The last 6 weeks have been full of sturm und drang for me. To paraphrase the bumper-sticker “Life happens.” And so does disease and death. A close friend, not quite 46 at the time of diagnosis found out she has secondary liver and secondary bone cancer (and they still don’t know primary source). My beloved feline companion of 14 years, Caitlin Marie, very abruptly died on Halloween morning.
So what can we do in the face of disease and death.
As Emma Goldman said “Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.” Including our own dear selves.
With Becky’s diagnosis – and the fact that I now have 8 friends with cancer, most of whom are younger than I am – I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about what to do in the face of what feels to me like an epidemic.
Here’s where my interest in food, health and politics all come together. Right now I’m reading a great book on cancer: Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition which I think ALL of us should read – those of us who don’t (seemingly) have cancer in order to prevent it.
The quote that really popped out at me on Friday was “Like patients, doctors are caught in a pincer between two powerful industries. On one side, they have the pharmaceutical industry with its obvious logic, offering easy pharmacological solutions rather than encouraging patients to take themselves in hand. On the other side, they have the food industry, protecting its interests jealously by discouraging the dissemination of overtly explicit recommendations on the links between food and illness. And what they have in common is the most profound desire for nothing to change.”
Wow! Right on Dr. Servan-Schreiber! I would add two other industries to the indictment – the mainstream allopathic medical community (ask your doctor how many classes they took on nutrition in medical school. Then ask yourself – does the answer make an ounce of sense?) and the insurance industry.
So what can we do? I DO think there is a place for political activism and lobbying for change. But meanwhile, people are dying – we can’t wait for “them” to get it right. WE HAVE TO GET IT RIGHT!!
I always ask, in all matters, “Who benefits?”. So when the Harvard study comes out and says “no, really, you don’t need that much vitamin D” I wonder “who funded that study?” I can tell you one thing – it’s for sure not Vitamin Shoppe or Dr. Andy Weil or us. I’d love to see the funding on that one.
I truly believe they are all in cahoots – Big Pharma, the medical industry, insurance companies and the food companies.
So we need to ignore them, educate ourselves and take measures to heal ourselves and this planet. And I can tell you that won’t involve Ho-hos and Big Macs.
Because, my friends, we are killing ourselves with our forks (or worse, our drive-through packages – and hey – didya know that not only is fast food itself carcinogenic, but the wrappers are too? nice job, food industry…).
I’ve been interested in health and food since my 20s so whether or not I’ve practiced what I know, my interest has kept me at least reasonably informed. But a lot of people still don’t know that microwaving food in plastic containers or covering it with plastic wrap in the microwave is carcinogenic. Or that sugar is cancer fertilizer (do you know they use a sugar solution to find cancer in allopathic/AMA-approved tests? That tells you something!).
I really believe that in all of life, and in this case, we’re all in this together. As I said in my Lifeschool post (no, I haven’t forgotten that, I’ve just been catapulted into some other roles in my life right now) “each one, teach one.”
Here’s my recommendation for today:
– Read and learn all you can on food and behavior and illness. A small percentage of disease is genetic alone. Even with genetic predisposition lifestyle choices, especially food, make a huge difference
– Apply what you learn (doh! but I didn’t apply my knowledge of the perniciousness of sugar for, oh, 30 years or more…)
– Teach those you love. Don’t preach, don’t nag. DO present the facts.
That last piece is hard for me when life and death are involved. I want those I love to get that they are the architects of their own recovery and to seize the day. But food is a complicated subject, fraught with emotions and memory and sometimes can be used as a drug (including the fact that dairy and wheat both create opiates in the body – no wonder we all love pizza, eh…).
I’ll be posting some more resources. Reading more myself. And I ask you – what is YOUR take on health? Do you believe food/nutrition/exercise/lifestyle is the major determinant of your health? If so, what are you doing to protect your greatest resource? What works for you? What resources do you want to share?
If I sound passionate, it is because there are 8 people I love who have a life-threatening illness. And I really believe Dr. Servan-Schreiber is right – there are forces at work, focused on their own greed, who are killing us. We have to ignore them and take back our own lives. As my wise father says, “food isn’t entertainment” – I would add it’s the TRUE insurance.
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