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How My Mom’s Cancer Battle Helped Me Find God’s Purpose for My Life

How My Mom’s Cancer Battle Helped Me Find God’s Purpose for My Life

When I was in eighth grade, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. This came as a shock to my family and me. We couldn’t understand how my forty-one-year-old mom, a swim instructor and gym teacher, the picture of health and wellness, was sick with a life-threatening disease. My mom chose the conventional route of treatment — a mastectomy followed by four cycles of chemotherapy.

I’ll never forget seeing clumps of her sandy-blonde hair fall to her bathroom floor and noticing she looked like she’d aged twenty years in two weeks. I almost didn’t recognize her. I remember thinking three things at the time:

  1. I wanted to help her get well,
  2. I didn’t want anyone else to suffer the way she was, and
  3. there must be a better way.

Although Mom was declared “cancer free” after the harsh treatments, her health continued to spiral downward. While she recovered from chemotherapy and returned to her job, she still felt lousy. Mom struggled with a weak immune system and was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, and she also suffered from a mood disorder and was prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

Seeing my mom struggle with her health inspired me to begin studying nutrition and functional medicine (as opposed to conventional medicine), which focuses on finding the root cause of disease. This became my purpose in life.

Ten years after my mom’s cancer diagnosis, I was twenty-five years old and close to graduating and opening my own clinic when I received a call from her. 

“I’ve got bad news, Josh,” Mom said in tears. “My oncologist told me they found a tumor on my lungs that was two and a half centimeters. He wants to do surgery and start radiation right away.” I encouraged my mom as best as I could and prayed with her. The next day, I flew from Florida back to Ohio to help Mom with a health program to treat the root of many of her issues. The goal was for her to change her diet, overcome toxic thoughts, reduce stress, and cleanse her system.

For the next four months, my mom stopped eating processed food and instead juiced fresh vegetables, took numerous nutritional supplements (turmeric, astragalus, reishi, vitamin D, etc.), spent time outside every day, and started the practices of gratitude, visualization, and prayer.

All these new protocols helped her form a positive mindset. My mom followed this regimen for four months and then returned to her oncologist for blood work and imaging. The doctor’s response was astounding.

“What’s happened is highly unusual,” he began.

  • “We don’t see cancer shrink very often.”

Mom’s largest tumor had shrunk by 52 percent. The oncologist told my mother, “Keep doing what you are doing, because whatever it is, it’s working.” Her medical team decided to hold off on surgery, and nine months later my mom was cancer free and in complete remission.

At the time of this writing, my mom is sixty-eight years old and incredibly active. She water-skis, hikes with her friends, and takes her grandkids to Disney World. My mom had a mindshift that her cancer diagnosis was not a death sentence but instead an opportunity to be more intentional about her health and inspire others with her courage and faith.

The experience of helping my mom heal crystallized my life’s mission. as a medical professional. Years later, I opened my own clinic in Nashville, Tennessee, and brought what I learned with my mom to my work there, helping thousands of patients heal using natural medicine.

  • Mom showed me that a crisis can either paralyze and destroy you or unlock an opportunity within you.

Helping her also led me to identify one of my individual purposes — to use food as medicine — under my grand purpose. I believe that all of us share a grand purpose, which is to love others (people and God) and to turn this planet into a paradise.

Before you can become the person you were born to be, you must determine your purpose. The best version of yourself always starts with the why.

THINK THIS: My life has value, meaning, and a specific purpose to make this world a better place.
NOT THAT: I have no purpose and no power to make a difference.

Excerpted with permission from Think This, Not That: 12 Mindshifts to Breakthrough Limiting Beliefs and Become Who You Were Born to Be by Dr. Josh Axe, copyright Dr. Josh Axe.

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Your Turn

Dr. Josh Axe asks in his book, “Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do each day?

The answers to these questions have everything to do with purpose. Purpose is “the reason for which something exists or . . . is made.” Simply put, it is the why for existence.” Have you ever had a major moment in life that made you realize your God-given purpose?