Here's to a healthy New Year | Linda Ball | Reporter's Notebook


By Linda Ball


It will be two years ago this month that I heard the words "you have cancer." It was quite a shock to say the least. I was very frightened, confused and unsure of what to do next. How could a healthy person like me have cancer?

After a labyrinth of tests, chemotherapy, radiation, and a total of nine surgeries, I'm still here, and cancer free. It now seems as though this happened to someone else. It became an out-of-body experience.

I'm so thrilled to be starting a new year knowing I'm going to be OK. No matter how good you feel though, it's important to stay in tune with and know your body.

Take the time to exercise, and eat well. I was never a junk food person, so that made my diagnosis all the more confounding. But I truly believe cancer is a result of exposure to something in the environment (pesticides certainly), and consumption of empty-calorie foods.

I learned if there are more than five listed ingredients on a product, to be wary. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it.

The food we eat should come from the earth or sea. Stay away from processed foods, farmed fish, and try to eat organic produce. Limit intake of sugar, red meat and heavy starches, not only for cancer prevention, but for the sake of your weight, too. Obesity can lead to other more complex problems such as diabetes.

Don't be afraid of the doctor or dentist. I know you fellas don't like going to the doctor, but if you're a man of a certain age, man up and get that prostate checked!

Women, mammograms save lives – I'm living proof. You can handle it – it's only a few minutes of discomfort.

Improper dental care leads to periodontal disease which can lead to heart problems. To avoid it, even if you don't have dental insurance, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can greatly improve your chances of avoiding gum disease. If you can, visit the dental hygienist twice each year.

According to the Center for Disease Control, "Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems."

The CDC recommends 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate physical activity. This includes just taking a walk, dancing or mowing the lawn. You don't have to go to the extreme. Even during my darkest depths of chemo, I got on my elliptical for a least five minutes. That may not sound like much, but I felt better for it.

My father was a very sedentary man, one of the greatest generation who, God love him, provided for his family, but put his own health at great risk mainly by overeating which developed into Type II diabetes. When he died in 2006, he couldn't even move on his own due to total muscle atrophy. Don't let this happen to you.

The bottom line here is moderation. Enjoy dessert on occasion, drink a glass of wine. But also take care of yourself. Sleep, eat healthy and get some exercise.

It may not ward off every disease, but preventative action could prolong your life and keep you more comfortable into old age.

Linda Ball can be reached at 425-391-0363, ext. 5052.

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