Fourteen years ago, when I was 30, doctors told me that I had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 44% chance of getting ovarian cancer in my lifetime. I was told this as my sister, Debbie, made her way through chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, surgery, and radiation. At age 32, Debbie had been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. These events changed my life.
Before this, I was climbing the corporate ladder. I had gotten a master’s degree in business administration, and I was working as a marketing manager at Hewlett Packard. Life was good. I had no knowledge or concern about healthy living. My relationship with health changed the day I received the phone call from Debbie.
As I watched my sister go through treatment, I was overcome by fear—fear that Debbie would die and that cancer would be my fate as well. Because my sister was so young and her cancer was so aggressive, doctors wondered if the disease ran in our family. It turns out, it did. Nine relatives within the last three generations were identified as having breast cancer at some point in their lives.
When I learned that I am high risk for cancer, I worried about every morsel of food that went into my body and every product that touched my skin. Although I began eating healthy foods and using healthy products, I was not healthy because I was operating out of fear. I was developing an unhealthy obsession with healthy living. My fear of disease and dying made me afraid to live.
With time, the fear subsided and life went back to normal. I continued working in the corporate world. My sister survived treatment and has been cancer-free for 14 years. Still, the statistics quoted to me about my possible fate floated in and out of my consciousness. Was cancer my destiny, or did I have a say in the matter?
A decade after finding out about my genetically based high risk, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in holistic health education to find the answer. This was a turning point for me. I learned that how I live my life does impact my health. Eating well, exercising often, thinking positively, having fun, managing stress, being in nurturing relationships, and living in a clean environment are all health-supporting actions. I no longer live in fear. Instead, I’ve chosen empowerment. You can, too.
Living well doesn’t just apply to reducing the risk of breast cancer, it also applies to many other health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and more. Just because it's "in the genes" or "runs in the family", doesn't mean it is your health destiny. It is estimated that over 30 percent of cancers and 80 percent of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
Health is about nourishing four aspects of living—I call them quadrants. They are Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment. There are no guarantees in life, but by living a Four Quadrant Life, you are proactively doing your best to prevent disease and promote your health. It’s fun and simple too. Healthy living that is isn’t fun defeats the purpose since a part of health is pleasure. Stressing about healthy living cancels out the benefits of your actions.
Inspired by what I learned about how diet and lifestyle can impact health, I left the high-tech world and launched my company, Four Quadrant Living. I now work with clients who are concerned about getting a disease because it "runs in the family" to take control of their health so that they feel empowered, beat the odds, and live radiantly.
You have the power to create health in your life! Every day you make choices that impact your health—the foods you eat, the products you use, the exercise you get, the stress you allow, the people you surround yourself with, and the environment you live in.
Dina Colman, MA, MBA, founded Four Quadrant Living to inspire others to live happier and healthier lives by nourishing their Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment. She emphasizes a balanced approach that can be used by anyone, regardless of age, previous health, or family history.
Dina graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Cum Laude from Pomona College with a BA in Economics. Following graduation, she worked at Price Waterhouse before obtaining her master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She then spent over a decade in the high-tech corporate world in a variety of marketing and business strategy positions.
After her sister was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, Dina was told that she had an 87% chance of getting the disease herself. This motivated Dina to earn a master’s degree in holistic health education from JFK University, learning how to reduce her odds of getting cancer by changing how she lived her life. Fifteen years later, Dina continues to beat the odds and her sister is cancer-free.
Dina inspires and informs others through her writing and one-on-one client sessions. She blogs and shares healthy living resources on her website. Her clients and readers are located throughout the United States and around the world. She is author of Four Quadrant Living: Making Healthy Living Your New Way of Life (Oct 2013).