When you’re facing a cancer diagnosis the desire to heal is strong! As it should be. This becomes the priority. Everything else on the “To Do” list gets tossed aside. You are showing up and doing the best you can to help your body heal.
This includes targeting the cancer with the treatment you have agreed to; surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, etc. And perhaps it also includes a diet upgrade, a renewed commitment to exercise, and maybe even a tough look at your life and what stressors or toxins may be lurking there.
All of these things are important and will absolutely help your body heal but I want to challenge you to go even deeper today. In all my years working with cancer patients and their families both in the hospital and in my private practice I know this isn’t enough. I also saw this upfront and personal with my Dad’s experience with cancer.
Today I want to share with you my “3 Pillars of Healing”. These pillars are going to challenge you to go much deeper on your path towards healing and optimal health and may even change some of the beliefs you have around what it takes to heal.
Pillar 1. Radical Self Care
I’ve been talking about radical self-care quite a bit since the first of the year. In case you’re new to this concept, let me explain. Radical self-care starts with the mindset that YOU and your wellness is what matters MOST. Above everything else…even your kids. 😲 Shocking, I know. That’s why it’s called RADICAL. It may feel icky or uncomfortable at first; especially if you’re used to putting everyone else’s needs before your own.
You know how on an airplane you’re told to put on your oxygen mask before your kids or the other passengers around you? I want you to adopt this rule in all aspects of your life. Your needs must come first. Once you’re willing to prioritize this, everyone benefits. You receive the care your body needs to devote to healing and recovery and everyone around you benefits from you being a healthier, more energetic, more vibrant version of you. You see how this works?! Kinda magical, right?
So I’m going to ask you to be radical, be selfish. Selfish with your time, your energy, your investments. Don’t feel bad. Don’t feel guilty. Go to bed early, take the long walk, spend money on the massage, buy the organic food. You get the picture.
Once you’ve fully embraced this mindset and made it non-negotiable, then I want you to think through all the different ways you can support your self-care on every level; not just physical. So yes think about how you can better care for your body & your physical health but don’t stop there. I also want you to consider your mental, emotional, and spiritual health too. Because guess what? We are much more than just our body. And when any of those four aspects of our self are not being cared for, disease can happen.
Here are just a sampling of ideas:
Body: nourishing food, daily movement, adequate sleep, optimal hydration
Mind: take breaks, keep learning, practice mindfulness, give back
Emotions: express yourself, have fun, do things that bring you joy, connect with others
Spirit: meditation, journaling, being in nature, traveling, connecting to a higher energy
Pillar 2. Dive Deeper
The second pillar of healing requires us to dive much deeper than we may even feel comfortable doing. Traditional cancer treatments are what I would consider superficial healing. They’re taking care of the surface wound, so to speak. This is an important step for sure but it would be a mistake to just stop there.
Cancer, or any disease for that matter, doesn’t just crop up. It’s not something we “caught” that we simply have to get rid of. Rather it’s your own cells that have gone rogue. This happens for various reasons. And if the goal is true and complete healing, then we must go to the source. What imbalances, infections, or deficiencies are at play that may have caused the cancer to grow in the first place. If we skip this step then unfortunately we leave the body open to recurrence.
I believe we need to look at the various “systems” at play that may have a role in the development and growth of cancer. Systems such as the…
Microbiome & Digestive System
You can read more about the role these systems may potentially play in “causing” cancer by heading to this article I wrote here: The 7 Root Causes of Cancer.
Pillar 3. Surround Yourself With Support
The third and final pillar involves the magic and alchemy of working as a group. Humans are social creatures by nature. We’ve evolved to live and thrive in groups and communities. Even those of us who identify as introverts need a certain amount of social interaction to thrive. Now although this is essential for mental and emotional wellness it’s even important in optimizing our healing.
Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist from Stanford University, published a study in The Lancet in 1989 that showed a link between mental state and disease progression. For one year women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer had met in a weekly support group, run by Dr. Spiegel’s team. What he found even surprised himself. The women who had participated in the support group survived twice as long as the others!
Although we do need internal motivation and drive to help us get started down this path, it’s often not enough to keep the train moving. The road to healing & optimal health takes resilience and determination. There are often ups and downs and twists and turns. When we have the support, encouragement, accountability, and even guidance of others we’re much more likely to stay the course and realize our goals.
The Keys To Healing
Creating harmony, balance, and flow on every level, physiologically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, are the keys to healing. It’s taken me many years to see it from this framework. But after working with hundreds of clients I have learned that deep and sustained healing really does require this holistic approach.
Modern medicine can save lives. I’m not suggesting that you change your treatment plan. What I am suggesting is that you don’t stop there. There is so much more you can do to support your healing and optimize your long-term health.
The risk for cancer recurrence varies a lot by the type & stage of cancer. This risk can range anywhere from 5% to 100%. And although we may not be able to control ALL the factors at play there is a lot we can control. By applying these 3 pillars I believe you can make a significant reduction in your risk.
How To Get Support
When I work with clients privately I guide them through all three of these pillars. We use questionnaires, functional labs, and different assessments to help us figure out the systems that need attention. I provide a source of guidance and support while also encouraging them to build their personal support network.
I have also recently started a group coaching membership, the “Holistic Cancer Collective”, as an additional resource to support all three pillars, but especially Pillar 3. Connecting with other people who are experiencing a similar journey as you and also taking steps to support their healing is a powerful source of continued motivation and inspiration.
Are you ready to optimize your healing and cancer recovery? Let’s chat. We can hop on a call to determine which of these coaching options would best support you.