Being Radical – Taking Control of Your Health

Being radical – taking control of your own health

This post is the fourth in the series exploring the 9 key factors that Dr Kelly Turner PhD found were present in the recoveries from advanced cancer that she studied in her book Radical Remission.  Those 9 factors were:

  • Radically changing your diet (Part 1 here and Part 2 here)imgres-2
  • Taking control of your health (here)
  • Following your intuition (here)
  • Using herbs and supplements (here)
  • Releasing suppressed emotions (here)
  • Increasing positive emotions (here)
  • Embracing social support (here)
  • Deepening your spiritual connection (here)
  • Having strong reasons for living (here).

Today we are going to explore what taking control of your own health means.  To find out more about the book Radical Remission, go to the post “Being Radical – Introduction” here.

I'll take charge from hereThis has to be one of the best topics for those facing any chronic illness. I get really excited by it. This is where we get to be ornery, difficult, and just plain annoying for our doctors. We get to ask questions they don’t expect and we demand compelling reasons for doing what they suggest. We get to take control. We get to take responsibility for our own health.

The especially good news? Patients who are deemed “difficult” by their doctors seem to have better chances of recovery and survival. Yep! That’s right. There have been various studies that confirm this. One done in 1987 found that nine exceptional survivors of cancer “assumed responsibility for all aspects of their lives, including recovery. Thus, medical personnel were often used as consultants.”

And Dr Kelly Turner certainly found this to be true amongst the patients she studied in writing Radical Remission. That’s why she included a whole chapter on it.
So what does taking control of your own health look like?

Dr Turner writes about 3 things: not being passive, willingness to change and dealing with resistance.  My experience has been a little broader than this, so I’ve expanded it.

First, understand that you are statistically unique

That is, the statistics as described to you by the doctors don’t have to apply to you. I’ve talked before about the pointing of the bone. Statistics can be like this and if we believe them, the more probable it is that they will become a reality for us. To accept the statistics gives rise to the greater likelihood that I will pop off at the time predicted. Not me. I’ll go when I’m ready thank you very much. In fact, those who participated in the 1987 study “remained confident that they would not die, and asserted that these positive expectations were critical to the healing process.”

Exceptional patients refuse to be victims. They educate themselves and become specialists in their own care. They question the doctor because they want to understand their treatment and participate in it.
They demand dignity, personhood, and control, no matter what the course of the disease.
Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles

Second, take an active interest in all the treatments

that are available and which are recommended for you. This is the opposite of passively accepting what the doctors have to say. It means doing research, the internet, reading books (like Radical Remission and You Can Conquer Cancer) and finding what resonates for you (we will talk more about this when we look at intuition). It means looking at the statistics and determining whether the treatment being offered is going to provide you with the best possible outcome. It means questioning every test or scan result and finding out what it means. It means getting second and even third opinions. And it might mean going to complementary and alternative practitioners and healers.

Whatever you do, you have to remember that the real power for healing will come from within. Without your participation and your conviction the results could be lackluster. Of course, this implies a sticky question: do you really want to live? And I say sticky because I’ve had moments when I truly have wondered if I did. Sometimes, it would be very easy to give all this up and just succumb. Sometimes, I’ve been completely exhausted, mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. But at the end of the day, gratitude for these experiences and a desire to use them to help others has won out.

If the desire to live is strong and you follow a logical approach,
there is every reason to expect a good outcome
Dr Ian Gawler, You Can Conquer Cancer

Third, make your own plan for healing

See doctors, naturopaths, dieticians, nutritionists, shamanic healers, whatever you want, and pick and choose the best each has to offer. This is what I did. I accepted chemotherapy and mono-clonal antibodies for 6 months, which put me into remission. During that time, I did further reading and inquiring. I found practitioners other than my oncologists and integrated their advice into my plan.

Exceptional patients manifest the will to live in its most potent form. They take charge of their lives even if they were never able to before, and they work hard to achieve health and peace of mind.
Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles

Fourth, embrace your plan and be willing to make the changes it requires

Inevitably, this will involve significant lifestyle changes. It involves diet, quality sleep, reducing stress. The best thing on my plan was meditation. By training the mind and becoming less reactive to situations around me, it was much easier to implement the radical changes required, especially to the diet. I also used meditation to enhance the treatment outcomes, visualizing the chemo and other drugs as healing light, travelling through my body and dissolving the tumours. If there is one lesson I’ve learnt though, it’s don’t be too rigid (or in my case, fanatical) about the plan. Circumstances can change and the plan may no longer be appropriate. Tweak it where you need to, but stick to the spirit of the plan.

Turning around a major illness is not a casual affair. It does take work. 
Dr Ian Gawler, You Can Conquer Cancer

Fifth, you may have to deal with resistance

Whatever your plan involves, people around you are bound to have their own opinions and judgments, including your doctors. My oncologist chastised me recently after giving me some advice, saying “Of course, you’ll just do as you please, won’t you?” (Shhh – don’t tell him I did what he suggested).

Family members and friends, who of course are frightened of losing you, may plead that you do exactly what the doctors recommend, even when it doesn’t sit right for you. Or they may just be passively resistant to your plan, having it eek out in other ways. Or conversely, they may be dead against you having conventional treatment although you’ve decided that’s in your best interests. Spending time alone, searching within, will assist you to find your power to do what you believe is best for you.

The ability to love oneself, combined with the ability to love life, fully accepting
that it won’t last forever, enables one to improve the quality of life.
Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles

There is a fabulous story at the end of this chapter in Radical Remission of a man, in the late stages of kidney cancer, who took control of his own healing and defied the odds. And what he did was a little unusual, but highly effective. I’m not going to share it here because if you are suffering from a chronic illness like cancer, this book, and You Can Conquer Cancer, belong on your bookshelf. And even if you haven’t had a serious diagnosis, reading these books might just help you to turn your health, and your life, around for the better no matter what.

Be happy. Be well.

And so be it.

Jane x

About Jane Treleaven

Jane Treleaven is a meditation teacher and health coach empowering people to be happy and well through just being, essentially being.

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