Book Review of Anti Cancer A New Way of Life
I have written about this in other blogs and posts so if you have been reading, you know that I considered myself "blissfully" ignorant of cancer, in general. I knew people who had the disease but they were older and their cancers were different locations and until it was me, I did not really quite get how it would have helped if I knew anything about the disease.
My whole life, I was in a bubble - one of being healthy. I did not have a clue what it was like to be "sick" though I had various normal childhood illnesses and ailments growing up. I always gave to St Jude though at any store where they were raising money - even if giving meant I was spending my dwindling supply of dollars in my accounts. I understood that having cancer was a terrible tragedy and since no one I knew was diagnosed under 60, it just did not seem to be something I had to think about.
All of that changed when I was diagnosed at 39 years old in November 2016 with breast cancer but what did not change is my complete indifference to knowing or understanding the disease. I was just not ready to learn anything - and for me to say that is just so unlike me. I am a learner, a nerd who loves to read and be able to discuss things with knowledge and understanding and instead I spent the bulk of my diagnosis and treatment just deciding I would trust my doctors and let it end at that. The only thing I did ask for, from my limited knowledge of cancer, was a PetScan and I regretted even asking for it due to the wait and the potential of not being able to have my surgery if something had been found. (Thankfully, my scan - done on my 40th birthday- was clear you can read more about that here: managing-diagnosis-from-super-woman-to-cancer-patient-in-two-seconds-flat.html).
I often thought that cancer was something you GOT from outside of you and that if it could be removed, I would be automatically cured. Ha ha, so naive.
When I was ready (which was recently), I researched and found this book by David Servan-Scheiber - he is both a scientist and someone who had been diagnosed with cancer. For some reason, that was important to me that the person who wrote the book had experience with the disease on a first hand basis.
I had to read the book slowly - I generally must finish books as quickly as possible because I love to read but this book had to be stopped and mulled over for me. I could not breeze through it, this is my life I have in my hands, in a way, with this book.
At no point does the author ask you to eschew practical western medical procedures and treatments to help with cancer. However, he does ask us to incorporate and include the caring for the "terrain". The "terrain" is basically your body.
This book gives you actual scientific evidence backed studies and one on one stories of people who have made these changes to diet (e.g., what we eat), mind (e.g., meditation) and body (e.g., exercise). This book is a big part of the reason why I decided to give up dairy, sugar, processed foods and also get back to my long neglected exercise and meditation practices (see more here taking-back-control.html).
When you are in the middle of chemotherapy and radiation, working full time and trying to still be a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend you really cannot do anything about your "terrain" - you are lucky you are just doing the basics. Once I finished radiation, and healed from the burns this book was the perfect reading material to jump kick my way back into trying to be "healthy".
This is the crux of it though- although post treatment we "feel" healthy, that does not mean we are healthy. Hell, the best I have ever felt in my life was when I was just about to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Our bodies are mysteries but something I cannot let go of from this book is the information included about the excessive increase in cancer diagnoses and the also increased use of chemicals, processed foods, and more since the 1940's-1950's. One big thing I took away from this book was that I am no longer surprised that I did get cancer but I am surprised everyone does not have it.
This might be an inaccurate lesson to learn as a big part of my diagnosis could in fact be the years I spent working in the red zone post 9/11, the journey I walked from midtown to downtown on that fateful day and all of the particles and chemicals I inhaled during my daily commute and office time from September 2001 - May 2004.
One thing I did learn with this book is that focusing on being well and keeping active, eating well and staying stress free (as much as possible) might help to cure me of cancer but even if it does not, isn't it a better way to live anyway?
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
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