Think About Cancer
THUNDER BAY – Health – I put a shout-out on Facebook the other day looking for takers for snowshoeing dates, thinking I might get one or two bites. Within an hour or two, I had a week’s worth of dates booked for outside adventures in the snow. What I love is that several of these are with people I normally don’t see. What excites me is that some of these dates guarantee a new experience, a walk on paths I haven’t walked before. What I love is that the entire row on my calendar is filled with activity – healthy, fresh-air, move-my-body kind of activity that will take me right up to the date circled in red on my calendar, my surgery date.
My oncologist recently told me that an hour of exercise a day can be as effective as chemo in terms of fighting cancer. Right now, because I’m lucky enough to be able to be off work, I am attempting to make some sort of physical activity part of my daily routine. I bought myself a set of wireless headphones so that I could run on my treadmill in my basement while watching an episode of something-or-other. What I’m finding, though, is that I have no desire to walk on a loud machine that goes nowhere in a basement when there are adventures outside to be had.
It never fails. I can have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I can be stressed, down, worried, anxious, sleepless, angry, and filled with buckets of negative energy. As long as I can convince myself to layer up and pull on my boots and get outside and into the woods, the smile on my face stretches ear to ear so quickly that I am often brought to laughter at my own predictability.
Japan – Common Preventive Medical Practice
In Japan, there is a practise called shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest-bathing’, which is considered a common preventative medical practise. It basically entails getting out of urban environments and into the woods. Research says (and they are spending millions on said research in Japan) that time spent in nature can actually lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and yes – actually help prevent cancer.
So, this week when my shoulders were up around my ears because they were so tense and I found myself consciously reminding myself to exhale because I was wound so tightly, and I was booking appointments with my oncologist because my throat felt funny (welcome to post-cancer world, wherein every-little-ache-and-pain-must-be-cancer) and I was launching myself into a potentially sleepless week, I remembered my fix, rallied some fellow outdoor enthusiasts, and went outside.
I triple dog dare you!
There is nothing like breaking a snowshoe trail on a pristine snow-blanketed river to re-establish one’s breathing rhythm and make one feel fully alive, and present. Inhale two steps, exhale two steps. Engage all of the senses in the experience – listen to the crunch of the snow and the occasional bird calling. Smell that freshly-fallen snow. Let your eyes wander over snow-capped trees and layers of ice with water running under it. Bring the blush back to your cheeks. Pack a picnic and eat it outside. Do this, and I triple-dog-dare you to think about cancer.
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