Focusing on your wholistic wellness is an important part of cancer prevention. Being well involves thinking about what is important to you and what activities make you feel balanced. Each person's wellness priorities and journeys can be different and should be respected.
A number of factors play a role in your chances of getting cancer, such as: genetics, age, smoking habits and diet. These are sometimes referred to as risk factors. Some factors can be influenced through our choices.
Here are some key ways that you can take action to improve your health and wellness.
Healing from trauma is foundational to wellness. Given the vast range of past and ongoing experiences of Indigenous communities and individuals, having the space and support for healing is important.
Being active is an important part of wellness. Even small amounts of exercise make a big difference and benefit your mental health too. Walking is a great way to get started. Adults doing physical activity with children and youth strengthens relationships and shows younger generations how to be active.
Eating healthy means so much more than just what foods we put in our bodies. Food is at the centre of so many important parts of our lives: family, connection, sovereignty, culture, language and resilience. Eating a variety of different foods, gathered and prepared in different ways (e.g. whole foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, eggs, lean meats, fish and wild game) is a good way to meet nutrient and energy needs.
See: Island Health video – Indigenous Plant Healing
Nurturing the mind and spirit is an essential part of wholistic wellness. Having balance in your life is key. Being with nature, culture and people who you trust and look up to can help your confidence grow and give you peace of mind. Making connections with Elders, knowledge keepers and healers can support your spiritual wellness. Smudging, brushings, sweat lodges, spirit baths, traditional dancing and drumming are examples of cultural activities or ceremony that can support the mind and spirit.
See: Mental Health and Wellness Supports
Respecting tobacco speaks to the opportunity to respect the cultural uses of the natural tobacco plant, and the importance of reducing or quitting the use of commercial tobacco like cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Quitting commercial tobacco may take many tries and it is important to keep going with your efforts to quit if it doesn't happen the first time. There are many supports available through First Nations Health Benefits, Talk Tobacco and beyond.
See: FNHA – Tobacco is Medicine Video
Getting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is one of the best ways to help prevent cervical cancer and cancers of the anus, throat, mouth, penis, vagina and vulva. The vaccine is offered for free to children in grade 6 and continues to be available for free until age 19. Adults eligible for free vaccine include HIV-positive people 9-26 years of age, transgender people 9-26 years of age and men who have sex with men 9-26 years of age. Infection from human papillomavirus (HPV) is very common and the virus is easily spread through intimate touching and sexual activity. Certain types of HPV infections can cause cancer, but getting HPV vaccines as a preteen or adult can help the body prepare for and fight the virus and prevent these cancers from developing.
See: Immunize BC Web Page and BC Cancer Video
Reducing alcohol can decrease your chances of getting cancer and other chronic diseases. Setting goals is important. Planning in advance about where, when, and how many drinks you will consume can help. Reducing your own alcohol consumption can impact the wholistic health of you, your family and your community.
See: Sober for October: Wellness Champion Story and the Kelty Resource Centre
Practicing sun safety protects your skin and eyes, and reduces your chances of having cancer of these body parts. Setting an example by helping children and youth practice sun safety is important, as sunburns during childhood greatly increase skin cancer risk later in life. Make it a regular part of your outings to put on sunscreen, slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, slide on sunglasses and seek shade.
See: Preventing Skin Cancer – BC Cancer
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