In 1999, my friend Suzanne Foglio’s husband, Jim, was diagnosed with stage 4 non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“As we drove home from that appointment,” she writes on her website, vibrantlifeaftercancer.com, “I looked around at the world and thought, how is the world still turning?”
All these years later, Suzanne and her husband are not only surviving, they’re thriving. Jim has gone 13 years now with clean bone scans, and Suzanne has found new purpose in showing others how to enjoy vibrant, powerful and healthy lives after cancer.
Here’s more on her story, and how you can get Suzanne’s FREE “thriving after cancer” kit!
A Startling Diagnosis
Suzanne grew up in a home where holistic living was a way of life. “My mom was into healthy living before it was cool,” she says. “When I was a little girl she would have yoga classes in our house. My brother and I would sit under the table and watch the students do their poses.”
When she turned 18, Suzanne got a job at a health club, where she met Jim. “That was a turning point for me,” she says. “We were both teaching and lifting weights. I wanted to be around healthy people, because I figured they had it figured out.”
The couple continued their commitment to health after they got married, regularly seeing a naturopathic doctor, doing juice cleanses, and connecting with other people interested in holistic care. All this made Jim’s diagnosis all the more shocking.
“We were the health nuts in the group and he’s the one that ended up with stage 4 cancer,” Suzanne says. “He had a football sized tumor on his spleen, and it had spread to his abdominal lymph nodes and into the bone marrow. He actually had both the aggressive and the low-grade form of this cancer. His doctors said they’d never seen someone so young with both types. They also told us that if the cancer had been discovered two weeks later, they couldn’t have done anything for him.”
Suzanne’s “Anti-Cancer Movement”
Fortunately, after treatment, Jim’s tumor shrunk. The doctors, however, were quick to let him know that he’d likely have to go through chemotherapy again sometime in the future.
“The doctor said he would never go into remission,” Suzanne says. “He told us they could shrink the tumors with chemo, but the cancer in the bone marrow would always be there. It was considered a chronic condition, one that you watch and continue to treat every time it comes back.”
Suzanne asked what they could do to reduce the odds that the cancer would return, but the doctor’s answer was unsatisfying. “He told us to just go live our lives. ‘If it comes back, we’ll catch it,’ he said.”
That didn’t it well with Suzanne, however. “That started an anti-cancer movement for me,” she says. “I figured we’d let the doctors fight the cancer, but we had to figure out how to keep Jim healthy. We would have to become warriors for our own health.”
Helping Others Manage Remission
Suzanne dove into the research concerning nutrition and health. She bought books and searched the Internet, and then signed up for classes at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
“I felt like there was something we didn’t know,” she says. “I figured that we could do things better, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep my husband healthy.”
With such a powerful motivation, Suzanne completed her training at the Institute and went on to get her Transformational Coaching Certification from Holistic MBA. “I realized that it’s all about taking your gifts and life experience and putting it to work to help others,” she says. “I knew I had to do this. There are so many people out there in the same position we were after Jim’s treatments were over. You think things are supposed to go back to normal, but they don’t. You have to find your new normal.”
Now, Suzanne helps cancer survivors put together a remission maintenance program. Jim is a great example of the potential benefits-for 13 years, his bone scans have been clear. So much for his “chronic” condition!
3 Things Survivors Need To Do
Today, Suzanne helps survivors make positive changes to reduce the risk of recurrence. “You don’t have to live with the fear of your cancer returning,” she writes on her website. “You can gain back your energy and vitality.”
Though Suzanne personalizes her programs to each patient, she notes that each person typically needs to do three things after going through cancer treatments:
- Reconnect with their bodies. “When the body gets cancer, we feel that it has somehow betrayed us,” Suzanne explains. “So I help my clients reconnect and make peace with themselves. It’s important because as long as you feel disconnected from your body, it’s easier not to deal with it. When you reconnect, you are more likely to feed it nourishing food, exercise, love, and care for it.”
- Find cancer’s gifts. Though most fighters expect that life will go back to normal after cancer treatments, that’s rarely the case. “You want to leave it all behind you,” Suzanne says, “but you can’t, because you’ll never be the same. Cancer causes you to go deeper with your relationship with yourself and others.” If you don’t find the gifts cancer gives you, you may continue to harbor anger and stress about it, which can affect your health in the future. “My husband will tell you that the biggest gift he received from his cancer was finding his faith,” Suzanne says. “He felt he needed to get right with God and what he believed if this was going to be the end. It was like a rebirth in so many ways.”
- Put together a plan. Unfortunately, many cancer survivors return to old bad habits after treatments are over. To give your body the best chance of remaining healthy, you need to set up a plan for how you’re going to care for yourself. “I have people keep a food journal,” Suzanne says. “In it, they record not only what they eat, but how they feel after they eat it. We figure out how their body is responding to the food, and then we make changes accordingly.” Unlike other one-size-fits-all programs, Suzanne’s program is tailored to each person, to create the best individual results.
To get your FREE “thriving after cancer” kit, go to Suzanne’s website at vibrantlifeaftercancer.com. You’ll receive practical information on how to start your new life, with 3 anti-cancer super foods and recipes, 6 immune-boosting strategies, and a free subscription to her newsletter.
Have you created a stay-healthy program for your life after cancer? Please share your thoughts.