Celebrating Life after Cancer

Celebration of Life Mural-The mural was created to honor those surviving the disease of cancer. The mural’s tiles are inscribed by cancer survivors and represent the continuous flow of life.

I went with my husband to a routine medical appointment and instead of sitting in the waiting room I wondered around outside. I came across this lovely garden area and was immediately intrigued by the decorated wall.

I was curious and decided to take a closer look; and of course, take some photos to share with you. I think the display speaks for itself, so browse and enjoy.

Celebration of Life Mural

June 1995-June 1997

The mural was created to honor those surviving the disease of cancer.
The mural’s tiles are inscribed by cancer survivors and represent the continuous flow of life.
Celebration of Life Mural
a wall decorated with inscribed bricks and a metal floral sculpture

Why a butterfly on a thistle?

You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?

Matthew 7:16, New English Translation

thistle-the cancer survivor’s determined will to live

butterfly-transitions from difficult circumstances to a new life experience

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
“Expect a miracle”
“Love isn’t Love until you give it away.”

Celebration of Life

The butterfly and thistle sculpture is made possible through the generosity of the “Just Say Ho” Clown Alley.

Photographed by Dr. Aletha at the Troy and Dollie Smith Cancer Center, Integris Baptist Medical Center , Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“God is Good.”
“We don’t choose how we die but we do choose how we live.”

exploring the HEART of health through art

I’m honored you joined me to celebrate these cancer survivors’ lives and thankful for their willingness to share their journey with us.

Dr Aletha

Take time to enjoy the sunshine and don’t forget to smile.

Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Butterflies are not only beautiful, but also have mystery, symbolism and meaning and are a metaphor representing spiritual rebirth, transformation, change, hope and life. The magnificent, yet short life of the butterfly closely mirrors the process of spiritual transformation and serves to remind us that life is short.

Gardens with Wings

Book recommendation

If you or someone you know is facing a cancer diagnosis, this book may help. Here is my review.

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Dr Aletha

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7 questions about health you need to ask now

Are you “living life to the fullness” and if not, why not? What could you change to make that happen?

What does “health” mean to you?

Let’s continue exploring the heart of health by looking at a couple of interesting books. In another post we considered this definition:

“a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

World Health Organization
2 bandaids crossed on a world globe
photo from the Lightstock collection (affiliate link)

Or you could also say

“There’s a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick”

There's a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick by Bruce Larson

So, what is “a lot more”? 

I’m introducing you to two medical writers who believe  health is multifaceted and not centered around the presence or absence of disease.

Health- flux and adaptation

(Note: this post uses affiliate links to sites where you might make a purchase which will help fund this blog; your help is appreciated. )

book cover- The LUCKY YEARS by David B. Agus, M.D.

Enjoying life to the fullest

Despite the author’s  impressive credentials, I was skeptical about a health book called “The Lucky Years”, as if health is just a matter of the luck of the draw or throw of the dice.  

The author is David B. Agus, M.D. , Professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California , , author of two bestselling books and a CBS News contributor.

In The Lucky Years- How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health Dr. Agus covers some hefty topics including

  • how the human body ages
  • Innovative cancer treatments with immunotherapy , DNA sequencing, and molecular targeting
  • The use of clinical trials to study new treatments for cancer and other diseases
  • How cancers metastasize (spread)
  • Potential uses for stem cells
  • New insights into the development of antibiotic resistance
  • Proteomics- study of the body’s proteins
  • The relationship of antibodies to common viruses to onset of chronic diseases

Rather than highly technical detail he offers a broad overview of these new technologies and how they may help treat and potentially prevent the main causes of death, that is cancer and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

He recommends patients understand and use technology to maintain and improve their health and not rely solely on their doctor to do so and to actively participate in the healthcare system.

He believes that health data will be used to prevent, detect and treat disease and to prolong life.

Large quantities of such data, organized in a secure database, will help us predict risk and recommend preventive measures, such as already done with

  • Colonoscopy to prevent deaths from colon cancer
  • Aspirin and statin use to prevent cardiac deaths
  • Management of low grade cancers conservatively, avoiding the use of surgery or chemotherapy

The body is an incredible self-regulating machine. You don’t need to do much to support its health and optimal wellness.”

Health is in perpetual flux. 

I agree with Dr. Agus’ views on what health is, or rather what it is not.

“I don’t know what true health is, particularly on an individual basis.

For person A, health can be living totally free of illness and disability.

For person B, however, perhaps health means managing a condition well and enjoying life to the fullest despite some disability.

While we can certainly try to measure health in a variety of ways- weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood cell count, hormone levels, markers of inflammation, how you look, and how well you sleep, for example- none of those figures or generalizations will tell the whole picture.

And they won’t reveal how many years and days you might have left on this planet.”

He offers this advice –

“I encourage you to view your total health as a complex network of processes that cannot be explained by looking at any one pathway or focal point. Health is in perpetual flux.

book cover- FAST METABOLISM FOOD RX BY HAYLIE POMROY

A constant state of healthy adaptation

Nutritionist Hailey Pomroy, author of Fast Metabolism Food Rx, recommends using food as “metabolic medicine.”  

“Food integrates with your body to create health in a powerful way.”

She explains health using a formula E + M = H which means

Eating, Exercise, Environment  plus

Metabolism, Metabolic pathways, Me  equals

Health, Homeostasis, Harmony

In this formula, E stands for everything we put into our bodies as well as everything around us, including people, your job, the weather.

M is what is inside of you, including your genetic makeup, and what happens when your body processes (or metabolizes) food, nutrients, toxins, medications.

“Health doesn’t always mean you are disease free, It means your body has created a homeostasis or internal balance, …is a constant state of healthy adaptation or flux.”

So, what does HEALTH mean to you?

Considering their advice, think about what health means to you.

Use these questions to get started.

  1. Do you use any type of technology to manage your health and medical care? If so, is it helpful, or just more busy work?
  2. What is your relationship with your personal physician? Do you rely on your doctor to tell you what you should do, or recommend what you should do to stay healthy and treat ailments?
  3. Do you know what  medical conditions you are at risk for, and what you can  do to prevent them?
  4. What health measures are important to you, like blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, BMI, mammogram, and why?
  5. Are you “living life to the fullne” and if not, why not? What could you change to make that happen?
  6. How do you use food?
  7. What factors make up your E and your M? Do they add up to the Health that you want to create?

exploring the HEART of health

Dr Aletha

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