HWW Life Practice #4: Curiosity
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”
This is a great time to be curious, to be a self-learner. We literally have the world’s information at our fingertips, on glowing screens in our pockets, on our desks or on our walls. You can learn almost anything, often for free or for very little money, if only you’re willing to invest the time and energy.
Because curiosity is a choice. You can choose to be open and to suspend judgment, to approach everything as an experiment, with the mind of a beginner, someone hungry to learn. Or you can choose to believe that you already know everything you think you need to know about any subject that’s worth knowing anything about. That is the end of learning, a kind of death.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer (read my story here) I didn’t even know where in my body the prostate was or what it did. My information baseline was zero, squat, zilch. I went into learning mode soon after shaking off the shock of the diagnosis. What I learned ultimately enabled me to take control of my health:
- the prostate is part of the male reproductive system; it creates a fluid which is ejaculated with sperm and helps it to fertilize the egg
- 1 in 7 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, but only 1 man in 39 will die of the disease
- genetics only play a small role (5-15%, at most) in the development of prostate cancer
- American men are 50x more likely than Indian men to develop prostate cancer, though the advantage all but disappears for Indian men who move to the US
- a prostatectomy isn’t a silver bullet; even men who have had their prostates removed can still develop prostate cancer (from prostate cancer cells left in the body after surgery)
- cancer is actually 100 different diseases, not a single disease with a single standard treatment
And I learned that the average life expectancy of a man diagnosed with prostate cancer is 13 years. That means one thing when you’re diagnosed at the age of 75; it means something completely different when you’re 49, like I was at the time.
It was around this time that one of my dearest mates tried to talk me into coming to California, his home state, to acquire some medical-grade cannabis oil to treat my cancer. He learned all about it when his mom got sick with cancer, and he passionately believed that it could help me.
I admit to being skeptical, at first, that pot could be effective in treating cancer. I knew that it helped people deal with the effects of cancer treatment, like nausea and pain, and that it helped cancer patients maintain their appetites. Then I really started looking into it.
It turns out that cannabis-based remedies were a standard part of every doctor’s medicine bag, from 1870 until 1937, when cannabis prohibition started after passage of the politically (not scientifically) motivated Marijuana Tax Act.
My research led me to the discovery that as mammals we have within us an endocannabinoid system, a whole network of bodily functions that was only identified in 1990 (by Israeli researchers), and which helps regulate different physiological processes like mood and appetite, immune function and stress response, metabolism and lipogenesis (the metabolic formation of fact). The few experiments with cannabis that have been done (mostly in other countries; since cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, with no perceived medical value, it can’t be easily acquired for experiments and clinical trials in the US) have shown that cannabinoids can selectively kill tumor cells for cancers such as brain, breast, prostate and skin as well as inhibit the creation of new blood supply to tumors (anti-angiogenesis), slowing and in some cases even reversing their growth.
The more I learned the more I wanted to know.
I wanted to know everything about my disease, about the many different treatments – conventional and alternative – that have been used to treat it, anywhere in the world (not just those done by doctors here in the US, or covered by group insurance plans). I wanted to know everything there was to know so that I could put together the program that I thought gave me the best chance of slowing progression of the disease, that could perhaps retard development of the tumor and hopefully buy me some additional time before I needed surgery.
I quickly realized that no single doctor was going to be able to show me all the different variables I had to consider. They all have their professional biases and their technical specializations and they are not compensated nor do they have the time to consider the entire spectrum of treatment options and healing modalities. I knew that if there was a map by which to navigate the uncertain future then I was going to have to make it.
And that was ultimately fine with me. It was my life on the line, after all. Who else should be responsible for it? Who else had more incentive to exhaust all options? Who else had more to lose?
If you can’t come up with a topic that you want to learn more about please have someone check your pulse.
Surely there’s something. Maybe you want to learn how to play the ukulele or how to ride a unicycle, or maybe you finally want to learn chess or how to draw or take up Olympic weightlifting in your 50s.
Perhaps there’s something you want to learn in order to take the next step in your career, or maybe take you into a completely new career direction. Or maybe it’s just a hobby, something you’ve always wanted to understand better.
Or maybe you want to learn how to heal yourself, how to protect and strengthen your mind, body and spirit for a lifetime of learning.
Get busy with your own rescue. Start today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not as part of your next New Year’s resolutions. Today. There’s no time to waste.
The good news is you’re not alone. We’re here to help. Let us show you the Health Warrior Way.
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