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What Cancer and Investing Have In Common
January 23, 2012

What Cancer and Investing Have In Common

  What Cancer and Investing Have In Common

Two years ago I lay on a sofa, as a new age “hands on” healer stood over me. I was dying, she moaned, as if getting the word from some divine source in the couch. And my only salvation? To visit her as often as possible, for $175 a session.

She knew that I had bone cancer. I had told her when we first met. A friend of mine had hooked us up and I wanted to be polite, so I went.

Yes , this fortune telling healer filled me with fear. But it reminded me of the movie Man On The Moon. In the film, Jim Carrey (who played Andy Kaufman) laughed hysterically while watching the practicing techniques of a quack witchdoctor. Kaufman had cancer, and he hoped that he’d find an alternative cure. Like many people facing a desperate plight, he put his hope in a miracle—for a fee.

Whether we face cancer or have our financial back against a barbed wire fence, most of us do one of three things:

  1. We give up
  2. We put faith in evidence based studies or procedures
  3. We take greater risks to seek a miracle

Before going any further, I want to add that I’m actually fine. Surgeons removed large chunks of three tumour-affected ribs, before cutting out the Chondrosarcoma surrounding my spine. The only good thing about getting cancer—if there is such a thing—is that I started to write my book, Millionaire Teacher, while stuck in the cancer ward of a Singapore hospital. Yes , the nurses thought I was crazy too. But it was a great distraction.

If you or a family member is facing cancer, putting faith in evidence-based studies (and faith itself) gives the highest statistical odds of success.

My favorite read on the subject is Anti-Cancer, A New Way of Life, by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. He starts by suggesting that we’re all going to die. Not accepting that is crazy. As my oncologist says, if I were creeping around 200 years from now, I’d scare people.

After accepting that revelation, Servan-Schreiber suggests that we do the following:

  1. Eliminate sugars and processed food from our diet. Cancer loves them.
  2. Eat as many dark, green leafy vegetables as possible.
  3. Eliminate red meat
  4. Stay calm, and meditate if you can
  5. Put faith in your medical team and your support network

Is it easy to abandon evidence-based methods in favor of something more “promising” when we’re feeling threatened? It is never easier.

Investors do it routinely. .

We all know people who realize that they haven’t saved enough. Some of them seek alternative investment strategies to make up for lost ground. Perhaps they buy a hedge fund, or they eliminate bonds in their portfolios. Brazilian forestry companies advertising guaranteed returns of 15 percent annually can look pretty tempting. And let’s not forget how easy currency trading is supposed to be. It says so in the online advertisements.

When facing a shortfall in your retirement portfolio, perhaps you could take lessons from those who lean towards evidence, rather than promises.

  1. Keep a diversified investment portfolio of stocks and bonds.
  2. Small cap stocks have higher historical returns; you may want some in your portfolio. But just some.
  3. Rebalance your portfolio to stay on track.
  4. Stay calm when markets fluctuate.
  5. Put faith in your investment strategy, and live below your means.
  6. Remember that quick solutions aren’t. Stay calm, focus on evidence-based procedures, and have faith.

Above all, don’t put your life in the hands of a fortune teller.

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This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the opinions of AssetBuilder Inc. The opinion of the author is subject to change without notice. All materials presented are compiled from sources believed to be reliable and current, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This article is distributed for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, product, or service.

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