I study people who heal from cancer against all odds, usually after their doctors have sent them home saying there’s nothing more to be done. My decade of research on these incredible survivors is summarized in my book Radical Remission. But today I want to talk about one thing these survivors have in common: taking action.
Across the board, these cancer survivors made a shift from being passive about their health to being incredibly active. They went from being “good” patients who simply did whatever their doctors told them to becoming empowered patients who read up on the latest research, requested copies of their lab results, and sought out second opinions. In other words, they became the CEOs of their own health.
Take Shin, for example. Shin Terayama was a Japanese businessman who was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 48. He did everything his doctors told him to do, including surgery, chemo, and radiation. Unfortunately, none of those worked, and he was eventually sent home for hospice care.
That’s when he started taking action. He began with simple baby steps, such as drinking filtered water and watching the sunrise every morning. As the months went by, he eventually changed every part of his life—from his diet to his stress levels to his spiritual practice. Three years after they sent him home for hospice care, Shin’s doctors couldn’t find any evidence of cancer in his body. Today, he is alive, well, and still cancer-free 28 years later.
How did he do it? Of course, this is just one story, and while we may never be able to prove exactly what caused Shin’s remission, studies suggest that people who take control of their health—including their physical, mental, and spiritual health—tend to live longer.
For example, researchers have found that cancer patients who feel helpless die sooner than those who feel that they can do things—even little things—to help their mood, comfort level, or immune system.
Here are some ways you can start taking control of your own health and shift out of helplessness into action: