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The Meaning Behind My Cancer Diagnosis

At 44 years of age, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I unknowingly contributed to my cancer diagnosis by the way I was living my life. I had a life-long affair to eating processed foods, chronic stress brought on by my perception of my life, multiple medications to treat anxiety, depression, and full body pain.

My doctor told me that my cancer was most likely genetic, as my mother had breast cancer, too. Her doctor diagnosed her with Stage 4 Breast Cancer at 56 years old, and it soon metastasized throughout her body. She spent five grueling years with her cancer battle, and then died at age 61.

After witnessing my mother’s suffering, I took a more proactive approach, with a double mastectomy followed by dose-dense chemotherapy. It wasn’t until after my treatments that I did the genetic testing. Genetic testing helps you find out if genes that you inherit from your parents mutate, which changes how they normally function. BRAC1 and BRAC2 are responsible for suppressing tumor growth. When these genes are mutated, their normal function is altered, which means you’re more likely to grow tumors and develop cancer. My genetic testing came back negative.

I Received My Divine Wake-Up Call

It turned out that I didn’t develop my cancer because of a gene that my mother passed on to me. My cancer diagnosis was due to lifestyle factors I wasn’t even aware of at the time. Cancer woke me up to pay attention to the foods I was eating, my stress levels, and lifestyle choices. My immune system was not great back then. I chronically caught colds, sinus infections, and viruses.

When we have a compromised immune system, we’re more likely to develop cancer or other chronic illness. The difference between someone who gets cancer and someone who doesn’t --- is their immune system. When we have a strong immune system, our body can identify and eliminate cancer cells. When we’re feeding our body with nourishing plant-based fruits and vegetables, those cancer cells can’t grow. Every cell in our body has a predetermined life span. Some live longer than others do, for days, weeks, or even months. The cancer cell doesn’t die. They live much too long, and then multiply. This process forms tumors, which starts with a cancer stem cell. If our immune system is healthy, it’s design allows it to identify and fight off cancer cells. If our immune system is weak, overloaded, or suppressed, it can’t keep up with the demands our body is placing on it. This is where tumors form. The good news is you can heal your body and starve cancer, when you adopt the proper diet and lifestyle changes.

One great reference on this subject is Chris Wark's story is truly a remarkable one that, against all odds, he beat cancer through diet and lifestyle changes., Now Chris teaches others on the importance of addressing diet, lifestyle, stress, and the toxic burden we are placing on our bodies.

Chris states,

“Cancer didn’t invade you from another planet. Your body created it. These are your cells. Cancer is you, your cells, your DNA. Your body created it and your body can heal it.”

Another great resource is a book by Dr. Kelly Turner, Radical Remission. I would recommend this book to everyone, as it empowers you to take full responsibility and ownership of diet and lifestyle choices to maintain health. Dr. Turner addresses ways to heal yourself and your cancer, and not to wait for that diagnosis before you pay attention to those things in your life that are not working for your body. In this book, she highlights nine key factors that radical remission patients used when treating their cancer diagnosis.

When I am doing my cancer talks, people are always surprised to know that a very small percentage of cancer is due to genetics (5%-30%), the rest 70%+ is due to diet, lifestyle, environment, and stress. As Dr. Mark Hyman stated in his Broken Brain Docuseries--- “Your genes load the gun, but your environment pulls the trigger.”

Your doctor is not going to discuss diet, lifestyle, stress, and environment with you. Your doctor’s job is to treat and eliminate cancer with conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. While these cutting-edge therapies can be life-saving and important, they don’t offer you a sense of control or empowerment. On the contrary, they leave you feeling like a victim, as if you have no control over the situation. This sets you up to believe there’s nothing you can do to affect your future. I’m here to tell you that is absolutely not true!

When I was going through my cancer diagnosis and conventional treatment plan, no one told me that if I changed my diet and lifestyle choices, I would dramatically improve my health post-cancer to prevent a reoccurrence. Instead, my doctor prescribed Tamoxifen, a cancer drug for me to take, and told me that it would give me a better chance of avoiding another cancer diagnosis. At the time, I didn’t know any better, and did what I was told to do. I believed this “magic pill” was going to save me. But I had a lot of side-effects being on that medication, including strange things with my uterus, heavy bleeding, etc. I learned that one of the side-effects of Tamoxifen is Uterine Cancer. That’s when I decided to commit to my own self-care. I stopped taking the medication. Now it was up to me to take better care of my body and be proactive on preventing a relapse or additional occurance elsewhere in my body.

Our Choices Matter

When we realize we have the power within ourselves to live healthily, we don’t have to become a victim of diagnosis or disease. When we consciously live through the eyes of prevention, we empower ourselves to know our choices matter.

Don’t let the fear of cancer steal your joy. Instead, understand the more you take care of your body, the more your body will take care of you. Remember to embrace those simple things in life that disappear beneath our daily responsibilities. Things like having a healthy social connection, spending time with loved ones, play, quiet time, and practice of daily gratitude. We live in a fear-based society, which causes chronic stress, and therefore wreaks havoc on our immune system. Focus on those things that bring you joy, hope and optimism, eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, and your body will thank you for it.


Educating your employees about healthy food and lifestyle choices will increase employee engagement, while dramatically improving their health, therefore reducing time off for illness. They will learn how to make long-lasting lifestyle choices and the importance of exercise and movement, and how they play a key role in overall health. All of this increases productivity for your company as healthy employees makes for a profitable business!

Benefits To Your Employees Include:

  • Improved overall health

  • Understands the importance of whole foods nutrition for optimal energy and health

  • Reduce stress and anxiety

  • Reduce food cravings (especially the ones we need to avoid)

  • Increased energy and vitality

  • Increased daily production and satisfaction

  • Less sick days


Wellness workshop pricing is available upon request. Call Donna Markussen for more information at 781-354-4075 or write me at

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