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Long-term cancer survival: cancer beliefs, fears of recurrence, and lifestyle habits

Long-term cancer survival: cancer beliefs, fears of recurrence, and lifestyle habits


By a show of hands how many of you know
someone who has battled cancer? The number is no surprise. I myself am a
two-year cancer survivor. Prior to cancer I was the super active person, I was
turning on my Vitamix every day having my green juices. I did not believe that
cancer would strike, but it did. For the two million new people who will be
diagnosed this year cancer is frightening and
life-threatening. Most will survive but 35 percent will not. Medicine itself is not
enough. And colleges now tell their survivors change how you eat and how you
exercise it will improve your chances of long-term survivorship up to 30 percent. So counter-intuitively survivors do not adhere to these recommendations.
Seven out of 100 survivors meet the dietary guidelines. On average,
survivors exercise 10 minutes a week — 15 times less than the recommended.
You might be asking yourself how is it that someone whose had such a life-threatening
experience not change their lifestyle. Self-regulation theory — the theory that guides my research
explains how when an overwhelming emotions and faulty thoughts come into play it
will override what we understand and decrease our chances of making those healthy
choices. From personal experience this paradox makes great sense to me. After my
first year of successful treatment I was now the person who is reaching out for
the Cheetos bags and not making it to the gym. You might ask myself why did I
adopt such an unhealthy behavior? Because my faulty thinking and my emotions
over-rode my decision-making. I no longer cared. Using this insight we believe we
can now harness these health communications. So my foundation of my
research is looking at how chronic illness — the concerns about chronic
illness — do drive these thoughts and emotions. Therefore we’re not dieting and
exercising. So from those findings I am now focusing on cancer survivors.
Looking at all the data that exists since 1950, the few studies that
exist — 14 to be exact — all these studies express that survivors,
because they believe that the cancer will come back and these overwhelming emotions
exist, they don’t change how they eat and exercise. Currently I’m adopting some
health communications to address these faulty beliefs, address these emotions. So
for those six hundred thousand survivors that are estimated to die,
let’s prove them wrong.

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