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Name: Ellen Wood
Diagnosed At Age: 55
Status: Declared Cancer Free

Bio: Ellen Wood of Taos, New Mexico, a carrier of the Alzheimer’s gene, APOE-e4, is an award-winning author, columnist and speaker who is proving she can keep that gene in the ‘off’ position with practices that strengthen and invigorate mind, body and spirit. In her books and website blogs on www.howtogrowyounger.com, Ellen shares her powerful step-by-step program for reversing aging. As upbeat and vivacious as Ellen is, though, it hasn’t always been an easy road for her. Personal experience with clinical depression, a 1992 diagnosis of breast cancer and other knocks and bruises lend her an empathy rare among self-help authors.

My reaction when I was first diagnosed: I thought they had made a mistake. It was just a routine mammogram and no one in my family had ever had cancer.

How I’m feeling now: Extremely healthly and thriving (almost 77 years old).

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My inspirations: Dr. Deepak Chopra – the mind/body connection. My thoughts and stress helped bring on the cancer and his teachings helped me realize that.

My support system: I told no one except a few people close to me. I just drove myself every day for six weeks of radiation – no one at my work (consulting so I worked at home) knew. I firmly believe that not talking about it and not reinforcing a “poor me” attitude helped me recover quickly (besides the surgery.)

I’m proud of: My ability to see the life lesson in this wake-up call. My breast cancer diagnosis followed an insanely stressful corporate merger in which I was laid off. I was lucky though: two of my colleagues in executive management dropped dead from worrying about whether they’d keep their jobs. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and realizing that breast cancer was a blessing for me. That day I decided to change my life and put less emphasis on work and more on Spirit, family and friends. I’m still reaping the benefits from that decision.

I’m afraid of: Snakes, but I’m even getting better with that mini-phobia.

I’ve learned: It’s not what’s happening to me that matters – it’s my RESPONSE to what’s happening to me.

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My advice to new patients: Get your yearly routine mammogram or thermogram and expect it to be negative. If you test positive, do whatever the doctor recommends (lumpectomy, lymph node removal, etc.), and tell yourself the test was wrong. Don’t talk about it with everybody you know because they will then see you as a cancer patient, rather than as the magnificent being you are.

To hear more about Ellen Wood and how she helps people “Grow Younger. Feel More Alive. Enjoy Being You” check out http://www.howtogrowyounger.com/.

To see more of our 31 Survivors in 31 Days stories, click here!