My trip to The Block Center in Chicago was so worthwhile because I’m now hopeful that I have a good chance of living longer than expected with recurrent lung cancer. They have a lot to offer that my conventional oncologists don’t.

My trip to The Block Center in Chicago was so worthwhile because I’m now hopeful that I have a good chance of living longer than expected with recurrent lung cancer. They have a lot to offer that my conventional oncologists don’t.

For example, the way they give chemo cuts down on the toxicity and side effects and increases the chemo’s and body’s abilities to have better success at killing more cancer cells. They infuse a mixture of IV vitamins beforehand and then give the chemo on a pump that doses it to peak when the cancer cells are more active. Their website, http://www.blockmd.com/, or Dr Block’s book, “Life Over Cancer”, can explain it in much more detail than I.

I can tell you, though, that Dr. Block and his team practice Integrative Oncology, which combines the same conventional treatments as my doctors at MGH along with cutting edge treatments that also work. Even if the pharmacology companies haven’t funded research or clinical trials on them, doctors like Dr. Block are having successful results. I also like the fact that Dr. Block is still closely aligned with the academic medical community and runs the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Illinois.  I believe strongly that in combining the best of both medical worlds, I have the highest chance of living longer than the twelve to eighteen months that the statistics say.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the Harvard-trained MD, who has written many books on Integrative Medicine, said in the foreword to “Life Over Cancer” that he would go to The Block Center if he had cancer, and it is where he sends his friends and family. I’ve read a lot about integrative cancer treatments, had an extensive consult at the center and was very impressed with their research, treatment options, professionalism, warmth and openness. They became excited when they talked about their success of cancer treatment for people with late stage and recurrent disease, and I haven’t experienced that anywhere else. I spent a lot of time listening to my inner feelings to make this decision and while I love my oncologists at MGH and sincerely hope they’ll continue to follow me, I’m going to begin chemo there next week.

The chemo seems to be the easy part of the program, because the rest depends on my compliance with a huge lifestyle change — mainly diet and exercise.  My active participation is crucial.  No more slacking or excuses.  No more sugar, wine, meat, chicken, refined white flour or dairy. And being a part-time computer chair potato is no longer an option, if I want to live. And I do.

Instead of focusing on what I can’t have any more, I have to think about all the gains.  I am partly there because I’d rather eat that way anyhow since it tastes and makes me feel great.  I can still have a sweet treat made with agave or stevia. I just have to change the ingredients, but can still have things I love.  It will take some adjustment and time to prepare the foods, but I’m feeling confident.

I’m “going to have to exercise an hour to an hour and a half every day,” said Dr. Block.  “Our cancer program requires a commitment to a whole lifestyle change.”  He must have seen the panic on my face because he quickly assured me that they will teach me how to get there.  Unfortunately, that didn’t give me quite the assurance that I’m going to need, and I know there’s no magic bullet to give me the energy or desire to do it.  I am just going to have to do it. But how?

On a 1 – 10 scale, with 10 being the most fit, I’d rate myself at a 3.  Sad but true. Since this journey is about being honest with myself, there it is.   I have to admit though, that the thought of being more fit – even a 6-7 sounds appealing.  I was there in my hospital nursing days, but that was a long time ago.  I wonder what motivates really fit people to commit to daily exercise come hell or high water.  What drives these people from their chairs?  What do they know that I don’t? I need some of what they have, so I’m on a mission to find out in the hopes that I can adopt enough of it to get me started and keep me going.  Hmmm – back to Google for answers.

Coach Nicole at healthyspark.com wrote:

You might say, “My body never wants to exercise! I’m tired! Sore! Old! If I listen to my body, I’ll never work out!” You may feel that way now, especially if you’re new to exercise or just getting back onto the exercise wagon. Most likely, we feel this way because we’ve ignored our bodies for so long that we’ve lost the desire to exercise. As kids we called it playing, and it was fun. But as adults, it’s a “work”out. But if you truly listen to your body, it does want to move and be strong and fit.

Healthy Living 24 says:

Aside from having a healthy and good-looking body, boosting the immune system to resist infections and other diseases is the gift of a healthy and fit body. Also, when you are healthy, you can think clearly and decide effectively on personal things as well as the issues in your work or business. A healthy body equals a healthy mind. So, do you still wonder why everybody wants a fit body and makes all efforts to have one?
I found a forum where someone asked the question, “What’s it like to be fit?” Some of the answers:

I guess I’m fit. The main plus is that I feel good moving around in this body. It’s like driving a well tuned car, very easy to do things and get around and my thinking and focus in clear. The attention is just a bonus.

I would recommend you spend a couple of minutes each day seeing yourself as fit. First have the idea, and then you’ll have the thing. This visualization trains your subconscious to start seeing yourself as fit, and then your subconscious will go to work on making it a reality.

OK, this information hit home: especially the part about playing as children.  It was fun. I loved to play when I was a child and now I see my grandchildren having a ball as they expend energy that I can’t even imagine ever having.  ‘Work out’ has a negative connotation to me.  Work verses play – I’ll take play, thank you very much.

I also liked the comment about spending a couple of minutes a day seeing myself as fit.  That was a great reminder, because I do know that visualization works.  I’ve done it enough in the past with good results; putting the intention out there, seeing it happening and then it does.  So I’ll adopt those strategies, which will be a huge change from my old negative picture of dragging my tired, unfit body all the way to the gym to sweat and ache. Maybe if I look at it with the excited, expectant and curious eyes of a child who is ready for new adventures, it will be fun — not work.  When I went to the gym before, I’d silently do my thing, keeping to myself.  Maybe I’ll change it up and make it an opportunity to socialize, feel my body move like it’s supposed to and picture myself as fit and healthy. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

I feel better already.  Forget things like, “no pain, no gain.”  I’m going to have some fun.  I’ll perspire out toxins and get healthy instead of feeling hot, sweaty and miserable.  Maybe my ‘fitness’ glass can be half full after all, if I just get myself out the door, one step at a time.