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In July 2012, at the age of 38, I was given the devastating news that I had advanced ovarian cancer. This is my blog and the story of my fight to regain my health. I hope to share with you things that I've found helpful along my journey and keep you posted on my progress.

Anti-Cancer Lifestyle

Aside from your diet (see my Anti-Cancer Diet page for more on this), there are many other lifestyle choices you can make to help improve your chances of beating cancer.  Most of these are well known and it is fairly common knowledge that smoking, obesity and alcohol are three of the most significant lifestyle factors that increase your risk or getting cancer, so it is reasonable to assume that they are also not going to help your chance of getting better.  However, there are many other less obvious things you can do to help.

I made a decision very soon after my diagnosis that I wanted to give my body the best support I could to help it fight my cancer.  Unfortunately the NHS didn’t offer me any advice on lifestyle changes that could help me – maybe because I didn’t smoke or drink and I wasn’t overweight – so, what I’ve learned has come solely from my own research.  Together with my sister Chila and my partner John, we identified a number of lifestyle practices that were generally recommended for cancer patients and, as a result, I made radical changes to my lifestyle aimed at both reducing things that help cancer grow and increasing things that help eliminate it.  I would like to share some of these with you here.

Stay Away from Carcinogens

A carcinogen is a substance that is directly involved in causing cancer, so avoiding as many as possible is probably a good idea.   Believe it or not, there are lists of known carcinogens and if you look down the lists you will see many that you may recognise, which are permitted for everyday use.    Here are a few of the most common, but perhaps less recognisable, examples:

  • Acrylamides  - generated by high temperature cooking
  • Acetaldehyde – emitted from fireplaces and wood stoves and also a by-product of alcohol consumption
  • N-nitroso compounds – from bloody red meat
  • Hydroperoxide, alkoxy, endoperoxides and epoxides  - from heated meat, eggs, fish and pasteurized milk
  • Polycyclic or aromatic hydrocarbons -  from smoked, burnt, grilled or barbequed foods
  • Allylaldehyde (acrolein), butyric acid, nitropyrene, benzpyrene nitrobenzene and other nitrosamines - from heated fats and oils
  • Methylglyoxal and chlorogenic atractyosides - in over-roasted coffee
  • Xenoestrogens:
    • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
    • Car pollution,
    • Some deodorants, anti- persperants (aluminium)
    • Shampoos and skin creams (parabens)
    • Most sun tan creams
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls PCB’s
    • Fuels and car fumes
    • Polycarbonate plastic bottles
    • Plastic food containers
    • Plastic film

It is not surprising that our bodies are bombarded with carcinogens on a daily basis, including lots that occur naturally as well as many that are man-made.  When our bodies are overloaded with carcinogens, cancer can develop, so reducing our exposure to carcinogens is a good idea when you are fighting cancer.

So, how can you do this?  Here are some practical steps I have taken:
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Use only natural cosmetics and toiletries (including toothpaste)
  • Use natural alternatives to household cleaning products
  • Fit a drinking water filter
  • Fit a shower water filer
  • Avoid using chemicals in or around the house
  • Eat organic food where possible
  • Avoid high-temperature cooking like grilling, baking and barbecues
  • Wash fruit and vegetables well before use
  • Avoid plastic bottles and containers – use glass where possible
  • Avoid wrapping food in plastic film
  • Avoid processed foods and bloody red meats
  • Avoid reheating any food
  • Wash your hands carefully
  • Avoid chlorinated swimming pools
  • Limit frequency of x-rays and CT scans to minimise radiation exposure
  • Keep kitchens with granite worktops well ventilated

Reduce Your Stress and Think Positively

Stress can have a very damaging effect on us, making our bodies more susceptible to cancer in many ways.  As well as increasing acidity and glucose levels, stress can result in increased levels of corticosteroids, which weaken the immune system. 

However, it is not easy to not be stressed when you have cancer!  Living with cancer and everything that goes with it is very stressful and often managing stress can end up last on the priority list.  But, in my view it should be top of the list.

I believe that stress is my number one problem, so this is an area that I have spent a lot of time researching. I try to meditate every day and put into practice what I’ve learnt throughout my daily life. As a result, since being diagnosed with cancer I feel like a whole new world has opened out in front of me - the spiritual world. I’ve read many books on quantum physics, mindfulness and the law of attraction, and I now have a whole new outlook on life.

I’ve also been lucky to have the support and help of my sister Chila along this path of discovery and she has had a major impact on my way of thinking. I look up to her and I want to archive spiritually what she has achieved. She feels the spiritual world and gives me advice and guidance every step I take. Simply said, I wouldn't be here as I am now without her help and I am massively grateful to her for that.

The main massage from the books that I’ve read is that we have the ability to create our own reality - whatever we put into our mind, we can make happen. We are not just observers watching helplessly as destiny chart its course; we can influence our future and what happens in our lives.  We just need to be clear in our minds about what we want, visualise it every day and then live and breathe every day as if it has already happened, then it will come true.

The thoughts we hold in our mind dictate what is going to happen to us. So, it is important to influence and control our thoughts and to be continually aware of what we are thinking. We can all get into a habit of thinking negatively.  When we think certain thoughts we strengthen the bridges between neurons in our brain and those thoughts are then manifested through events in our lives. So, to break the cycle of negative thoughts we need to establish new ways of thinking that build new bridges between neurons in the brain and to practice these ways again and again every day.  The new bridges between the neurons will then become so strong that the new, more positive, ways of thinking become the habit. That is how we change. This simple scientific explanation offers the answer to how to define and create your own reality.

From my research into mindfulness I’ve learnt some simple practices that are helping me to change and to reduce my stress levels. Some of them are:
  • always be in the present moment
  • do not fight the moment and accept it as it is; don't desire to be somewhere else
  • do not fuel or fight what it is in the moment
  • the moment is always perfect as it is
  • do not use the word 'no' in your vocabulary
  • avoid using negative words
  • do not criticise or blame or judge anybody or any thing
  • be grateful for what you've got in life and don’t think about what you don't have

There are so many other things in the books that I’ve read that it is impossible to cover everything here, but I would highly recommend getting into this new world of endless possibilities and planning and creating your new, self made reality where you decide what is going to happen to you.

Being positive and believing you will get better is so important.  You may not know how or when, and that shouldn’t concern you – just believe that you will ultimately get there and that setbacks and disappointments are a necessary part of the journey that serve a purpose that you may not appreciate at the time.  It is not easy and I really struggle with this myself but I do believe it is very important.

Help Your Body To Get Rid of Toxins

When you have cancer your body is often full of toxins, particularly if you have treatment with chemotherapy or radiation.  This puts your liver under an enormous amount of stress as it tries to filter the toxins and get rid of them from your body.  And if you don't get rid of the toxic waste quickly enough, it will be absorbed back into your body where it can cause more damage.  So, in these circumstances I believe that it is important to take additional measures to help your body get rid of  toxins as quickly and easily as possible.  I’ve tried a number of things to help with detoxing and would recommend you consider the following.  The ones in bold are in my view the most important:

  • Regular coffee enemas
  • Drink 2-3 litres of water a day
  • Deal with dental toxins - replace amalgam fillings and root canals (see a biological dentist)
  • Include plenty of anti-oxidants in your diet (consider supplements like Pomi-T)
  • Use a far-infrared sauna
  • Eat plenty of fibre
  • Take probiotic supplements or eat natural probiotics (e.g. sauerkraut)
  • Use a rebounder
  • Take detox baths using bicarbonate of soda and Epsom salts
  • Eat raw foods with enzymes to help digestion

Get Enough Vitamin D

Research shows that more than three quarters of cancer patients have insufficient levels of Vitamin D and the lowest levels are associated with more advanced cancer (see study).    There is also growing evidence that Vitamin D can help improve your chances of survival (see study).

You can get your Vitamin D levels tested by asking your GP.  I had my level tested 3 months after I was diagnosed and it was 37 nmol/L.  Normal levels are around 75, although some experts recommend that cancer patients should aim for a much higher level of around 125.  After my Vitamin D test I started taking Vitamin D supplements (5,000 IU per day) and also using a UVB lamp.  Within 4 months my Vitamin D level had risen to 136.

The best way to get Vitamin D is to be outside in the sunshine, although not so much as to get burnt.  A short period of skin exposure to sunshine when the sun is high in the sky can generate large amounts of Vitamin D, which the body then stores.  Unfortunately, if you live in the UK like me, the sun is often hidden by clouds or is too low in the sky to be effective at generating Vitamin D, so supplements or UVB lamps are worth considering, particularly in winter months.

Get More Oxygen Flowing

It is fairly well known that regular exercise is good for you.  From the research I’ve come across, the same advice is generally recommended for people who have cancer, although many people say that any exercise should be fairly gentle and not too intense.  Intense exercise results in high levels of lactic acid, which can increase glucose levels and further feed your cancer.  However, gentle exercise still helps to increase blood flow and bring more oxygen to your cells without the damaging effects of over-exercising, as well as providing other benefits like reducing fat levels, which improves your health in other ways.

Practicing deep breathing and good posture are also said to help increase oxygen flow, as is drinking lots of clean water and having an alkaline diet.

Also, spending time outdoors is good.  Natural light generates photons which interact with electrons in your body to help oxygen reach your cells.

Get More Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is very important, as this is when your body does most of its healing and your cells repair.  This is even more important if you are fighting an illness like cancer.

The most effective time for healing is the sleep that you have before midnight (some say this time is two to three times more effective), so go to bed early.  Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep if possible, perhaps more if you have a sleep-deficit built up from years of inadequate sleep.  For more advice have a look at this very good article on getting a good night's sleep.

Get Rid of Any Geopathic Stress

I have put this last as some people may find this a bit wacky!  Geopathic stress occurs when strong electromagnetic fields are emitted by natural formations like underground streams or man-made objects like electrical devices.  Prolonged exposure to strong electromagnetic fields can cause harm and, as we are constantly surrounded by electrical devices, this is at least worth considering.

To combat geopathic stress there are a number of steps you can take:
  • Get your house dowsed
  • Move your bed away from any detected geopathic stress lines
  • Put a layer of cork or plastic sheet under your mattress
  • Sleep with a grounding sheet
  • Move electrical appliances and leads away from your bed

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