Monday, 9 April 2012

Treating cancer after treatment

Ok, so I lied. I am still somewhat under treatment. I am now six months into my five-year hormone treatment of tamoxifen. Thankfully, I have experienced only one side effect. It's a little embarrassing... My side burns are growing a little more hair than they should. It's not enough to warrant a shave or hair removal cream, but it's there. Oh well. No big deal, really. It's a good thing though because it's a sign, for me at least, that my oestrogen, which was feeding the cancer, is lower.

The tamoxifen is the official treatment. I thought I'd share though the other changes that I have made since going paleo and then going cancer-fighting-mode once discovering I had breast cancer.

This time last year, I was fighting the urge to check that my tumour hadn't gotten any bigger, I was looking into the mirror at the tumourous lump wishing that April 29 (lumpectomy date) would come quicker. I was also eating meat cooked rare, raw, organic vegetables and a diet that was high in fat and low in carbs. My very diligent husband was reading up on as much as he could about ways various individuals fought cancer naturally. Most of these people were in a position where they were not able to access medical treatment. And so, they were forced to do something on their own. For many, many people, cancer disappeared. It didn't come back either. I wasn't confident enough with all of that so I did what they did plus what the doctors recommended. Do I have regrets?

Well, I absolutely believe that I made the best decision with the information that I had at the time. I have a strong feeling though that years down the track I may have wished that I had not allowed the...mmm I have forgotten the two drugs... cyclophosphamide and taxotere into my system. I have freaked myself out a little with my googling of chemotherapy side effects; all of which I was aware of, but now they seem more real. Particularly when, I forget words, can't remember conversations that I have had, stop mid sentence because I have no idea what I was talking about, make commitments and forget about them and then just general vagueness. So, I get that this happens to the best of us. I get that this did happen to me before. But, it's a little too often. And the fact that other cancer survivors tell me that this is what they are experiencing led me to think about including foods that will help. Yep, food can help.

For the past few weeks we have deviated a little...gasp...from our paleo extremism. Our family indulged in a gluten-free pizza (it was funny to see child number two eat this because eating a triangle was a new experiene), chocolates over easter and an ice-cream or two. We even ate a gluten-free naan! Each treat tasted beautiful. But within minutes of them hitting our belly we knew it wasn't worth it. It was during such crazy behaviour that I broke a tooth! I couldn't believe it. But there it is. Another chemo side effect. Chemotherapy weakens your teeth. I don't have the best of teeth anyway, so to know that my teeth are weaker is not good.

I want to be healthy and strong. I want to be able to stop cancer with me. I want to reverse the side effects of chemotherapy. I want to turn my world upside down because ultimately, I don't know what it was in my body that allowed the growth to occur in the first place. So, what follows are some of the ways that I believe I can fight any future cancerours events. I am certainly not stopping here. But, I am making the changes slowly.

Well, you are already aware of my food lifestyle. Aside from booked in events I am gluten, sugar, legume, dairy and grain free. I prepare all of my food from scratch and spend hardly any money at the local supermarket. Rather, I make regular trips to my local butcher and organic farmer.

I have decided to slip in and out of a ketogenic diet. This is not how I eat all of the time. Every now and then I decide to do it for a few weeks. It's simply eating very low carbs. It puts your body in a ketogenic state and it has been proven to be a way in which to fight cancer. The state is not good to be in over long periods of time. For this reason, I dabble in this treatment.

I have elimiated chemicals in my laundry and now use a homemade laundry powder. It doesn't make the whites whiter or the colours brighter. It does clean them though. The pay off is that I am not wearing clothing that has chemicals sitting in the fibres. Am I a little paranoid?

This has been a tough one. Because a change in deodorant, or going without actually effects others. I was using a homemade "deodorant" but found that it wasn't cutting it. I am now going with the Moo Goo brand. It's alright. I also don't mind the edible (for real!) dedorants. They tend to need to be applied again in the day. But, again, using these products means that I am not dosing my skin with chemicals.

Our carpet was cleaned with natural products. This was a complete accident. It just happened to be the choice of the local business that we happened to employ for the job over the last two years. They did a great job with our carpets and I would definietly recommend looking for a company that will clean your carpets with completely natural products.

Another simple change has been in our soap. Honestly, in the past, I have always simply opted for the cheap stuff. Now, I'm looking for the natural soaps. They do smell really nice too.

Ok, so I might cop a bit of flack for this one. But, I'm sticking to it. Unless, I'm going to be in the sun for an extended amount of time (the whole day) I am not wearing sunscreen! The first reason is the amount of chemicals: that's a big turn off. But the other thing that I will miss out on is the vitamin D. Every day, I look to spend, at least, a half an hour in the sun without protection. Chemotherapy lowers vitamin D levels, I need it for my bones and let's face it we all feel so much better after being outdoors.

I am finding this one difficult but I do aim to have eight hours sleep each night. This is a way in which I can limit stress; who needs any more of that?

We all know that exercise is good for us. It's great for fighting cancer too. I avoid regimes that place too much stress on the body and opt for short workouts, nothing longer than 20 minutes and certainly only one session a day. I'd like to be doing this six days a week but as I still fight some of the fatigue (yep) I sometimes do less than I would like.

But that's a key too isn't it? Being sensitive to your own body; knowing when to rest, when to say no to a workout and just having a nap. When I can, I take a nap. And, I never feel guilty or lazy about it.

As a mother of a 2 and 4 year old there are plenty of opportunies for play. This is another way that I can be treating cancer. It relieves stress, it's fun and certainly builds loving bonds.

Finally, and perhaps my lastest addition to my treating cancer after treatment is fasting. There is some serious evidence that fasting is fantastic in keeping away cancer. A few weeks ago, I was skipping breakfast. I have now progressed to skipping two meals a day. So, I know what you're thinking. I have some serious food issues. Not true. Let me finish. If I fast I have to be eating well. In fact, if my insulin levels are doing well I will actually find that I am not craving food. And this has certainly been the case. I have been quite surprised at how I have been able to skip two meals. I assure you that I am not doing this to lose weight. It is purely medicinal. The fasting state is good for your body. Currently, I fast two meals, twice a week. I would love to be able to swap one for a 24 hour fast, but my head just isn't there yet.

Today's post, was accidentally a little longer than I had planned. And, as I read over it perhaps a little disjointed. I hope that I have included all of the ways that I am fighting cancer from returning. There is no doubt room for more ways in which I can fight cancer on a daily basis. And, a year from now, I bet I'll have quite a few more items to add to my list. I don't want a reoccurrence of 2011 and I don't want my children to face cancer. We're going to do everything different. At the age of 30 my body was prime for cancer. Now, as I approach 32 (cringe), there is no room for the c-word.

Take that, cancer!

1 comment:

  1. an inspiring read and very practical- thanks !