By Marina Silverio, RHN
Fear! Death! Shock! “What will happen to me now? I’ve got this thing inside me that will kill me.” Those are the thoughts most people associate with a cancer diagnosis. Those are the feelings that make a cancer diagnosis hard to deal with. Knowledge and literacy are key to making this disease easier to manage because fear is often derived from the unknown.
If your mind has accurate information, then it will not magnify and imagine things that create unfounded fear. Like many things in life, getting to that place of confidence and comfort takes work; dealing with a cancer diagnosis is not easy; there is a lot of stigma attached to cancer which contributes to the challenge of coping. One key and elusive concept is “learning to trust life.”
It’s important to understand that the emotions we feel cause chemical changes that occur in our body and impact our health for better or for worse. Our immune system destroys cancer cells all the time without us even knowing; stress and anxiety are known to suppress immunity. When one has cancer, or any disease for that matter, it’s critical to support the immune system.
Just as much as negative feelings that are suppressed can cause harm, positive feelings can be restorative and healing. Positive feelings have been associated with the release of endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin – all of which can have a very positive and beneficial impact on our health:
Endorphins help with reduced pain and stress and enhanced immune response. Exercise releases endorphins.
Serotonin is known to stimulate feelings of relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep, which is very restorative and healing.
Oxytocin can help reduce stress and anxiety. Stress has been directly linked with cancer because it causes hormonal changes. Oxytocin is the love hormone and it is stimulated through loving touch, hugging, or petting animals.
Every disease can be linked to a physiological imbalance that needs to be addressed; also every disease can be linked to unresolved psychological issues. This is referred to as the psycho-spiritual connection, and it is a crucial part of the equation in the healing process.
For those diagnosed with cancer and experiencing anxiety, and don’t know where to begin or how to deal with their situation, it’s essential to get the help you need. Look to connect with people who can help educate you on nutrition, mind and body healing and lifestyle changes.
Try to stay present in the moment and you will realize that for the most part you are fine at this very moment. Cancer does not mean it’s a death sentence, but it is the fear of death that takes away our freedom to enjoy life.
The fact is no one leaves this earth alive and we can make the choice to spend our time focusing and fearing this inevitable event that has not, and may not happen for a long time, and let the moments of our precious life pass us by, or we can live in the moment which is all any of us have. Trust life and feel safe in its embrace; it will unfold exactly as it’s meant to unfold for you.
Surrender to it; this is not to say that you have to give up and not take action towards a healthier and happier life; it’s a fundamental part of life to learn, grow and improve, but do it while being present and experience the process of life; surrender means to follow your true path, give up on expectations, and replace them with hope.
Don’t give away your power to others; take charge of your own health. Take your power back by knowing what steps you can take to help you heal physically, emotionally and spiritually. Below are a few steps that will help you.
- Increase oxygen in your body by taking walks in nature, exercising, and taking deep breaths; not only will this help reduce stress, but also cancer cells are partially anaerobic and cannot thrive in the presence of oxygen;
- Make time to do something fun, find a hobby you enjoy, spend time with friends and family and don’t allow the focus to be on the disease all the time.
- Eat organic to reduce the toxic load on your body especially your liver it works hard trying to filter all the toxins in our body to keep us healthy.
- Cruciferous vegetables contain a phytochemical called Indole-3-carbinol which have been found to inhibit the development of cancer. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, collards, kale are some examples.
- Foods like apples, pears, oranges, and grapefruits have a phytochemical called Calcium D-Glucarate that helps to remove cancer-causing toxins and harmful hormones from the body.
- Avoid sugar because cancer thrives on sugar; instead have raw honey, which helps to boost the immune system.
- Include fermented foods in your diet; the probiotics in fermented foods help to support and maintain a healthy immune system. Examples include kefir, yogurt, miso, tamari, tempeh, cheese, sourdough and kimchi.
Marina Silverio is a registered holistic nutritionist and member of the Canadian Association of Holistic Nutrition. She has a private practice in Toronto. She can be reached at nutrition@marinaRHN.ca