The first question on a cancer patient’s mind after diagnosis is “Why did this happen to me? How did I get cancer?” The revelation I had in January 2004 was that the way I was living was killing me. If you have cancer, I believe you should assume the same. My intention is not to blame you or shame you but to empower you to take control of your situation and change your life. Many of the cancer-causing factors in your life can be removed and your risk of getting a recurrence or dying from cancer can be greatly reduced, just by your choices. Your choices matter.
People who care about you are going to tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth stings a little, but the truth will set you free. Accepting responsibility for your health starts with considering the possibility that cancer may be your fault. Maybe some bad decisions, bad habits, or ignorance over the course of your life contributed to your cancer. I know mine did. There’s no need to beat yourself up about it or wallow in guilt, self-pity, or regret. Instead now is the time to evaluate your life, accept whatever part you played, and learn from your mistakes. Now is the time to identify the cancer causers in your life, radically change, and move forward.
One of the most troubling things I’ve ever heard a cancer patient say is, “I’m not going to let cancer change me.” On the surface, this proclamation of defiance to the disease gives the impression of strength, determination, and willpower and could easily serve as a rallying cry for cancer fighters, but tragically, it is denial and disempowerment in disguise. It was denial that she had contributed in any way to her situation, and it was an acknowledgment that she did not believe she had the power to affect her health and her future. She did not survive. And the gravity of her statement still haunts me. Denial is far more dangerous than blaming yourself. Accepting the blame is taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for your circumstance empowers you to take control of your life and to change for the better.
Every day in cancer clinics all over the world, patients are told that their cancer is probably the result of bad luck or bad genes. This turns patients into victims. The logic is simple: nothing you did caused or contributed to your disease; therefore, there is nothing you can do to reverse it. If you have family history, they may tell you it’s genetic. If you don’t have any family history, they may still tell you it’s genetic. Heredity and genetics are easy scapegoats, but fewer than 5 percent of cancers are genetic, and not everyone with a “cancer gene” develops cancer. Genes may load the gun, but your diet, lifestyle, and environment pull the trigger. However, if you believe that you are powerless and that there is nothing you can do to positively affect your health and your future, your only hope is medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs.
You are not powerless and you are not a victim. The health or disease you are experiencing today is largely the result of the diet and lifestyle decisions you’ve made in the past. If you abuse your body, it is going to break down sooner, but if you take care of your body it will work better and you will increase your odds of health, healing, and long life. Today’s choices affect tomorrow’s health. Your choices matter!
Cancer is not the cause of a sick body. It is the effect of a sick body. You aren’t sick because you have cancer—you have cancer because you are sick. When you accept that you may have played a part in your body becoming vulnerable to developing cancer, you will also realize that you can play a part in healing it. If you broke it, maybe you can fix it. If you caused it, maybe you can cure it. If the way you were living resulted in disease, maybe changing the way you live will result in health. Early in my cancer journey, I realized that I had never really taken care of myself. Being thin I assumed I had a free pass to eat whatever I wanted, and for many years I was unknowingly poisoning and polluting my body. I was living on processed food, fast food, and junk food. I was well fed but nutrient deficient. I was stuffed but starving. I had a history of exposure to environmental toxins. And I had a lot of unhealthy stress and negative emotions in my life. Deep down I hated myself, and I was desperately seeking the attention and approval of others to combat my insecurity and unhappiness. All of these factors contributed to my disease. And they all had to do with my choices. I needed to change, and cancer was the divine tap on the shoulder, the catalyst for that change.
Excerpted and reprinted with permission from Chris Beat Cancer by Chris Wark. Available: hayhouse.com or amazon.com.
Chris Wark is an author, speaker, and health coach. He was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2003 at 26 years old. He had surgery, but instead of chemotherapy, he used nutrition and natural therapies to heal himself. Chris was featured in the award-winning documentary film The C Word. Chris inspires countless people to take control of their health and reverse disease with a radical transformation of diet and lifestyle. You can visit him online at chrisbeatcancer.com.