A Healthy Life and a Healthy Body

by Bernie Siegel, MD

Studies reveal that women diagnosed with the same cancers as men live longer and that married men live longer than single men with the same cancers; smoke as much and have fewer cases of lung cancer than single men. It is not female hormones, or sleeping with them, that is protecting these men and women. It is their connections and relationships. Years ago I was criticized for asking people what happened in the year or two before they became sick. I was told I was blaming people and creating guilt. Recent studies show that loneliness affects the genes which control our immune response. So people who feel lonely are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases, viral illnesses and cancer. I may add that a sense of humor laughter improves survival statistics.

I bring this up because I want women to keep their power and not live a role related to doing things for other people. I’ll make this marriage works if it kills me can kill you. Being the good girl to please parents and spouses while internalizing all your feelings is self destructive. It turns on the cancer genes. I have seen an audience of southern women become hostile to my wife and me after our presentation. I couldn’t understand what we had done wrong. A friend said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. They are jealous of your relationship. Your wife can interrupt and correct you and shares the stage. They have gone from politeness to submissiveness.”

Please ladies let your heart guide you through life so what you do is out of love. Then you benefit from your activities as does the recipient of your love. When you can’t die until all the kids are married and out of the house what happens when they do all move out. I have watched a woman with nine kids die, twenty years after being diagnosed with cancer, when the kids all left home.

One woman did a drawing for me entitled will the real me please stand up. It shows a mommy and a professional and you don’t need to be a therapist to know which one makes her happy. So do what makes you happy and keep your power. Don’t wait to develop cancer to obtain permission. If something is threatening your health eliminate it from your life be it a marriage, job or anything else. If it does not threaten your health then give love a chance to heal the relationship. You have a choice when your health is not at risk to change your life or your attitude. You can be born again free of your disease. Life is a labor pain related to your birthing your unique self.

Relationships, with family or your doctor, are a struggle according to my wife and an ordeal according to Joseph Campbell. They are both talking about creating a relationship so that 1+1=3. It is not about what each individual wants but about a third entity, the relationship they create. So be sure your spouse, partner, family and doctor are willing to create a relationship you can all live with. A sure sign of future successful relationships is that the persons involved are criticized by the people they work with, the people they work for and their family. These are people who are willing to learn, accept criticism and apologize rather than make excuses or blame others. The tourists are then trained by the natives who understand the experience they are living with that the other party has never been exposed to.

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