• Laila Roudsari

Living an Anti-Cancer Lifestyle

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

A lot of people ask me how I stay motivated, how I stay positive, how the heck I still show up at cycle classes every week and come to work with a smile on my face. My secret is about taking control. How many of you out there like being in control? I know I do. There are 3 things I feel like I can control in my life to fight cancer: eating, exercise, and stress management. It’s that simple; I do my best in those 3 categories and in turn I feel like I’ve done everything I can to fight breast cancer. And the rest is out of my control. So if shit hits the fan, I won’t blame myself. I know I gave it my all. Granted, this doesn’t mean I never have a cocktail or eat a non-organic cupcake, or take days off from working out, or get stressed out. I just keep those 3 things at the forefront of my mind in my daily life. And it’s amazing what the feeling of having some control over your body when you’re going through cancer treatment does for your mental health. When you feel like your body has betrayed you or that you don’t have a say in all of these terrible treatment side effects, it forces you to start thinking about what you can do to move forward, rather than dwell on the past or present that you can’t change.


The biggest shift in mindset for me was no longer take my health for granted. I was given a second chance at life because of the treatments my doctors have provided for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s all out of my hands. In fact, a lot of it is in our control. Here comes your dose of science I always sneak into all of my posts. Some of you might know this, some might not. So let’s start at the beginning. What is cancer? Think of your cells as being in a baseline state. They are just chillin’, living their best lives. As an adult, (in most organs) our cells aren’t growing much. This is because there’s a system of checks and balances in our cells (known as cells being in homeostasis). Say you have an area of damaged tissue. Your cells then get signals to grow to repair that damage. And once it’s done, they get the message to stop growing. Cancer occurs when cells in our body acquire mutations that allow them to ignore the normal signals to stop growing, allowing them to keep growing out of control. Our current understanding of cancer onset and progression can be explained by a handful of (11 to be exact) hallmark capabilities that cancer cells acquire. The original 6 are listed below.


1. Sustaining proliferative signaling – cancer cells continuously send signals that promote growth.


2. Evading growth suppressors – cancer cells ignore the signals that tell normal cells to stop growing.


3. Resisting cell death – normal cells have a system in place to die if they become damaged; cancer cells evade those signals.


4. Inducing angiogenesis – our blood vessels supply required nutrients to normal cells to keep them alive; tumors would be limited in their growth because they don’t have blood vessels of their own but cancer cells learn how to recruit their own blood vessels.


5. Enabling replicative immortality – normal cells can only divide a certain number of times, while cancer cells figure out how to become immortal so they can divide indefinitely.


6. Activating invasion and metastasis – most normal cells are not moving around much; cancer cells acquire capabilities to invade surrounding tissue and move to other parts of the organ or body.



Schematic showing the 6 original hallmarks of cancer from Hanahan and Weinberg, 2011 (see full reference below).


Isn’t it amazing to think about the beautiful balance our body creates?


Ok so why did I tell you all of this? Well, food can affect these signals. For example, there are foods that are anti-angiogenic, meaning they decrease the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumor with nutrients needed to grow. Sometimes when I’m eating these foods, I actually picture mini versions of that food fighting off cancer cells in me and in turn, as silly as it sounds, it makes me feel really good about what I’m eating and the positive impact it’s making. Exercise alters the level of inflammatory factors in the body, and tumor-promoting inflammation is one of the emerging hallmarks of cancer. So maybe you already knew that eating well and exercising was good for you, but now you understand better why this is true. And hopefully that knowledge can motivate you like it motivates me to stay in control of all that you can.


I plan to post more on each of my 3 topics so stay tuned to learn about how I’ve changed my diet (I’m very anti-fad diets so this will not be a fad), exercise routines I’ve had throughout treatment (I have found ways to stay active throughout the different treatments I’ve had this year), and stress management (the one I’m admittedly the worst about). This post is also special to me because it’s the launch of the lifestyle portion of my blog. I’ve made many changes to my lifestyle beyond just the 3 things discussed above - think hair care, skin care, cleaning products, home essentials, the list goes on. Here’s to our lives being a mess, but living them clean!



*GIVEAWAY*


So as a treat to those of you interested in living a cleaner life post cancer or to keep you healthy folks cancer-free, I’m doing a giveaway of my most favorite candle in the world. Did you know that candles can have harmful stuff in them? Wicks sometimes still contain metal, such as lead, and wax can release pollutants into the air. These beautiful candles are made of 100% soy wax and have a cotton and wick and I can trust this to be true because these candles are handmade by the owners of MacBailey Candle Co., 2 of my favorite people in the whole world.



All you have to do is:

1) Follow me (@2sweaterpuppies) and MacBailey Candle Co (@macbailey_candle_co) on Instagram

2) Comment on the Instagram post with your thoughts or questions on living clean and tag a friend.

*Sign up to be on my blog email list for an extra entry!


I'm so excited to share what I've learned with all of you!


References:

1. Hanahan and Weinberg. Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation. Cell, 2011.

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