong belief about something, that’s been shown to help boost the success of the treatment.” In the current climate, following gut feelings about health might seem radical, even reckless. But time and time again, the word “intuition” came up in my survivor interviews.

After being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at the age of 31, Rachel Kie-rath came under a huge amount of pressure to undergo conventional treatment. “Finally, the day before I was due to start [chemo], I just thought, ‘You know what? I’ve got to listen to what’s true for me.’ When I thought about chemo, I felt utterly defeated, my energies zapped. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being sick all day and then trying to find the energy to fight it. So as soon as I made the decision to go with my gut instinct—which was to reject that and do things my way—it was a huge weight off my shoulders, and I knew that I would be all right.” Kierath received the “all clear” a year after her diagnosis.

5. Let go

For decades, mainstream medicine has denied the link between stress and cancer, but science is now telling us otherwise. One published report showed that adrenaline—the fight-or-flight hormone—can even make cancer resistant to treatment. In another paper, the stress hormone epinephrine was found to alter prostate and breast cancer cells in ways that make them resistant to programmed cell death.

When you’re faced with a serious health challenge, it might be easier to assume you’re simply a victim of bad genes than to acknowledge that your thoughts and behavior are affecting your health. But ignoring the emotional aspects of cancer could be compromising your recovery.

In the eyes of Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a leading cancer specialist and authority on stress-related illness, it’s more important to identify the root cause of cancer than to remove the tumor. “If you get vitamin C intravenously three times a day for 12 days, your cancerous tumours—in my experience—will disappear. But of course, they will come back if you never address the root cause: the bad marriage, the horrible job, the constantly making compromises against yourself, the lack of hope, the lack of love, the lack of self-love. These are the causes of cancer.”

Making room for spirituality has helped my mother navigate the dark nights. But prayer isn’t for everyone. “For people who are agnostic or atheist, being spiritual may mean going for a walk in the late evening and feeling the vastness of the night sky,” says Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in New York. “It has been my experience that when people feel connected with the big picture, they get healthier faster.”

6. Rise up and take the reins

In spite of expert analysis and reams of research, talking about survivor psychology still invites vehement opposition. Some critics believe those who practice mind-body medicine are placing an unnecessary burden on patients, suggesting they are to blame if they don’t get well.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The new healing paradigm is about giving patients back their power and autonomy. “In terms of who will do well with cancer, it’s the people who see it as a challenge more than as a threat,” says Dr. Joan Borysenko, a Harvard-trained medical scientist. “They put their energy into things they know can make a difference rather than trying to control the uncontrollable.” Dr. Ruth Bolletino helps patients recover their zest for life. “What is of far more interest than the causes is what you can do about it,” she says. “By changing psychological factors, you -transform the total environment in which the cancer grew.” 

This is an edited excerpt from Mum’s Not Having Chemo (Piatkus), by Laura Bond. This article was previously published in the health magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Find out more: wddty.com.

Solution News Source

Find your own way

From The Optimist Magazine

Summer 2014

Whether they choose traditional or alternative therapies, cancer survivors all embrace these six habits of mind.

By Laura Bond

When Laura Bond’s mother, Gemma Bond, was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer in March 2011, she refused chemotherapy and instead made extensive changes to her life, from dietary changes to a change in attitude. People were shocked by her decision, yet confidential surveys of oncologists reveal that many of them would do the same. So Laura, a journalist and qualified health coach, started a blog to highlight some of the limitations of conventional cancer treatment and share what else was out there. Gemma Bond is now thriving and free of cancer.

After interviewing more than 60 experts worldwide—most of whom are doctors—Laura reports her findings in her new book Mum’s Not Having Chemo. Far from being prescriptive, the book aims to open people’s minds to the wide variety of options out there “so they can make a decision based on information rather than fear,” says Laura. The book also includes strategies for -minimizing the side effects of chemotherapy, including two cutting-edge therapies in which patients do not lose their hair and rarely experience nausea. Find out more: laura-bond.com.

Illness strikes at the heart of who you are. It casts a spell of uncertainty over every aspect of your life, leaving future plans, daily routines and even relationships in disarray. So when you’re in that place of terror, why not look to those who have been in your shoes?

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of talking with countless cancer survivors—many of whom beat the odds by eschewing conventional treatment. I have also interviewed over 60 experts around the world—from leading oncologists to energy healers—and was surprised to learn that inner strength, faith in a treatment and a willingness to “let go” could be just as important as high-dose vitamins, dietary changes and cutting-edge therapies in overcoming cancer.

Not every cancer patient will relate to the emotional components of cancer. For some, environmental toxins, junk food and damaged genes will have a more important role to play. But cancer is a multifactorial disease, and getting on top of your emotional health is just one more step you can take toward healing.

So what are the common threads that lead to the path toward recovery? Here are six characteristics that cancer survivors commonly share and you can learn to cultivate when life throws you a curveball—or a blessing in disguise. Because how you view your diagnosis may be more important than you think . . .

1. Embrace change

Seeing cancer as a wake-up call is undoubtedly more life-affirming than seeing yourself as a prisoner of the condition. “A lot of cancer patients I meet who aren’t doing so well feel that everything they have to do is a punishment—from juicing kale to having chemo,” says Dr. Kelly Turner, cancer counselor and author of the forthcoming book Unexpected Remission. “A lot of them are resisting change; they just want to go back to their old life.”

A willingness to discard old diets, habits and thought patterns was common among the survivors I spoke to, even as the practical steps on their journeys diverged. When Nicola Corcoran was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 40, she decided to make big changes in small, manageable steps. First she tackled her diet, replacing salt, sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol with nut milks, short-grain rice and vegetables juices. Then she started detoxifying and boosting her immune system with a raft of natural treatments, including high-dose vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide infusions and hyperthermia (heat therapy).

And soon after her diagnosis, she also started addressing her emotional health. “I try not to be motivated by fear, but rather to live in the present, guided by my intuition,” she says. “I now find myself observing situations and seeing what I can learn from them, rather than judging or using old behavioral responses.” Corcoran is now cancer free.

Change seems to be the “open sesame” for recovery, whether you embrace conventional medicine or choose the alternative path. When researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, looked at survivors who had experienced unexplained survival time after being told their condition was terminal, they found that a willingness to take action was key.

2. Find joy

Having a sense of joy is the second most important factor for predicting cancer survival, according to researcher Sandra Levy, associate professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Feeling euphoric also provides free access to interleukin-2. The synthetic version of this molecule—the cancer drug Proleukin—costs around $40,000 (£24,000) and comes with a long list of side effects. But according to medical research, you can boost your own levels of interleukin-2 just by being relaxed and joyful.

It sounds so simple. But is it, really? One in three British workers fail to take their full annual holiday entitlement, according to a recent survey. Instead they put in 36 million hours of free overtime. The relentless pressures of 21st-century life mean that many of us have forgotten how to “let go.”

Prior to getting cancer, my mother, Gemma Bond, admits that she was “just going through the motions.” She felt like a slave to her to-do list and would always postpone pleasure in lieu of one more task. “Now I stop myself when I start hearing that internal dialogue and make time to do what I love, whether it’s listening to an inspirational speaker on my iPod or walking around the garden barefoot in the mornings with my dogs and my gardening gloves,” she says.

Finding pleasure and fulfillment is key to recovery, says Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of Peace, Love and Healing. “Do I have enough play in my life? That’s what patients need to ask themselves,” he says. “So find things that help you lose track of time. Because then you’re in a trance state, and that’s the healthiest state to be in.”

3. Be a difficult patient

Dr. Lawrence LeShan, regarded as the pioneer in psychological support for cancer, cautions against being a compliant patient. “While the meek may inherit the earth, unless you are in a hurry to inherit your six feet of it, do not be meek,” he quips in his book Cancer as a Turning Point (Plume).

Refusing to lie down quietly can make you unpopular, but it also can help you heal. Researchers from Yale University found a direct correlation between an active immune system and a negative opinion of the patient by the head nurse on the ward. A recent British survey found that cancer patients were “dying of politeness” and that those who refused to take no for an answer had a better chance of survival. “Too many people say, ‘Yes, doctor, no, doctor, three bags full, doctor,’” says British scientist and professor Jane Plant, author of Your Life in Your Hands. “Instead they should make clear that they want to be fully involved in decisions.”

Plant was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Despite a radical mastectomy, 35 radiation treatments and chemotherapy, the cancer kept coming back. The final time, when a malignant lump appeared on her neck, the doctors told her there was little they could do. But Plant, like many cancer survivors, refused to accept the medical verdict. Instead she embarked on a dedicated research campaign that led to her discovery that dairy was the root cause of her disease.

Without fail, the survivors I interviewed had the confidence to ask difficult questions, to do research and insist on further tests if they felt that something was wrong.

4. Trust in the treatment

A cancer diagnosis can leave you paralyzed with fear and unable to access your rational brain. Many experts therefore recommend giving yourself a week to process the news and look into all your options. But once you’ve done your research and decided on a direction that’s right for you, it’s important to put your faith in the treatment plan. “Belief is the first, most important factor,” says Lynne McTaggart, author of The Bond: The Power of Connection. “What do you think will work for you? If you have a strong belief about something, that’s been shown to help boost the success of the treatment.” In the current climate, following gut feelings about health might seem radical, even reckless. But time and time again, the word “intuition” came up in my survivor interviews.

After being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at the age of 31, Rachel Kie-rath came under a huge amount of pressure to undergo conventional treatment. “Finally, the day before I was due to start [chemo], I just thought, ‘You know what? I’ve got to listen to what’s true for me.’ When I thought about chemo, I felt utterly defeated, my energies zapped. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being sick all day and then trying to find the energy to fight it. So as soon as I made the decision to go with my gut instinct—which was to reject that and do things my way—it was a huge weight off my shoulders, and I knew that I would be all right.” Kierath received the “all clear” a year after her diagnosis.

5. Let go

For decades, mainstream medicine has denied the link between stress and cancer, but science is now telling us otherwise. One published report showed that adrenaline—the fight-or-flight hormone—can even make cancer resistant to treatment. In another paper, the stress hormone epinephrine was found to alter prostate and breast cancer cells in ways that make them resistant to programmed cell death.

When you’re faced with a serious health challenge, it might be easier to assume you’re simply a victim of bad genes than to acknowledge that your thoughts and behavior are affecting your health. But ignoring the emotional aspects of cancer could be compromising your recovery.

In the eyes of Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a leading cancer specialist and authority on stress-related illness, it’s more important to identify the root cause of cancer than to remove the tumor. “If you get vitamin C intravenously three times a day for 12 days, your cancerous tumours—in my experience—will disappear. But of course, they will come back if you never address the root cause: the bad marriage, the horrible job, the constantly making compromises against yourself, the lack of hope, the lack of love, the lack of self-love. These are the causes of cancer.”

Making room for spirituality has helped my mother navigate the dark nights. But prayer isn’t for everyone. “For people who are agnostic or atheist, being spiritual may mean going for a walk in the late evening and feeling the vastness of the night sky,” says Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, in New York. “It has been my experience that when people feel connected with the big picture, they get healthier faster.”

6. Rise up and take the reins

In spite of expert analysis and reams of research, talking about survivor psychology still invites vehement opposition. Some critics believe those who practice mind-body medicine are placing an unnecessary burden on patients, suggesting they are to blame if they don’t get well.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The new healing paradigm is about giving patients back their power and autonomy. “In terms of who will do well with cancer, it’s the people who see it as a challenge more than as a threat,” says Dr. Joan Borysenko, a Harvard-trained medical scientist. “They put their energy into things they know can make a difference rather than trying to control the uncontrollable.” Dr. Ruth Bolletino helps patients recover their zest for life. “What is of far more interest than the causes is what you can do about it,” she says. “By changing psychological factors, you -transform the total environment in which the cancer grew.” 

This is an edited excerpt from Mum’s Not Having Chemo (Piatkus), by Laura Bond. This article was previously published in the health magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Find out more: wddty.com.

Solution News Source

SIGN UP

TO GET A Free DAILY DOSE OF OPTIMISM


We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. Privacy Policy