It’s been almost six years since I was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. (More precisely, it was cancer of the pyriform sinus which had metastasized to my lymph nodes and one tonsil.) It’s been 7 months since my oncologist told me that I would no longer require annual scans and, amazingly, he would no longer need to see me for check-ups. Woo Hoo! We won the battle.
Western medicine killed the cancer and saved my life. The radiation and chemotherapy treatments were effective, but had walked me up to death’s door. Then the recovery began. Full and complete recovery required a lot more than the medical interventions. There was much more work ahead to achieve a desirable level of wellness, performance and functionality. Here are some perspectives I developed along the way.
Western healthcare systems are designed for fighting diseases, repairing damage from injury, and correcting structural or functional issues in bodily systems. Western healthcare is not well designed to help achieve full and complete recovery, to achieve high levels of performance, or to help maintain functionality for the long term. We are living longer because of medical knowledge, experience, and technology, improvements in public health policies, and communication about the risks of certain habits, behaviors, and substances. But are we maintaining functionality and wellness into our 80s, 90s and beyond?
Longer lifespans do not necessarily equate to longer health-spans. In other words, we may be living longer, but we are not necessarily maintaining a high quality of life or functionality far into our later years. But the good news is that there is so much more we can do to give ourselves every possible advantage when we need to recover from setbacks (e.g., injury, disease, surgery, fatigue, etc.), when we just want to have more energy and capability to perform when doing what we love, and when we want to achieve and maintain functional longevity.
My experience underscored something which I knew, but which I had not fully internalized. We all need to take responsibility for our health and wellness, for recovery from sickness, injury, or surgery, for the level of performance we desire, and for maintaining functional longevity. We need to look beyond the awesome capabilities of traditional western medicine and recognize exactly what the healthcare system is designed to provide. We need to understand that, just because a treatment, technology, practice, or therapy is not covered by health insurance or is not recommended by your doctor, does not mean it is not effective, beneficial, and appropriate. Of course, this puts the burden on you to do your homework, seek trustworthy and reliable advice, and take responsibility for your personal choices. Do not settle for less than you deserve. Do not accept “there is nothing else we can do.”
Here are a couple examples from my own experience. I determined that a keto-diet would be advantageous in parallel with my undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments. My oncology team members were open-minded, but said they really had no opinion about the value or efficacy of the keto-diet and cancer. Would you have expected experience or insights about the benefits of limiting carbohydrates, especially sugars, when fighting cancer? I was not really surprised, because most western medical professionals receive only the most limited training in nutrition. I have joked in the past that the last person you want to ask about diet is your doctor.
Radiation treatment damages the skin. No surprise, right? And so, it was important for me to find the best possible treatment to protect my neck during two months of 5 days per week of intense radiation. My oncology team had suggested one topical cream. But the results were inconsistent and unreliable. My research and experimentation led me to adopt a protocol involving calendula, organic aloe, organic coconut oil, and lavender oil. The results were amazing. No burning, peeling, or discoloration.
I learned a lot about healing and recovery through what was clearly a very different journey compared to anything in my prior experience. I thought I knew a lot about health and fitness before that journey began, but as I came to realize, my knowledge and experience were only scratching the surface. This was a catalyst for what became a new passion for me: helping people to achieve their health and fitness goals, and helping them to maintain their desired level of wellness and functionality.
Soon after I had my first clear scan, I knew I had to do something to pay-it-forward. I wanted to do something that would allow me to help people achieve and maintain wellness. My own experience during the toughest days of fighting cancer and my recovery regiment after treatment had taught me valuable lessons. I wanted to leverage these lessons for the greater good. This was the genesis of me setting up a wellness center. I named it “RPL Personal Solutions.” RPL stands for RECOVERY, PERFORMANCE, & LONGEVITY.
The fundamental idea behind the business plan was to offer services that professional athletes, rock stars, actors, and wealthy people use to achieve and maintain high levels of performance and recover from physical stress, strains, fatigue, and injuries. RPL would make therapies and technologies available and affordable to people who were seeking help to achieve and maintain their wellness and functional longevity goals.
The portfolio of RPL therapies includes whole-body cryotherapy, red light, PEMF, HBOT, infrared sauna, and dynamic sequential compression. RPL has been in operation now for almost four years. During this time, we have witnessed a significant increase in people seeking ways to help achieve their wellness goals, recover from lingering effects of illness (think Covid), improve physical performance, and maintain functionality.
Beyond what we offer at RPL, there are many alternative therapies and services available, and interest and utilization is growing. Take, for example, IV Infusion treatments. Although most doctors recommend against “non-medically necessary” IV infusions, the business of providing IV infusions and supplementation is booming. The global home infusion therapy market is projected to grow from $34.54 billion in 2021 to $54.82 billion in 2028. (Read More at: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/home-infusion-therapy-market-102989)
Another piece of evidence of the growing interest in this arena is the success of books and podcasts on the topic. Notably, I would point to “Life Force”, the tome authored by Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis, and Robert Hariri. Simon & Schuster explains the book’s focus on “the newest breakthroughs in health technology to help maximize your energy and strength, prevent disease, and extend your health span.” Amazon notes that “Life Force is a visionary and extraordinary book—filled with the latest science-based information on health and healing that can help transform both the quality and quantity of your life.” I have listened to the 20+ hours on Audible several times and I have hardcover copies at RPL and at home. These authors don’t need my endorsement. My intent here is to provide evidence for the fact that there are many recovery, performance, and longevity options available to us today – with many more just over the horizon. Medical breakthroughs to fight disease and repair injuries are continuing at rapid pace. We can expect to see a century’s worth of medical innovation in the next decade. And we will also see incredible growth and innovation in what has historically been referred to as “alternative”. The business of achieving and maintaining wellness goes far beyond what we traditional think of as healthcare.
Over the weeks and months ahead, I will dive deeper into specific topics of interest and relevance to recovery, performance, and longevity. Please feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and observations, as well as any questions you might have. Until next time, don’t be afraid to feel great!