The future is bright, and we can defeat cancer. Unfortunately, our current system is not designed to take into account the impact of nutrition and lifestyle—important epigenetic influences. Instead, we wait for people to get really sick, and then we go down the path of a surgical and drug approach. No wonder we've been struggling with the war on cancer—we never addressed it very fully. We studied it as a disease caused by bad genes rather than as a metabolic and lifestyle-driven disease. Our pursuit of "the cure" over the last 60 years has left many promising roads for research, treatment and prevention relatively untraveled.
Steve Steeves, Critical Care Nurse; Certified Nurse Technian; author of The Trinity Diet, said, "We must stop long enough to consider if our behavior is constructive for the kingdom of God, and if what we are doing as active agents for the Lord is beneficial to our bodies, our families and our communities that depend on us. Eating mindfully and worshipfully is a discipline worth striving for."
Oh, how my heart rejoiced to read his words, so eloquently and perfectly written. I've struggled for years to put the pieces together. I've watched so many precious people die while I struggled to relate to them the importance of healing the heart and the physical body, not just cutting out or poisoning the cancer.
We live in a stressful world loaded with toxins. Our food supply is highly processed and lacking the nutrients the body needs for optimal health. I believe if you implement a healthy lifestyle, you will have a much better chance of avoiding or beating cancer.
Today, Americans have not been taught how to eat well. I find most people actually don't know they are eating poorly. They make decisions with their taste buds, not with nutritional intelligence. And the food is addictive. Nutrition advice from the government and some associations is grossly colored by corporate lobbyists. Most doctors have precious little education in nutrition. It is up to you to educate yourself.
Lifestyle choices are an overwhelming factor in cancer development. If we removed artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, added sugars, inflammatory vegetable oils, excess refined salt, genetically modified foods, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and so on, from the standard American diet, I predict cancer rates would drop substantially.
Unfortunately, eating in today's world has become more about convenience and pleasure than nourishment. Given the bounty of easily accessible processed foods with their attractive packaging, it's challenging to give your body what it needs in terms of quality fats, proteins and carbohydrates every day. It can seem like a treasure hunt to find nourishing foods while avoiding toxic, empty-calorie foods.
I saw an invitation from a major hospital in the Houston area to attend "A Survivor's Celebration of Life." The program included culinary creations from local bakeries and a cake-decorating contest. Cancer cells use sugar for their metabolism. Since we know many of these survivors will have a recurrence, it is simply wrong for people entrusted with the care of these survivors to feed them something that fuels their disease. I was speechless.
I attended another event for survivors, a luncheon. As each woman left, she was handed a beautifully wrapped iced cake pop—pink, of course. I have photos of a large basket of candy in the surgical waiting area of one of Houston's well-known cancer treatment centers as well as the sugary items offered in the hospital cafeteria, such as the pastry and beverage counters. To be fair, I did find a small basket of red and green apples near the cafeteria register.
How can the medical establishment say it is waging a war on cancer while passing out candy? Simply, it can't. The establishment has not taken what is arguably the first step in fighting cancer, which is to wage war on sugar.
Sugar is a major enemy of your body's immune system, and cancer is the ultimate immune system disorder. We've known this for decades. A 1973 study showed simple sugars (including fructose, glucose, sucrose, honey and even orange juice) can decrease the white blood cells' ability to fight infection for up to five hours after ingestion. This study used high dosages of sugar, but the evidence strongly suggests chronic consumption of sugar suppresses immunity. We all need a robust immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.
In 1800, the average American consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year. Today it's 75–170 pounds a year, depending upon who produces the statistic. Sugar needs to be removed from the pantries and diets of anyone who wants to be cancer-free. I cannot emphasize enough how important diet is, whether you are in treatment, recovering or trying to prevent cancer. Starchy carbohydrates and processed sugar have become toxic, addictive staples of our diets.
I understand these foods are comforting to the patients. I understand doctors don't take time to address diet because they are busy with test results, chemo, surgery and more. But this practice of turning a blind eye must end if we're going to reduce the incidence of cancer. So it is up to you. You must take charge of all aspects of your health, even those not addressed by your doctor or covered by insurance.
Don't forget that starchy carbs are a sugar. A seemingly harmless slice of whole-wheat toast will raise your blood sugar at least as much as eating a small candy bar. Many people incorrectly believe processed grains are good for us, but the body rapidly breaks down refined grains into sugar.
Let's listen to what the Bible's been telling us for millennia: "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare" (Isa. 55:2, NIV).
In addition, if you've already gone the route of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and have been pronounced "cancer-free," I encourage you to use one or more of the tests in my book Cancer-Free to validate it. Connect with an integrative or functional medicine physician; he or she can help you prevent cancer.
Take great care of yourself. Live purposefully, and consider your choices wisely. See cancer coming early. Don't let it hang around for five or 10 years before it's discovered. Find it early, when it is treatable and beatable. You may find making a positive impact on your health is hard work. I don't disagree, but you are worth the effort, and life is worth living—and boy, is it a lot more fun when you're in good health!
I've learned a great deal through my personal cancer journey. As Gregg Matte of Houston's First Baptist Church said, "Make your misery your ministry and your test your testimony."
Jenny Hrbacek, RN, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and has since made it her mission to help people detect cancer early, effectively treat it if diagnosed and avoid cancer recurrence. She is the founder of Cancer Free University and an advisory board member of the Best Answer for Cancer Foundation, Wellness Outreach Worldwide and BeatCancer.org.
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