So, as this is a journal (blog) about my cancer, treatment, and the aftermath, I want to post about a book I read last night as part of my research. I have been doing research of course, to find out what I need to do to stay as healthy as possible while my immune system is battered by chemo, and what I can do in the future to ensure that I remain in remission and don’t make my body an inviting place for cancer to visit again.
Last night, I borrowed (through Amazon Prime) The CHEMO Therapy Diet – 5 Steps to Staying Healthy During Cancer Treatmentby Mike Herbert MD. The write-up on Amazon was pretty generic – things that you can do to be proactive to remain healthy during your treatment. What supplements to take, how to exercise, what to eat and what not to eat during cancer. Sounded promising, so I downloaded this quick read to my Kindle Fire.
The five steps seem pretty generic at first, albeit way more crunchy that I tend to be, but I figured, “Hey, how bad can they be?”
The first step involves a detox of the body – mentally and physically. Wellllll, ok. I can do that. It recommends daily affirmations (“My body is healing itself”, “I am healthy and happy”, “I am getting rid of the cancer”, “I’m a totally hot mama” – ok so the last one is mine), and it recommends to keep a journal during and after you treatments. Well, ok. The affirmations I felt were a bit silly, but what they hey. I tried it this morning and will again tonight. Because what can it hurt? Well, except for the whole talking to yourself thing. I must remember to internalize. I also journal. You’re reading it. Easy peasy – done and done.
And then it recommended some actual detoxes. And here is where the book started to lose me. First, it recommended getting into a tub with water as HOT as you can stand that has had two pounds of baking soda dissolved in it. You must stay in the tub until the water gets cold. Adding hot water is cheating. (Um, is someone taking score?) You may not shower for 8 hours after this bath. It is supposed to pull the toxins out of your body. It will also pull every last bit of moisture from your skin. If you don’t want to use baking soda, you can also bathe in Clorox. Seriously. Clorox. I don’t know about you, but I once had an accident with a bottle of Clorox when scrubbing my basement after a sewer mishap. Bleach burns y’all. A lot. I am not bathing in Clorox. No. Just No. I don’t care what it is supposed to do to my insides – I’m more concerned about what it will do to my outsides – including the particularly delicate nether regions. And this guy is an MD.
The last suggestion for detox really floored me. Now I have read some studies that show that cancer patients who drink 3 – 4 cups of coffee a day are less likely to exhibit a recurrence of certain cancers. And don’t get me wrong – I run on Dunkin’. Love my coffee. LOVE LOVE LOVE. The only time I can’t stand coffee is the week after chemo – it tastes off. So I perked when I read that you could detox with coffee. Except, this doctor doesn’t want you to drinkthe coffee.
He recommends a coffee enema.
You want me to put my coffee where??
No. Lost me. I was kind of done with the book at this point, but did page on to look at what diet was recommended, and what supplements.
Totally plant-based diet – I’ve seen this before, and it would be ok for a lot of people. Except me. If God had meant for me to be a vegetarian, he wouldn’t have made Bessie the cow taste so good. Now, I’m not desperate enough to give up my animal based proteins. I am eating healthier – less red meat, cutting out white foods (pasta, white rice, bread) when I can. I will admit, I need to work on this part – cutting back on my sugar intake and simple carbs. This one I AM working on. It’s hard, but I’m not going to win this race in a day. But I’m also not cutting out my protein. I need to eat 80 to 100 grams of protein a day – both as a bariatric patient, and as a patient who is undergoing chemo. Protein helps heal your body and gives you the strength to rebuild your immune system after treatment. I have increased my fish intake (to get my omega 3s – I can’t take those in supplement form) and stick to the lean proteins I can – chicken, lean pork, 93% lean ground beef, venison, bison – which is where the majority of my protein comes from.
The diet also recommended getting rid of dairy. Which I can’t do. Especially as someone who no longer has her female parts and who has a family history of osteoporosis. I just can’t get rid of my dairy. It is also a great source of protein. Sure – I could turn to beans, which I do use – love black bean chili – but I also get a ton of protein from my dairy. Greek yogurt and milk are mainstays to me, and my dietician has even told me to replace half and half with heavy cream to keep my weight up during treatment.
And before you suggest soy – my gynecological oncologist says there are studies that say estrogen based cancers GROW on soy. So I’ve been avoiding it.
In addition, the book recommends supplements – omega 3s, D3, Vit E, etc – all stuff I’m already taking, so I am on the same page there.
There were some GOOD suggestions in the book. For example, getting regular exercise (walking, yoga, what have you) – which I can totally accept if not actually do – but that has more to do with two bad knees and a lack of motivation for sweating even more than I already do due to the stupid hot flashes. But I might try to incorporate it. Because I have done yoga before, and it has been peaceful. And I do like to walk, and will give me an excuse to get Mia out on the leash – she’s starting to get rather round.
The best advice of the book is to have a dedicated caregiver. No matter what stage you are in. Because chemo causes chemo brain (fatigue, forgetfulness), and even if you aren’t having chemo – it’s always good to have someone to help you keep up with doctor’s appointments, help you out when you are feeling less than great, and someone who KNOWS your plans, medical directives, etc. This is something I’m totally on board with. My husband is my dedicated caregiver. He has copies of my medical directive, knows my end of life plans, and helps me keep up with meds and doctors, and is willing to take care of me when I can’t lift myself off of the couch. Now, if I could just talk him into sharing the damned remote….
So, I’d recommend probably 80% of the book.
But I’m not shoving coffee up my ass. Not for nothing, but I’d much rather drink it.