In 2009, Kristi Russo was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer.
But the then 40-year-old didn’t take the news as a death sentence: Instead, she adopted the practices of health and wellness guru, Deepak Chopra by changing her attitude, deepening her spiritual practices and eating healthier.
Now, almost four years later, Russo said she is cancer-free. She and Chopra recently sat down with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, to share some tips on how anyone can help heal themselves from the inside out.
“When I was first diagnosed, I asked if they could fix it; they said yes,” Russo told FoxNews.com. “I went through chemo and surgery, came back for a test and found that it had now metastasized to my lung. Now, in my mind, all of a sudden, it’s really serious, it’s moving. I need to make some changes to my life.”
Russo, a wife and mother of four boys from Grand Rapids, Mich., said it was important for her to stay positive.
“First, we have to recognize that self-repair is, of course, innate to our biology,” Chopra said. “We call it homeostasis. People do repair their bodies. I think the best thing we can do today is combine the best treatments in medicine, biological treatments that are getting better day-by-day, with these integrative approaches.”
Chopra, who did not treat Russo, said staying stress-free is important for any treatment, because if you are stressed, your adrenaline goes up, your cortisol goes up – and therefore, your hormones go up and it interferes with your health.
Here are Chopra’s six tips to maintaining wellness:
1. Set goals and priorities.
“Goals is to establish a baseline health status and decide where you want to be, and what it’s going to take in terms of lifestyle, also in terms of standard treatment,” Chopra said. “That’s the first thing.”
2. Get rid of processed foods.
“In very simple words, get rid of anything that is processed, refined or manufactured. By large, anything that comes in a can or label. You know, she (Russo) did that,” Chopra said. “She planted her own garden and went to farmers’ markets.”
Russo said her husband and sons dug up miles of sod in the backyard and planted a huge garden – now they enjoy fresh tomatoes, lettuce and carrots.
“We make our own salsa, and we planted fruit trees,” Russo said. “We eat very little red meat, but the red meat we eat comes from the cows down the road. I watch those cows.”
3. Practice meditation and visualization.
Russo said when she got sick, she would sit outside and visualize the sun, with all her kids home and a big swimming pool – and this is what they would do when she was healthy.
“Visualization actually changes your behavior,” Chopra said. “It motivates you to do all the things. If you visualize a healthy, energetic, joyful body, and a quiet, restful mind, then that in itself will influence how you do other things.”
4. Express your emotions.
“It’s not that you have to think positively all the time,” Chopra said. “You have to get in touch with your emotions. You have to share them with somebody that you love, like (Russo) did with her husband. You have to release them. You have to express them, because if you repress emotions, that creates its own biology, too.”
Chopra said you have to talk about your problems – tell people if you are happy, scared, sad or angry.
5. Resist alienating yourself.
Chopra said you need to connect with peace, harmony, laughter and love – it’s as simple as that. They are healing emotions.
“My husband and I walk every night, especially before I’m going to have a blood test,” Russo said. “(I’ll ask) ‘Do you think I’m going to be OK? I’m nervous, do you think everything is going to be alright?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, it’s going to be fine.’ I always have somebody to talk to.”
6. Learn the science of self-repair.
Russo said she is a different person now – she’s more tolerant – and she does not believe her cancer will ever come back.
“I believe that your mind has a lot to do with healing your body,” Russo said.