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Synergy of Survival: It Takes More Than One Thing

By HERWriter
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Because I’ve lived with ovarian cancer for 23 years and survived breast cancer along the way, people often ask me what I would attribute my survival to. When I start listing several things they’ll stop me and insist “But if you could list ONLY ONE THING, what would it be?” Is it luck? The surgeon? The formula of chemo? Nutrition? Is it Divine?

I believe that the synergistic effect of many right things working together, creating a greater and stronger result is what has kept me alive. The total is far beyond the sum of the parts.

This is not a new concept; in fact, it’s the basis for holistic healing and integrative medicine. It is an ancient notion that the mind, body and soul are inextricably connected to health and wellbeing, each affecting the other while supporting the whole.

In his bestselling book, The Blue Zones, National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner explains what he discovered while searching the globe for pockets of extremely healthy, happy aged people. The oldest and evidently happiest on earth are the inhabitants of the Blue Zones. They reach their 100th birthdays at 10 times the rate of Americans and they experience a small fraction of heart disease, cancer and other major illnesses.

Buettner sought to discover the common denominators - what these remote and somewhat underdeveloped communities had learned that made them masters of longevity.

The results are called the “Power9: Secrets to Living Longer, Better.” (To really appreciate this important work, read Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones.)

The Power9 are:
1. Keep moving
2. Know your purpose in life
3. Learn to relax (reduce stress) and “down shift”
4. Stop eating at 80% fullness
5. Eat a plant based diet (as natural as possible)
6. Drink red wine (in moderation)
7. Belong to a positive social network
8. Have some kind of spiritual belief / participation
9. Make family a priority.

Applying these principles to cancer survival was easy for me. Starting with an optimistic outlook and managing negative thoughts, I find happiness and joy more easily. This also helped me strengthen my commitment to the other elements, such as physical activity. I apply these principles in other dimensions of my life, such as detoxing my cupboards as well as my email contact list. I seek out people with strong values and a nurturing spirit, who bring good energy to my life. And, aside from the wine I’m rarely allowed, my grocery list is in the right aisles – filled with nutrition based on plants and fish.

You may not believe that these changes will help extend your life or give you a greater quality of life, however, the lifestyle observed among these simple people tells a very compelling story.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

You are in control of your life which leads to a more fulfilled, heatlhy life. Your article points out common sense as a mediator. You're doing the right things which, when shared with others, multiplies the effect. Thank you for another insightful article!

February 8, 2010 - 8:41pm

Thank you, Pat. You might start here: http://www.bluezones.com/ I've seen Buettner interviewed on Oprah and Dr. Oz, as well as news shows and his study of longevity is fascinating. You're right, cancer or not, these are great changes to make if you're interested in living longer. I am.

February 8, 2010 - 6:16pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Thanks, Annette. I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds like one that would be worth reading - whether one has cancer or not. Great advice! Pat

February 8, 2010 - 5:52pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.