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Planning Your Journey to Wellness

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you receive a diagnosis out of the blue. Your world gets turned upside down and you can feel like you are losing control. However, it’s important to take a deep breath and then start stripping back the layers and focus on the things that you can control. The problem is often knowing where to start and what to do. That’s why we have developed this “Planning your journey to wellness” template for you to follow.

Life can quickly transition from focusing on your work, children, social life etc, to waking up thinking about cancer, going to appointments to discuss the cancer and going to bed stressing about cancer. With all this intense physical and emotional focus on the cancer, it’s easy to start identifying yourself as your cancer. It may seem obvious, but it is important to realise that you are not your cancer, you are still you. You are still the same person, a parent, a son, daughter, sibling a friend, you are just having to go through some adjustments.

It is also important to choose the language you use around the cancer carefully. Try not to refer to it as “My Cancer”. Try not to take ownership of the disease or make it feel welcome or a part of you.

Think of cancer as a wakeup call from your body, an awakening which has been brought to the surface to let you know that you need to make some changes in your life. Acknowledge that this is an opportunity to change for the better and as long as there is breath in your lungs and a will to live, this is certainly not a death sentence. Then try put the diagnosis of cancer aside for a while as you take on these new habits you are about to plan. Not because of the cancer, but because you have a strong desire to become healthier. Focus on improving your health, and your body will take care of the cancer.

One of the reasons we feel overwhelmed, is due to the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen; and not knowing which path we need to walk to beat the disease. And whilst no one can tell you with certainty which is the right path is for you, knowledge provides you options and learning from people who have walked the path before can help ease the burden. We understand how stressful and unsettling this time can be, so we hope our comprehensive action plan will give you some peace, knowing you are doing everything you can do to ensure a speedy recovery.

So, take a deep breath, find a quiet place and start creating your plan to wellness.

First things first. No matter what month of the year it is, purchase a diary and at the front, add the contact details for everyone you meet who is offering assistance throughout your journey. These may be people such as health/medical practitioners. After their contact details, write a short paragraph about what their role is in your journey and what services they offer. Leave a space for writing additional notes for each meeting and automatically add any upcoming appointments to the appropriate day in your diary. You may think you will remember everything, but when you have many appointments, it can be easy to forget and trying to remember everything can be stressful.

Example:
Who is my GP? _____________________

Contact Phone ____________________
What does my GP offer me? Eg. Script repeats, Monthly check ups, test result reviews etc.
__________________________________________________________

Notes: __________________________________________________________

Who is my Occupational Therapist? ______________

Contact Phone __________________

What does my OT offer me? Eg. Home equipment aids, Rehab therapy at home etc.
__________________________________________________________

Notes: __________________________________________________________

When you meet your GP, Oncologist and alternative therapists, make sure you have downloaded the “Questions to ask your GP & Oncologist” and ask all relevant questions. Either you or your support person should write thorough notes throughout your appointment and summarise the notes in your diary.

There’s a lot of information to take in and it is natural to feel overwhelmed when you are trying to decide which path to take with your healing journey. We strongly recommend starting some form of meditation to help you clear your mind and see what information sits well with you before you make any irreversible decisions. Visit the FCWF website for some recommended guided meditation resources.

Journal your thoughts around possible treatment paths. Talk with different practitioners and seek second opinions from doctors/oncologists. Workshop the pros and cons of each option. You can use some of the resources within the FCWF website.

It is both useful and therapeutic to use your diary to journal how you are feeling each day, any appointments you have coming up and any appointments you have had. Also, your diary will serve as your gratitude journal.

At the top of each day, write “Three things I am grateful for today”. Go ahead and write in the first three lines, 1. 2. 3 and fill them in EVERY day. Even on the days where you are not feeling grateful for anything, these are the days when it is most important to ponder on what you do still have to be grateful for. It might be as simple as writing something like I am happy and grateful my spouse made me a beautiful lunch today. Or, I am happy and grateful that the sun was shining today. More info can be found on the Managing your Mindset page of the FCWF website.

There are going to be some tough times and when you are feeling down. It is important that you have a trigger statement to help change your mood and get you focusing on a positive instead of a negative. We can switch our mind chemistry by using a positive affirmation or mantra. Take a minute and think about what empowering mantra you can use. Your mantra can evolve over time.

For example:
“I am getting stronger and better every day in every way”. Write yours here and/or at the front of your journal:

__________________________________________________________________________

It is important to have a clear idea about the reasons why you want to live and continue to plan your life once you are well again. In a prominent place in your diary, write the following:

Three things I WILL do when I am well again. It might be going on an overseas trip, learning a new language or competing in a sporting event.

1. ____________________________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________________________

Then write three reasons why you want to live. A lot of people make the mistake of writing reasons focusing on other people rather than themselves. Eg. “I want to live so I can look after my partner”. “I want to live because my children need their parent”.

Instead, write things like “I will live so I can be around to walk my daughter down the aisle”. “I am going to live because I want to travel the world”. These should be things which when you think about them, it sparks emotion in you.

1. ____________________________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________________________

Now, call a meeting with your family and friends and start delegating things which you would normally do so that you can focus on healing.

Who will you invite?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Before your meeting, ask yourself these questions:
What tasks would you like to retain which may benefit your healing? Maybe walking your dog?
_____________________________________________________________________

Which tasks would you like to delegate that you might find draining or stressful?
_____________________________________________________________________

What support do you need around the house in regards to cleaning/maintenance?
_____________________________________________________________________

Where is the closest suppliers of reasonably priced organic veggies and meat? Review the FCWF Meal Plan for shopping lists of what you will need and provide the list to your carer.
_____________________________________________________________________

Let your family and friends know your new way of eating until you have beaten the cancer. Let them know how important it is for you not to eat processed foods and to stick with meals only created from the FIT 50 list of foods. Maybe print a copy and give them one in case they want to bring you meals and don’t know what to cook.

Complete the list of things you might want assistance with. During the meeting, write the names of the people who will help you with what:

Grocery Shopping – Organic Meat & Veg________________________________________
Cooking meals: _ _________________________________________________________
Preparing Juices & Smoothies: ________________________________________________
House Cleaning: _____________________________________________________________
Walking your Dog: ___________________________________________________________
Taking Children to after school activities: ________________________________________
Who will accompany me to appointments? _______________________________________
Other -_____________________________________________________________________
Other -_____________________________________________________________________
Other -_____________________________________________________________________
Other -_____________________________________________________________________

Complete the list of things you might want assistance with. During the meeting, write the names of the people who will help you with what:

Grocery Shopping – Organic Meat & Veg_________________________________________
Cooking meals: ____________________________________________________________
Preparing Juices & Smoothies: ________________________________________________
House Cleaning: ____________________________________________________________
Walking your Dog: __________________________________________________________
Taking Children to after school activities: _________________________________________
Who will accompany me to appointments? _______________________________________
Other : _____________________________________________________________________
Other : _____________________________________________________________________
Other : _____________________________________________________________________
Other : _____________________________________________________________________

Don’t forget to list any assistance that government agencies and volunteer associations can provide.

If you are unable to work due to your illness, depending where you live, you may be entitled to sick leave to a certain extent from your employer and then fortnightly payments from the government to help with your living costs. Speak to your employer and accountant to see what options are available to you.

Check to see if your spouse, parent or child may be entitled to taking “Carers Leave”. They need to speak with their employer to see if they qualify, however in Australia, unused sick leave can be taken as carers leave to assist with a close relative.

Do you have any medical insurance or benefits from your superannuation fund you can access? Investigate these options for possible financial support.

  • Start the FCWF Meal Plan as soon as possible. You can get a copy at fightingcancerwithfood.net
  • Discuss your new way of eating with your family or people in your household and make sure they are on board and understand what you are doing. What you eat over the coming months will have the most significant positive or negative effect on our health, so it is incredibly important that you have your loved one’s support. Share the Fit50 food list with your loved ones so they know what you should and shouldn’t eat.
  • Remove all processed foods/meats/soda/store bought fruit juice or any unhealthy food that you are likely to crave from your pantry and fridge/freezer. Control your environment before it controls you.
  • Diet and regular sodas should be avoided altogether as well as any product that contains aspartame. Aspartame is represented on food labels as number 950-952. Sucralose (955) is another unhealthy sweetener alternative, so should be avoided. Use organic stevia only to sweeten foods. Other sweeteners such as rice malt syrup are still full of naturally occurring sugars so should also be avoided.
  • Increase your vegetable intake. Eat plenty of above ground vegetables and a moderate amount of below ground vegetables. Stick to the vegetables from the FIT 50 list to ensure you are only consuming low glycemic carbohydrates, avoiding spiking blood sugar levels which may cause unnecessary spikes of insulin.
  • Cut out dairy apart from organic fermented dairy such as kefir
  • Reduce meat intake to just one serve per week of: Organic Beef, One Serve of Organic Chicken, One Serve of Wild Caught White Fish (No shellfish as they are scavengers and contain high amounts of toxins) and one serve of Salmon or oily fish with no skin. Around 150 – 200g Maximum per serve.Or follow the FCWF Meal Plan for a structured plan.
  • Refrain from using a microwave to heat food. Use a conventional oven or stove as the microwave can change the nutritional structure of foods
  • Ensure all meats are cooked thoroughly to kill off any bacteria or pathogens. When reheating food, ensure you raise the temperature from cold to 60 degrees centigrade as quickly as possible and consume immediately.
  • Do not cook oils on high heat. Low-heat cooking or baking (less than 240 degrees) prevents oils or fats from turning carcinogenic. Instead of deep-frying, pan-frying, and sautéing, opt for healthier methods such as baking, boiling, steaming, or broiling.
  • Go easy on the barbecue. Burning or charring meats creates carcinogenic substances. If you do choose to barbecue.
  • Do not fear good fats from oils such as avocado, macadamia, coconut and olive oil as well as fats from coconut milk/cream, avocados, nuts and seeds. Your cells are predominantly made from fat. Restricting fat intake is like taking away wood and nails from a builder and asking them to build you a strong house.
  • Store oils in a cool dark place in airtight containers, as they quickly become rancid when exposed to heat, light, and air.
  • Drink only filtered water – Tap water can contain hundreds of unregulated substances, from pesticides and heavy metals to hormones and other pollutants.
  • Stay hydrated. Add a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon to the water you drink throughout the day. As a general rule of thumb, multiply your weight in kilos by 0.025 to calculate the amount of water you should drink per day in liters. Increase this amount by around 10% if you are very active or live in a warm climate. You can use still or sparkling mineral water and add some organic granulated stevia if you wish to sweeten it up a little. No tonic water as it contains sugar.
  • Reduce exposure to fumes from household cleaners. If you must use them, make sure the area is well ventilated and you are wearing a protective mask.
  • Check your shampoo/conditioner, hand and body soap, face creams and moisturisers for chemical nasties such as propylene glycol and parabens. Use organic brands such as WELEDA where possible.
  • Do NOT store food in plastic containers as most of them contain BPA. BPA is a weak synthetic estrogen found in many rigid plastic products such as plastic containers and the lining of tin cans which are used to store food. When food is heated in plastic containers, more chemicals can leach into the food so use glass containers only.
  • Stop taking any unnecessary medications. Check with your doctor and reduce medications which may have side effects to a minimum.
  • Do NOT use non-stick pans. The Teflon used to coat the pans is toxic and a known carcinogen. Use cast Iron or stainless steel with nolining only.
  • If you feel well enough, start exercising at least 10 minutes per day. Even a brisk walk is a great start. Exercise helps carry oxygen to cells which can encourage cancer cells to self-destruct, a process called   Tryfind an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your daily life. Maybe book in a regular time to go for a walk and catch up with a friend.
  • Get 15 minutes of sun exposure per day. Go for a walk on the beach or around the garden barefoot to connect with the earth.
  • Eat to heal – Know in your heart that when you follow the FCWF meal plan, everything you eat is providing your body exactly what it needs to heal itself. All the power you need to make yourself well, is already within you. Every time you eat, give thanks for the nourishment you are about to receive. Even if you are not religious in any way, it is good practice to always start a meal with saying over in your head or out loud “I am grateful for the nourishment I am about to receive”.
  • Control your environment and remove emotional and physical stressors. This might mean removing yourself from work or avoiding situations or events where you may experience unnecessary stress. This includes hanging around with people you do not like or that rub you up the wrong way. Do not spend time or give energy to people who are negative; or do not understand your journey.
  • Know yourself and your weaknesses. If you know you enjoy a drink, try stay away from places or people who would encourage you to drink. If you know you are a sucker for chocolate, don’t keep it in the house.
  • Listen to your body and instincts, they are usually right.
  • Try not to consume the same foods every day apart from your juice and shakes. Consuming a variety of foods will provide a diverse range of nutrients which your body needs to heal.
  • Almonds, Macadamias and Cashews make great snacks, but they must be natural and not roasted as roasted nuts are often roasted with poor quality oils.
  • Aim to consume Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with the addition of two snacks/shakes per day.
  • Time between meals should be a min of 2.5hrs but max of 3.5hrs. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
  • Prepare juices fresh when possible. If there will be a delay in consumption, add additional lemon juice and keep refrigerated to reduce oxidization.
  • Consume one cup of herbal green or flavored tea after Lunch and Dinner. Add up to one teaspoon of natural honey.
  • Limit coffee intake to no more than one per day. Preferably zero until you have recovered but if you must have one, use coconut milk or organic almond or soy milk instead ofcow’s milk and only small amounts.
  • Store your cell phone away from your body when possible and when you are sleeping, keep electrical appliances as far away from you as possible.
  • Strive to be lean but not underweight. Maintaining a healthy weight range will help you recover faster and reduce risks of recurrences.