Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Clobbering Cancer

Someone I love was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m optimistic that she’s going to be just fine, but I know that she has a lot of decisions to make about treatment, both conventional and alternative, in the near future.

Since I’ve worked with cancer survivors for nearly a decade, and since I’m also a Holistic Health Counselor, I have a lot to say about cancer.

Namely, cancer sucks.

That profound statement aside, I’ve seen hundreds of women overcome this feared foe. I’ve even seen many come out the other end better for it. That might sound cliché, but it’s true. Several cancer survivors I’ve worked with have told me that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them… their cancer diagnosis helped them get their priorities straight. Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to make that happen.

It’s unfortunate that we wait until we receive life-changing news to actually change our lives. What would happen if we treated ourselves the way we should be treated all the time…. Before we ever get sick?

Here are my top 5 tips for taking care of yourself… before, after, or during a devastating diagnosis.

1. Eat your veggies.

The first thing my loved one who was diagnosed said to me was, “I’m going to take out my juicer and start using it.” I think that’s great. I think it’s even better if we start treating our bodies with the respect it deserves before we receive a nasty diagnosis. No judgment here, friends… I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I’ve not only heard all the excuses, I wrote the excuses book. It’s too cold to juice. The store is out of cucumbers. That carrot cake counts as a vegetable. I’ve used ‘em all. Excuses can’t save our lives… but maybe cleaning up our diets can. For more info on this, please visit crazy sexy cancer survivor Kris Carr's site.

2. Stop the stress.

This is a big one. Persistent stress wreaks havoc on your body. Stress is a mojo-massacring, spirit-stealing, health-harming enemy of the worst kind. Studies show time and time again that constant stress puts you at risk for all kinds of deplorable diseases. Stress messes with your body’s hormones, and it ravages your body’s natural rhythms. Don’t take this lightly, my pressured peeps. Remember this motto; “Too much stress and you’ll be a mess.” Do you like that? How about this one: “You can be tense at your body’s expense.” Pretty good, eh? Here’s one more… Humor me: “With all that worry, you’ll be sick in a hurry.” The point is, do what you have to do to reduce the stress in your life. Don’t make me rhyme again.

3. Don’t worry. Be happy.

We’ve already covered the “don’t worry” part. Now let’s talk about “be happy.” Research shows that, in general, happy people have a 35% lower risk of death than unhappy people. So what makes people happy? Psychologists have been trying to answer that question for centuries, but they’ve actually come close to figuring it out. Turns out happy people have some things in common, such as: they spend time with family and friends, they enjoy intimacy, they don’t compare themselves with their neighbors, they enjoy daily activities, and most importantly, they know how to forgive. For a reminder on the all-important forgiveness factor, I urge you to take a minute to read Your Groove on a Grudge.

4. Move it.

We all know it’s true, and in case we need a reminder, we can always re-read You Gotta Move if you Want to Groove. We know the physical benefits of exercise (controls weight, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, boosts energy), but added benefits include a reduction in stress, a better sex life, and increased mental focus. Additionally, recent studies show that exercise decreases the chance of cancer recurrence. That’s a pretty good reason to exercise right there, but in case you need another… Exercise lets cancer survivors feel in control of their bodies; which is incredibly empowering after you feel like your own body has betrayed you. I’ve seen this first hand. As the founder of Team Survivor Tri-State, an affiliate of the National Association of Team Survivor, I’ve seen how exercise changes lives. If you’re a cancer survivor, I encourage you to find an exercise program. There are so many wonderful programs exclusively for cancer survivors. Find a Team Survivor in your area. If you’re a breast cancer survivor in NJ, contact Moving On. Livestrong has programs through some YMCA’s. Now, go get ‘em. Kick cancer’s ass.

5. Live your best life… NOW.

Don’t wait until you’re facing a potentially deadly disease to live with purpose. Do you want to become a teacher when you’re currently a phlebotomist? Go take classes. Have you always dreamed of competing in a triathlon? Start training. Yearning to travel? Buy a plane ticket. Do it NOW. There is never a perfect time to do anything. You have to create the perfect time. That perfect time is NOW, because we don’t know for sure when we’ll get another chance.


  1. Ronni,
    I'm sorry to hear of your loved one's diagnosis and understand all to well how you feel. She is blessed to have your love, compassion and support as she begins her long journey to recovery.
    As always, another spot on blog! Thank you Ronni, for all you have done and continue to do to help people realize just how they can "live their best life"

  2. Ronni,

    Thanks for putting down on one page all the separate thoughts/plans I have developed after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I have had the cancer return for the second time and am now being treated as a "chronic" cancer patient, which means I will keep having treatments as long as they continue to work for me. I have recently hired a personal trainer to work with me to help me with my energy level, which is my biggest concern.

    I go to therapy to help me reduce my stress and plan how to anticipate and avoid/deal with potential stressors I bought a heavy duty blender and make green smoothies.

    We went out and bought that 34' Winnebago we had been talking about for years and started our travels last year, with more planned for the years ahead. It's only money....and you truly cannot take it with you!

    Best wishes to your loved one...I am sure she will make it through with flying colors, with you to help her keep priorities straight!

    A positive attitude is the best way to deal with this disease. It has served me well thus far and I can't see being anything less than positive. Oh, I may whine a bit once in awhile, but we are all entitled to a little time to whine. But then it's "up and at 'em!"

    Thinking of you and yours...

  3. This is why I am writing my post on finding serenity in your life.
    The time I spent working, taking the time to stress out over my sister's breast cancer, my husband traveling and not being happy and my children living far away enabled me to eat wrong, be stressed out, not work out and not be happy.
    Now, I eat right (for me), I take time each and every day to find inner peace and I exercise almost every day.
    I hope that cancer stays far away from me, but even if finds it's way - I will be ready to fight.

  4. hi Ronni.....its been a long time but now nearly 10 years out (this coming february) i have more than improved my groove.... so much so im onto my next phase in life.. fitness training certification.. the goal still to help fellow survivors ..having firsthand knowledge and finding the importance of exercise ,diet and commraderie i feel i can also impart that to women.... im so happy for you. that you are sharing all your stuff... im also so sorry that someone close to you has to battle the ugly disease..

    after losing my dad last fall to stage 4 lung cancer...i found the importance of what i do and i have cleaned up my diet even more leaned down and exercise every single day.

    im so greatful that you started me on my journey when you did.. i never look back and constantly want to keep finding a better way to live cancer free...

    i wish you much luck and look forward to reading all about your recommendations... happy holidays..with love sharon friedman

  5. Ronni,
    Thanks for posting this! Great ideas. Not only for people with a cancer diagnosis, but everyone.

    All the best with your loved one. And remember there are support opportunities, not just therapy, out there too. And support for those who are caregivers and significant people in the lives of those with cancer. Find a Cancer Support Community or Gilda's Club, if they're in your area, or check them out on line (www.cancersupportcommunity.org).

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. This is a topic I feel so passionately about, and it's nice to be able to share it.