Taking charge of your cancer recovery

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It’s no secret that cancer stats seem to be getting scarier and more grim. The Canadian Cancer Society predicts two in five Canadians will experience some form of cancer in their lifetime.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Sharon Gurm from the Port Moody Health Centre for Integrative Medicine & Cancer Care offers these five suggestions to bolster your chances of survival and even thrive. From diet and exercise to IV vitamin treatments and nutrient therapies, there is hope. The following tips can help empower you on the road to recovery.

It starts in the mind

Taking care of your mental health is key to championing the disease. A crucial component of self-care is positive thinking. Ron Gibson knows the power of mental resilience. Two years ago his body was riddled with cancer and he had been given two years to live. But his son, a UFC athlete, kept him going with encouragement and positive support. Gibson credits much of his recovery to never giving up.

“Most of the fight is mental. If you don’t fight it, you lose.”

A patient of Dr. Gurm, Gibson is now almost cancer free and looks 10 years younger. He takes regular fishing trips to Bunsen Lake and just caught a 23-pound salmon in Ambleside.

Image: Port Moody Health

Image: Port Moody Health

Drop sugar and red meat and follow a plant-based diet

The Canadian Cancer Society urges anyone at risk of cancer to reduce sugar intake in order to keep weight within healthy limits. Our bodies need natural sugars to create energy. But obesity can increase your risk by unnaturally spiking hormone levels that can lead to diabetes, which puts you at even greater risk. So lay off the cupcakes and stock up on BC peaches. Red meat has also been shown to create nitrates in the stomach upon digestion, which increase cancer risk. Salads, fish, and free-range chicken will keep you fuelled and ready to fight.

Amp up the Vitamin C

This awesome vitamin supports wound healing and other functions of the immune system. Studies have shown when given intravenously, it also slows down the growth of pancreatic, liver, colon, and other cancers. It has also been shown to increase the knock out power of chemotherapy against the cancer cells. It needs to be administered by a licensed Naturopathic Doctor experienced in cancer care, so check credentials and ask questions before committing.

Get outside and sweat

Vancouver has scores of walking and hiking trails to explore. It’s not just for the pretty Instagram photos though. Studies have shown maintaining exercise during cancer treatments such as chemotherapy help self-esteem, which can take a hit during treatments. Tackling an Ironman isn’t suggested, but slow, consistent exercise will also help strengthen muscle to help fight the disease. Jenn Voss has been undergoing chemo for a year for her pancreatic cancer, she also sees a Naturopathic Doctor and her tumour has shrunk by 78 per cent. This summer, she’s been hiking the Grouse Grind. “The stronger I am, the better I am to fight this.”

Image: Port Moody Health

Image: Port Moody Health

Information is power

We live in an age of instant access to information. While it can be baffling to sort through it all, the best way to increase your chances is to be proactive and consider all the treatment options. Naturopathic Doctors provide scientifically supported treatments for cancer that work in tandem with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. Ask lots of questions and gather references from other patients.

Reduce stress and take care of yourself

It’s no secret stress plays a large role in beating down immunity. Because cancer itself is a stressful experience, one of the best things you can do is make your healing a priority. This could mean saying no at work, unplugging from all social media, or going for a massage. With all the rigors of treatment, being an advocate for your own recovery will strengthen your spirit and increase your chances of a full come back.

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