In Part 1 of this series, we talked about how lasting wellness after cancer requires the healing of your internal terrain. Your goal is to nurture an internal environment which supports healthy cell function and doesn’t allow cancerous cells to flourish. It’s like enhancing the soil to assure a healthy, weed-free garden.
In its native state, your body is incredibly skilled at keeping itself balanced and healthy. It has a wealth of mechanisms for fighting off invading organisms and weeding out and destroying unhealthy cells, and it will perform these functions efficiently if you supply the nourishment it needs and keep its housekeeping systems in good condition.
As we’ve become a more convenience-oriented society, we’ve exposed our bodies to more and more substances they don’t recognize or know how to process well. A common example is highly processed food. Our digestive systems work hard to pick out meager nutrition from this pseudo-food, while our natural detoxification and immune systems work overtime keeping foreign substances in the food from damaging our organs. These undernourished, overworked body systems weaken over time, becoming less efficient at neutralizing and eliminating harmful compounds. Like the effect of a garbarge-workers’ strike on a city, these uncleared compounds toxify our internal terrain and make us susceptible to disease.
Standard cancer treatments – surgery, pharmaceuticals (including chemotherapy) and radiation – are also very hard on the internal terrain. The effort of clearing dead cells, breaking down and clearing drugs (once they’ve done their work) and rebuilding healthy tissue taxes organ systems and requires extraordinary supplies of nutrients, at a time when the very same treatments interfere with appetite and tolerance of certain foods. As a result, just about every survivor of standard cancer treatment is undernourished. No wonder so many suffer ongoing symptoms and struggle to recover energy and mental clarity.
Your body, however, is incredibly forgiving. Even after years of deterioration and disease, it will make heroic attempts to restore itself to working order if you’re diligent about providing for its basic needs. At the most fundamental level, these needs are:
· Balanced, whole-food, chemical- and hormone-free nutrition
· Adequate hydration
· Regular physical activity, to assure efficient housekeeping at the cellular level
· Adequate rest and relaxation
Therefore, the first stage back to wellness after cancer is seeing that your body’s basic needs are amply met, allowing it to repair and rebuild itself.
Sound too simple to be true? Consider this: major studies have shown exercise to improve survival after breast, colon and lung cancer by 33 to 50%.1 Nothing heroic is involved: this benefit was achieved simply by walking for 30 minutes five times per week. Exercise at that level costs nothing, has only helpful side effects and confers survival benefits at least as good any post-treatment drug. Why not have this survival advantage on your side?
The great news is that these are all factors you can control. Get ready to see symptoms fade and your energy return as you get back in charge of these wellness basics.
In part 3 of this series, we’ll build on this foundation to broaden your survivorship care plan.
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Wondering what specific steps you can take to prevent cancer recurrence?
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1 For example:Irwin ML et al, Physical activity and survival in postmenopausal women with breast cancer: results from the women’s health initiative, Cancer Prevention Research, 2011 Apr; 4(4): 522-9.
© 2014 Shani Fox, ND, LLC