Focus on prevention

September 5, 2014

Both of my older brothers had colon cancer; the oldest died at 36 and the other lost his colon at 48. This was when my family learned that we hold the mutation for Lynch syndrome.

Lynch syndrome is an inherited disorder that increases your risk for a dozen different early onset cancers, particularly cancers of the colon and rectum. My particular mutation also holds implications for cancer of the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder ducts, upper urinary tract, brain and skin.

Those with Lynch syndrome are encouraged to undergo extensive annual testing and surveillance for the many cancers that we are at great risk for developing. I am 43 and, thankfully, have not had any cancer. I believe that there are a number of variables that contribute to cancer. I make a concerted effort every day, in every aspect of my life, to prevent cancer from developing.

I have become one of the world’s greatest patient advocates for those with Lynch syndrome, blogging about the emotional aspects of Lynch syndrome and doing research to understand it. I read a lot about other genetic disorders and diseases in order to give my diagnosis perspective.

What I have come to realize through my research and advocacy work is that we can no longer rely on a cure for most cancers; each cancer is different, unpredictable and elusive.

Prevention against developing cancer is key. Even though I have a predisposition to developing one or more cancers in my lifetime because I have Lynch syndrome, my genes do not have to determine my destiny.

We need to focus on cancer prevention, instead of sitting passively waiting for a “cure.” We know what causes most cancers, but we do not incorporate preventative measures into our daily lives. Cancer prevention requires a mindful, vigilant lifestyle. I work out, eat an organic, plant-based diet, consume copious amount of filtered water, tea and spices, maintain a healthy weight, surround myself with positivity and beauty, try and minimize my stress, and refrain from using any toxic products in my home or on my body. After my brother died, I began having colonoscopies every two years.

I have lots of beautiful beings in my life, my family, friends, and my dog, all which give me tremendous purpose.

I also believe that the mind is the greatest weapon we hold in our fight against cancer and as a result, I meditate religiously and tell myself every day “I am strong and healthy and will stay this way.” A constellation of factors is required for cancer prevention; it’s not simply just one thing.

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