Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six-Legged Walks, Ecotips, and Beating Back Cancer: Life Choices to Beat Back Cancer

Cross posted on Learning Llamas.

Allie loves winter, water, but not ice...
Weathering winter can challenge the best in us, and despite a harsher noreaster season than usual, signs of spring revitalize. A thick sheet of ice blanketed the farm most of the winter months, thick enough to ice skate, really. All of which made walking a brand new ADHD Black Labrador Retriever puppy a challenge because she always has energy to burn, even after an hour plus walk. The snow stayed forever but still we took our six-legged walks. Not nearly as long but definitely more often, so it all balanced. And here's the cancer connection: in spite of being outdoors at least 3 hours a day in all conditions, I never spent a healthier winter, and I owe this feat to how I choose to live. Walking Allie keeps me fit and lets me sleep through the night without Allie wanting "out."

Hours old Golden with Rev and Aunt Tess
Clearly, having 7 llamas, one of which is a growing cria, 185 acres, a husband, a city home, and a teaching career, plus 5 blogs (farmlife, cancer, school, DEN, and tech), I am always busy. And that works for me. No matter how I feel, physically or emotionally, knowing my llamas depend on me gets me up every day at 4:30 AM to begin an hour-and-a-half routine of caring for my house and barn animals. After school, another hour plus (never minus). With a house, barn, and farm to keep clean, vehicles charged, cleaned, and all the seasonal work that comes with a farm plus grading students' work keep me very busy. Seeing a cancer connection pattern here, right... My cancer specialist Dr. Sunita Nasta at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, part of Penn Medicine at the Abramson Cancer Center repeatedly tells me that exercise if the best medicine, but warns me not to get exhausted. Working on the farm is whole body exercise, with the added body and soul or mind-body connection. Despite occasional fatigue, I would not change my life an iota.

Gishpheol A Nalgene plastic~think before you drink
Then there's the issue of consumption. What we choose not to consume is as critical as what we opt to select. I've moved away from most canned goods, plastic as much as possible (yes, I read for numbers). The newest and best packaging of food has moved away from BPA (Bisphenol A) because it is a suspected endocrine disrupter, a chemical that can interfere with the body's gland and hormone functions. The FDA is "working on" deciding what safe levels are. I just avoid the claptrap by choosing glass, carefully prepared frozen foods, and choosing organic. I eat a balanced abundance of grains, vegetables, and fruit, some of which comes from our farm or our neighbors' farms. Meat is usually not on my menu. This summer I am beginning an organic garden, using carefully harvested heirloom seeds that are NOT irradiated. Can you tell I am moving closer to the "R" word (retirement). Watching what you eat and drink and how your purchased food is packaged can be a lifesaver.

Great online resource for living better
Affordable symposia @ $25
Another daily practice is to read and research about cancer, and I choose mainstream, nontraditional, and alternative research therapies in hard and digital formats. I read, read, read. I look for venues that provide me with possibilities for better living in harmony with the earth. I found a free magazine (supported by practitioner and business advertisements) called Natural Awakenings. It has an online presence, but exists nationally, and if your locale does not have a current NA magazine, you can become a publisher. Inside each monthly issue is a world of lifestyle changes from which you can choose those that suit. One of my best finds from this periodical (I still love hard copy although I live a digital life) is Twin Ponds Integrative Center, a place that aggregates healthful programs, integrative practices, holistic therapies, and vibrant options for moving forward with a happy lifestyle that supports beating back cancer.

Fourth and final daily approach: prayer. Although a cliche in a post-postmodern world, I believe in the strength and healing power of prayer.  Whether I'm cleaning pastures or doing yoga, I tune into God, have conversations of the silent sort, thanking and counting blessings. I pray for others, because what goes around comes around and back to you. Better to receive prayers from others than to ask God yourself. And I've learned to listen. Silence speaks, and in the early morning hours with my llamas, or in romping six-legged walks, or in late-night visits to check on the girls, I carry God's presence in my life with me.

The end result: a healthier happier me. But then, I have said this so often, I've been really lucky. Blessed.

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