March 25, 2012

My Holy Grail

Some people increase risk-taking behavior after cancer treatment and start living life fast and hard. Some go back to exactly how they lived before their diagnosis. Some go Zen, move to the country, grow their own veggies and make their own toilet paper.

How you live after cancer is important because there is some evidence to show that certain parameters (that you're able to control) can affect the chance of cancer coming back. Factors like exercise, nutrition and well being.
I began looking at my pre-diagnosis lifestyle in an attempt to find my Holy Grail. What factor was it that allowed a cancer to grow inside my 28 year old body? My thinking was that once I determined that factor, all I had to do was change that and everything would be okay, for ever.

I then realised that there was no single factor, cancer isn't about single factors. Cancer is about multiple factors and complicated genetics, immunology and physiology. Trying to find my Holy Grail was more about control: controlling my disease, controlling my future, and wanting to eventually die on my terms - not my cancer's.

Mainstream medicine has never blamed me for my cancer, alternative and complimentary medical thought often does. For example 'You didn't love yourself enough', 'You didn't eat enough citrus', or 'You led a stressful life'.

I don't think I gave myself cancer, I just think that what ever I was doing for those 28 years didn't prevent cancer. I don't have a known genetic disease and cancer is not common in my family. If my cancer came from exposure to a carcinogen then that is fine, but my body systems still failed to catch and remove the cancer and so may need some help in that department in the future.

One of the challenges for me is that I was reasonably 'healthy' before cancer

I was an extremely low consumer of meat (I averaged around 2-3 serves of animal a month). I drank between 1 and 3 liters of green tea per day. I ate nuts and seeds and wholemeal and wholegrain products. I cycled or ran most days and my BMI was perfect. I was doing a job that I loved and was passionate about.

But not everything I did was healthy

For several years before my cancer and I drank (like most of other Australians). I had a massive sweet tooth. Running my own business became a stressful experience. I went through a period of not valuing relationships with friends and lovers. I didn't spend time with myself, or just hang out with Ben.

I don't think going to Beijing mega clubs and drinking excessive amounts gives everyone cancer, it just didn't work for me. I had 28 years of living one way, and I got cancer. It's rather straight forward.

I don't need Dr Phil to stare me down and ask "How'd that work for you?" because I know the answer. It didn't.

My next article will detail what I have changed about my lifestyle and diet and why I think these changes are healthy ones. 

1 comment:

  1. "What does not kill you make you stronger" (quote from a sentence in desperate housewives" . Chinese also says that before nature gives you an important mission it will firstly put you through hardship to train and test you.

    I believe that is what happened to you. No matter what changes you make in diet and in lifestyle, you have already become a stronger person inside and one day you will embark on an amazing life.