I recently dove into Lance Armstrong's book It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. What a story! This shouldn't be news to you that Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer. Stage 3 testicular cancer to be exact. At one point given only a 20% chance of survival, he has gone on to win the Tour De France nearly half a dozen times. Do you realize how much of a treacherous, agonizing, long race this is? Check out the map below I found...the race covers 3,471 kilometers (~2235 MILES...yikes!) Can you imagine cycling that? Da. Da. Daaaang.
Armstrong's book has been a great read so far. His writing is so down-to-earth, oftentimes humorous and always honest. It's one of those reads that you think about before bed and wonder what you would do if you ever fell into Armstrong's shoes. He is a true hero. A true fighter. A world-class leader. We can all take some sort of motivation and courage from his words.
Armstrong shares a definition of the word "human" that totally struck a chord with me: "Characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, especially susceptible to weakness, and therefore showing the qualities of man." He goes on to raise a very valid point, explaining that athletes (and I think it's safe to add ourselves) do not think of themselves under this definition. "...they're too busy cultivating the aura of invincibility to admit to being fearful, weak, defenseless, vulnerable, or fallible, and for that reason neither are they especially kind, considerate, merciful, benign, lenient, or forgiving, to themselves or anyone around them" (70-71). Wow. Well said, Armstrong. Sure, we can find ourselves weak and immune to sickness, hard feelings, and the like, but how often do we deny it to our loved ones? How often do we think of ourselves first before others? None of us are perfect. I think we can all agree on that. But take a moment to ponder your lifestyle choices. Do you live to serve yourself? Those around you? God? Whatever you choose, there will always be a bump on the road, but inevitably you can make it through with the optimism and willpower to carry on.
Not too get extremely personal, but I lost my mother to liver cancer at age 16. Looking back, it is a giant blur because I was too wrapped in my social life to come to the realization of the FIGHT and struggles accompanied with cancer. It has gotten much harder over time especially with the milestones she has missed out on. If I could share one lesson with you, it would be this. When my sweet, sweet mama was on her deathbed, sicker than I can explain, I remember guests would come visit here and there. When my mom was the one who needed comfort and little things such as a glass of water, a warm rag for her forehead, or some good ol' peace and quiet, she was too busy trying to make others comfortable and happy in her home, that she never put herself first. I strive to live my life like that. While I do care about myself and my own achievements, I strongly believe that you should give more than you take. Whether or not it takes a hardship such as cancer to realize it, please just consider it. It's rejuvenating when you live a life for all three: yourself, others, and God.
Armstrong suggests that he fought his battle with cancer through willpower, the true grace of friendship, and dieting. He shares with readers some 'cancer-fighting' foods and techniques he feels kept him alive. I also googled some of these cancer preventatives...Read them below... and begin to fight WWIII with me: the defeat of preventing/overcoming cancer!
Foods to consider adding to your diet:
Broccoli*** (Armstrong's go-to veggie)
Teas (green and black)
*Eat lots of fruit and veggies
What foods to AVOID:
Sugar ...sugary snacks are a no-no! Pop lovers...beware.
High fructose corn syrup, enriched bleached flour, white rice, white bread...other "white" foods (look for these on ingredient labels)
Hydrogenated oils (Oils are heated in the presence of hydrogen & metal catalysts...This is how food in the grocery stores get longer shelf life ...this is how trans fat is created)
Sodium nitrates & nitrates (If you don't know or can't pronounce an ingredient on the label...UM I recommend avoiding!)
5 of the worst foods: hot dogs, processed meats and bacon (UGGGH & to think that I love bacon), doughnuts, french fries, chips/crackers/cookies
^^^These foods contain hydrogenated oils & white flour
Diet and exercise
Get your vitamin D--a little sunlight is good...make sure you wear sunscreen!
H20.. stay hydrated...so important! 8 glasses of water a day
No smoking & stay away from secondhand smoke!!!
Limit red meat and animal fat
Limit your alcohol intake
Become familiar with your family medical history...be aware.
Safe sex =)
Get screened regularly
***If your nonstick pans have any scratches in them, replace them!
*Don't overuse antibacterial products..switch to natural products
*Stick to produce from the United States... other countries use pesticides that are outlawed in the U.S.
*Know your water...sometimes getting it directly out of the faucet isn't such a great idea...
*Dry-cleaning isn't so good for you..the newer and improved way is to find a cleaner that does "wetcleaning" which involves the use of biodegradable soaps.
**Get 8-10 hours of sleep per day in darkness. (studies suggest that sleeping in the dark is essential to supporting an endocrine system that can suppress cancer development)
*Strive to be emotionally balanced...keep away from that bad stress!