Our Blog Post today is from one of our WhatNexters, Kendall Scott, CHHC. Health Coach, Co-Founder of TheKickingKitchen.com and Coauthor of Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer
Hearing you have cancer will smack the smile off your face, force the wind from your sail and make that glass look more than half empty. That surreal and terrifying diagnosis is something we can’t truly comprehend the enormity of it until it actually happens to you.
We never think we’ll actually get cancer. We know so-and-so has it or had it. Or maybe a friend or family member is facing it. But that’s them. We know it’s probably out there lurking like a dark creature ready to sink its fangs into our seemingly healthy bodies. But still, it’ll never happen to me. And hopefully it won’t. But if it does, you’re in for the shock of your life.
So that’s the crappy, scary, maybe somewhat obvious side of a cancer diagnosis. Here’s another side. You do have control over your body, your health and your happiness when dealing with cancer. It isn’t just up to the cruel cancer gods or your treatment team of docs to determine your creepy cancer fate. Oh no – what you do can and will make a difference. It may be big. It may be fairly small. But you do have some control. Kind of sounds like an oxymoron, huh? Cancer and control?
Realizing this was pretty empowering for me. It helped me feel like I could truly face and cope with the cancer.
Here are six ways that you can take control of your health and happiness even with cancer. Honestly, these are the things that helped me get from one day to the next sometimes.
1) Clean up your diet. Well, of course I was going to say that! But, it’s so important! Many doctors don’t stress how powerful a plant-based, whole food diet can be when your body is fighting cancer –or at anytime. This is truly unfortunate because food makes a difference! Stop or slow down on the sugar, processed junk, dairy and high amounts of animal foods and start filling up on veggies, fruit, sea vegetables (seaweed), whole grains and plant proteins like beans, nuts and lentils. Cancer loves the junk, sugar and lots of animal food and hates plant-foods. Don’t maintain an environment where cancer can thrive. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you ate poorly for years, you caused your cancer. It certainly could be a contributing factor – and in some cases even a significant one - but it’s far more complicated than that. Still, what you put into your body is making you, so it makes sense to eat well. Plus, you just feel better, and it’s likely you will be better able to cope with harsh treatment like chemotherapy.
2) Acknowledge and accept your crappy situation. Yes, you were dealt a really bad card. No one can argue with that. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. Have your sad days. Hide under your covers. Cry. Scream. Throw things. Have a punching bag? Use it (or try your pillow). Don’t keep pushing those feelings back and try to pretend that everything is just peachy when it’s not.
3) Here’s the next part of #2. Make time in your day for happy, silly stuff and relish those moments. Non-cancer stuff. Even though it probably feels like it is your life – cancer is a full time job! – try to do other things that make you happy. If you need to, make a list of what really makes you happy and post it on your fridge in case you need a reminder. You may find the things that used to make you happy don’t anymore, and/or you may discover some new activities that make all the difference for you now. Find out what warms your heart, puts a smile on your face, or makes you giggle and go with it. I recommend skinny dipping and singing as loud as you can to your favorite songs (perhaps at the same time).
4) Ask for and accept help. Don’t try to be a hero. There’s no shame in having family or friends help you out. Believe me, they want to help! They want to feel like they’re making a difference for you. Just let them. It’ll give you more time to rest, recoup and be good to yourself. And you need that. Let them make you dinner, do your laundry, pick up your groceries, mow your lawn, watch the kids for an afternoon, or take out the trash.
5) Sleep, rest, relax AND get moving! Our bodies do their best healing and cancer-kicking when at rest. This is when the body works to repair itself. Don’t feel like you’re being lazy. Sleep in. Go to bed early if you’re tired. Take a nap. Your body needs this! On the other hand, including exercise will also go a long way in healing your body. Do what you feel capable of, but be sure to get some sort of movement into your day. Take a walk (even a short one), go for a hike, swim, do some yoga. It will help to release endorphins – which will make you happy! – and keep your strength up.
6) Soak up the sun and breathe in fresh air. Get outside and catch some rays. Not only can a beautiful sunny day do wonders for your mood, but you’ll also get your body to produce more vitamin D, which has been shown to help prevent and fight cancer. Even 30 minutes of sunshine and fresh air each day can be a big help in supporting health and happiness. While you’re outside, take some deep breaths to help yourself relax and nourish your lungs, blood and brain and with oxygen.
What makes you happy during the cancer stuff? Leave us a comment below and tell us.