October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast cancer, if caught early, is one of the most easily diagnosed and successfully treated cancers. Also, early detection helps to prevent extensive surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, many people (like myself) fail to take preventive measures resulting in over 685,000 male and female global deaths per year. This tragic statistic could be practically eliminated with better self-care.
Illness can be a wake-up call and an indication you’ve treated yourself lovelessly. Cancer is not a part of your body’s natural functioning. It is the result of a cell’s DNA being damaged. The highest (non-genetic) risk factors are consuming alcohol, poor diet, overweight, lack of physical activity, radiation to the chest, and combined hormone replacement therapy. All of these risks are 100% under your control.
Cancer is a wake-up call to better love yourself. I like to think of self-love as treating yourself like a tiny baby who can’t survive without proper nutrition, rest, and lots of cuddling. But we don’t. Instead, we often treat our bodies like toxic waste dumps, putting substances in them that would immediately kill most living things. When we take for granted that our vital organs will continue to serve us despite the way we’ve treated them, there’s bound to be consequences.
I thought just because I’d quit drinking and smoking, ate healthily, and was a runner; I’d never get cancer. So I ignored the doctor’s prescriptions for mammograms. I was blindsided when I found out I was in serious trouble and had to have a mastectomy. That was one of life’s shocks that taught me how to take self-love to the next level. That self-love started with the first day of my recovery after surgery. Instead of blindly following chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and Tamoxifen recommendations, I listened to my intuition that told me to avoid these treatments. I then collaborated with the oncologist, who supported my decision to decline all three. (I’m not recommending that’s what anyone else should do, each person is different.)
I then decided I would never use the term “my cancer.” Cancer is not mine. It’s something that happened to me. I want no part of claiming it’s a part of me. I always say, “When I had cancer,” and “It’s just something that happened long ago,” precisely twenty-two years ago. Now, I make my body as inhabitable for cancer cells as I possibly can. In addition to caring for my body, I get regular checkups with my physicians, mammograms, and blood work. I make sure mind, body, and spirit are equally attended to, and when stressed, I focus on all three to regain balance.
Whether or not you’ve ever had breast cancer, and whether you’re a man or a woman, now is the best time to pay attention to your body. Mammograms, self-examination for lumps, BRAC tests (risk assessment for cancer) for genetic predisposition, exercise, anti-cancer diets, and eliminating toxic substances can significantly increase your chances of staying healthy. And remember, cancer is not a part of you. Make your body such a happy, loving place that cancer cells won’t find a place to make a home.
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Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.
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