13 Traits of Cancer Survivors: A Personal View

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Max Ducourneau on Unsplash.

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

It’s one of the most formidable physical challenges anyone will face – a life-threatening illness.

Yet our doctors and staff at Pacific Naturopathic have consistently seen over the years that the challenges are much more than physical – they also extend into mental, emotional, and spiritual realms.

Dr. Marcel Hernandez, ND

We cannot help but feel dumbstruck by how powerfully our beliefs, attitudes, lifestyle choices and spiritual and emotional perspectives can affect the course of a severe disease and our overall sense of well-being.

Like many other health professionals who regularly work with cancer patients, I’ve observed that those who survive tend to share certain common characteristics.

These common traits include a willingness to make changes in their lifestyles and behaviors, as well as certain common adaptations on mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.

  1. Cancer survivors have a strong, dedicated support community of family, friends, and church that are eager to assist them on their journey. Also, they identify who among their acquaintances are “energy vampires” and take pains to steer clear of them.
  2. Cancer patients have a strong will to survive. This doesn’t only mean that they don’t want to die; it means that they are constantly affirming to themselves and to others loudly and clearly that they want to live, and that they’re constantly reviewing and enumerating for themselves and others the reasons for their positive expectation. Even if they’re told that their cancer is “incurable,” they maintain a perspective that they will heal.
  3. Cancer patients have an inner source of inspiration. They have contact points with a greater essence that they can relate to individually and personally. The nature of the higher essence doesn’t even matter – from my observation of my patients, it’s a connection with divinity. But I’ve also learned that some of my patients find strength in a connection with a mysterious healing power that’s operating in nature.
  4. Cancer patients who make their experience an opportunity for transformation – welcoming it as an opportunity to change – have a greater chance of survival. The process of “accentuating the positive” includes seeing their cancer as an opportunity to transform their relationships with the people in their lives, to look hard at what’s truly meaningful, and how they would like to live what might be left of their life.
  5. The survivors have changed their diets radically.Cancer survivors have very often eliminated from their diets the harmful chemicals and other toxins found in refined food products; and they’ve avoided ingredients that might contribute to cancer cell 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 on the path they will follow. They resist the temptation to blindly follow their doctors’ advice. Instead, they do what they feel will be best for themselves, based on their research, self-knowledge, and intuition.
  7. Cancer survivors use herbs and nutritional supplements specific to their condition. In my experience, there’s no single nutritional supplement or combination of supplements that will cure cancer. But I’ve seen that supplements can address certain nutritional deficiencies and help provide functional balance and support during treatment and recovery. In addition to doing their own research, cancer survivors have found it in their best interest to chat with a naturopathic oncologist to help them prioritize their nutritional supplement program.
  8. Cancer survivors seek ways to detoxify their emotions. Some will want to work with counselors, others will keep a journal, and some will join support groups, or take courses that help them manage their stress and let go of negativity and pessimism that might be blocking their healing. At Pacific Naturopathic we offer EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and hypnotherapy to help our patients re‑program any old mental and emotional tapes that might be keeping them from moving forward in a creative, positive direction with their healing.
  9. People who survive cancer drop their veils and are unapologetically 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 be pressured into doing what they 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 left unspoken. Every moment is precious and they fill those moments with high-quality expression.
  11. People who survive cancer develop a holistic perspective about their health. Nothing is taken for granted. Their long-term diets tend to be an extension of their therapeutic diets. They keep well hydrated. They exercise and maintain a healthy weight. They avoid harmful chemicals. They try to get enough sleep. They take care of themselves.
  12. Cancer survivors adopt a sustainable lifestyle. They slow down. They take time to relax and fully enjoy the gift of life. Prayer and/or meditation become a regular practice.
  13. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, cancer survivors become conscious participants and observers of their own lives and make a deliberate effort to tune into the nuances of their environment. They “listen” for cues relating to the energy, emotions, and body signals that are part of their daily life. Cancer survivors reach a point of gratitude for having had cancer.

You may have noticed that all of the characteristics mentioned above would be helpful in any type of chronic illness. Indeed, I believe they are highly relevant for those of us who desire to be better people and live more harmoniously and honestly with all creation.

A chronic illness such as cancer can be a vehicle for expanding our awareness and for helping us make rapid strides on our path to Self-realization.

(Sources for this article: Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds by Kelly Turner, PhD; and my personal experiences and countless observations and learnings over the years.)

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!