October is breast cancer awareness month. It’s at a time like this that many people take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and turn their attention to something they don’t routinely think much about – cancer.
Is there anything we can do about it? Or, are we just a victim of our genes? Joan discusses how this does not at all have to be the case.
Q. How has cancer affected your life?
Joan: “You have cancer” are three words that most of us fear hearing. Fortunately, there is hope on many cancer fronts, however, there is still a long way to go in the war.
Hearing those words is of particular concern for me since my father, sister, brother, and countless other relatives, have all died from the disease. I am mindful that there may be a possible predisposition to it because of my family history. While I may often feel powerless, there is exciting new science that offers me the knowledge that I have more control over what happens to me than I may have once thought.
Q. Power over cancer? It almost seems hard to believe. Explain that.
Joan: Adding to the prevention arsenal is new genetic research that shows we are more than our genes and how we live our life is more powerful than our genetic composition. This is great news for someone like me who can easily believe cancer may be my destiny.
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, and known for his work with epigenetics and promoting the idea that the cells of your body are affected by your thoughts, a disempowering and stress-provoking belief held by many is the notion that genes control biology and, to a large extent, life. We perceive ourselves as “victims of heredity”. If a health condition (e.g., cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s) runs in our family, we assume it’s due to inherited genes and that this genetic inheritance will cast our fate as future victims.
Dr. Lipton’s work and the work of other pioneers shows that genes are dynamic and respond to everything we think, say and do. Their findings teach that we have the power to create positive or negative signals, which can impact our body positively or negatively.
Q. Well, what can we do right now to begin making an impact on our health?
Joan: Dr. Deepak Chopra, a renown integrative medicine expert and co-author of the book, Super Genes (written with Dr. Rudy Tanzi), told me in an interview that each one of us is the controller of our genes because simple changes in lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, stress, emotions) can boost genetic activity. According to Dr. Chopra, only 5 percent of our genes are fixed and 95 percent can be influenced. Think about that … we can influence 95%!
The impact of these findings may be evident in Dr. Kelly Turner’s work. In her book, Radical Remission, she chronicles end-stage cancer patients who were told there was no hope but are alive and well today, many years after their diagnosis. The key to their success: they changed everything about their life, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Q. Wow, that is encouraging! How much can medicine versus behavior play a role, then?
This information should never replace the due diligence of screenings and professional medical care, but it does offer hope and encouragement to make change.
Illness is not a guarantee because of heredity, but learned behaviors may be. It’s time for all of us to break the cycle of bad habits. It’s time for us to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, develop a positive attitude, and teach our children well.
As Dr. Chopra said, a cell puts the secret of life into practice: It knows what is good and avoids the bad, it stays focused and monitors well-being, it adapts without resistance or judgment, and it draws upon resources of nature’s intelligence.
Can we say the same about ourselves?