A good friend and I were attending a Breast Cancer Awareness event a number of years ago. During the event she surprised me with a gift, a beautiful pink key heart necklace, which she’d purchased from one of the event vendors. I’ve held on to this piece and worn it many times since it was given to me, as memento to our friendship and reminder that no one is immune to the scourge of cancer, regardless of age, race, health, or social status.
I consider myself a bit of a workaholic, so I made a point of booking this past weekend off and arranging a night out with friends. As tempting as making money can be, it’s definitely not the be all and end all of life. I was glad to have a fun night on the town with a few of the many people I care about, and when I came home the following morning I was blessed to enjoy the remainder of the weekend with my son. Let’s face it; it’s only a matter of time before I’m no longer the coolest person in his life, so I want to enjoy all the precious moments while I can.
Anyway, so there I was on Saturday night, relaxing in my hotel room enjoying a cocktail, when I received a text from the same friend who gifted me the pink key heart necklace (which I happen to be wearing today) asking if I was free to chat? We are both very busy women and with life constantly getting in the way, sometimes we go for months without communicating, so I was super-excited to hear from her. Seeing as I had arrived early and the majority of my party was still on route to the hotel, the timing seemed perfect for a long-overdue catch up. I thought perhaps I could even convince her and her husband to join me for a care-free night out. I dialed her immediately and asked “what was going on?” She informed me that “she is well now”, but that she had undergone breast cancer treatment since the last time we saw each other, just a few short months ago. This news caught me completely off guard. As she described her ordeal, all I kept thinking was “How is it possible? She is the epitome of health, exercises daily and has done so for many years. She eats clean all the time and doesn’t have any bad habits that I’m aware of”. I have seen many people battle this ugly disease, including my own father who passed away from it just last year at age 69, but this is the first time I have witnessed someone close to my age, who lives a healthy lifestyle, go through cancer. It caused me to question my own mortality, but it also caused me to reconsider how I’m living my life and what I should be doing differently today and every day to make the best of what I have.
I train a number of nurses, each of who see death on regular basis, and their consensus seems to be that too many people get caught up in working their lives away or ignoring their health by making poor lifestyle choices. Unfortunately most of these people don’t wake up and realize they’ve missed out on a longer and better quality of life until they are on hospital bed and it’s too late. I don’t want to be one of these people. There are numerous things in life that we can’t control, but after speaking to my friend, I think it’s time I re-evaluated my personal choices and begin focusing on the things that I can control.
Now not to sound alarmist, but statistically speaking, one in three individuals will be touched by cancer at some point in their lives, so it would be remiss of me to assume that I’m impervious to it. I’m aware that cancer talk is a very sensitive subject and some cancer sufferers may not appreciate a healthy person having an opinion on the subject, or espousing preventative suggestions about it, but I’m not the type to sit on my hands until it’s too late. I will always be proactive with regards to my health and encourage the same in others whenever possible. Now I’m not going to say “stay healthy and you’ll never get sick”, because this simply isn’t the case, however, being in great health lessens the incidents and severity of illnesses and aides in recovery whilst decreasing recovery time. These are the benefits of a strong immune system and healthy constitution. Pregnant women who live a healthy lifestyle routinely attest to fast recovery following childbirth. Like other illnesses no one is guaranteed immunity, but being proactive about preventative care can significantly improve quality of life, lessen recovery time, and minimize physical and emotional pain in the event that the worst should happen.
Here are few ideas that I came up with for myself:
I will never take my health for granted!
Even though I am fairly young (42), healthy, and fit, illnesses like cancer do not discriminate. Healthy lifestyle habits are not a guarantee that I will always remain healthy. In the event I am diagnosed with cancer, a healthy starting point will make treatment and recovery far easier than it would be for an unhealthy person. I am in charge of what I put into my body and can make careful choices when deciding what to eat. I will continue to work-out on consistent basis. I need to do everything reasonable to maintain good health, because without my health I have nothing. At the very least, a healthy lifestyle will go a long way toward preventing heart disease and diabetes which are now also afflicting millions of people.
I’ve made the decision to continue to be a positive person!
I truly believe that life is what you make it. I’ve learned that negative people tend to find problems for every solution and that misery loves company. Yes, some days it’s hard to stay upbeat, but keeping a positive outlook and living with gratitude for the things I have is proven to decrease depression, increase life span, increase psychological and physical well-being and lead to stronger coping skills during times of stress and hardship. Instead of focusing on what’s not working, I focus on what is, and simply make the best of things.
Plan things to look forward to and make the most of every moment!
All we ever have is right now. This is why I will continue to take pictures of all the things going on in my life despite being teased to death about it, and make time to do things that I love and simply enjoy the moment rather than worrying about my never ending list of things to do, what was, or what might happen in the future. I’m going to continue filling my calendar with fun things to enjoy with my loved ones so I always have something to look forward to.
I will consume foods that boost my immune system!
A few examples of cancer fighting foods include asparagus, Brussel’s sprouts, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, onions, garlic, nuts, cinnamon, turmeric, raw fruits and vegetables.
I will avoid consuming foods that weaken my immune system!
Examples are Sugar and foods high in sugar, processed carbohydrates (in fact processed foods of any kind), and excessive alcohol (because I still enjoy a glass of wine on the weekends), salt other than coarse sea salt or Himalayan sea salt, and animal protein sources (especially red meat) that is raised with the use of hormones and growth-promoters.
I will lower my carbohydrate intake!
Studies show that lifespan and carb intake are directly related. Research indicates that lowering carb intake by 30% increases lifespan by 30%. Save money and live longer: win/win.
I will continue to exercise regularly!
If exercise could be packed in a pill form, it would be the most effective cure for all illnesses and depression. Exercise boosts immunity and creates an environment in the body that discourages the growth and spread of harmful bacteria and pathogens, including cancer stem cells. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins; feel-good chemicals that promote an “everything is awesome” feeling.
These are just few of the basic lifestyle choices I’ve already adopted to promote my own health and longevity. There is a wealth of invaluable information available on this subject today so I’d encourage doing some digging, then APPLY WHAT YOU LEARN!.
My friend assured me that she is in the clear for now. Obviously I was incredibly relieved to hear this. Part of me truly believes that the reason she is in the clear is directly linked to her healthy lifestyle choices up until this point. Her experience is a reminder to me, and to us all, not to take health for granted and to be grateful for every healthy moment.