Check Up

In his excellent book ‘Anti Cancer, a New Way of Life’, Dr David Servan-Schreiber writes about changes that we can all make in our daily lives that will improve our odds of surviving cancer or, better still, not getting it in the first place.

In clear language Dr David explains why he believes these simple lifestyle changes are important. I won’t go into all his research and reasons why. I mean that’s what the book is all about. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. But, in a nutshell, here is what Dr Servan-Schreiber recommends we all try to do:
1. Reduce exposure to carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals as much as possible.
2. Adopt a diet rich in plants and whole grains. Eat grass-fed, organic animal products and filter tap water.
3. Exercise and get out in the sunshine.
4. Release feelings of powerlessness by working on past traumas and repressed emotions.
5. Practise meditation.

So, how am I doing?

1. Exposure.

Gold stars:

  • I’m most of the way through Lily’s Product Replacement Programme (henceforth to be known as ‘LPRP’). This involves replacing all my beauty and hygiene products with un-toxic alternatives.
  • I’ve chucked out most of the plastic and Teflon stuff in my kitchen and replaced it with glass, stainless steel and bamboo.
  • I keep my flat ventilated by opening the windows and doors.
  • I’ve stopped eating tinned food, microwave dinners and anything else likely to be contaminated with BPA.
  • I’ve reduced dry-cleaning to the absolute minimum required. When I do dry clean the odd sparkly gown I take off the plastic wrapper and air it out on the balcony before putting it away in the cupboard.
  • I’ve started using Ecover cleaning products.
  • I don’t use any pesticides or insect killers in my flat or on my plants.

Room for improvement:

  • I’m still smoking
  • I spend half my life on the mobile phone and computer.

2. Diet.

Gold stars:

  • My cupboards are overflowing with packets of organic brown rice, lentils, beans and seeds.
  • I’ve given up dairy products apart from organic butter, which I have maybe once a month.
  • I eat organic meat, eggs and vegetables
  • I eat heaps of vegetables and fruit.
  • I don’t eat sweets, apart from organic dark chocolate.
  • I use a charcoal water filter.

Room for improvement:

  • I still drink too much tea and coffee. I’d like to up the green tea and reduce my caffeine intake.
  • I probably could cut down on meat.
  • I can’t resist the odd fry-up.

3. Activity.

Gold stars:

  • I take a morning walk.
  • I’ve started going to yoga once a week.
  • I wear leg weights around the house.

Room for improvement:

  • I really miss swimming but it’s just too damned cold.
  • I suppose I could join the g-y-m.

4. Emotional freedom.

Gold stars:

  • I practise Lily’s Stress Reduction Programme (‘LSRP’).
  • I see a psychotherapist once a week.
  • I go to a twelve-step group and talk about my life.
  • I keep in close contact with my friends and family.
  • I sing and jump around my living room.

Room for improvement:

  • I sometimes feel overwhelmed by fear of the cancer returning.
  • After my devastating experience with Nick I’m very distrustful of any possible romantic relationships.
  • I am overly insecure about money, or rather the lack of it.

5. Meditation.

Gold stars:

  • Ummmmmm.

Room for improvement:

  • Plenty.

I seem to have some sort of mental block about meditation. I will start off with the best intentions, go through the resistance barrier, get into the flow for a week or three days, feel great – and then stop doing it. Why?

This scattergun pattern is very common. I carried out a Random Lily Poll (RLP) of would-be meditators. Here are some of the things they said: “I don’t have enough discipline;” “I’m too lazy;” “I can’t find the time;” “I’m not spiritual enough,” or “I really should force myself to do it”. Are these self-punishing attitudes helpful or even accurate?

Let’s examine them. I don’t know about you but I’m not a lazy or ill-disciplined person – I work, I do the shopping, cook, get to my medical appointments on time and so on. Meditation only takes ten minutes – I spend more time than that gawping at facebook. Everyone is spiritual, just as we are all physical, intellectual and emotional. And how is forcing myself going to help me to be free?

So what’s really holding me back? The same thing that holds everyone back from all kinds of victories. Fear: fear of pain – I’m alive, therefore I have painful emotions tucked away; fear of the unknown – and the inside of my head is the great unknown; fear that I’m not doing it right or that I will fail.

What wellbeing tips have you picked up? Please share them with us.

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3 thoughts on “Check Up

  1. Frankly, I don't think there's any point doing any of the above if you're still smoking. But, anyway, if all those things worked, how would you explain that someone like Linda McCartney, who was the cleanest-living person ever, still got cancer and died of it?Unless one is smoking and/or constantly exposed to 'known' carcinogens, there is no real way to avoid it: it can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.I got a rare cancer 20 years ago – an ocular melanoma. Absolutely no way to stop it from happening.You can waste your life fearing something that will never happen and be struck down by something you never expected in a million years.Be well! 🙂

  2. Being so new to all this and frankly overwhelmed, I am of course interested in healthier eating, but what o me o my can I do while still on chemo. The nausea, stomach cramps, diarohhea ,.. i am finding it hard to eat anything.
    Any advise please????

    • Hi Helen. I’m sorry to hear what you are going through. Chemo is rubbish and nobody will tell you that it isn’t. Right now it is important to eat whatever you can to stay nourished. There will be plenty of time for getting onto a healthy diet once the chemo is over. Raw honey is soothing for the throat and ginger tea can help with nausea (slice some fresh ginger and simmer it in a pan of hot water for a couple of minutes then let it cool a bit before drinking). Can you manage to force down a smoothie made in your blender with some organic spinach, berries or soft fruit, almonds and apple juice or coconut water? This might be easier than eating solid food. There is a great book called ‘Anti-Cancer – a New Way of Life’ by Dr David Servan-Schreiber that gives really useful insight into how to eat well. I highly recommend this as a good read – once you are feeling up to it.

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