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What Cancer Taught Me

I was at the Massachusetts State House, attending an event hosted in collaboration with the U.S. Pain Foundation and The Hope Collective. Topics discussed were very valuable, and there were many discussions around holistic health, versus the Western medical approach towards disease and illness.

I was asked to speak at this event about the many health challenges I highlight in my book Finding My Way, Facing My Journey With Courage. ​As the presenter was reading my bio, and summary of my book, I knew the audience would be taken aback by what I was about to say. I took the podium and said "I am grateful for my cancer. Cancer was my wake-up call to life. I would not be standing here in front of you today, to be of service to others who may be having a health issue, if it wasn't for my cancer." I know a lot of you may be having a problem navigating your way around our Western medical model, as I did, but know there is a way out of the madness. When we are given a diagnosis, the first thing we feel is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear that we may have to live with it. Fear that we won't enjoy our kids or grandchildren, the way you would like.

If we stay in this fear state, we won’t be able to access our innate ability to take charge and investigate our health further. Before cancer, I was sleepwalking through my life, not paying attention to my negative emotions. Those negative emotions we feel, when we know someone is overstepping their boundaries, yet we allow it. Those negative emotions we feel, when we wake up, go to a job we hate, come home, go to sleep, and do it all over again. We ignore our desire to want more in life because we feel it is not an option, so we settle. We tell ourselves a story all around why can’t change and we believe it to be our truth.

When we ignore our feelings, we feel pain. Emotional pain, back pain, neck pain, headaches, stomach aches. We are oblivious that we are the cause of our pain and suffering. The only way to get out of this madness is to stand up to your pain, and ask, "Why are you here?" We can't blame it on our job, our relationships, our poor health. When we do, we hand over our power, to the circumstance, or to the perpetrator who is taking advantage of our well-being, or to the doctor who is treating our symptoms.

True power comes when we can take 100% responsibility for everything that is showing up in our life. When we do this, we take back control, and we take back our power. Doctors are not God. Your body's wisdom, your intuition, if you listen will give you the guidance you need to take the next step on your health journey. I’m always amazed when I ask someone who is going through a health challenge, “What do you think is causing this.?” Inevitably they always know, yet they brush it off as being silly.

Work with a Functional Medicine Doctor

There are so many wonderful functional medicine and naturopathic doctors out there, who are trained to get to the root cause of your problem, not just treat the symptom. They also believe Food is medicine. Food is powerful. A Functional Medicine practitioner looks at the pattern of dysfunction underlying chronic diseases and a treatment plan that can prevent or reverse such illnesses. It is based on the way our genes are stimulated and respond to our environment (what's going on around us and the kinds of behaviors we practice.) The guiding principle is that if we can change our environment and our behavior, we can change the way our genes perform.

An increasing amount of research (the study of Epigenetics) demonstrates the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions and whole foods nutrition, for the treatment of chronic disease. One's nutritional status also contributes to gene expression. So if you're eating foods that don't agree with you, loaded with sugar, flour, gluten, etc., you're headed towards disease.

Functional medicine is all about prevention, not just treating symptoms. Another good thing, is you gain valuable knowledge as you work with your doctor. That knowledge will stay with you for the rest of your life. As a health coach, I see a lot of confusion around which treatment is best for a particular symptom. The answer to that is, everyone is unique, and comes with a bio-individual set of needs. Just like there is no one-diet-fits-all, there are no one-approach-towards-treating-disease either.

The first step is to declare that you have it within you to seek additional care if what you presently are receiving isn't working. I'm here to support you any way I can. Your health and happiness deserve your attention.

Finding My Way Notes of Inspiration, a compilation of quotes and notes of inspiration taken from my first memoir Finding My Way, Facing My Journey With Courage is available on Amazon.

Contact me for a free Discovery Session to explore how I can support you on your journey towards losing weight, while gaining a healthy lifestyle, and how to become your own health advocate.

To your health and happiness,

Donna Markussen

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