"10 Tips Series for Coping"  
10 Tips for Creating a Healthy and Comfortable Home Environment
By Jim Acee
This is #5 in a series of articles compiled by Jim Acee,  husband and caregiver for Savanna Acee who was diagnosed in June 1995 with stage III ovarian cancer, had six rounds of chemotherapy, and then a recurrence in July 1996 with metastasis (spread) to the liver and diaphragm with seeding throughout the abdomen. Savanna was placed on hospice in September 1996 and given only months to live. She subsequently survived with a high quality of life for 10 years using a combination of alternative, complementary and traditional (chemotherapy) treatments. For more information on Savanna's treatment methodology, or to discuss your cancer-related concerns contact Jim  at , call 208-384-1708 (mountain time zone) or write to Jim Acee, 4024 Whitehead, Boise, ID 83703, USA.

Future "10 Tips" articles will appear each month in the CONVERSATIONS! Newsletter. Previously published articles in this series are in the "10 Tips" section of or send a stamped, self addressed envelop marked "10 Tips Series" to CONVERSATIONS! PO Box 7948, Amarillo, TX 79114.

1) Make your home as cheerful as you can. Buy fresh flowers every week and place them in rooms where you spend the most time, and plant a garden where you can watch it grow. If your immune system is extremely suppressed, avoid the water in vases of fresh flowers which can contain a bacteria that causes pneumonia. You can substitute a bright artificial flower arrangement. Locate old photographs and display pictures of fond memories and loved ones. Find reasons to celebrate your own occasions and decorate with strings of Christmas lights, balloons, colorful crepe paper, banners, etc. Open the drapes and spend as much time as you can in rooms that have natural sunlight. 

2) Create your own healing prayer or meditation santuary in the house. You may want to create an altar or meditation spot. Surround yourself with objects that inspire feelings of love, hope, healing, and connection to your spiritual beliefs. Arrange with your family to have quiet, meditative time in your santuary.

3) Buy the best recliner chair you can afford. It's a great psychological step up from lying in bed or on the couch and is usually much more comfortable. Consider one with a built-in heater and massager/vibrator.

4) In cold environments, obtain good local heat sources like safe room heaters or even a wood stove. Heat packs which can be warmed in the microwave are ver comforting on cold nights. (Be careful not to overheat them and burn your skin.) In warm environments, use air conditioning or fans. A ceiling fan can add much comfort to a bedroom without air conditioning.

5) Eliminate household odors that can cause nausea for those doing chemotherapy. Cook odoriferous foods outside on a camp stove or gas barbeque grill. (Charcoal briquette grilling can add more carcinogens--cancer promoting agents--to your food than gas grilling.) Alternately, you can buy an air filtration unit or cook when the odor sensitive person is not around. Air out the house after cooking.

6) Anyone with a depressed immune system should drink tap water only if it is filtered. Use a high quality water filtration system or have purified bottled water delivered to your home. Some food cooperatives have good on-site water filtrations systems, so you can refill used containers. Be sure to use glass or hard poly-carbonate plastic bottles. Three gallon water bottles with built-in spouts are very convenient to use. Clean the water containers well between each refill. A good cleaning rinse is white distilled vinegar.

7) Do little things to give yourself an advantage in the healing process. In addition to filtering your drinking water, you may also want to filter your shower and bath water and use natural rather than chemicals to clean your spa water. Replace traditional light bulbs with full spectrum light bulbs in both standard and flourescent lights. Full spectrum lighting simulates natural sunlight and is believed to positively affect your mental attitude. Avoid prolonged exposure to computer screens and watch TV from a distance of at least 10 feet. Avoid noxious fumes from household products like bleach and bathroom cleaners, or switch to non-toxic cleaners. Most holistic healers recommend replacing aluminum pots and pans with stainless steel kitchenware or using non-stick kitchenware only if it is not scratched or deteriorating. In your yard and garden, try using natural pesticides and natural pest controls like releasing ladybugs and praying mantises. Spend some time thinking about other ways to make your house a healthier place to live, then act on your ideas. Web sites with tips on less toxic household and yard products are: and and  

8) Be aware that new homes and recently remodeled homes for the first 12-18 months may contain building products which could release low levels of toxic substances. Even low levels of toxicity may negatively affect a person with a compromised immune system. For more information on home toxins, read Staying Well in a Toxic World by Lynn Lawson (Noble Press, 1993, $15.95) and Tired or Toxic by Sherry Rogers (Prestige Publishing, 1990, $17.95). Also the Washington Toxics Coalition has an informative booklet on the toxicity of household consumer products called, "Buy Smart, Buy Safe: A Consumer Guide to Less Toxic Products". Order by calling 206-632-1545.

9) Enjoy radio, TV, and video programs that are uplifting to your spirit. Avoid programs that involve intense strife, violence, or depression. Find programs that will inspire you as well as educate you about physical, emotional, or spiritual health. Your local public radio and TV stations often have this kind of programming. For video and audio tapes, ask for recommendations from your local public or hospital librarian, cancer support group, community wellness center, or church. Look for these video titles: "Cancer: Increasing Your Odds for Survival", "Fight for Your Life", and "Cancer Doesn't Scare Me Any More".

10)  Food can be like a powerful healing drug. Stock your house regularly with fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and resis the temptation to have unhealthy snacks readily available. Make eating a sacred time to send much-needed nutrients to your body. Don't "multi-task" while you eat. Avoid eating while watching TV, reading, working on the computer, etc. Eat slowly, giving thanks, and focusing on the food that is giving you life. (For more details, read "10 Tips for Using Diet and Nutrition in the Healing Process" which appeared in the June 2000 issue or can be accessed below from the Ten Tips Archives.)

Copyright  2000 Jim Acee and CONVERSATIONS!, (Permission is given to make personal copies or copies for free distribution to cancer fighters.)  Available on the web at: under "10 Tips Series for Coping by Jim Acee."


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