Cancer Survivors: What Lessons Can They Teach Us?

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

Cancer and other life-threatening diseases undeniably present the greatest challenges a person can face.

Having served many cancer patients over the years at Pacific Naturopathic, we’ve come to understand that the cancer challenge is much more than physical – it extends to the mental, emotional and spiritual realms of our being .

Dr. Marcel Hernandez

Dr. Marcel

I’m sure you’ve noticed how your beliefs, attitudes, lifestyle choices, and spiritual and psychological perspectives dramatically affect your health. When we’re gloomy and depressed, we’re far more likely to get sick. And a lingering depression certainly won’t help us get better.

Like many other health care professionals who work with cancer patients, I’ve observed that cancer survivors share some very clear-cut characteristics in common.

These common elements include similar lifestyle choices, behaviors, and mental/emotional/spiritual adaptations. Let me explain.

  1. Cancer survivors have a strong, dedicated support community – they enjoy the strong support of family, friends, and church that helps them on their journey. They also discover who among their acquaintances are “energy vampires,” and they learn to steer very far clear of these folks.
  2. Cancer survivors have a strong will to live. This doesn’t just mean that they don’t want to die. It means that they’re continually affirming, loudly and clearly, that they want to live, and that they’re constantly enumerating all of the reasons they want to remain in this world – whether it’s to serve and be there for others, or for some other expansive reason. Even when they’re told that their cancer is “incurable,” they insist on maintaining a positive perspective that they will heal.
  3. Cancer survivors have a source of inspiration outside themselves – they have an awareness of a greater essence that they can relate to. It doesn’t matter who or what that essence is. To me, personally, it means my inner connection with divinity. But I’ve learned that some of my patients can find great strength in their connection to the universal power of nature as well.
  4. Cancer survivors who turn their experience into an opportunity for transformation – who actually welcome it as an opportunity for change – have a greater survival rate. The process of positive acceptance includes seizing any and all opportunities to transform their relationships with others, and to examine what is truly meaningful in their life, and how they would like to live what is left of it.
  5. Cancer survivors have radically changed their diets. The survivors have very often stopped consuming harmful chemicals and other toxins found in refined food, and they’ve learned how to avoid ingesting ingredients that can contribute to cancer growth. A combination of the ketogenic diet and the Mediterranean diet seems to have the greatest positive effect.
  6. Cancer survivors take control of their health care – they research their condition and decide the path they will follow. They resist the all too common tendency to blindly follow their doctor’s advice; instead, they do what they feel is best for themselves, based on careful research, self-knowledge, and intuition.
  7. Cancer survivors use herbs and nutritional supplements specific to their condition. In my experience, there is no single nutritional supplement or combination of supplements that can cure cancer. But supplements can address nutritional deficiencies and provide balance and functional support during treatment and recovery. In addition to doing their own research, cancer patients will find it in their best interest to chat with a naturopathic oncologist who can help them prioritize their nutritional supplement program.
  8. Cancer survivors detoxify their emotions in a variety of ways. Some survivors work with a counselor, while others keep a journal. Some join support groups, and some take courses that help them manage their stress and let go of any  negativity and pessimism that can block their healing. At Pacific Naturopathic, we offer EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and hypnotherapy to help our patients reprogram the “old tapes” that may be playing in their minds and hearts and keeping them from moving forward in a creative, positive direction with their healing.
  9. People who survive cancer drop their veils and are unappologetically themselves. They say what they think. They laugh often. They don’t make excuses. They stop trying to please everybody. They don’t let themselves get pressured into doing things they really don’t want to do. They learn to say “NO!”
  10. Cancer survivors express their love, and they do it often. They leave no words unspoken. Every moment is precious, and they endeavor to fill each moment with sincere high-quality expressions of love.
  11. People who survive cancer develop a holistic perspective on their health. They take nothing for granted. Their long-term diet tends to be an extension of their therapeutic diet. They keep well-hydrated. They exercise and maintain a healthy weight. They avoid chemicals. They try to get enough sleep. In short, they take care of themselves.
  12. Cancer survivors adopt a sustainable lifestyle. They slow down. They take time to relax, and to fully enjoy the gift of life. Prayer and/or meditation becomes a regular practice for them.
  13. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, cancer survivors become conscious participants and observers of their own lives, and they develop the ability to tune in to nuances in their environment. They “listen” for cues relating to the energy, emotions, and body signals that are part of their daily life. In this way, cancer survivors reach a point of gratitude for having had cancer.

You may have noticed that all of the characteristics I’ve mentioned probably apply to any chronic illness. Indeed, they are relevant for anyone with a strong desire to be a better person and live more harmoniously and honestly with all creation. Chronic illnesses such as cancer can be a vehicle for expanding our consciousness, and a powerful tool on our path to Self-Realization.


Interested in learning more about the adjunctive cancer treatments offered at the Hernandez  Center? Please use the contact page, or phone us for an appointment: 650-917-1121

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work click HERE.


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