When Helen’s husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma earlier this year, she looked for ways to ensure he had the tools he needed and then some to fight back. Through her research, she came across a book titled “Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schrieber, M.D., Ph.D.
She embraced Dr. David’s recommendations and is asking her friends to read the book.
Through the miracle of inter-library loan, I checked out a copy from the Johnson City Public Library. Though I haven’t read it cover to cover, I have read enough to know I am doing some things right but can do a lot more to take care of myself.
Here’s what I’m doing right: I quit smoking nearly 15 years ago; I don’t eat red meat; I eat about 70 percent organic; I’ve added soy to my diet; I eat whole grains instead of white flour; I use olive oil in cooking and in dressings; I drink green tea; I don’t wear perfume; and I laugh a lot.
Here’s what I don’t do right: I don’t exercise 30 minutes a day six days a week; I don’t get five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day; I eat refined sugar; I haven’t eliminated BPA-ridden plastics from my life; I don’t filter my tap water for drinking and cooking; I eat too much meat; I tend to stress out; I don’t screen my cosmetics for phthalates and parabens ... To make a long list short, I still have a long way to go.
It’s not like I plan to live in a BPA-free bubble of organic bliss, heavily armed against free-floating radicals, denying myself the simple pleasures of life (like chocolate cake). I’m not an extremist. Still, the changes I’ve made over the years ended up being relatively painless. I haven’t missed cigarettes for a long time.
The first time I quit, when I was about 20, I thought death was preferable to a nicotine-free life. What was the point of living, I thought, if I couldn’t have a cigarette while I talked on the phone or after dinner or with my morning cup of coffee. Now I enjoy all of those things just as much or more without cigarettes (though I drink green tea instead of coffee).
Whole wheat tastes better than white bread; I love fruits and I’m learning to like a variety of vegetables. And so on. If I’ve done those things successfully, I have reason to believe I will learn to like exercise. Lots of people do.
Dr. David is a two-time cancer survivor who doesn’t place blame. Guilt is not conducive to good health or recovery. But he does believe we can stack the odds in our favor, though genetics and environment sometimes will out.
With so much attention on the climbing cost of health care, the obesity epidemic, the prevalence of diabetes and the decline of our planet due to human interference, “Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life” is a book for our time.
And Helen, who is one of the smartest people I know, says I should read it and act accordingly. That’s enough for me.
Jan Hearne is Tempo editor for the Johnson City Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.