Live Life Like It’s Your Last Day
We All Die, Timing Is the Issue.
I was being interviewed by Dr. Michael Karlfeldt of the Karlfeldt Center recently about how and why I am still alive! Yes I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer back in 2010 and chose to Accept my fate and avoid the barbaric ‘treatments’ proposed by various oncologists and others that no doubt killed my father. He also had prostate cancer and succumbed to pleas from my mother, and family to take treatments. He lost his ability to taste and lost the vitality he had for Life and died of the treatments, not the cancer.
All this was in my mind as Dr. Karlfeldt and I discussed my approach to my cancer. Many want to categorize what I did to live as a ‘protocol’ but it was simply a lifestyle change to a Whole Food Plant Based Lifestylediet. These interviews (I have done several) stir up memories of my life and how I lived it. Yes, I wrote a book too as I am a writer, well sort of, and a World Traveler with my company as an Information Technology Auditor/Consultant.
All this sounds wonderful but it was Work. 12-hour days, long flights and trudging through busy airports, living in hotels, eating fast food, drinking too much, living out of a suitcase is work and not the glamorous lifestyle many envision. But it was a good living and I was able to provide for my family, pay for a house and a couple of cars and have enough to sort of ‘retire’ at about 62.
As we talked about all this and how it led to my cancer diagnosis and my following actions that seem to have beaten the predictions of imminent death from the ‘doctors’, I wanted to mention how mental attitude and acceptance came into play.
You see, while I became a sort of IT Expert in international monetary transactions and order processing, my education at the University of Houston was in Psychology. I worked my way through college and sort of gained the expertise in early computers and loved it; so, continued to pursue that line of work for most of my life.
Again, all this sort of stuff went through my brain as we discussed this. It also brought into focus my overindulgence in drinking. All those lonely nights in hotel rooms, waking up in the morning and wondering what country, city I was in contributed to a lifestyle that was unhealthy. I finally realized that I was an alcoholic and if I wanted to maintain my family and live a decent life, I had to STOP. So, I began my journey with Alcoholics Anonymous. 90 meeting in 90 days and weekly after that for several years was the path that healed that addiction and now I am over 30 years ‘clean and sober’.
After every AA meeting, we would recite the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” As I think about it, this is pretty much how I have lived my life; living the Serenity Prayer and have accepted that I have cancer and that I Can Change how and what I ate, how I lived my life and begin a healthier dietary regime and lifestyle.
My previous lifestyle, lousy dietary program and the drinking, no doubt contributed to my weakened natural immune system and allowed cancer to find a weak spot to attack and grow. Two key items in that Serenity Prayer are ‘acceptance’ and ‘change’ which formed the foundation of my approach to dealing with my cancer.
I ‘accepted’ that I had cancer and it may kill me but I had the ability to ‘change’ my lifestyle and fight back against this disease that I had brought upon myself. I believe, now, that Nutrition is the foundation of health and what we eat is SO very powerful on how we live our life and how our bodies deal with ailments. Examining my previous dietary/nutritional lifestyle showed a horrible mistreatment of my body and how and what I ate contributed to the weakening of my natural immune system.
The more I studied and learned about how my body actually works, deals with daily assaults of a plethora of attacking germs, viruses and injuries I realized how wonderful the body and life I had been given was and can continue to be. To Thrive and not just exist day to day. To Live and not just exist.
Yes, all this was in my head as Michael and I talked. It sort of helped congeal and consolidate much of what I am writing here. I wondered, WHY I was never taught this in school at an early age? It wasn’t my parent’s fault, they mistakenly thought they were providing for me and this formed the basis upon how I lived the majority of my life, until my cancer diagnosis, demonstrated how this was a false belief that I was eating a ’good diet’. My cancer was a ‘wake up call’ to all the damage I had done to my body and as I realized this, wondering how the heck I had survived this long.
As we continued our discussion, we began to focus more on just what I had done to remain alive this long past a deadly diagnosis. It comes down to a simple healthier lifestyle diet, moderation in all things and a bit of exercising. I told Dr. Karlfeldt how I learned of Chalotte Gerson, Dr T. Collin Campbell, Dr. Michael Greger and how their protocols ALL focused simply on a Whole Food Plant Based Diet and how an initial juicing regime was the initiation phase that formed the foundation of this dramatic (for most) lifestyle change.
As my wife and I reviewed and studied these and many other approaches to dealing with cancer and other diseases, we realized that it was really quite simple; and least in theory. I explained how we went through our home and eliminated any/all foodstuffs that contained any trace of meat, fish, dairy or eggs. Then how we began an approximate 90 day ‘juicing protocol’ where I would consume a large glass of vegetable juice each hour on the hour. One containing mostly organic carrots and the alternating one, mostly leafy green stuff (all sort of kale, spinach, collards, etc.).
My wife decided to learn how to cook (yes I did much of the cooking after my sweet mother-in-law died) and bought a cookbook from Robin Robertson, 1000 Vegan Recipes. I commented that my wife’s initial complaint was that there were no pictures but how this was probably a good thing as we had no preconceived ideas on what these meals should look like. We just prepared them and learned to enjoy them and we amazed that such simple recipes could be so delicious and actually be so very healthy as well.
As months became a year or so and our studies continued on this amazing lifestyle, we discovered that there was a Holistic Cruise that offered Plant Based cuisine and classes and activities related to a healthier lifestyle focused on a Macrobiotic/Plant-Based diet with their own private dining, chefs and organic food supply. While it wasn’t cheap, we decided to give it a try. That was in 2011 after about a year after we had transitioned to our Whole Food Plant Based Lifestyle.
It was a pretty amazing cruise and the food was marvelous. The classes were so varied all day long, never repeating, so Nancy and I would often split up to cover more information. I tell how we would have our meals and never sit with the same folks and how the introductions were name, where they were from and what they were dying from! Yes, it sounds ghoulish but we were all there for the same reason: Learn how to eat and enjoy a Plant Based Lifestyle. Lifestyle because it wasn’t just a diet but, for many, a start of a new way of living; encompassing diet and how we lived our lives. We met many wonderful people, chefs and instructors on that cruise and we remain in touch with several of them.
When we returned home, we decided to share what we had learned, both from the cruise and the many cookbooks and activities we had done. So we started a new company that we called “Whole Foods 4 Healthy Living”. As an old techie, I set up a web site that has now grown to over 30 different ones focused on variations of lifestyle and centered on a Plant Based approach to living/lifestyle. Nancy began teaching cooking classes in our home and we even catered a few events at our local Yoga Studio. We talked about our cruise experience and several of the ‘students’ expressed interest, so we got our group together and went on another Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise in the Spring of 2013.
Due to the growing popularity of this cruise, the boat had to be upgraded to a larger vessel and it sailed out of Miami instead of Port Canaveral where our 2011 cruise departed from. We even visited a friend who lived in Miami whom we had met and befriended on our previous cruise. Again, while very similar, it was a marvelous experience and we understood much more of the information presented at the events and classes being offered as did our friends.
I explained to Dr. Karlfeldt, that even though both Nancy and I were feeling marvelous and our General Practitioner Doctor was amazed at the improvements in our health as demonstrated by amazingly improved blood work, in the back of my mind, I was still dying of cancer. I never returned to that Orlando oncologist so believed that I may still succumb to this disease.
I explained how a dear friend of mine from high school in Terre Haute Indiana had died from throat cancer before he was able to take his planned trip with his wife to the mountains of the Western USA. I told my wife, that before I died, I wanted to take the trip that Carl never was able to take. This was 2013 and approaching early Fall so the weather was lovely. I went out and bought a new Smart Car, equipped it with a trailer hitch and installed a small platform for extra luggage and off we went to our Western adventure. We were gone for 43 days and traveled over 10,000 miles across the Central/Western USA and it was glorious. I even wrote a book about that trip, with pictures.
I explained how amazing that trip was and how we learned the grand pleasures of hiking. Both Nancy and I had never experienced this before and fully embraced this experience and continue to enjoy it today and subsequent road trips across the USA.
As we were ending the interview, I explained how wonderful my life experience has been with my wonderful wife of over 37 years and our lovely daughter, her family of 7 grandkids. I continue to life my life to the fullest extent, embracing each day as it may be my last. Always keeping in mind to live in compliance with the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Be kind and helpful to others. Do good deeds and embrace this wonderful life we have been given. Understanding that we all will die, it is the timing that is the issue and that is something we exercise a modicom of control!
Nancy and I now live in Winter Haven Florida and enjoy our new home and surroundings. While we still offer counseling and are very active in many on-line social media sites, we no longer offer catering/classes as there is so little interest in our local community.