Posts Tagged ‘Love’

How I Kicked Cancer’s Ass

May 17, 2010

Congratulations to Meaghan for creating I Kicked Cancer’s Ass! I don’t usually use that word in public, but then I’ve been quiet about a lot of things for a long time. I kicked 3 types of cancer in 1987 and have been cancer free since then. Woohoo – that’s 23 great years of appreciating my life like I never did before cancer.
This is my story which was posted to Meaghan’s blog on how I learned to kick cancer:
I was preparing myself to die with breast, colon, & skin cancer in 1987, and I’m so thankful to the people around me who helped me to change my mind. I did a lot of work myself, but my support team helped to make it easy for me.

If you have cancer and you want to kick its ass – get a support team to help you as it’s very tough to do this alone. If you know someone with cancer who wants to kick its ass, then whatever support you give them will make a big difference in how they’re able to live their life.

I was fortunate to have a wonderful health care team all through surgery and chemotherapy. My doctors were helpful and they inspired me to do everything I could to complement conventional medicine and help myself get well.

The Cancer Agency ran a support group where I learned to do meditation, visualization, guided imagery, deep breathing, and deep relaxation. My surgeon recommended a psychiatrist to help me deal with unfinished business, and a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course to help me deal with depression.

With love and support from family and friends, I learned how to manage my stress and change my diet and exercise pattern. Reading books, listening to tapes, and attending workshops taught me many other coping skills and bit by bit I built my road to health and wellness.

I’ve been an active member of the cancer community for many years now as a survivor, health care worker, and as a volunteer. It’s with sadness that I’ve seen many people die of cancer. If we don’t know cancer is there and we let it grow too long, it just takes over like an aggressive weed. When cancer is advanced it takes over our bodies and takes away our energy; with more cancer and less energy we have less chance of kicking it out.

I think the best defense is an offense; we need to be aware of our bodies and check out signs and symptoms when they begin. This way I hope more people will give cancer a swift kick, and take control of it before it controls them. Cancer is like a bully! When we let cancer have its way, it takes over our lives and even takes our lives for no good reason. When we stand up to cancer we at least have a chance of kicking it out of mind and out of sight. By focusing on being as well as we can possibly be, we improve our quality of life and possibly our quantity of life.

One day at a time, I give thanks for every day.

Here’s Meaghan’s contact info:

facebook.com/megse5
facebook.com/spiritjump

@Cancerlost
@spiritjump

http://www.spiritjump.org

Website:http://www.cancerlost.blogspot.com

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Simplicity

May 15, 2010

Simplicity seems to be a lost art in most busy lives today. It’s too bad because many people don’t have time or take the time to stop and notice what surrounds them. When we remember to do this, there’s always something interesting to see and if we’re lucky, something beautiful to lift our spirits.

People from many different spiritual beliefs promote “living in the moment”, “being present”, and “taking one day at a time”. This recurring theme seems to be an ideal way to live if we want to enjoy life. How many of us actually do this on a regular basis?

It takes so little time to stop, take a deep breath, and look around to take in where we are, what we’re doing, who’s there, and to relish the fact that we’re alive. When we actually do this though, we get more in touch with who we are and why we’re here.

When we think about who we are and why we’re here, then we’re better able to overcome negative details that can drag us down. Thinking about the bigger picture inspires us to keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving towards our ideal of what we want for ourselves.

The most important things in life start with simple things such as love for our selves and others. Please take the time today to acknowledge yourself for who you are and what you do to enjoy life. Happiness is the key to good health!

Breast cancer genetics

May 8, 2010

Thinking about daughters and genetics on Mother’s Day –

I read about this conference as a result of a link on Twitter:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/blog/life-with-breast-cancer/fight-like-a-girl/

The conference in Toronto sounds interesting, but I have alarm bells going off when I hear about women facing a “daily conflict” about telling daughters of their risk for breast cancer.

Daily conflicts are not healthy – if we pile more daily conflicts on top of all the other concerns we have when living with breast cancer, they will further damage our health.

I say learn about genetics if you can handle it, but not if it creates emotional pain which may affect your health and well being.

I think it’s important to remember that genetics are responsible for only 15% of cancers.

Some lifestyle choices – which we can control – are responsible for many more cancers than genetics. Taking charge of our lifestyle choices is empowering!

Women are disempowered when they think they have no control over their prognosis because of their genetic makeup.

Women need to be empowered in order to overcome breast cancer.

Women can protect their daughters by encouraging them to eat healthy food, be physically active, get enough sleep and deep relaxation, and manage their stress. Healthy habits make a difference!

I know because I had Stage II breast cancer in 1986. I’ve been cancer free since 1987 and I’ve done that by changing my lifestyle once treatment was over. I eat a low fat high fiber diet, walk every day, get enough sleep and deep relaxation, and manage my stress level. This is simple stuff, and if I can do it so can many others.

Cancer institutions tell us that 30 to 50% of cancers can be prevented. I believe you get what you focus on and this is what we need to focus on if we’re going to reduce the cancer rate in the next generation.

Peace of mind helps us to survive cancer. I believe that negative emotions and daily conflicts can ruin our health, so it’s important to work through them and move towards a healthier state of mind.

In the words of an old Chinese doctor: Happiness is the key to good health!

April 24, 2010

The good news about cancer is that if it’s found early enough, people can recover.

The bad news is when it isn’t found early enough.

My question is – why does it have to take so long to find lung cancer?

Often it seems that lung cancer is discovered too late and people die very soon after diagnosis; this is tragic especially in young people.

As a society we need to pay attention to the symptoms of lung cancer and not brush them aside because we think it won’t happen to us.

I made this mistake with breast cancer, and I could have saved myself a lot of grief with a timely mammogram.

We all need to raise our awareness of lung cancer symptoms, to listen to our bodies, and check out unhealthy symptoms.

So the most common symptoms of lung cancer are: cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Other symptoms may be wheezing, hoarseness, and repeated chest infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

I’ve heard of a few people who have gone to the doctor to check out a cough and been put on antibiotics, then much later they find out they have lung cancer.

We need to pay attention if our gut feeling tells us there’s something seriously wrong, and we need to stand our ground to make sure we get the proper treatment.

I know that denial is the most common coping skill, but if we think about the benefits of finding cancer in an early stage compared to later stages, it makes sense to find out sooner rather than later.

It’s up to us to know our bodies well enough to know when something changes, and it’s up to us to take the next step.

It’s important that we care enough about ourselves to be our own best friend and take action if it’s needed; it’s simply a matter of self care and we all deserve this.

Health vs. wellness

March 26, 2010

I see the difference between health and wellness as being one of ownership. We tend to think of the health care system as being in charge of our health, whereas I believe that we are each personally in charge of our wellness.

Health can be divided into: physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health. Health can also be divided by disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. There are many health care professionals who are trained and ready to help take care of our health; mostly they are specialized in their field and take care of one aspect of our health.

Wellness on the other hand includes every aspect of our health and well being such as fitness, disease, nutrition, physical activity, weight, sleep, relaxation, stress, and life satisfaction. Who can take care of all these aspects of ourselves? We can! We are our own best expert when it comes to knowing exactly what we need to feel good and to be healthy.

It’s an awareness thing. The secret is to be awake when we decide what to eat, and how to exercise, and to be aware when we have a nagging pain. The key is to take action and seek health care when we need it.

Wellness is about the big picture, and about taking good care of our mind, body and spirit. We are each in charge of our wellness but we don’t have to do it alone. A wellness coach is a partner who will help us reach our best possible state of wellness.

I know because my husband coached me to recover from 3 types of cancer in 1987 and I’ve been cancer free since then. I’m now a wellness coach who knows the value of having a support system to help me be well and stay well.

If you are in your best possible state of wellness, I congratulate you!
If you would like to be well and want some help, reach out and engage a coach who can be a friend, family member or a professional wellness coach like me.

Cancer survivor becomes wellness coach

March 10, 2010

Here is an article by Joanne Shuttleworth which appeared on the front page of the Guelph Mercury on March 9th 2010 – my 65th birthday.
I celebrated the publicity for my cancer prevention program called Start Here and Go Forward. I also celebrated the fact that I’m still alive and cancer free 23 years after having 3 types of cancer in 1987.

GUELPH -Lynn Roodbol was 41 when she learned she had breast cancer. Six months later she was also diagnosed with colon cancer and then skin cancer. All this a year after her husband had lost his job.

It was a devastating period and Roodbol said she felt helpless and hopeless as she became a pincushion for chemotherapy, at the beck and call of her doctors, and faced with the very real spectre of her death.

“I had myself in a pine box,” Roodbol said quietly. “I really thought I was going to die. But my husband coached me through it and I had a huge support system. And somewhere along the way something changed.

“The light went on for me and I stopped that downward spiral. I wanted to do anything I could to live again.”

Roodbol turns 65 next week — a number she never expected to reach in those dark days. She’s also a certified wellness coach in part from gratitude for the extra 20-plus years she’s been given. And part to help people who may be feeling as powerless as she had. Roodbol is leading a five-week workshop called Start Here and Go Forward, a program based on wellness coaching that will discuss healthy lifestyle choices, which help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of its recurrence.

It runs from Hospice Wellington’s temporary location on Woodlawn Road on Monday evenings, 7 to 8:30 p.m. from March 22 to April 19. Cost is free, but registration is required.

The methods she recommends are neither a surprise nor complicated and they can prevent other diseases besides cancer — eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and relaxation and learn to manage your stress.

“I’m not an expert, so if I can do it, anyone can,” she said. “But sometimes it’s difficult to see that on your own. A wellness coach will grab your hand and work beside you as you realize your goals.”

Roodbol said she was weighed down by negativity when she was diagnosed with all her cancers, and even when she began to recover she still didn’t feel well. She started to visit a therapist who helped her to leave negative feelings behind and focus on the positive.

“Therapy taught me to let go of anger and guilt. After all, I was an X-ray tech and I didn’t have a mammogram. I blamed myself. I was full of guilt. I had to learn to let it go,” she said.

It’s not as superficial as it may sound. Sometimes it takes a seminal event to put life in perspective. Sometimes an attitude adjustment is in order.

“Once you hear the ‘cancer’ word, you often don’t hear anything else,” said Erin McInnis, client services supervisor with Hospice Wellington. “And it’s easy to get lost in all the information. But life is about living, it’s about wellness. Lynn will challenge and inspire participants.

“At times like that, people are looking for things they can do to help themselves. Lynn will show them how.”

“If you spend your energy on wellness, it’s energy you don’t have to spend on being sick. And believe me, it’s so much more pleasant being healthy,” Roodbol said.

If you go:

WHAT: Start Here and Go Forward, a workshop based on wellness coaching that will discuss healthy lifestyle choices, which help people to prevent cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer.

WHEN: Monday evenings, 7 to 8:30 p.m. from Mar. 22 to April 19

WHERE: Hospice Wellington, 107 Woodlawn Rd. W.

COST: Free

This program is now full and I’m registering people for a new program starting on April 26 2010. Thank you for your interest!

Self care is a choice

January 20, 2010

Caregivers of all types do better if they practice self care first. Society and religion teach us to think of others before we think of ourselves or we’re being selfish; to which I say “NO, this is not quite right”. Mums, Dads, sons, daughters, friends, family, and professional care givers, all need to take care of themselves before they can be successful at providing care for others. If people care for themselves, it means they value themselves enough to be their best, so they have more to give to others and to the world we live in.

There’s a big difference between self care and selfishness. Self care means taking care of our needs not our wants. Our basic needs include getting enough sleep, feeding our bodies well, being physically active, and managing our stress. Selfishness is shallow by comparison, and often results from the need to satisfy a large ego. Selfish people don’t care about anything that gets in their way, and my guess is they don’t truly love themselves, or they wouldn’t need to act as they do.

Self love is not about idolizing the way we look, or accumulating toys; it’s about who we are, our imperfections, our values, and how much we appreciate being alive. Even though we’re all on a separate journey we all have similar needs, and one of our most basic needs is to be loved. Many of us go through childhood feeling that no one loves us or that we’re not important, so we have to act in a way that hides the feelings of an unmet need. The only living human being we can count on to be there for us on a 24/7 basis is our own self; we need to be kind to that self.

Years ago when I was recovering from cancer I worked with a therapist for a few months. One day she told me she didn’t want to see me again until I could tell her I had done something nice for myself every day for a month. I was upset at first as I was depending on her to help me beat my cancer. However after some thought, I decided to take up the challenge and made a conscious effort to be kind to myself every day. I was amazed at how things changed after a month of being considerate to myself. I called the therapist to say I didn’t need to see her anymore as I felt so much better, and I knew I was on the road to recovery.

There are many aspects of self care and it takes work to adjust from being selfless to being able to love your self as much as you deserve to be loved; self care covers the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. At first it seemed like a daunting task to change and look after me before I looked after others, but once I got the hang of it, everything seemed to fall into place. I now know that if I want to do a good job of being there for myself and for others on a daily basis, the only way is to practice healthy self care.

Cancer treatment decisions

November 11, 2009

One of the toughest decisions that people with cancer have to face is whether or not to take drug or other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. The amount of information and misinformation takes a lot of work to sort through and be able to make a conscious decision. It’s a daunting task for even the most seasoned researchers, and unfortunately many people get lost in the shuffle due to overwhelm and confusion.

People with cancer and their loved ones can research the internet, read books, and hear stories from others which may be helpful or not. Some people have good advice from doctors and they’re comfortable with what they hear so it’s easier to proceed. I’ve heard a number of people say they are not comfortable with their doctor’s recommendations, and would like to do things differently, but they’re afraid to make the wrong decision when their life is in the balance.

When coping with cancer in 1987, I took advantage of everything I was offered except one treatment that my gut instinct told me to refuse. Fortunately for me, when I asked my doctors, they told me the results would give me a 50/50 chance of improving my outcome so it wasn’t too big a risk. It can be much more difficult decision when people are given higher percentages on the benefits of a certain treatment.

There are always personal factors which enter in to the decisions people face with cancer treatment. I remember the fear I had when making decisions in case I chose something which would create side effects I couldn’t live with, or chose not to take something which was supposed to make me well. I didn’t want to do anything which would increase my risk of recurrence.

I will always be grateful to my health care team for guiding me and supporting me to make my own decisions. I believe that whatever treatment we take has to feel right for us as an individual.

For example, it’s common to feel some fear and concern when starting a course of chemotherapy. The important thing is to take a look at the risks and benefits and to work with your head and your heart to get to the point where you’re reasonably sure you’re making the right decision for you. This way you will get maximum benefit from the treatment.

If something is screaming at you to take another direction, then you need to pay attention and explore other options until you find something you can tolerate. The mind body connection will guide you to the right place if you allow it to take place.

My health care team encouraged me to use visualization and guided imagery to engage the mind-body connection; this helped me to make decisions, promote healing, and get my thoughts working for me rather than against me. These new ideas added to the steep learning curve of living with cancer; however, I’m convinced my recovery was a combination of Western medicine and complementary therapies which is now referred to as integrated medicine.

It’s not an easy task to overcome cancer. It takes energy and effort to pull in all the tools and skills we can gather so the decisions we make will help us on the road to recovery. People can tell us what they think, but we are our own best experts and the decisions we make are ours alone.

Optimism and Quality of Life

October 27, 2009

Positive thinking seems to be in the news a lot lately thanks to the new book by Barbara Ehrenreich called Bright Sided; I haven’t read this book, but I’ve read articles about it and heard the author interviewed on the radio. Although there were times after my diagnosis of cancer in 1986 when I had similar thoughts to the author, I’m happy to say that I’m long past that mode of thinking. I believe I would not have been cancer free for the last 22 years if I continued to think along those lines.

I agree with one of Ms. Ehrenreich’s statements which is that “artificial positive thinking” doesn’t work. In order to think positive, we need to let go of negative thinking and BE positive. I spent many years with depression and negative thinking, so it wasn’t easy for me to make that switch. After cancer I spent time with a psychiatrist, and did a course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help me change my unrealistic, destructive thoughts to those which are constructive and life giving. I will always be grateful to my support team for helping me to stick with it when the going got tough.

I know people who mean well when they say “Think positive” to someone facing a life threatening illness, but it’s unreasonable to expect people to smile when they’re feeling down. It doesn’t make sense to pretend that cancer and cancer treatment are positive experiences when we’re feeling miserable and facing an uncertain future; I had a huge range of negative thoughts and emotions when I was going through surgery and chemotherapy. I now know this is a normal reaction, but at the time I felt alone with my fears.

It’s important to recognize and respect the way people handle their individual journey and support them in the best way we can. When I faced my mortality I put myself in a pine box; it was the people around me who helped me to get out of it as I didn’t have the energy at the time. With help I learned to take one day at a time and with baby steps I gradually regained the strength I needed to turn my life around.

It helped me to live in the moment, to find something positive every day, no matter how small, to be able to look beyond cancer treatment, and see something to live for. My family and friends helped me a great deal as I learned to think about me and my purpose in life.

I know my life has improved as a result of the valuable work I’ve done to become more optimistic and resilient. Some people may choose to resist positive thinking but I’m happy that I changed; my quality of life is so much better.

Cancer prevention is a reality

October 7, 2009

The Go Public cancer forum in Ottawa had many high powered, interesting speakers; most of them talked about the prevention of cancer as well as cancer control.

I’ve attended many cancer conferences, and I’ve never heard so much talk about cancer prevention. The figures are amazing; in general they range from 30% to 50%, with someone saying that 95% of cancer is preventable.

Why are so many people dying if we know that cancer can be prevented? Cancer rates are rising not falling – if we continue as we are, then 1 in 2 males and 1 in 3 females will have cancer by 2050. Today most people know someone who has cancer and we are all affected by this; imagine what it will be like when the rates are so much higher. Our thinking has to change if we’re serious about preventing cancer and reducing cancer deaths by half in the next generation.

It’s amazing we haven’t figured this out yet with all the money that goes in to research, but I know the fact that we’re human beings is a big part of the problem. For example, we all know about the foods that are bad for us; but as Dr. Andrew Weil said on the Larry King show, people eat what’s cheap and accessible. It’s easy to expect the health care system to fix the problems we bring on ourselves by over eating bad chemicals in food, and being a nation of people who love the taste of fats, oils, salt and sugar.

Changing habits can be difficult if we’re not committed. I know – I faced my mortality in 1987 with breast, colon and skin cancer. I would be dead by now if I hadn’t made a commitment to get well, and worked hard at improving my diet, exercise, relaxation, and stress levels.

I think one key factor is that I had a coach to help me. I wanted to change, but I didn’t believe I could do it, and I know many people who struggle with the same issue. If people are serious about wanting to change, and they partner with a coach, either a professional or a friend, they can achieve so much more than they can achieve alone.

Preventing cancer involves making healthy choices for what we eat, how we exercise, how long we sleep, and how well we manage our stress levels. These are the main factors, but many other issues are involved. I believe it’s important to let go of what gets in the way of us living a healthy life; the past is over and cannot be undone. We can all start now – right here – right now and go forward to a healthy future where we love ourselves enough to take good care of the mind, body and spirit we were blessed with when we were born.

Take action now so that you and your loved ones will not be surprised with a diagnosis of cancer. Start from here to go forward and find your own way to build a healthy life. The time to act is now!