Living the WELL Life

Watch and Wait - by Ken Dill

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What are three words you don’t want to hear and three words you don’t want to do? “Watch and wait.”  Three of the most ridiculous words used by medical professionals today (or anyone else from whom you seek health advice.) Many of my family and friends have been given this advice and it never works out well.  Waiting for something to happen so you can then treat it is quite frankly the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!

There are many occasions when seeking medical/health advice that you may hear this; when your blood pressure starts to get higher, when your weight creeps up, when your blood sugar is a little high, when your stress test reveals a partial blockage (or two or more), when you have recurrent or continuous musculoskeletal pain, or increasingly frequent headaches, etc, etc. And that’s just to name a few. But the absolute worst time you can heed this advice is when you have been diagnosed with cancer, or after you’ve finished some sort of cancer treatment.

Your health is your responsibility.  If someone tells you ‘Watch and wait”, what they should be saying is, “I have nothing else to offer you at this time, but you should continue to strive to be as healthy as you can be everyday.” And if they can’t advise you on that, you should continue seeking advice elsewhere. You can’t keep doing the things that got you the diagnosis while you watch and wait. Any 1st grader can tell you if you keep jumping in the puddle you’ll get wet every time. In other words, you can’t continue the same behavior and expect different results. You have to CHANGE what you’re doing if you’re not getting the results you want. Your body is self-healing. If you want to be healthier you must give it what it needs daily (nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc) to fight off disease and work as efficiently as possible.

It also allows you to tap into the tremendous healing power of your mind. By focusing your thoughts on what you can do, it gives you a sense of empowerment and control over the disease process (much more effective than waiting and letting your mind run wild with all that can go wrong.).  Daily visual imagery practice of stray cancer cells getting zapped or fat disappearing or your heart getting stronger can be beneficial. You must focus and harness the power of your mind for good or it may wander and do the opposite while you ‘wait’ idly.

Let’s look at some of those instances I mentioned earlier when you are likely to hear ‘watch and wait’ and see what you can do to change the situation now before you need medical treatment. First, let’s look at increasing frequency of musculoskeletal pain and or a headache. If you watch and wait for them to get worse, they will. Instead, how about if we watch and take action: 1) figure out what activity or posture may be contributing to the pain and stop doing it and/or correct it.  2) meditate. 3) get a massage or other body work 4) get more exercise, like walking or stretching (or both!) By doing any or all of these things you will be much less likely to have the problem get worse and require more extensive and expensive medical intervention.

Let’s group all the diagnoses that involve cardiovascular health together (high blood pressure, weight gain, blood sugar and partial blockage of coronary arteries) and address them all at once. This is easy because there is so much medically-documented evidence to show that all of these can be reversed, not just prevented, by a few simple changes moving you towards a wellness lifestyle. Instead of watch and wait, watch and do: 1) get more aerobic activity (walking, dancing, biking etc. 2) adopt a plant-based diet and 3) learn and utilize stress-relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or controlled breathing.

Now, as I said before, the absolute worse time to hear (and heed) the watch and wait strategy is when it involves anything to do with cancer. I have watched too many people die while listening to this advice. And I’ve seen so many continue to get healthier by doing, not waiting. They acted to take control of their own physical, emotional and mental health. By improving their ‘wellness lifestyle’ and getting healthier, they left some doctors scratching their heads and wondering how/why, even calling the improvement a miracle. Well, they are partly right.

Our body’s ability to heal itself is miraculous if we give it what it needs to bolster the immune system. The same 1-3 as above for cardiovascular health is a great start. Add to that: 4) eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugar is to cancer cells as gasoline is to fire. Eliminate animal flesh and take the time to learn the glorious deliciousness and healthiness of eating a plant-based diet 5) Seek out the many other specific things you can do for each specific type of cancer (too numerous for the scope of this article. I live with the most amazing woman, my wife, who is applying the watch and DO approach and defying the ‘medical odds’ everyday. She used (endured) what medical treatment had to offer, then took the responsibility to seek more information and has made the changes necessary to get healthier everyday. You can too! Live and learn, then live longer and learn more!

The medical evidence is quite abundant in the literature. Unfortunately, the medical system has focused too much on what they can do to you and not enough on what you can do for yourself. The public needs access to this information more readily so individuals can choose wellness. Every healthy society on the planet has two things in common: they eat more plants than animals and they get regular physical activity. These are the cornerstones of a preventative and wellness-centered lifestyle. Watch and wait… I don’t think so!


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