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More people than ever before are surviving cancer, but a cancer diagnosis is still a very scary thing. This year in the U.S. alone, 1.7 million people will face a cancer diagnosis. When you’re diagnosed, there are many decisions to make, while emotions are swirling, and much is unknown. Having a game plan could mean the difference between life and death. Here are 3 things that could save your life when facing a cancer diagnosis.

Be the CEO
As CEO of your own health, it’s your job to put together the right team that will guide and support you on this journey. Finding a good oncologist is the first step. The very best oncologists are normally at university medical centers. Locate the medical schools closest to you and assess which ones have the best oncology departments. The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s cancer.net website is a good resource for finding a specialist in your particular cancer. Once you have narrowed down your options, schedule meetings with your top two or three choices. Your oncologist should take time to answer your questions carefully, so be sure he or she gives you the time and attention you deserve. In assembling your support team, look into what additional resources your hospital offers for coping with cancer. Major hospitals usually have counselors, social workers, and support groups that can offer psychological and emotional support. You can also find cancer support groups online. When it comes to your cancer diagnosis, think like a CEO: assemble the right team and you’ll be primed for success.

Arm Yourself with Accurate Information
It’s important to know where to go for accurate information. Look at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for the standard of care options for your specific cancer. This site has easy-to-understand information about what tests and treatments you should be getting for your specific cancer. Don’t just assume your doctor is giving you the standard of care. It’s also good to know what other treatments are out there in case you don’t respond well to the first one. While many of the standard treatments are still some of the best treatments available, you may want to be informed about clinical trials. A list of active clinical trials can be found at clinicaltrials.gov and is searchable by cancer type, age, eligibility criteria, and region. Ask your doctor to help you find trials that could be a good fit. If you do decide to enroll in a study, your doctor will be the liaison who makes that happen.

Use Food as Medicine to Complement Your Treatment
Most oncologists aren’t trained in nutrition, yet the preponderance of scientific evidence says eating the right foods can be a powerful complement to cancer therapy. Eat a mostly plant-based diet. And if I had to choose one plant-based food to recommend it would be nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, in particular. These nuts are packed with omega-3s and other cancer-fighting natural chemicals that protect us from diseases. A recent study of more than 800 patients with stage III colon cancer found that eating tree nuts can make a significant difference in overall cancer survival. In the study, those who consumed two ounces or more of tree nuts per week had a 46% lower chance of cancer recurrence and 53% lower chance of death than those who did not eat nuts. Two ounces is only about 2 small handfuls of nuts a week. Another major study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed people who ate more nuts had a significant reduction in risk of cancers and overall reduced mortality, compared to people who ate few or no nuts. To learn more about cancer-fighting foods to incorporate into your day, check out my new book EAT TO BEAT DISEASE.

A cancer diagnosis is a big deal, but you can take control by assembling the best team, gathering accurate information and adding cancer-fighting foods to your meals. Don’t leave your health in someone else’s hands. This is the fight for your life.

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