Posts Tagged ‘Medicine’

Cancer prevention

May 22, 2010

If 5 to 15% of cancers are genetic, that leaves 85% or more cancers which are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors. If we want to prevent cancer, our best bet is to focus on being healthy instead of focusing on the fear of getting cancer.

Our bodies are assaulted every day by foreign chemicals in food, water, and air. We also make bad chemicals inside our bodies when we have negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, worry, and negative stress. Our job is to provide a balance so our bodies can function properly and recover from these assaults.

If we want to prevent cancer or any other condition such as diabetes or heart disease, we need to focus on doing what it takes to be well. If we are in our best possible state of wellness, these diseases will be kept under control and we can live in good health for the most part.

I took my health for granted before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 and colon and skin cancer in 1987. I figured that I was too young to get cancer, and I would pay more attention to my health as I got older.

I’ve learned that the effort to be well is less than the effort required to be ill. Since I’m a bit lazy it suits me fine now to put my effort, time, and money into wellness rather than illness.

Most people know what it takes to be well – the trick is to want to do it enough to make some simple lifestyle choices. There are 4 areas which form the basic pillars of wellness: healthy eating, regular activity, adequate sleep & deep relaxation, and good stress management. Any one can choose to improve their wellness if they make it a priority.

Making healthy lifestyle choices is simple and with a coach it can also be easy. Support systems make the difference between success and the need to try again. Coaches can be friends, family or professional wellness coaches.

I learned much from having cancer and I want to share what I’ve learned with people who want to improve their wellness. My coaching business is called Start Here and Go Forward because I think it’s important to focus on where you’re at right now and where you want to go. If you want to Start Here and Go Forward to wellness, I will be your partner in health.

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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!

Life threatening drug combination

February 10, 2010

Paxil halts breast-cancer drug benefits –this was a headline in the Globe and Mail newspaper on Tuesday February 9 2010; the article written by Andre Picard. The breast cancer drug referred to is Tamoxifen and you can read the article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/paxil-halts-breast-cancer-drug-benefits/article1460667/

“David Juurlink, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and co-author of the study” says: oncologists have known, anecdotally, that this combination of drugs was problematic but the new research clarifies the extent of the problem.

The combination of the antidepressant and tamoxifen is ‘potentially life-threatening’. I wonder why we continue to have drugs prescribed for us that are life threatening. No doubt there are a number of reasons, one of which is the intense pressure from pharmaceutical companies to drum up business regardless of whether or not people are better off. Another is the reluctance of the medical system to use anecdotal information until there is evidence based research. I believe in the wisdom of paying attention to anecdotal evidence, and I believe we should err on the side of caution. If there is anecdotal evidence which shows that a drug combination raises the death rate, then we should halt that process until it’s proven. It’s the opposite of being innocent until proven guilty, but I think it’s a question of safety.

“Depression is … common among cancer patients. The new research shows that almost one-third of women taking tamoxifen for treatment of breast cancer were also taking an antidepressant.”

Severe depression was part of my life for many years, and I had breast cancer in 1986. The anecdotal evidence I have seen since then tells me there is a link between depression and cancer. My surgeon referred me to a therapist while I was going through chemotherapy. I refused to take antidepressants and took a course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) instead; with much help I turned my life around.

CBT is a cheap, drug free intervention which I believe is largely responsible for saving my life. It took a lot of time and energy to change my thoughts, but it takes a lot of energy to be depressed and depression was robbing me of a decent life. Isn’t it better to help people get well than to prescribe drugs which are life threatening?

I have to question this statement by Dr. Juurlink: “He said women taking this combination of tamoxifen and Paxil should consult a physician. ‘They should not discontinue either drug on their own”. I agree that people should consult a physician – no question. However, the way this statement is phrased implies that people cannot be responsible for their own decisions. I believe that people need to be enabled to take responsibility for their health and physicians are the best people to help us do this.

I see individual responsibility for our health from this day forward as a requirement for the well-being of people in general, and also for the preservation of our health care system. This does not include the need to blame anyone for the state of their health; blame serves no one. It’s impossible to roll back the clock and undo my diagnosis of breast cancer. What I learned was to accept my diagnosis and to move forward, to work towards achieving the best possible state of wellness that I could. I’ve been cancer free for 23 years.

I urge every one to start today and go forward to take good care of your own health and be as well as you can possibly be.

Soy foods for breast cancer survivors

December 9, 2009

Many breast cancer survivors wonder about the connection between breast cancer and soy products, and whether soy is safe to eat once we have a diagnosis.

Soy is in many of the foods we eat whether we like it or not, and the quantity of soy consumed is an issue in itself. Another issue is the fact that soy is genetically modified.

So the jury is still out, but this article from the Globe and Mail provides you with Leslie Beck’s Food For Thought:

Breast cancer survivors shouldn’t shun soy foods

In the past several years, soy foods have been showing up regularly on grocery store shelves. And it’s not just tofu. Packages of soy nuts, burgers, drinks, cereals, yogurt and desserts as well as edamame have become mainstream grocery items.

At the same time, there’s been controversy about the use of soy, especially for breast cancer survivors. The concern is that isoflavones, compounds that occur naturally in soy, could increase the risk of the cancer returning.

But according to a study published in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, enjoying a soy latte or soy burger causes no harm – and can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Foods made from soy beans are high in protein and contain isoflavones, phytochemicals that compete for the same place on breast cells that estrogen does. By acting like weak forms of the body’s own estrogen, some experts have worried that soy isoflavones could possibly promote cancer growth.

That’s because certain risk factors for breast cancer, such as beginning your menstrual period before age 12 or starting menopause after 55, are related to the length of time breast cells are exposed to the body’s own circulating estrogen. It’s thought that estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

Women taking tamoxifen, a drug used to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, are often advised to avoid soy foods because soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors on breast cells just like the medication does. The fear is that soy may reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen. (Tamoxifen works by blocking estrogen in the body from attaching to estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells, slowing the growth of tumours and killing tumour cells.)

In the new study, the largest conducted to date on breast cancer survival, researchers examined the safety of soy food consumption among 5,042 breast cancer survivors, aged 20 to 75, in China. Women were recruited into the research effort – known as the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study – six months after breast cancer diagnosis

After four years, women with the highest soy consumption – measured as soy protein intake – had a 29 per cent lower risk of death and were 32 per cent less likely to have breast cancer recur compared with women with the lowest intake.

The protective effect of soy was observed for women with either early or late stage breast cancer and in women with estrogen-receptor (ER) positive and ER negative breast cancer. (Doctors test breast cancer cells to determine whether they have hormone receptors. If breast cancer cells have estrogen receptors, the cancer is said to be ER positive. If they do not, it is called ER-negative.)

Soy food consumption was associated with improved survival regardless of tamoxifen use. Among women who consumed the most soy, both users and non users were 35 per cent less likely to have breast cancer recur.

Women who consumed the most soy and did not take tamoxifen had a lower risk of cancer recurrence and death than tamoxifen users with low soy intakes. This suggests that high soy intake and tamoxifen use may have a comparable effect on breast cancer survival.

A daily intake of 11 grams of soy protein offered the most benefit, an amount found in about 11/2 cups of soy beverage, one soy burger, 1/2 cup of edamame (young green soy beans) or 1/2 cup of tofu. Higher intakes did not offer greater protection.

Only one previous study has explored soy intake and the risk of breast cancer recurrence. The Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study, published in November, followed 1,954 northern California early stage breast cancer survivors for six years and found that postmenopausal women with a high soy isoflavone intake – compared with none – had a lower risk of their cancer returning.

Findings from the LACE study also revealed that among postmenopausal women treated with tamoxifen, those who consumed the most soy were 60 per cent less likely to have their breast cancer recur compared with women with the lowest intakes.

Soy foods may protect from breast cancer in a number of ways. Isoflavones may decrease circulating estrogen levels and increase its removal from the body. Soy also contains folate, calcium, fibre, protein and many phytochemicals that, individually or together, may help combat cancer.

While it appears that moderate soy consumption is probably safe for breast cancer patients and survivors, keep in mind these findings are confined to soy foods, not soy supplements.

In fact, research suggests the effects of soy foods and supplements differ. In one study, soy milk reduced circulating estrogen levels but isoflavone supplements had no effect. And we don’t have data on the long-term safety of these supplements.

In addition to adding soy to your diet, the following strategies may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Soy protein in foods The study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 11 grams of soy protein per day reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death. Higher intakes did not confer extra protection. Soy beans, canned, ½ cup 14 grams Edamame, ½ cup 11 grams Soy nuts, roasted, unsalted, ¼ cup 11 grams Soy beverage, unflavoured, 1 cup 8 -9 grams Soy yogurt, 1 cup 5 grams Soy nut butter, 2 tbsp. 7 grams Tofu, firm, ½ cup (125 g) 20 grams Tofu, regular, ½ cup (125 g) 10 grams Soy ground round, 1/3 cup 10 grams Soy burger, 1 patty (14 g) 14 grams Soy hot dog, 1 (46 g) 10 grams Soy frozen dessert, ¾ cup 1 grams

Eat more vegetables and fruit

Strive for at least seven servings a day. Studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower) and leafy greens are especially protective from breast cancer.

Reduce fat

Research suggests it’s prudent to reduce your intake of dietary fat, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with ER-negative breast cancer. Choose lean meats, poultry breast, legumes and non-fat dairy products. Use high-fat spreads and salad dressings sparingly.

Control your weight

Breast cancer survivors who are overweight or obese are more likely to have cancer recur compared with leaner survivors. Women are advised to keep their body mass index (BMI) in the range of 21 to 23 and limit weight gain and increases in waist circumference.

Be active

Moderate to vigorous exercise has been shown to improve breast cancer survival; the evidence is strongest for women with ER-positive tumours and those diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Regular exercise helps reduce breast cancer recurrence by preventing weight gain and reducing levels of circulating hormones.

Breast cancer survivors are advised to get at least 150 minutes (21/2 hours) a week of moderate intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise (running, elliptical trainer, cardio machines).

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian at the Medcan Clinic, is on CTV’s Canada AM every Wednesday. Her website is lesliebeck.com.

New guidelines for breast cancer detection

November 19, 2009

The new mammography guidelines are shocking because they cloud the issue of breast cancer, and move us backwards rather than forwards to a cure.
If we want to discover breast cancer early, we need to practice early detection.
If we follow the new guidelines, more women under 50 will have advanced breast cancer before it’s treated.
It seems the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has a mission to increase the incidence of breast cancer in young women where the impact on women and their families is greater, and more expensive treatments are required after diagnosis.
It seems to me like a plot to ramp up big business, and to create more money for companies with an interest in chemotherapy drugs, cancer treatments, etc.
You can read more about the guidelines at: http://breastcancer.about.com/b/2009/11/16/mammo-guidelines.htm?nl=1
In light of the new recommendations, we need a grass roots movement to protect ourselves from the curse of cancer. Here is a good article with advice on what individuals can do to prevent breast cancer:
Integrative Medicine Approaches to Reducing Breast Cancer Risk
-Practice monthly self-breast exams.
-Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, preferably raw
-Limit your intake of animal fats, particularly red meat.
-Eat lots of fiber
-Avoid drinking two or more glasses of alcohol per day
-Increase your intake of superfoods high in antioxidants, such as kale, beets, carrots, beans, collard greens, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. If you’re not good about eating your veggies, try Sun Chlorella.
-Drink green juice. It’s a great way to alkalinize your body, and cancer likes acid, not alkalinity.
-Avoid dairy or use organic butter, cheese, and milk, as they are less likely to be contaminated with human growth hormone or estrogen, which is sometimes used to stimulate milk production in cows.
-Use extra-virgin olive oil, raw flaxseed oil, and cod liver oil.
-Expose yourself to the sun. High levels of Vitamin D help fight cancer.
-Exercise. It helps detoxify the body and decreases the amount of estrogen that reaches the breasts. Women who exercise regularly have a 30% lower risk of breast cancer.
-Apply loving energy to your breasts with daily massage. Massage your breast tissue and the area under your arms while you’re soaping yourself in the shower. Close your eyes and visualize healthy breast tissue. Release all fear of breast cancer through a release valve at your root chakra. Dump the toxic energy of fear into the earth’s core and allow the golden light and radiant healing of the Universe to enter through the top of your head. Close your eyes and imagine healing energy extending from your heart, through your arms, to your hands.
-Talk to your doctor about when you should begin mammography and/or breast thermography.
-Be aware of your family history. If you have a first degree family member who was diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, consider talking to a genetic counselor.
-Limit alcohol intake, and if you do drink alcohol, make sure you’re getting enough folic acid in your diet. If not, take a supplement that includes folic acid.
-If you are at higher risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about supplements you can use to reduce your risk.
You can find the whole article at: http://www.owningpink.com/2009/11/17/owning-our-boobs-thoughts-on-the-new-mammography-recommendations/
Women need to unite and fight back against the new guidelines.
We need to stand up for ourselves, and protect our health so we stay well rather than raise our risk of getting cancer.
Cancer is a despicable disease – my breast cancer advanced to Stage II because I hadn’t done screening mammography or Breast Self Examination (BSE). My doctor was doing cursory Clinical Breast Exams on a yearly basis, but breast cancer can grow rapidly, between visits, in young women. Women who are taught how to do proper BSE on a monthly basis do not increase the number of false positives.
Breast Self Examination helps women to take charge of their health.
This website will show you how to do BSE: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_How_to_perform_a_breast_self_exam_5.asp?sitearea=
I used to do mammography, so I support annual mammograms and I think it is good advice to do BSE consistently and well:
Keep a journal of what you find – each month, when you do BSE, draw a picture of your breasts and date it. Draw in any lumps, ridges, thickening, skin changes, etc. Measure areas you want to watch and record the size; you can equate the size to a grain of rice, pea, grape, walnut, etc. In this way you have a record which you can show your doctor. It will increase your confidence if you practice BSE properly. If you have a controlled record of what you find, there is less chance of worry over lumps that are not changing. New changes and visible changes such as dimpling and thickened skin should be reported immediately.

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.

Genes vs. environment

October 26, 2009

Here are some excerpts from an article about nature vs. nurture written by Andre Picard in the Globe and Mail today:
“Your genes do not – except in rare cases – condemn you to heart disease, or protect you from its ravages.
Rather, the environment you live in, your lifestyle choices and the treatments you take can override genetic predispositions, one of the country’s top researchers says.
‘Environment often trumps genetics,’ Robert Hegele, director of the cardiovascular genetics laboratory at the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ont., said yesterday.
……He said about 5 per cent of people are ‘exquisitely susceptible’ to heart disease because they have a genetic mutation.
At the other end of the scale are people who do seemingly everything wrong – smoke, drink, eat badly, remain inactive – and live well into their 90s in seeming good health. He pointed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill as a poster boy for this group.
However, Dr. Hegele said, the other 90 per cent of the population ‘fall somewhere else on the bell curve’ and they have a lot more control over their heart health than they realize.
…… ‘While genetic testing is increasingly providing valuable information, clinicians and patients themselves already have the tools to act,’ he said. ‘No matter what all the high-tech stuff reveals, the answers are still simple for most people.
Those simple things include classic lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Not-quite-so-simple matters like a person’s income, education, housing status and physical environment matter too,’ Dr. Hegele said.”
In other words, if your ancestors all died of heart disease, it could be the gene that was transferred down the line, but the disease could also have been caused by the lifestyle choices and attitudes that were learned from parents and other family members.
I think it’s important to take a look at the choices we’re making so we’re not just doing things because they’ve always been that way. These choices form our environment to a certain extent for good or bad and it takes awareness to change them if they need improvement.
Listen to your gut when making decisions as the issues are complex and you have to do what’s right for you.

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!