What Cancer Research Taught Me About the Antidote to Stress

stress and cancer

Are you stressed out? Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone!

Based on the latest American Institute on Stress survey, 75% of us regularly experience moderate to severe symptoms of stress, 50% of us lay awake at night worrying, and 68% of us consume alcohol at the end of the day to relax.

Additionally, the latest Gallup survey reflects that 70% of American employees are disengaged at work.

Is there a better way to respond to life’s daily challenges? What if you had the power to change anything that you do not like about your life? You do!

The cumbersome symptoms of stress that we experience are simply our body’s reactions to the meaning we give to life situations. What keeps us up at night is how we think about these situations.

We can choose to be in charge of our power by choosing the way we look at what we have come to define as the major challenges of our existence.

If you are you ready to challenge the conventional way of thinking and get reacquainted with your best self, you may want to consider the best lesson cancer research taught me: the conditioned way of defining the important elements of our life can cause miscommunication between our body and mind that lead to feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

Cancer – The devastating outcome of miscommunication between cells

My humble experience of developing cancer drugs in the laboratory taught me a critical truth: Cancer cells are not that different from any of our healthy cells. They just somehow lost their ability to communicate effectively with other cells, and hence they proliferate uncontrollably.

Stress is the way our body handles demands from the environment. It only becomes problematic when we constantly interpret situations as threats when they are not.

Just like in the case of cancer cells, we miscommunicate with our body systems.

In the face of my biggest challenges, I realized that central to the cause of human suffering is the hidden impact of the way we have allowed our conditioned way of thinking to disrupt the accurate communication between our body and our mind.

We have accepted the way critical elements have been defined by the status quo, never questioning the origin or validity of these terms or how much strain these definitions are putting our body under. For example, if our limiting beliefs have established our definition of success to be related to financial abundance, we will constantly be asking our body to invest more and more intensely in our work, never giving it the chance to revive in between sprints. Being in a constant state of expecting our body to rise to whatever occasion work requires of us, can lead to what we know as chronic stress, which is associated not just with uncomfortable short-term symptoms but also long-term health consequences.

Accepting the conditioned ways we define critical components of our life not only impacts our ability to communicate effectively with others and ourselves but greatly impacts our well-being.

When we identify any life situation as a threat, a tiny structure in our brain called the amygdala rings a very loud alarm that initiates a cascade of events involving a great number of chemicals, neurotransmitters, and body systems. This cascade results in what we call stress.

Research shows that the conditioned way of thinking of failure, for example, has the same power to trigger our amygdala and cause a stress reaction as a physical threat, like being chased by a bear. What can we do about stress triggered by our thoughts?

Question and redefine the important elements of life

Take a peek at two different ways of defining some important life elements—the conditioned way and a way that is reframed and redefined in a more positive aspect. Notice your emotions and bodily responses to these two different ways of looking at these common elements.


  • Conditioned definition: Meeting and exceeding society’s status quo expectations, such as earning a six-figure income, getting married, having children, and possessing expensive material goods.
  • Redefinition: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” —Mahatma Ghandi


  • Conditioned definition: The lack (or opposite) of success.
  • Redefinition: The valuable process of feedback about the changes we need to make to arrive at a successful outcome.


  • Conditioned definition: Getting what we want through intimidation, control, and domination of others with whom a real or perceived power imbalance is present.
  • Redefinition: The ability to do something effectively.

Love (as in an adult primary relationship)

  • Conditioned definition: An experience that only some few of us are blessed to have in which we are connected to our perfect match who always knows what to say, how to treat us, appreciates all that we are, and makes us happy all the time.
  • Redefinition: A practice; the choice to relate to another human being in a way that helps each one bring to life their best selves.


  • Conditioned definition: The absence of disease.
  • Redefinition: “Complete physical, emotional, and social well-being.” (World Health Organization)

How do these different definitions feel to you?

Have you accepted conditioned definitions that limit you and cause you to engage your body systems in defense from perceived threats? What if you were to question and redefine terms in a way similar to the examples of “redefinitions” shown above that could calm your inner critic and free your body systems from being used up for defense?

We can choose to overcome limiting, conditioned beliefs and re-write our story with our own words and definitions. You have the power to write your own story and create a happier reality.

The most important lesson cancer research taught me about the antidote to stress is that the most potent antidote at our disposal is our mind, which we can use to influence our physical health.

If you would like guidance in how to use your mind to overcome limiting beliefs and improve your health and happiness, I would be honored to help. I invite you to begin by joining the Mynzden community.


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