Fact: February is National Cancer Prevention Month!
Maybe you were like me and thought that cancer was part random and part genetic. Or maybe you knew that things like diet, weight, and exercise could actually affect your chances of having cancer?
Either way, knowledge is power, and this book is POWERFUL.
I was emailed a couple months ago to see if I’d be interested in reading 100 Perks of Having Cancer plus 100 Health Tips For Surviving it and then blogging about it. Reviewing this book hasn’t been easy. It’s hard to summarize 400+ pages of valuable information! So I decided to take a leaf out of the authors’ book and to create a numbered list of why people, with or without cancer, should read it.
So here ya go.
5 Reasons to Read 100 Perks of Having Cancer plus 100 Health Tips For Surviving it! (even if you don’t have the Big C)
First, let me tell you a little bit about the authors, Florence and Susan. What a team they make! Flo is a registered psychologist and Susan is a registered nurse. They both went through their own breast cancer experiences and then collaborated to create this book. Flo shares 100 perks of having cancer (inspired by her blog) and Susan includes 100 health tips for surviving it (more on her blog). Their sense of humor makes this book easy and enjoyable to read. Plus, there are some great illustrations and personal photos in here. After reading this book, I sort of feel connected to them!
Aren’t they amazing? So, here’s why you should read the book:
1. It inspires you.
Like, in the way those Olympic stories inspire you. Everyone loves to see a person overcome obstacles and succeed in life. It talks about living in the moment, making the most of your life, and building relationships. Susan and Flo don’t even beat around the bush. They dive right into the gritty details, like health tip #2, the effects of estrogen on the lady parts, or health tip #28, all about having normal bodily functions. The book talks about the power of prayer and of a strong support group. Really, it tells you how to get through challenges in life and that’s something that anyone, with or without cancer, can appreciate.
2. It makes you count your blessings.
Some of things I realized I’m grateful for while reading this book:
-I don’t have cancer (knocking on wood as I type this).
-I’m learning ways I can prevent cancer and I didn’t have to do any of the research!
-I have eyebrows. Therefore, I can communicate by giving ‘the look.’
-I don’t have to schedule myself around ‘good days’ and ‘bad days.’
-I don’t smoke and I’m thankful for that (fact: on average, it takes a smoker 3 ties to quit).
-I’m thankful for humor and how it helps me cope with my job and with life.
-I don’t have medical bills to pay.
-I’m already really good a sleeping, and apparently poor sleeping habits are linked to a lot of really bad things (high blood pressure, obesity, depression/anxiety, diabetes, impaired immunity, and even cancer).
3. It makes you more aware.
Reading this book was similar to my experience watching Food, Inc. or Super Size Me. It was almost shocking how many things have links to cancer and are seen as ‘normal’ in society. Examples include health tip #60 warns against “added sugar” (sad), #66 talks about the problem with eating fast food (also sad), and then #24 says I have to ditch my microwave popcorn (triple sad)! I relate to Flo in the fact that I feel like I lead a healthy-ish lifestyle. But everything is backed up with research that specifically states why cancer loves and thrives on those things and it suddenly makes it a lot less appetizing. At the same time, you learn about healthy fats, nuts, vitamins, seeds, fruits, veggies… the list goes on and on. There are beauty tips (skin care and hair care) and exercise tips (how to make the most of your walking and how dancing counts as working out).
The book also made me aware that goldfish keeping is actually a hobby. So I had to Google it. And apparently, back in September 2013, here in Boise, Idaho, we held the 20th annual Koi and Goldfish Show. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! So, naturally, I’m making plans to go for 2014.
If you get the chance to read this book, don’t skip Perk #57 Handsome Doctors and Health Tip #57 When Good Doctors Go Bad. It basically gives you some really good insider tips on how to choose a medical provider, which is huge!
4. It gives you a bunch of great recipes
The kitchen is my happy place, so I got really excited when some of Susan’s 100 health tips were some fantastic recipes to try! There’s vegan chocolate beetroot cupcakes, kale chips, pumpkin soup, a version of quinoa sloppy joes, granola, and dandelion salad.
The book also gives a list of cancer fighting foods: garlic, berries, avocado, Chile peppers, broccoli, raw carrots, mushrooms, red grapes, and olive oil. There are PAGES devoted to olive oil! Specifically, extra-virgin organic olive oil. I found my bottle at Costco and made this carrot ginger soup in the picture below: (I did stray from the recipe and added a dash of hot sauce. So good!)
This book also introduced me to Clara, a sweet little lady who shares recipes from her childhood during the depression on YouTube (she passed away in 2013 at age 98). She basically has me convinced I need to try Dandelion salad this spring. I think I can convince husband to eat it, he’s been on a ‘wilderness survival’ kick recently.
5. You will (probably) live longer if you read and heed this book.
Here’s what I mean by #5: this book will help you make changes in your life that can boost immunity, make your body healthy and strong, and build up relationships with others. It helps you focus on having a healthy body and soul. For example, health tip #18 (one of my favorites) is all about the benefits you receive personally from helping others. There is research that looks at the effects of kind acts on health and well-being and they find that being good is good for you! Focusing on helping someone else takes your mind off your own problems and distracts you from your own stress-provoking thoughts. You release endorphins, reduce feelings of despair and isolation by providing hope to others, and it improves symptoms of depression (page 80). How cool is that? So now I’ve added another book to read to my list: The Healthing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others, by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne.
What I’m MOST excited about is using what I’ve learned and sharing it with my patients. I work in a Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and a handful of our patients come in with lung cancer and need tumor resections or whole lobes of their lungs taken out. Some of them go on to do radiation or chemo, others simply need the surgery. Either way, they’re all going through the cancer scare and need some extra support.
While I doubt I’ll get them to find the perks of cancer while they’re dealing with a fresh incision and a chest tube sticking out of their side, I DO think they’ll be receptive to learning all they can about how to avoid going through that experience again!