Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the following post should not be considered medical advice. If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, please do your own research and seek professional medical advice as you make decisions for your own health and well being. I am simply a person who was diagnosed with cancer that seeks to freely share information about her own journey with others who may be on a similar path. God bless.
Three months ago today, I found out I had cancer. I had no idea at the time what path I would take to fight this disease, but I can say today without a doubt that it may have been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Best in that it took a cancer diagnosis to get me to wake up to the fact that I had neglected my health for most of my life. Best in that it motivated me to start moving—to start breathing deeply of the fresh air God gives us everyday and studying the minutiae of the outside world up close. Best in that I became hyper aware of the need to create sacred spaces for sleeping, praying, and being with people I love in an attempt to address fatigue and stress. I can say now—three months later—that I’m healthier than I’ve been in a very long time and I feel stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am blessed.
For those of you who may not know or who would be interested to know the details, I had my cryoablation procedure done in Knoxville on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. The procedure itself was very straightforward: it wasn’t painful, it didn’t last long, and there were practically zero side effects. After returning home after the procedure, I contacted a naturopath and had some tests run to figure out what type of path I needed to take to address nutrition. In just a couple of days, I had results that indicated gluten, dairy, and soy intolerances. That would have been bad enough in itself, but the recommendation was for me to have ONLY fruits and vegetables for the following 4 weeks: ONLY fruits and veggies plus water (128 ounces/day!) and green tea. The “no” list was long and included all of my favorites: no dairy, no red meat, no pork products, no shellfish, no scavenger animals, no grains, no yeast, no processed foods, no fast foods, no chemicals/preservatives/colors/artificial sweeteners, no sugar, no coffee, no fried foods. No, no, no. Suddenly, giving up gluten, dairy, and soy seemed almost easy in the face of such a strict regimen. On the advice of the naturopath, I decided not to even think about the lack of gluten/dairy/soy right then since I wouldn’t come near any of that anyway as long as I was just eating fruits and veggies as recommended. I would cross that bridge when I came to it, 4 weeks later.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.” —Hippocrates
At first, the fruits/veggies only diet seemed much too strict to be realistic. I’ve never attempted to become a vegan and it just seemed much too hard. However, I gave it my best shot and sure enough, within about a week, I felt like I actually had begun to enjoy it—and I know for sure that I felt clearer headed and had more energy than I’d had in ages. I found myself creating giant salads at lunch and topping them with a rainbow of veggies and good fats, then at suppertime roasting or sauteeing a variety of veggies which I would top with coconut oil or sunshine sauce. I regularly ate a delicious pink grapefruit for breakfast each day, enjoyed “Mean Green” juices almost every afternoon, and gained a new appreciation for fresh fruit salads. It honestly wasn’t *that* hard, although I did miss morning omelettes and the occasional chicken breast or ribeye steak.
I began to take a 45-minute morning walk. Rather than choose a playlist of favorite songs, I decided to pick a novel that I’d always wanted to read and instead just listened to that as I walked: The Brothers Karamazov. I’m still only halfway through it, but it definitely serves the purpose of motivating me to get outside if for no other reason than to learn what happens next in the story! [I highly recommend doing this and also highly recommend Scribd as a top quality, reasonably priced e-book/audiobook provider].
As I focused on nutrition and exercise, I also began to try to ensure 8 hours’ of sleep each night and continued my routine of daily morning prayer with Loys, which I’d started during Lent, a week or so before I officially started the fruits/veg food plan. The morning prayer has been amazing in that I believe my stress is reduced because I’m focused outwardly on others and not inwardly on myself. It’s also brought me closer to my husband, which was one of the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. It’s funny how things have a way of working out, just not in the way you’d expect them to.
My four weeks of fruits and veggies exclusively ended on Sunday, April 23. I can now gradually add in some chicken, eggs, and legumes, which I plan to do as soon as I can get to the store to buy some groceries. I’m excited to add back in some meat, although now that I’ve experienced what it feels like to live a meat-free life, I can honestly say that I probably won’t indulge in it nearly as often as I did before. I think this is a good thing.
I did keep a food diary during my month of fruits/veggies, which I would recommend to anyone who might decide to give this a try. It helped me remember the things I had that I really enjoyed, and also kept me accountable to not eating things when I wasn’t really hungry.
Since finding out about the cancer, I’ve lost 22 pounds to date. My prayer is that I’ll be able to continue the positive changes that have begun and add in other challenges as they come up. To be honest, the hardest part is figuring out how to adapt this diet to something that my kids and husband will gladly do. We’re not there yet, but I’m hopeful that as I learn how to create gluten-free versions of some of their favorites, that it won’t be too long.
Here’s the short version of what I’ve done. I hope someone finds it helpful on their own journey to health and wholeness.
- Daily prayer
- 8 hours’ sleep each night
- Exercise: 45-minute walk every morning (I hope to add kettlebells soon)
- Supplements: turkey tail mushroom, immunity mushroom blend, liquid B12, curcumin
- Water: 128 ounces/day
- Diet: fruits/veggies + water and green tea for 4 weeks; gradually add in organic chicken/eggs and legumes but continue to avoid gluten/dairy/soy
- Evening: 1-2 ounces Essiac tea mixed with 2 ounces water
Yesterday morning, I had my first follow-up with the radiologist who did the cryoablation procedure. Everything looks perfect and I continue to be cancer free. I’ll go back to her in September for the 6-month followup and she’ll biopsy the site so that she can definitively state that there are zero cancer cells in the scar tissue that was left behind. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to focus on healing my body from the inside out using the “medicine” of real, whole foods that God designed and placed on the Earth for our enjoyment and sustenance. I want to do this so that cancer doesn’t have an opportunity to come back at some point in the future—to create an environment where my body will naturally be able to fight off things that are bad for it.
I want to thank each and every person who has prayed for me, sent me a card or message, or provided for me or a member of my family in some other tangible way. There are no words to fully express my gratitude for the outpouring of love and sympathy I’ve received. May God bless you and anyone else you know who is traveling this path themselves.
P.S. This summer, I hope to launch a website that will be devoted to sharing information about cryoablation for breast cancer. If you are interested in learning more, please keep checking back so you can share the link with people who need that information.