Why Everyone Needs a Cancer Scare…

Over the years I have had many patients with cancer or other life threatening illnesses come to see me for naturopathic support. What happens when people go through this process is fairly typical. They go through a whole range of feelings from shock and disbelief to fear, anxiety and depression.

One of my good friends and my sister in-law have both gone through the journey with cancer over the past couple of years, so I have witnessed first hand the highs and lows that go with this.  Both were young and otherwise perfectly healthy women, so it came as an even bigger shock. The thing that most people have in common though when diagnosed with cancer is that they are hugely motivated to make changes. They are committed and disciplined to improve their diet and lifestyle in any way they can that will improve their chances of beating the cancer or eliminating pain or degeneration. They have will power on tap and often have a fierce determination and a strong will to live. They sort out outstanding issues in their life, heal or improve their relationships and generally start living each day with much more gratitude and grace.  Most people that go through this journey also tell you that it was the best thing that ever happened to them. They end up being more present, happy and connected.

I had a little scare of my own recently.

As a practitioner, I of course, know too much sometimes.  When it comes to my own health and that of my family, it is all too easy to catastrophise.  You notice symptoms and in your mind, you run through all the possibilities that it might be. Part of your mind puts all the symptoms together and then goes straight to a diagnosis of some rare and serious condition, while another part reassures you that it is probably nothing.

Anyway, suffice to say I had a constellation of symptoms that together could add up to cancer. To make matters worse, I had a dream that I had this type of cancer a few months ago. Just out of the blue, so dreams like that tend to hang around in your mind.  So when a couple of symptoms appeared over recent weeks, I ended up going and getting a check-up. In the meantime, though I had tuned in and sat with my body and asked for some guidance about what these symptoms were here to tell me.  This is something that I often do as a guided process with patients when I do my mind-body counselling as it is a great way of unravelling the root cause and initiating self-healing.  I assessed the situation as though I already had a diagnosis of cancer.

What would I do differently?  What needed to change?

I do generally practice what I preach when it comes to healthy choices around food and nutrition. I eat healthy organic food and I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol, so I couldn’t really make much improvement there.  Though I did feel that I could benefit from being a bit more in tune with my food choices and practice mindfulness when eating.  But when I did an audit of other areas of my life, my inner guidance highlighted that I needed to make some changes and take more time out. I already have a morning routine of meditation and a yoga/qi gong sequence to start my day that I am very disciplined with.  I love my work, but I do have a tendency to work too hard and too many hours. I realised that I was not living an optimal work-life balance.  When I am not working at the clinic, my time is largely spent working and studying from home or spent with the kids and the domestic duties.  I don’t have enough time for me to do the things that I love to do and to simply slow down and relax. Working long hours also means that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Sleep is so essential for optimal health, and I knew that I wasn’t getting enough and like many modern folk, my adrenals were getting a bit worn out. I also realised that I wasn’t doing enough exercise. I had genuine excuses, like most people, mostly because I was too busy to fit it in. I am active around the little farm we live on and I am often playing or riding bikes with the kids, but a regular and consistent exercise routine was lacking.

So, I am happy to report that my tests came back normal and I can find a simple, less serious explanation for most of the symptoms. But while my cancer scare turned out to be unfounded, it left behind a strong message of getting serious about some things in my life.  I now have a firm resolve to spend my Fridays as what I call a “soul care day” doing yoga, getting massages or relaxing at the beach or in nature. I have resumed going for an early morning walk 5 days a week after my morning meditation/yoga practice.  I have also given myself a night-time curfew when I have to turn off the computer, having more relaxing baths and going to bed earlier and getting some extra sleep.  I have made myself up some herbs and am more regular with taking some supplements to support my nervous system and adrenals.

With all these simple but important changes, I know my mental, physical and emotional health will be better for it. It is much better to prevent getting cancer or some other serious illness by living your life with balance and making healthy choices. So consider what you need to change to improve your health for the better. If you had to live your life as though your life depended on it – what would you do differently? We all have an internal barometer that knows what we need to do to make our lives healthier – so lets start living like this instead of waiting for a crisis to initiate action! If you need support or guidance to make some changes to get a new healthier you into action, consider making a time to come in for a health checkup and assessment. I love to help my clients create a healthier routine in any area of their life that needs a bit more TLC.

Remember the old saying that has much wisdom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.