I have been thinking a lot lately about the feelings that I experienced in the wake of my cancer diagnosis. The fear, uncertainty, isolation and loss of control are similar to those I’ve felt during the current global pandemic. Events like these, that disrupt life as we know it, can also provide an opportunity to pause, reflect on what’s important, re-group and even make positive changes.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided to transform my fear and worry into energy for living a healthier lifestyle. So when some of those negative feelings came flooding back at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided again to redirect my focus to something positive, and registered for the online Anticancer Lifestyle Course.
The Anticancer Lifestyle Course is a prevention program for those seeking to minimize their odds of getting cancer or a recurrence of cancer, and those who would like to optimize their health in general. It is a deep dive into the areas of nutrition, fitness, mindset and avoiding environmental toxins. It is a lot of information to go through on your own. I knew I needed others for support, motivation and accountability and was starved for community and connection due to the pandemic shutdown.
So I decided to rally friends and family to join me in going through the course. I reached out to my family and a local cancer support group,The Anchorage Young Cancer Coalition, and together we started a weekly book club-style Anticancer Lifestyle Virtual Meet Up. Each week we would individually go through a few segments from the course modules, and then meet up on Zoom to discuss the information we had learned and share how we planned to implement different lifestyle changes. It was a heartening way to have social contact and encourage one another during these unprecedented times, while taking steps to reduce our risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Over the last several months I’ve gotten to see friends and family make positive changes: my parents now regularly read food labels and share how they found a new place to purchase fresh produce; my sister has renewed focus on making healthy food choices for her boys and is committed to her daily run; my friends in the Young Cancer Coalition share ideas about freeing our home environments from toxins. As for me, I’ve found myself reminded about how central the right mindset is to our health and well-being. Through practice, I’ve become more mentally and emotionally resilient through applying the Course materials and engaging with the material collaboratively with family and friends.
If you are experiencing feelings of fear, uncertainty, isolation and loss of control in the wake of a cancer diagnosis or feeling under the weight of the global pandemic, I encourage you to focus on your mindset…on what you can do to improve your health and well-being. The Anticancer Lifestyle Course is free, so go ahead and take the leap! And if you’re inspired, like I was, think of starting your own Anticancer “Book Club” to create a positive learning community where you can share ideas, and some laughter, too.