There are a couple of events in my life that have led me to pose this question:
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer, for the second time. She's 26; the first occurrence was at 18 and involved chemo, as well as being a test subject in an experimental drug trial in which she was one of two survivors, out of 30 subjects. She's looking at chemo again, and a severely reduced quality of life, extended time away from work, and uncertainty about being able to take care of (and see through raising) her child.
Also this year, I did something rather stupid and broke my tibia in three places (along with the talus [ankle joint] and the fibula in a couple of places.) I have an 8" metal plate in my leg with 15 screws holding the whole thing together. At one point I was told I might not walk again; I've gotten to the point where I'm hobbling around okay, and even hiking a mile or two here and there. I seem to be making steady progress, but at times it feels excruciatingly slow, and I can't help but lament my reduced quality of life. Prior, I was barefoot running often, hiking 10+ miles at a time, biking 20+, dancing for several hours a week, and generally enjoying the physical prowess provided by being a strong capable young man, with a good diet to boot.
(Small disclaimer: I'm not comparing my situation with her's; they just both led me to the same line of thought.)
In short, I'm thinking about what Mark Sission would refer to as "thriving vs. surviving" - and it makes me wonder, how deeply do you hold the "die biting the throat" philosophy? That is to say, what now in a case of incurring a restricted quality of life that may not have an end/resolution? What of the amount of struggle and chronic pain required just to function on a day to day basis? Should one's priorities, interests, and eventually internal sense of self-definition have to shift; willing or not? Does one simply have to do the best they can in the present and try to forget what they used to be capable of?
Please note that this is posed simply out of curiosity in regard to the philosophies held in a community that generally supports a natural, high quality, lifestyle.
asked byraney (4875)
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on December 30, 2011
at 02:41 PM
This is a really good question. I'm 48 years old, formerly highly active -- chopping wood, a player of soccer, field hockey, rugby, biking, hiking, track, racquetball... now, I'm a 2x cancer survivor (with extensive issues related to side effects from research meds), and have MS and a congenital immune disorder. To me, the issue of 'thriving' vs. 'surviving' changes when you're dealing with health issues that are chronic and that are not caused, specifically, by diet, and, sometimes, I think, slipping into the mind-set of "not good enough anymore"... often alternating with the mindset of "why bother?". In this case, the issue of thriving vs. surviving comes down to being able to do as much as you're able, for as LONG as you're able -- to be in the best possible health that you can be, despite setbacks.
2 years ago, I couldn't walk (relegated to a wheelchair and a mobility device), weighed 450 lbs, and felt like dookie most days. I changed my diet not because I expected miracles, but because I really, really wanted to have a chance at some independence. Heck, at the time, I was too large to even clean myself in the bathroom without assistance or bathe properly without assistance!!!! That just gnawed at me. I didn't mind getting help when my MS was flaring or the damaged muscle in my heart went on the fritz and I needed assistance to move around -- that was just part and parcel of my disease... but I hated like heck when my illness was quiescent and I couldn't walk to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea! So I started making small changes, not to have a perfect body or a perfect life, but to have MORE life, mobility, joy, and independence than I had at that time.
For your friend who is struggling with cancer, having superior nutrition may make the difference between having NO quality of life at all, and being able to enjoy -some- of the life even through the chemo. Even having days where nothing stays down but bone broth provides substantially better support to the body than sipping on reconstituted Campbell's fake broth, and that -does- help with healing/recovery. She may not come through unscathed, but good nutrition will certainly give her a better chance than the soul-less food that is typically provided for these patients (and I can say that as someone who is genuinely appalled at what the cancer hospital I work at serves to their patients and patient's families!!!)
For you, being able to recover as much as you're able to is a worthy and noble goal -- we don't have to be perfect, but 'thriving' means getting every morsel of joy out of the life we HAVE, not waiting around for some imaginary life that is out of reach. Cherish how far you have come -- and continue to strive for being the best person that you're able to be, and believe in your heart that, no matter what you're circumstance, you ARE enough... good enough... strong enough... happy enough... to truly cherish the life you have!
on December 30, 2011
at 04:43 PM
Some of these paleo ideas are borne of youth and simplistic thinking. Please don't get brain-dead amnesia about your past, but also remember that it is up to you to make the best of your current reality. Some younger folks talk like they can cheat death through some "perfect" diet, but it just might take them longer than you to discover that this isn't entirely true for everyone. Folks that I know who have experienced near-death at an early age and thwarted it have a unique perspective. Of course your life is different!
on December 30, 2011
at 03:15 PM
I was sick with asthma most of my childhood and wasn't able to play with the neighborhood kids (and when I did, I often ended up in the ER!)
Reading became my escape and my refuge. I could imagine living all sorts of lives through the characters and had a sense of freedom every time I opened the cover of a new adventure (think Nancy Drew mysteries, Tolkien, etc...)
Now I am splendidly healthy & make a living helping people clear childhood traumas with the help of their imaginations (and some EFT.)
If I hadn't been so physically limited, I wouldn't have developed as much compassion as I have for folk and I wouldn't have developed the imaginal skills to help people heal themselves.
I think we can find a way to thrive in many situations, even if our physical bodies aren't cooperating. We may even find a hidden talent!
on December 30, 2011
at 03:13 PM
I think it is human nature to try to overcome whatever is thrown in our path whether it is cancer or an accident causing mechanical problems. When I had multiple skull fractures along with two broken arms-one with a plate in it and one with a cast- I did whatever it took to improve my mobility. I'm hypothyroid and formerly had sleep apnea but I still thrived as much as possible along with surviving.
A lot of physical problems are more of a temporary nature and over time can be overcome as people learn how to regain mobility or cope with missing limbs for example. Cancer or other such disease is harder to fight but nowadays more people are surviving various types of cancer.
Sure it can be depressing to be shut down and not able to do what you did before, but it is empowering to fight back and reclaim what you have temporarily lost.
on December 30, 2011
at 07:03 AM
i would see what i was capable of doing a decade from now. thats what im thinking of myself. i feel as though i was robbed some 20 years of fun and good health and i deserve that time back. im going to take it back.
on December 31, 2011
at 11:10 PM
This is the question that most chronics struggle with. I have always had my genetic condition, and I've always been somewhat 'delicate.' But my body didn't truly fall apart until I was 28. Prior to that I did a lot of dancing, and a little bit of running, and a whole bunch of adventuring.
I find that it is generally more than worth taking all the morsels of joy available. It may help to work on re-framing; and rather than dwelling on 'reduced quality', ask questions of yourself like 'what can I do to have fun today?'