My article in the 5/12/10 Times Herald Record
If you have been given a diagnosis of cancer, what would it mean to take a holistic approach? A holistic approach is distinguished by acknowledging body, mind and spirit and by seeing each person as an integrated whole, not solely as their sick organ, their diagnosis or their statistics.
It means putting together a team composed of physicians, holistic professionals, friends or family — and you — to support you through this process and help make decisions about which you feel clear and comfortable. It is not an alternative to medical treatment but an essential component of your care.
“Let food be thy medicine,” Hippocrates said. Although you may be tempted to indulge in unhealthy comfort foods, remember that food is the fuel you give yourself to heal and repair. Please keep in mind that optimal nutrition should always be individualized, especially with illness.
Eat to support your odds. Cancer cells love sugar (that’s why PET scans use glucose to track them), so eliminate it. Reduce or eliminate processed foods and alcohol as well, as they are primarily metabolized as sugars.
Be a lousy host. Evidence suggests that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment, while we do not; we thrive in an alkaline environment, while cancer does not. So increase your alkalinity by eating more fruits and vegetables, fewer animal products and refined foods. Monitor progress by testing your first morning urine with inexpensive pH strips. Aim for 6.4-7.2.
Shift perspective. Instead of seeing your new approach as deprivation or punishment, reframe it: You are making a choice to support yourself in thriving in your life.
Use your “reset button” regularly. Getting caught up sometimes in negative feelings is understandable, but don’t stay there. That perpetuates a cycle of stress and immune suppression. You can shift what’s going on physically and emotionally in just moments by deep breathing, prayer, meditation, the affection of a person or a pet, looking at something you find beautiful, even by deeply inhaling a fragrance you love.
Laugh! Editor Norman Cousins wrote in “Anatomy of an Illness” how laughter relieved his pain. He would watch “I Love Lucy,” the Marx Brothers and others that made him laugh out loud. It’s not a new concept: the Old Testament says: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”
In dealing with cancer, we need to be compassionate warriors: unrelenting in our campaign for health, while always maintaining loving kindness toward ourselves.