Thank you for your well-intentioned theories on how I could have avoided cancer or how I can treat it alternatively. But, let's get a few things straight.
Lie # 1: A Strong Immune System Destroys Cancer
Even the healthiest of immune systems does not recognize cancer. In their complexity, cancer cells have learned to disguise themselves as normal, healthy cells. Cells infected with viruses or bacteria send out danger signals, which inturn sets the immune system in action. But cancer cells manage to escape attack by a normally-functioning immune system and grow and multiply without triggering an immune response.
It is a problem of undetection.
Lie # 2: Cancer is Caused and/or Cured by Dietary and Nutritional Habits
A balanced diet is recommended as a way of reducing cancer risk (and being healthy in general.)
Certainly, obesity is a major risk factor. A balanced, nutritious diet, healthy weight, engagment in regular physical activity, and avoiding alcoholic drinks are known preventatives. Reportedly, up to 1/3 of all cancers can be avoided by such measures.
That being said, cancer is a genetic disease resulting from a variety of mutations and alterations -either acquired over time due to environmental exposures and behaviors (such as diet) or inherited. Dietary habits and lifestyle choices contribute to the development of many cancers, but are not the sole cause or preventative measure.
There is no evidence that certain foods alter the environment of an existing cancer, at the cellular level, and cause it to either die or grow.
Further, supplements have not been found to correct genetic alterations. People should meet their nutritional needs through their food choices. While supplements may help mediate vitamin deficiencies, taking doses above what the body can use provides no known added health benefit.
The World Cancer Research Fund - American Institute for Cancer Research report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, published in November 2007, offers the following recommendations for cancer prevention and for good health in general:
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat).
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats (such as lunch meat and hot dogs).
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt.
Lie # 3: Cancer is a Disease of Mind, Body, and Spirit
Again, cancer is a disease caused by genetic alterations. These alterations can occur through our own behaviors (cigarette smoking, obesity, sunburns...) or, they can simply be inhereted.
How personality or stress levels influence genetic alteration is largely unknown. Of course we should all strive to be happy and living lives pervasive with love and peacefulness - because that is undeniably a better way to live. There is no evidence, however, that such a life will prevent or cure cancer.
Lie #4: There are Easier Ways to Cure Cancer
Yes, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are all vastly unnatural and all have drastic and unpleasent side effects. But these are currently the only approved treatments in use because they are the only treatments that produce results in conclusive numbers.
No matter how much lemon water I drink, how few animal products I consume, or how much yoga I relax into, I'm pretty confident I would still have a growing tumor, if not for the surgery I underwent. And I might still have stray cancer cells in my chest wall, if not for the radiation I underwent, or in my blood or bones, if not for the chemotherapy.
I would have prefered to skip all of that and just had a coffee enima or a whole lot of alkaline water. But my preference to prolong my life is paramount.
~ ~ ~
I did not cause my cancer. I inhereted a gene mutuation (BRCA I). Implications to the contrary are hurtful and inaccurate.
I can not cure my cancer by myself. I can (and certainly do) take measures to be as healthy as possible, physically and mentally, but at the end of the day, they are only that: measures toward an aim that is, above all, out of my control.
Much of the information used in this article was gathered from Johns Hopkins site,
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.