Approaching Cancer Holistically by Lara Potgieter

Looking at vivacious young actress, photographer and filmmaker Kris Carr today, you'd probably never guess that she was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma - a rare form of cancer ' in 2003.
Although Carr was informed that her tumours were already behaving aggressively at the time of diagnosis, her positive demeanour and strength of character saw her determined to take her health into her own hands and explore all avenues of healing available to her. While her first step was to find a supportive, open-minded and positive oncologist, she worked tirelessly alongside him, complementing his advice and instruction with her own self-nurturing and holistic healing practices. When he suggested diet and lifestyle changes that would help boost her immune system, for example, she immediately filled her fridge with healing nutrient-rich foods, started detoxifying her body through enemas, and made yoga and meditation part of her daily routine. Thirteen years later, she is a New York Times bestselling author and wellness activist offering support to millions of health-seekers across the globe.  While Carr's story received widespread public attention through her various books and documentary film, she is one of many who have made the proactive decision to support their recovery through functional nutrition, complementary healing therapies and psycho-spiritual wellbeing practices. While Carr and her 'cancer posse' used 'leafy greens, vegetables, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, and every kind of juice possible' to aid their recovery process, those of us still in good health can certainly take a page out of their book and focus on ways to maintain our state of balance in a bid to prevent the diagnosis from our own lives. As international nutritional expert Patrick Holford explains in his book Good Medicine, although it is impossible to avoid our exposure to all carcinogens, we can make dietary and lifestyle changes that substantially decrease that exposure. While things like smoking may ring obvious alarm bells, eating organic food minimises our exposure to carcinogens from herbicides and pesticides. Holford also suggests avoiding processed meats (which contain nitrates), any burned or browned food (which has been oxidised), sugar, alcohol, and fatty foods exposed to soft plastics (including packaged meals). Once you know what to avoid, you can start adding the good stuff.. Increase your intake of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables (particularly those high in antioxidants, like carrots and tomatoes), eat 'liver-friendly foods' like onions, garlic, artichokes and cruciferous vegetables (for detoxification), increase your intake of omega-rich anti-inflammatory foods like oily fish, sprinkle turmeric on your food, and supplement with salvestrols and immune-boosting vitamins such as selenium, zinc, and vitamins A,C, D and E. In the recently published book How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger suggests increasing your intake of phytates, that are found in the seeds of plants and can be ingested in the form of all whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Dr. Greger is as passionate about turmeric as Holford, going one step further to prescribe a specific component of the spice called curcumin. He also suggests daily intake of freshly ground flaxseeds, ensuring adequate fibre consumption, and favouring green vegetables wherever possible. While a comprehensive overview of the nutritional advice for preventing and supporting recovery from cancer is too broad to be covered here, these ideas may help to steer you in the right direction on your journey to wellbeing. Another aspect of cancer prevention and recovery often highlighted as important in the holistic approach is a focus on emotional wellbeing. Perhaps one of the most well known proponents for this is author and metaphysical teacher Louise Hay. Wanting to explore the alternatives to surgery and drugs, Hay developed an intensive programme of affirmations, visualisation and psychotherapy to complement her nutritional therapy regime. While her miraculous healing is not necessarily a call to abandon the allopathic route altogether, her practices are certainly enormously helpful in helping to ease the extreme emotional stress that can accompany a serious diagnosis. Cancer.org suggests getting as much emotional support as possible, both from loved ones and professionals. They also cite 'spiritual support through prayer, meditation, or other practices that help you feel more at peace', as well as finding ways to express your feelings (e.g. through writing, music or art), engaging in gentle exercise where possible, and creating a home environment conducive to healing on all levels. Whether or not preventing cancer is your aim, applying this advice in your life could certainly be helpful in achieving the state of emotional equilibrium so important in maintaining your most valuable asset ' your health and wellbeing. Did you know? '      Phytates (found in whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) target cancer cells through a combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing activities. '      Curcumin, the colourful component of the spice turmeric, appears able to reverse precancerous changes in colon cancer and has been shown in laboratory studies to be effective against lung cancer cells. '      Sulforaphane, considered one of the more active components in cruciferous vegetables, kills human leukemia cells in a petri dish while having little impact on the growth of normal cells. '      In 2010, the official World Health Organization body that assesses cancer risks formally upgraded its classification of alcohol to a definitive human breast carcinogen. '      Physical activity is considered a promising preventive measure against breast cancer not only because it helps with weight control but because exercise tends to lower circulating estrogen levels.   My Story by Brett Simpson   In 2007 I was misdiagnosed three times with a lip lesion that was thought originally to be a fever blister.  It eventually emerged that Squamous Cell Carcinoma was the real culprit, and because of the uniquely aggressive nature of my case, I was wheeled into emergency surgery within 48 hours of diagnosis. My first surgery was to remove the malignant sore at the source, causing me to lose one third of my lip. Three months later, what was again misdiagnosed as a lymph node in trauma became the indicator signalling that the cancer had spread into my lymphatic system. My final treatment to ensure the annihilation of any rogue malignant cells was radium treatment for three months, which stole my taste buds for six months and my beard for good. The emotional and psychological impact was far-reaching. I was suddenly exposed to my fear of death and, more surprisingly, my fear of wholehearted living. I was blessed with the most incredible team of four doctors who, with great care and compassion, walked me through my cancer journey towards remission, where I am today. All of them offered the same advice when I asked how I could ensure that cancer never again has the chance to enter my body ' 'Be overly pedantic about what you feed your body and your mind.' It was because of the dark places I journeyed that I created Cancer Journey Coaching to help those going through cancer to understand what to expect, process their journey and foster a powerful belief system while at the same time supporting them in growing their knowledge of whether what they put into their bodies will starve or feed the cancer. For more information or to contact Brett log on to: www.cancerjourneycoaching.co.za  

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