Designing the Rest of Your Life

Create a New Personal Paradigm

Despite the difficulties of coping with a serious illness like cancer, survivors often say that it was not only a "wake-up call" but forced them to create a new way to relate to themselves and their lives. Cancer survivors have even been heard to say about the life-changing experience of having cancer: "The best thing that ever happened to me was my cancer, because it made me wake up" and "That's the point where I began to realize what was really important about life." This self-examination is in alignment with the principles of alternative medicine: in order to heal, it is necessary to marshal all of one's resources, whether they spring from the body, mind, or soul.

It is vital for you to feel that you are important enough to recover, that you have a purpose for living, for being here. We live in a society where many people will do just about anything to win the applause of other people, to get approval from others, but we never give it to ourselves. Patrick Donovan, N.D., strongly encourages all his cancer patients to do some soul-searching to facilitate their healing and avoid, reduce, or remove obstacles to growth and self-expression. Such obstacles can include genetic/metabolic disorders, functional/structural disabilities, and dysfunctional relationships. When these factors are not effectively minimized, they can exacerbate the cancer process. This is your opportunity to discover who you are and how you want to live the rest of your life.

Eliminating these factors can facilitate healing, reestablishing hope or vision of a positive future, faith in oneself or in a higher power, a sense of personal meaning, and the feeling of having choices and control in one's life. Taking a more assertive view toward your personal needs may also have its advantages in curbing the development of cancer. Research suggests a connection between the progression of certain cancers— breast cancer and malignant melanoma—and passivity in coping with stressful situations.10 In addition, feeling a sense of control seems vital to health and resistance to all diseases. The greater the perceived impact of a stressful event—a hurricane versus a thunderstorm—the lower one's sense of control tends to be. When people feel that some major life upheaval is overwhelming, they are more inclined to feel hopeless, and such hopelessness increases their risk of cancer." Research with breast cancer patients indicated that when a stressful life event was felt to be beyond the woman's control, the likelihood of relapse was greater.

It is crucial to understand here that the cause of your cancer is not the presence of a carcinogen alone, but a combination with the body's weakened capacity to destroy cancer cells as they arise from the influence of carcinogens. Disease does not arise solely from external effects on the body; it is the interaction between these effects and the body's immune system that counts. By all indications, we should consider the mind to be an integral part of the immune system. That's why your attitude and taking positive actions to change your life can make all the difference.

Disease does not arise solely from external effects on the body; it is the interaction between these effects and the body's immune system that counts.


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