Coach vs. Intruder

Contributing Writer: Lisa Duscio, Team Inheritance of Hope Coordinator

Self-care refers to activities that we can engage in regularly to reduce stress and enhance our well-being. My enthusiastic interest in "self-care" began in high school and was theory at best until I was diagnosed with stage 3 local advanced breast cancer in 2001 at the age of 40.

During the conventional protocol of chemo, surgery, chemo again, radiation and hormone therapy, I studied alternative options. I decided the option for the best chance at survival during and after the treatments was to adopt a vegan lifestyle, including freshly extracted vegetable juices. I studied the many components of food preparation and juicing. I received training. I was a type of pioneer because no one in my circles, including my doctor, really knew anything about this extreme nutrition protocol or its efficacy.
The core of this concept is health at the cellular level. God created our bodies with amazing immune systems. We need to learn to fuel them correctly and give our cells the best chance to beat disease and be healthy. But, nutrition is not the only piece of the health matrix. Exercise, rest, getting outside, trusting God, and laughter and joy are all other components that we will cover in Self Care Part II.

At the time of my diagnosis, my only child was two years old, and I was determined to raise her. Fast forward 15 years (which included three marathons and enough energy to homeschool my daughter), when I learned the breast cancer had metastasized into my skin now making it stage 4. It compressed my brachial plexus nerve causing me to lose the function of my right arm, even as I write this.

I believe the vegan lifestyle and juicing helped to delay the cancer from rearing its ugly head. But with a couple years of extreme stress and no juicing, my body gave in to the demanding intruder. An "intruder" is what cancer will always be to me. I will never tolerate it as a welcomed guest. So the quest for what I should do next began in 2016. I will be sharing my story that I believe will spark ideas and inspire you to practice your own kind of self-care.

I am not a healthcare professional. I only have information to share with you based on what I have researched and experienced. One doctor said to me many years ago, "I'm the quarterback of our health team." I wish I had been quick enough to respectfully say to him, "yes, but I'm the coach, and God is the owner." We have a right and a responsibility to take initiative, ask questions, do research, and then to put into practice our convictions concerning our health.

So let's put on our "oxygen masks" by caring for ourselves first, as we're instructed when we fly, and then we will be able to help those around us. Let's be intentional and explore self-care during and after a health crisis. Let's leave a legacy of health for us and our families even in the midst of challenges.