One quarter of what you eat
The wake-up call was upsetting and worrying. Not only had I missed two scheduled chemo infusions because my immune system was still shot to bits (my white blood cells specifically were struggling to get back in the game) but I was so exhausted, I could barely keep my eyes open for more than a few hours at a time. I accept that chemo needs to kill a whole lot of good cells in order to kill the bad ones. But surely, wasn’t this going too far? If the strength or toxicity or whatever measure one wanted to put on it, was this extreme, how would my system ever be strong enough to get back to fighting fit – and importantly, fight off any future cancer attack?
I’m a believer in the medical paradigm (as my medical bills testify) in the belief that rigorous scientific research would save the day and put me back into remission (how I hate that word) or as we cancer types put it: NED (no evidence of disease). But something now was not working: I was not recovering from chemo and on top of that, in my heart I didn’t feel that the chemo was working. I still had the strong physical sensations even after two rounds of chemo that the tumours were very much still there and doing just fine, thank you very much.
In exhausted despair, I shuffled along to my local coffee shop where I bumped into one of my Coffee Shop Friends. Despite the fact that we’ve been chatting for months, I don’t know his name although I do know that his wonderful Rotweiler dog is called Henry. (I never thought the day would come when I would put ‘Rotweiler’ and ‘wonderful’ in the same sentence, but he’s a loving gentle giant. The dog not the man. Well probably the man is too, but who knows). My CSF mentioned some research he’d just come across on YouTube which piqued my interest. I looked it up and researched some more. And some more. And then – because I’m that kinda gal – a little bit more.
To cut a long story short, I decided that the medical paradigm could do with a bit of a helping hand. I’m no hippy (although some disagree) and the last thing I was going to do or indeed would probably ever do, is stop conventional treatment. But the more I researched, the more I realised that my journey to explore unconventional treatment had barely begun. I’ve always been a really healthy eater but now was the time for more targeted action. A new regime to support the chemo horrors, and a regime that would last a new long cancer-free lifetime.
So, what changed? I have a new regime comprising a specific diet, doing some exercise every day no matter how terrible I feel, detoxing, heat, oxygen, being calm, and sleeping well. You’ll not be surprised to hear that those elements form a virtuous cycle and that they become mutually reinforcing. I’ll talk about different elements in due course, but the first and obvious one to mention here is diet. Out went (nearly all) dairy, shellfish and sugar. And guess what, the day before I committed to the new diet, I had bought saliva-inducing shellfish as a treat to my exhausted and emotionally depleted self. Hands up, I did eat it and then: no more. (In fact, I’ve barely had any fish since then but we’ll see how we go on that). In its place came a much much wider range of plants, herbs and spices, as well as a targeted regime of supplements to boost my immune system and help to reverse any inflammation.
For those who are better informed than me, this is all obvious stuff. But like a smoker, I had to be ready to give up and figure that out for myself. Although I had read various nutritional recommendations, I needed to go on my own research journey to be convinced. After all, the use of diet to target cancer and keep cancer at bay can’t always be proven within the medical paradigm and so I needed to find my own proof.
After even a small number of days on the new regime, I was amazed to feel a whole lot better, and the physical sensations I had been experiencing had definitely subsided. Not gone completely but certainly lessened. Of course, this may just be all in my mind, and my upcoming PET scan may prove that all my efforts are in vain. But most important of all is that I am back in charge. I’m no longer feeling helpless or so fatigued that I am merely an observer on life rather than a participant in it.
After a while with the new regime, an interesting thing happened: a tweet came from my surgeon who is a poster child for the medical establishment. It read: ‘One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three quarters of what you eat keeps the doctor alive.’
Perhaps this targeted diet thing is not so far outside the medical paradigm after all.