When I was a little girl, I tried to do things to please my parents, my teachers, even my siblings. In class I remember my 2nd grade teacher asking us to put everything away in our desks and sit quietly. I would sit up so straight, you would have thought there was a yardstick glued to my spine. It was important to me to be the best student by being very quiet and listening. When she made eye contact with me, her smile was the affirmation that I was looking for.
Good patients are the ones who are quiet and listen in the doctor’s office. Good patients are attentive to what the doctor says and follow through with the “doctor’s orders.” They are quick to go along with what the doctors say, they don’t challenge much, and they don’t ask too many questions. I think most people want to be “good patients”, and, thus, they put all of their of faith in the doctor’s knowledge and expertise… but what happens if the doctor isn’t right?
Today I was flipping through my notebook from November 2016, the month that I was diagnosed and this is what I had written down from one of my appointments with my oncologist:
NO DIET RESTRICTIONS
Did you see that? I’ll be the first to admit that when the doctor said this, it was a big relief. because it was just the permission I was looking for to continue to eat and drink the things that I enjoyed… in moderation of course.
What I didn’t know was that physicians get very little training on nutrition, so when it comes to deciding what to eat and what not to eat, it may be better to seek out the advice of a dietician, a functional medicine doctor, or a nutritional oncologist.
“Well, there isn’t any clinical data that supports eliminating processed sugar, so just eat a healthy balanced diet.”
Unfortunately, I heard this from more than just one doctor along my journey. Deep down I knew this probably wasn’t accurate because I remember asking the same question about nutrition to all of them, but they all gave me the same vague answer. People’s interpretation of a “healthy diet” is all over the board. Instead, I wish that I had heard about the dietary restrictions that I now know of (or at least had been told to research it on my own) because I was willing to change; I just needed to hear it from a doctor. But because I was led to believe that it didn’t make a difference, I didn’t change much of what I was doing for a really long time. It wasn’t until there weren’t any other options that I started to research healing the body naturally.
There was an enormous shift for me personally when I received the results from my June 2018 PET scan. I had been off of treatment for 9 months and up to that point all the scans had shown “stable” disease. When we saw that two of the tumors were measuring half the size compared to 3 months prior, it finally confirmed that what I was doing nutritionally was definitely making a difference. You can read my blog post about it here: https://mydoublehitlymphomajourney.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/a-turning-point/
Dr. Kelly A. Turner launches into Chapter 2 (the second Key Factor to Radical Remission survivors from her book “Radical Remission”) with “Taking Control of Your Health.” She shares an interesting explanation of the word “patient” which comes from the Latin word “pati” which means “to suffer” and “to allow” or “to submit”. As patients, are we expected to “to submit” without questioning? How many of you subconsciously feel intimidated in a doctor’s office and sometimes are afraid to question what you’re being told?
Yes, me too. Or at least I was like that.
NOT BEING PASSIVE
I am challenging you to be bold when you go to the doctor and think critically. Doctors are wonderful and we are so lucky to live in a country where we have amazingly smart and talented people to treat us; however, you would be much better served if you consider your doctor as your partner in your healing journey who is sitting in the passenger seat. Ultimately, you’re the one behind the wheel.
BE WILLING TO CHANGE
When you start evaluating your life (which people diagnosed with cancer tend to do), be willing to recognize the things you have to change and change them. That may mean changing your diet, reducing stress triggers, changing lifestyle habits, or saying “NO” to things or people.
DEALING WITH RESISTANCE
Making lifestyle or dietary changes are hard enough, and it is likely that you will have to deal with resistance to those changes from people around you. You may even have people telling you that you’re not going to get better, but staying in the positive mindset is really important. I spend a lot of my day reading or listening to things that keep me “in the zone”. Even though I know a lot about healing and nutrition at this point, I still feed on it because it inspires me to “keep on keepin’ on”, if you know what I mean. It’s like watching exercise infomercials for inspiration! You aren’t going to lose weight from watching it, but it might just inspire you to go for a walk!
RESEARCH ON TAKING CONTROL
Dr. Turner talks about Type C personalities which are basically “people-pleasers” and how these personality types have a higher propensity for getting cancer due to weakened immune systems. I was definitely a “people-pleaser” for a very long time and changing that is something that takes work, but it can be done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to become a nasty person, but rather that you stand up for yourself and what is important to you.
So, how do you begin to take control?
Good question. These action steps from Radical Remission can get you started, and I have inserted my own thoughts under each.
- Find a general practitioner who doesn’t get annoyed when you ask questions or bring your own research. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, I can’t stress enough how important it is to GET A SECOND OPINION!!!! Just do it. When my disease transformed from non-aggressive to extremely rare and aggressive, I was so thankful that I was already an existing patient at another facility (one that had more specialists). Had I not done that, I would have been scrambling to get in to see another oncologist and making new patient appointments can take weeks. Thank you, Wei-Li Shao, my dear friend who gave me that very important advice.
- Learn how to research. The
internet has so much information. There really is no excuse not to be
educated on your ailment. I “Google” everything nowadays, and
you’d be amazed at what you’ll learn. Here are some very
good resources that I recommend:
- www.pubmed.gov which is an online database of almost every peer-reviewed medical article. Dr. Turner recommends you read the abstracts and seek to understand these articles so you can discuss them with your doctor. You can also look up supplements to see if there are any interactions with drugs you may be taking. Keep in mind that if it is a natural product, you will likely see that there is no “claim” that it helps because there isn’t any “clinical data” to support it (which is the case with most supplements because who is going to spend the money to run a clinical trial on a product that they can’t charge you a lot of money for?)
- www.chrisbeatcancer.com I have mentioned this before, but I just love this guy. He has done so much research and has interviewed so many people who have healed themselves. It’s a good blend of information, tips, and inspiration.
- www.cancertutor.com This is a fabulous resource with a ton of information as well.
- Take out a piece of paper and write down these three headlines: physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual. Then take the time to carefully analyze and write down any aspect of these areas of your life that could use some improvement…. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Prioritize and tackle them.
- Find an accountability partner. I recommend someone who is a friend that is supportive and not critical. Someone who will hold you accountable for the changes you are hoping to make, and you can offer to do the same for him/her. Schedule times to check in with this person.
Again, Radical Remission is a great read for anyone currently dealing with cancer. I am providing a very top line summary, but the book goes into great detail and has wonderful stories from survivors in it. Give it a read if you can.
I hope that this post is helpful to you. There is so much I want to share, yet not overwhelm you at the same time. I have had people ask me questions about how to go more plant-based and asking for advice on how to make it easier. If you’re interested in that, please leave a question of what you’d like to hear about and follow me on Instagram @kaysdailyinspiration and/or my Facebook page @kaysdailyinspiration where I post tips and recipes.
Onward and Upward,
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso