by Ginny Brant
This question dominated my thoughts as my oncologist handed me reams of paper listing side effects of four chemotherapies I’d be given over six months. What about all my healthy habits? Why me? Incomprehensible! So I made an appointment with the hospital chaplain in search of answers—and hope.
“So, how did a health nut like me get cancer?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” He said. “But your healthy lifestyle will help you get through the cancer journey.”
“So my healthy lifestyle that did not prevent my cancer will help me get through the treatments?” I responded.
“Exactly,” he encouraged.
Quite honestly, my diagnosis was such a blow to my normal, spunky attitude that I considered just giving up. He was encouraging me to keep my healthy habits. Flashing back, he was right. I was already hydrating, exercising, making sleep a priority, and eating better than the average American gal. I practiced daily gratification. I never picked up the habits of smoking and drinking. Why, I deserved a crown!
Maybe not. After all, this HEALTH NUT had cancer. I took a deeper dive into these five healthy habits and made further improvements. My research led me to three more I’d totally missed. It was these eight keys that got me through the cancer journey and helped me to rebuild afterwards.
Statistically speaking, there is always skewness on both ends of the bell curve. There are those people who don’t have cancer who are doing everything wrong. And there are those people who get cancer who are doing most things right. When we look at the normal distribution in a bell curve, the majority of people (68%) fall within one standard deviation, and the vast majority (95%) fall within two standard deviations.
So there will usually be a small percentage of individuals falling on the opposite extremes that don’t fall within the norms. Don’t count on being the one who can get away with unhealthy habits and never get cancer. We all need to approach cancer preventatively with a plan to improve our lifestyle habits. Especially since it is widely known that 85 to 90 percent of cancer is attributed to lifestyle habits—the environment. Only 10 to 15 percent is attributed to genetics.
Later, I discovered I was not HEALTH NUTTY enough! Instead of blaming God, I examined my lifestyle carefully. I’ve learned so much more about what prevents cancer. This health nut has made significant changes to beat cancer. And it is working! Six weeks after chemo my blood work levels were all within normal limits. I later learned this is unheard of with my chemo regimen. It can take five to ten years for these blood levels to reach normal ranges.
What lifestyle habits have you found help to prevent cancer and disease?