This blog was originally posted My name is Bruce Mylrea. I am 62 and I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer exactly nine years ago and I am still battling the disease today. A recent PSMA scan and biopsy reveals that I still have prostate cancer growing in my prostate bed after radical prostatectomy, two rounds of radiation, and two rounds of hormone therapy over the past decade. Even after all the failed treatments and poor prognosis of my current situation, I AM HAPPY. I have struggled more with mental health and anxiety related to my cancer than I have with any treatment or physical trauma.
To follow is a brief snapshot of what I think are the most important behavioral changes I have made to stay sane and HAPPY living with cancer:
- I transitioned from a horrible Standard American Diet (which based on my research, I strongly believe was a major contributor to my cancer development and progression) of meat, dairy, processed foods, and alcohol to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB). Initially, this was a struggle to change this behavior but I am so glad I did. I dropped 30 pounds in six months, while at the same time lowered my cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure to optimum healthy levels. I cannot state strongly enough that this single move is probably the strongest factor in maintaining my mental health. Feeling lighter, with more energy, better mental clarity and mood has been a blessing for me.
- I quit drinking. I was fooling myself about my excessive alcohol consumption and I gave it up. This was and still is tough because I LOVE alcohol, but it was well worth it.
- I doubled down on my most important relationships, especially with my wife, Mindy, and my three wonderful children who have been there for me every step of the way.
- I found a passion that did not exist prior to my diagnosis: studying and sharing the benefits of evidence-based nutrition. This passion has been so powerful that I quit my corporate job and with my wife Mindy, started my own educational non-profit, OneDayToWellness.org. I never had such a passion during my 30 years in the corporate world of Silicon Valley. Studying, writing, and speaking publicly about nutrition makes me happy and keeps me away from the dark corners of my mind (They are there). You need a PURPOSE other than battling cancer to stay sane!
- When I get in a funk after a bad blood test or scheduling yet another scan, I have learned to turn my thoughts to others that are struggling with their own issues, which I have learned can be much worse than what I am dealing with.
- I completely surrendered to my emotions! After a lifetime of suppressing my true feelings, I became a cry baby. I can break down and cry with those closest to me without feeling shameful. I now wear my emotions on my sleeve and it makes me a better, more empathic person. Additionally, adding just 15 to 20 minutes of mindful meditation to each day has been a powerful tool to combat anxiety and depression. It’s free and it works!
- I have accepted my condition and what comes with it. For too many years, I nurtured false hopes and dreams that were simply unrealistic at my disease stage. None of us are going to live forever. Those of us with a cancer diagnosis just get the memo in a more shocking way. I now live for the day. If I am feeling healthy (which I do every day so far post-diagnosis). I celebrate. I no longer sweat the small stuff and rejoice in life.