Lifestyle Offers Hope in Defeating Cancer—Six Dimensions of Wellness

Another acquaintance died this week from breast cancer. While I feel extremely sad for this loss, I also feel powerless and frustrated that she never reached out to me for help. She bought my book about a year ago, A Lighter Side to Cancer, yet did not tell me she was seriously ill with breast cancer. As a cancer thriver and integrative wellness expert, I might have been able to help. I have learned that lifestyle matters in beating the cancer odds.


Many integrative doctors, authors and wellness experts share the importance of healthy diet, moderate exercise, stress reduction, positive outlook and emotions, and reduced environmental toxicity. But there is more to the picture. Research indicates that the pleasure we get from our lives and our relationships also plays an important role in living well longer.

Cancer is a complex disease because many factors (from thoughts to toxins) weaken the immune system which was designed to keep the body cancer free. Therefore, a multifaceted approach is needed to treat and prevent it.

I ask myself: “What makes people not participate in their own recovery from cancer?” Perhaps they are immobilized by fear, blinded by ignorance, hiding in denial, seeking simple answers, and/or unwilling to change their unhealthy lifestyle habits. Instead of taking charge, they rely on the information they get from conventional doctors. Unfortunately, most people are getting a limited view of what it takes to beat the cancer odds.

Surviving cancer often requires more than conventional treatment offers. It takes a willingness to become informed and go beyond what the doctor orders. Taking charge involves talking to people who have successfully used an integrative approach, reading books and articles by wellness experts, attending classes, exploring the Internet and then choosing a holistic treatment approach that feels right for you.

What is integrative wellness? It is an approach to healing that addresses every aspect of your life. What occurs in your body is intimately connected to the choices you make and actions you take. Integrative wellness offers you an opportunity to address the underlying causes within your body that affect your health. While this process of getting well and staying healthy requires a certain level of discipline, it begins to feel easy and natural once you recognize how great you feel.

These six wellness dimensions can beat the cancer odds and lead to optimal health and wellbeing:

  • Physical – eat a whole food diet; engage in moderate exercise; maintain a healthy weight; avoid tobacco; and limit alcoholic beverages
  • Emotional – recognize and accept your emotions; express negative emotions constructively; manage stress appropriately; and laugh often
  • Mental – recognize stressors; set realistic goals; change negative thinking; continue learning
  • Spiritual – bring more love and acceptance to yourself, others and life; express gratitude; find meaning in your life; and focus on the positive.
  • Social – enjoy your relationships; connect with people regularly; treat others with respect; and receive help and give to others
  • Lifestyle – make wise choices about—self-care, recreation, finances, career/work, and your physical environment

Integrative wellness happens over time. Taking charge of your health does require your attention, time, energy and money. However, small changes in the right direction will make a noticeable positive difference in your body, mind, spirit and quality of life. Remember, the final outcome belongs to a Higher Power. Most important, love and accept yourself right now because you are doing your best, but with awareness, commitment and action you can take your best to a higher level.

The options to participate in your health and well-being are many and can feel overwhelming. Begin with one small goal and action step and then another; you will celebrate success often and turn cancer into a stepping stone to greater aliveness.

What is one action you can take to participate in your health? Click the words “Leave a Comment” at the top of the page under the title.

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