A Stanford University health newsletter estimated that lifestyle issues such as poor diet, lack of exercise and unwise health habits accounted for 61 percent of premature deaths due to cancer. They estimated medical treatments themselves were contributing to 10 percent of cancer deaths.
The Breast Cancer Support Project believes these estimates are low. The vitamin D evidence is overwhelming. (See The Vitamin D Promise) It shows nearly 8 of 10 breast cancers can now be prevented. All this is good news. It means there is little question that you can influence both the onset of breast cancer and the progression of the disease.
Your lifestyle choices are critical in the breast cancer survival journey. These are under your control, a matter of intention, an issue of choice. Clearly, there is much you can do to help yourself get well and stay well. Let’s examine how literally millions of women have helped in their own healing.
Make wellness your way of life. It’s a stance one chooses in order to maximize one’s health—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Wellness recognizes the fact that everything one thinks, says, does feels and believes has an impact on your health and your life. Wellness can be chosen at any moment, in any circumstance. Wellness is possible even though you are diagnosed with breast cancer, even with metastatic disease.
Breast cancer survivorship is a combination of head and heart. Conquering demands that you reach beyond the physical issues of illness. Your mental, emotional, and spiritual health has a powerful effect on your well-being.
Isabelle was a 38-year-old attorney in Paris. A busy mother of three, she was now pregnant with her fourth child. The lump she felt in her left breast seemed to be consistent with her previous pregnancies. Her pediatrician felt otherwise. She ordered a biopsy and the results confirmed breast cancer.
“I went through the treatments exactly as recommended, said Isabelle. “But I knew the real problem. I wasn’t taking care of myself.” With all the demands of work and family, there was no time for self-care. Like so many survivors, Isabelle considered cancer her wake-up call. “I clearly needed to change.”
Similar sentiments are expressed by thousands of survivors. They see illness as a message to make life changes. Isabelle’s first move was to change her work schedule. She determined she would work only four days a week leaving Wednesdays free. She arranged for at-home child care rather than a making a mad rush to the nursery school each morning. And on those days when she did work, Isabelle began to take a longer lunch hour so that she could go home to be with her children. “Changing my work and life balance was the reason I began to heal,” she reflected. “Breast cancer put me on notice that I needed to live my life differently.”
Living well, intentional choice, exercising the decision to take personal responsibility for one’s total well-being—this is common talk among breast cancer survivors. It’s wholeperson wellness, a triumphant way of living. I want this so much for you.
Although wellness may be obscured by illness, it is a matter of personal choice whether wellness will be destroyed by illness. I am encouraging you to discover high-level wellness in the very midst of life-threatening illness. Wellness is not about the condition of being “cured.” It is about our awareness that every moment is a gift which we can savor.
The decision to “live well” is significant and profound. Never again will your well-being be a static state measured simply by the lack of disease. Instead, wellness becomes your new way of living.
A Call to Action:
Begin the wellness quest. Open your mind and spirit to whole-person wellness. Take one step today to improve your greater well-being such as, “I am going to take a walk!” Now, please act on that idea. Do what is clearly doable today, this hour. Decide to live your life at a new and higher level of wellness even with a diagnosis of breast cancer.