October 25, 2017
The food that I eat has become a major focus for me over the last six months or so. The only cancer-specific book I ever bought is The Rainbow Diet And How It Can Help You Beat Cancer by Chris Woollams. Full of information drawn from scientific sources as well as real life experience, Woollams has a knowledgeable yet down to earth attitude which I’ve found helpful. Like me, he has found the Macmillan guides to diet unbelievable in recommending sugary and creamy dishes to help maintain weight, eschewing the benefits of a Mediterranean style diet. Food supplements are also frowned upon. I asked the oncologist about adding them to my diet and he nearly choked, saying glibly that he is obliged to give me the best possible care. That was it, no further discussion.
After my diagnosis, among the first things I did were to give up alcohol (on the basis that my liver had enough to contend with), and sugar (on the basis that sugar is really bad for you). I make many smoothies and juices, either fruit or vegetable based, remembering to never mix green and orange ingredients. I did once, and although the resultant thick brown liquid tasted delicious, I had to close my eyes while drinking it, and nobody else would come near it.
The Mediterranean style diet typifies my eating habits now – low fat, high protein, very little dairy, clean and organic if at all possible. I lose weight easily mostly because of the diet, partly because I’m cycling as much as I can, and partly because, as a friend chillingly told me, I’m feeding the cancer too. It can’t be 100% avoided, but my diet is as anti-cancer as I can get it. Drinking green tea is almost an obsession, about four cups a day, for it’s antioxidant ability to mop up those devilish free radicals.
I went to see a nutritionist after keeping a food diary for a week. She very gratifyingly said my diet was exemplary. She suggested a raft of supplements, and £70 later I was safely in possession of tubs of Vitamin B2, Iron Complex, Vitamin B3, Zinc Ascorbate, Mineral Complex, Vitamin D Spray and an even bigger tub of crystallised Vitamin C. The nutritionist, when I expressed my concern about losing weight, simply said eat more nuts. And eggs. At least 12 a week.
So that’s what I do. Two eggs most mornings, with peanut butter or apricot kernel butter on toast; a smoothie or juice, and half of the supplements. Lunch is often home-made soup or sheep’s/goat’s cheese with mixed salad. Dinner is fish, chicken or veggie, with the other half of the supplements. I can easily get through at least seven portions of fruit and veg a day, and that is a conscious target. I haven’t eaten four-legged meat for over thirty years so that isn’t an issue.
I struggle to find a tasty adult alcohol-fee drink. If I’m offered another elderflower cordial I might scream. Any suggestions for sugar-free non-alcoholic drinks to go with a meal would be most welcome. I have tried bitters in tonic water and that is rather good. Zero alcohol beers are a tasty recent discovery too.
In a couple of days I have my next meeting with the oncologist to discuss the outcome of the CT scan I had two weeks ago. I’ve had a lovely chemo-free summer, off it now for four warm and sunny months. I’m truly grateful to have had that time without treatment. And I’m feeling well. However, I’m expecting to be told that I’ll now need more chemo – it’s just an inkling, that’s all. We’ll see.
When I knew the date of the next oncology meeting, I rashly booked a place on a cycle sportive for the following Sunday. A sportive is a big organised bike ride with many hundreds of riders, around a marked route (not closed roads) and is a kind of sociable two-wheeled endurance test. This one is around Fakenham in Norfolk and is 77 miles. I just thought, sod it, whatever the oncologist says, I’m going to do it. See you on the other side…
Here are few images from a recent wander around in London. Click on them to see them nice and big.