THE BLOG
05/26/2014 09:20 am ET Updated Jul 26, 2014

What I Learned Surviving 3 Bouts of Cancer

Most people say that their life was not the same after being diagnosed with cancer. When one experiences three separate diagnoses of cancer (in my case it was lymphoma each time), and when every subsequent time the prognosis of recovery drops significantly, one re-evaluates every single aspect of one's life. Perhaps the single advantage of spending endless weeks in bed, ultimately accumulating to well over a year, is that I had plenty of time to contemplate and reflect on my entire being.

I experienced the first symptoms of cancer when I was only 29 years old. I am often asked about the changes that I incorporated into my lifestyle and how my life in general has actually changed since the initial diagnosis. The truth is that I have never been a smoker; I never consumed much alcohol; I never used drugs; and my diet has always been fairly healthy. After all, being a scientist in the biomedical field, I was very educated about health. Yet my lifestyle and my approach to many things have changed significantly. What follows are some of the insights that I gained during last nearly nine years.

-- Combine the best of "Western" and "Eastern" medicines for most effective treatment, prevention and healing.

-- Don't fall into the confusion created by destructive arguments between the two "camps." Both conventional medicine and holistic medicine have their pros and cons -- know what these are in each case. Only by combining the best that each approach offers can we achieve our optimal health and well-being.

-- Be proactive and smart about your health. Educate yourself. Create a team of doctors and health professionals who have your full respect. It might require some investigation and effort, but it is absolutely worth it.

-- The person who should know your body the best is you.

-- Complete healing is impossible without forgiveness.

-- If you can't feel love towards someone (who hurt you), you can still feel compassion.

-- Make sure you include yourself among those for whom you seek to forgive and feel compassion.

-- Differentiate the "good" fear (that protects you) from the "bad" fear (that holds you back).

-- When a friendship is no longer meaningful or enjoyable, release it with an open heart.

-- Even when things seem to have gotten as bad as they possibly can, you still have things to be grateful for.

-- Statistics is a number that often changes. You can initiate and be that change.

-- Don't compare your journey with others' -- unless it inspires and motivates you.

-- Don't forget to take time to rest and relax.

-- Recognize that the biggest challenges are also the greatest opportunities for growth.

-- Knowing (something) is different from implementing (it).

-- The accumulation of small steps is extremely powerful over the course of time.

-- Don't allow the dogma of others dictate how you live your life.

-- Feeling guilty for a prolonged time is self-destructive and absolutely useless.

-- When offered advice make sure it resonates with you before adopting it.

-- Bring as much joy to every aspect of your life as you possibly can.

-- Recognize that being vulnerable has nothing to do with being weak.

-- Be mindful of the extent to which you let different people be part of your life.

-- Essential key to a healthy and happy life lies in moderation in everything. This includes being moderate in moderation.

-- Don't forget to celebrate -- be it an achievement or a moment of poignancy.

-- Trust your inner voice and you will see that you already have answers to many questions.

-- Make sure your loved ones feel and know they are loved and appreciated by you.

-- Don't expect to have it all figured out at any point in life, especially since sometimes we forget even the most important lessons we have learned at some point. Self-exploration is a life-long process that is both fascinating and rewarding and benefits both you and the people around you.

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