TAKING CHARGE: BREAST CANCER TREATMENT AND BEYOND
I come from an incredibly supportive and tight knit community of individuals. We lost two friends this calendar year. One was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at 50 – her first colonoscopy. Extremely beloved, she could not bring herself to tell her family about her diagnosis for some time. We, her larger circle of friends, found out she was sick and dying within weeks of her death.
Although her closest people kept her disease in confidence, at her funeral we learned it was mostly because she didn’t want people to treat her differently. She was private, yes, but feeling the need to protect others while facing cancer treatment was an unfortunate level of responsibility.
I love you no matter what. You are not a burden. Those are the words a breast cancer patient deserves. That’s the kindness you would show someone else, right? Not one person should have to go through their breast cancer journey alone.
Maybe you have been wondering when is the best time to tell people about your breast cancer diagnosis. Maybe you feel like you are being a burden sharing your diagnosis with others…like they can’t carry the weight of your humanity.
From diagnosis through treatment there are so many things that seem out of your control. At least it might feel like that until you decide to take charge. You are not a martyr. You are a living, breathing, human who still has an enormously important life to live.
What are you going to do about it?
Right now, take charge! Using what you have, where you are, here are some naturopathic tools that will help change the rest of your life:
Change what you eat. Try the following as a guideline:
- Intermittent fasting
- Balanced, whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet
- Low glycemic index foods
- Healthy fats
- Fiber 25-35g daily
- Greens drinks
- Green tea
- Limit alcohol
Move your body. Exercise is known to improve quality of life in every way. Not only does it help reduce your risk of future breast cancer, it also helps to manage stress and encourages better sleep at night.
Engage spiritually. Wellness goes beyond your body into your mind and spirit. In the past I have encouraged you to challenge your belief system. That means getting into the harder questions about why you believe what you believe. Breast cancer survival depends on an integration of science and spirituality. You must embrace the evidence, but you cannot discount that there is something greater at work in your life.
Manage your stress. Studies show that stress management greatly reduces the chances of breast cancer recurrence. All the more reason during this difficult time to rely on the assistance of your team to help you carry the weight of your diagnosis.
Sleep well. Allowing your body to fully recharge by utilizing 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night is crucial. You need every ounce of energy to fight breast cancer. Practice sleep hygiene to assist your success at night. Here are a few things to try:
- Put technology away and out of sight at least an hour before bedtime
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Dim the light in your room prior to sleep
- Use an aromatic diffuser with lavender oil
- Practice some type of gratitude reflection – be it prayer, meditation, or journaling
- Use blackout curtains to avoid morning light
- Close your bedroom door to keep out pets while you sleep
Taking better care of yourself so you can move forward might mean letting go of some of the responsibilities you once assigned to yourself. Your team is big if you will allow it to be. As a naturopathic doctor specializing in oncology, I can help you speak the language of conventional medicine in order to empower your friends and family to support you during this time. You need an integrated approach to take charge of your treatment and manage your life beyond cancer. You need a big team in order to survive.
Please contact Dr. Laura James ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions during your breast cancer treatment. If you live in the Bellingham, Washington area and would like to learn more about a naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call 360-738-3230 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.