…and medicine be thy food.” These words were penned by Hippocrates. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He is, after all, the “father of medicine” and doctors today follow a modified version of his famous Hippocratic Oath. Fun fact, most believe that the phrase “first do no harm” was part of said oath but strictly speaking, it was not. However, the oath does contain the phrase: “Also I will, according to my ability and judgment, prescribe a regimen for the health of the sick; but I will utterly reject harm and mischief.”
Why am I babbling on about Hippocrates? Well, I feel that his belief that food should be our medicine is 110% accurate. Is that to say I don’t believe in pharmaceutical medicine? Absolutely not. I elected to have chemotherapy & anti-body treatments and it doesn’t get any more pharmaceutical than that 😉 What I mean, and I believe Hippocrates meant by his phrase, is that food should be our FIRST and PRIMARY form of medicine. It is a scientific fact that a well NOURISHED individual is far less likely to succumb to illness/disease and are far more likely to heal from illness and disease than a poorly NOURISHED individual. Notice I wrote “nourished?” That was intentional. The majority of our country, while well FED, is not well NOURISHED. We have a country full of overweight, sick individuals who, clinically speaking, are malnourished. You may be asking, “How is that possible?” Well, most americans eat mostly processed foods, and unfortunately even much of our fruits and veggies are grown in soil that is laden with pesticides and we are ingesting those chemicals. Even our meat comes from animals that are fed corn/soy/grain that is GMO and laden when chemicals. Just a quick google search of “Americans malnourished” will bring up a plethora of articles and scientific studies to prove this fact. I really like this image:
When I was first diagnosed, the first thing I did was switch to a vegan, mostly raw diet. I knew that although I ate mostly organic and healthy, it wasn’t enough for someone with cancer. I wanted to take out anything and everything that caused inflammation, acidity, or wasn’t nourishing my body. I ate/drank organic raw greens & protein smoothies with every vegetable in my fridge blended into it 2-3 times a day. I drank fresh carrot/apple juice every morning and ate 2 massive salads with a variety of veggies and then beans/hard boiled eggs for protein. I didn’t touch ANY sugar, gluten, meat or any foods that cause blood sugar spikes like white potatoes/white rice for over a month. My weight started melting off and I felt worse for a week or two before I felt better. That was to be expected as loosing that weight was also releasing toxins (stored in the body fat). When I started chemotherapy I knew I would need to eat more protein and more calories than I had previously been taking in so I did slowly start to add organic meats and certain gluten free grains back into my diet. I will now enjoy an occasional treat that contains natural sugar once in a great while.
In the past few months, I’ve found that I LOVE all the recipes in the cookbook The Cancer Fighting Kitchen; I recommend that cookbook to ANYONE who wants to eat healthy, whether you have cancer or just want to eat to nourish your body and make it inhospitable to cancer. Another excellent cookbook I enjoy is Nourishing Traditions. I’ve basically been eating like a diabetic…..to keep my blood sugar levels level. Why? Because cancer feeds on sugars and an acidic, anaerobic (no/low oxygen) environment. A simple way to oxygenate the blood is by exercising. Study after study has proven that cancer patients who exercise regularly (as simple as walking 30 min daily) have higher survival rates and less recurrance than those who don’t. Another simple, cheap way to help your body fight off cancer is by drinking a mixture of baking soda and water. I know that sounds crazy and too simple to be true but there have been several people who have cured stage IV cancers by incorporating this to their diet (I will note that most also made radical dietary changes as well).
So what DO I eat? Well I start my day with either juice that I’ve made (lots of carrots, various veggies, a little apple for sweetness, and turmeric/ginger) or the Suja mighty greens juice from costco in the 59oz bottle. A little after that I make/eat sautéed veggies & 2 eggs or a protein smoothie using Garden of Life Organic Protein & Greens powder. I used to use Vega protein & greens powder but switched because I wanted all organic ingredients. If you cannot afford the Garden of Life, Vega is a great option as well. I like the chocolate and vanilla flavors from both those companies. For snacks, I eat raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, raw veggies (sometimes with guacamole, homemade salsa, or hummus), or small amounts of fresh/dried fruit. I usually eat a salad for lunch with lots of fresh veggies, sprouts, avocado, and a vegan bean burger cut up on top. Dinner is 2-3 kinds of veggies (raw, steamed, sautéed, or oven roasted) and usually a small clean protein source (fish, chicken, organic 100% grass fed beef). I also eat a lot of quinoa as a protein source on my salads or as a side for dinner in place of white starches. I know that probably sounds boring and I’ll tell you that I do treat myself to sushi, thai, mexican, or other foods that I ate before my diagnosis but those are TREATS and are the exception to my diet. I drink water……water, water, water all day with some concentrace mineral drops in the water bottle every time I fill it up. We use a zero water filter to filter out fluoride and other junk in our water but this also filters out good minerals so I add them back in with the drops. I also drink matcha green tea from time to time too and now that chemo is done I’ll probably drink it daily.
I did a lot of research on supplements and immediately after my diagnosis started taking curcumin, a calcium supplement, theraputic doses of vitamin C and D, probiotics, bitter apricot kernels (b17) and I started taking arteminisin. I will make a separate post specifically on the supplements and go into detail to explain why I take each one but if you’re curious about any of them, a simple google search will probably give you some more info 🙂 I also started taking a mushroom supplement called Turkey Tail and later in treatment, another mushroom supplement called Stamets 7.
Once we decided to do chemotherapy first, I stopped taking the curcumin, vitamin C, and arteminisin, as there is conflicting research on whether or not they would affect the chemotherapy and I didn’t want to go through all that only to do something to make the chemo ineffective. When I started the chemo, I also started taking 300iui of Vitamin E daily, high dose vitamin b-12, and added l-lysine to my vitamin arsenol to help my body absorb as much calcium as possible (chemo can cause bone density loss). If you are at all curious about using nutrition, vitamins, and supplements to treat cancer and help protect against harmful side effects of chemo, check out the book Beating Cancer with Nutrition. Dr. Quillin did a fantastic job explaining how nutrition helps and why each supplement/vitamin is helpful and CITES HIS WORK with scientific studies.
I also felt I needed to detox my body at the very end of every round. I didn’t want to detox right after a treatment so I waited until about 5-6 days before another treatment was about to start and I’d take hot epsom salt baths with mustard powder every other day for a few days, I received swedish massages a few times to help my body detox, I drank a tea that helps the liver and kidneys gently detox (chemo can accumulate in the liver and kidney and cause damage there as well), and I felt the need to do a juice cleanse right before each treatment. I chose to do the Suja 3 day juice cleanse which was only $78 at costco. Incidentally, right before my 5th treatment, while I was in the middle of my cleanse, I came across a study that suggested fasting before each chemo treatment may help the patient have fewer negative side effects AND could make the treatment more effective. The thought is that when fasting/juicing, the body uses the energy it usually expends on processing/digesting foods to heal itself elsewhere/process out toxins. Have you ever noticed sick animals DO NOT EAT until they are better? That is a defense mechanism designed by God for animals and us to allow our bodies to heal!
Finally, I exercised as much as I safely could. Almost every night, I at the VERY LEAST walked 1 mile (about 20-30 minutes) and some nights I walked 2 or jogged on and off. As I stated earlier, physical activity has proven to improve the survival rate of cancer patients (well and EVERYONE). I didn’t go out exercising during the day due to my skin being photosensitive because of the chemotherapy. And let’s face it, the sun here in Hawaii is HARSH. If it wasn’t for that, I would have walked during the day as well.
So that about sums up what *I* did to keep my body healthy during chemotherapy. The goal wasn’t simply to reduce side effects but to help my body fight off the cancer alongside the chemotherapy. I am excited to see what the mammograms/ultradound reveals on June 2nd and what the full body PET scan reveals next month! I know my Dr. did not expect me to respond well to chemotherapy due to my cancer being graded 2-3 (meaning my cells were abnormal and growing quickly). Statistically speaking, according to western medicine, it was a grim outlook and I don’t think my oncologist believed me when I told him my initial lump was gone after just 1 treatment (he was surprised he couldn’t find it during my 4th treatment). However, my God is not limited by western medicine and I believe 110% that he guided my every decision, every intuitive thought, every “gut feeling” and showed me things HE CREATED to naturally protect my body from the harmful chemo and help my body to heal. God is good, ALL THE TIME.