What this psychologist and integrative oncology specialist wants you to know about cancer before you get it.
It’s inescapable. We don’t need to know that the World Health Organization names cancer as the leading cause of death or in 2014 the number of people who received a diagnosis reached closed to 14.5 million. We have all been touched by cancer, usually in devastating ways. But licensed psychologist Susan Barbara Apollon and author of “An Inside Job: A Psychologist Shares Healing Wisdom for Your Cancer Journey,” says cancer gave her patients surprising gifts. Here’s how you can prevent illness and live in the light of the shadow of chronic illness.
1. You are what you think so think positively.
If you believe all the complaining in your head is better than expressing how you really feel, you’re setting yourself up for illness. Apollon says negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and fear actually prevents us from fighting viruses including cancer. She calls them “low vibratory experiences,” which produce the “chemicals adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol in the brain that impact their immune system negatively.” She says, “These chemicals then suppress the immune system’s ability to create the cells needed to seek out and destroy the cancer virus.” Instead of your normal dose of negativity, have a cup of positivity. “When we think thoughts that feel good, such as thoughts of love, gratitude, joy, and hope – and those that make us laugh and smile, we produce uplifting chemicals such as oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin – all supporting a strong immune system that can fight viruses in the body.” You can do this by journaling, working with a therapist on difficult emotions, focus on what you have to be grateful for and set aside twenty minutes a day to sit in quiet or be in nature.
2. Listen to yourself.
Your body is always talking to you. When you’re feeling good, you’re in balance. When you feel ill, you’re out of balance. Your body signals what’s going on inside and you need to pay attention says Apollon. “All of us need to know that we are born with the gift of intuition and that when we learn to harness it, miracles can happen…It serves us well – when we listen – as to what is best for us to do or not do. When we do not listen to our higher guidance regarding the needs of our body and what is best for keeping our energy balanced, we become ill. When we do listen, we maintain better health.”
3. Find your tribe.
You may be one of the most popular people on Facebook or have an envious following on Instagram, but do you have a support system you can call upon when you need it most? Apollon says, “We need to be a part of a community – to relate socially – and to know others care about us. We also need to be part of a give and take of knowing that we love and are loved. Whether, it is an actual community, family or a support group, community matters to the mind and body. Those who isolate themselves tend to be more depressed and lonely and do not help themselves create well-being. In fact, they often do become ill. Furthermore, the body’s immune system is energetically supported by the chemicals released when hugging and being affection that are often a part of such communities.”
4. Follow your passion.
Did you know that people who don’t follow their passion often end up sick?
5. Treat your body like a temple.
You know how you are at church or when visiting a spiritual site? You’re respectful, reverent and at peace. In stark contrast, we often starve our bodies or torture it with intense exercise. You can restore balance by treating it with kindness for all the work it does without your involvement. Do this by aiding it with foods and exercises that fuel it. Apollon says you can return to that “feel-better place by engaging in energetic modalities such as tai chi, qui gong, acupuncture, yoga, and pilates…Learning energetic tools and techniques from can help patients shift out of a depressed, anxious, grieving state to one that helps restore their sense of being balanced and more at peace.” She also recommends an “alkaline diet, which is high in veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes,” eating organic, and eliminating processed foods, dairy selections, and sugar. Especially for those with cancer, she says, “Eating cold water fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, brightly colored vegetables, beautiful leafy greens – and a multitude of fresh fruits and berries – provides your body with needed antioxidants to fight your cancer and help your chemotherapy and other treatments to work more effectively.”
Apollon says, “When you hear the three words, ‘You have cancer,’ you are at first in shock, then numb, confused – and often feel lost.” It is life shattering and your life will never be the same. But that can be the impetus to transform your life in a positive way, putting a spotlight on what truly matters.