Battling Breast Cancer – From Fear to Courage: Changing the Diet

A plan empowers. Mine was to immediately change my diet by cutting out sugar. Cancer cells feed on it. I had gained weight over a 10 year period, and found myself trying to lose first, 15 pounds…then 20 pounds…then 30 pounds. By cutting sugar, I actually lost seven pounds in two weeks. Weight loss was an unexpected bonus.

I had the lumpectomy in March, and a “re-do” surgery a month later so the surgeon could improve the margin between clean and cancerous tissue. I made a 100% shift to the blood type diet after the first surgery and lost another 18 pounds in nine weeks. My plan was to fortify my body for chemo.

The pounds continued to melt away at the healthy rate of two pounds per week. My facial bone structure was defined again for the first time in years.  I no longer saw rolling haunches reflected in windows I walked past. My energy and attitude were great.

Quitting wheat was probably key to the second wave of weight loss. According to Eat Right 4 Your Type, wheat inhibits the metabolism.  My weight loss skidded to a stop right at my pre-gain weight of 135. Quitting wheat was like pushing a metabolism re-set button.

Aside from pounds lost, this is what else I noticed: My stomach didn’t cramp after eating. I didn’t burp, fart, or bloat, which had been fairly chronic before the diet. I didn’t have dandruff or an itchy scalp, or achy finger joints and knees. I was also less moody. I’ll  be candid…yeast infections were also now in the past. The best part, though, was my improved mental clarity.

While my doctors worked their plan to get rid of the disease, I worked my plan to get healthier.  All my life, I had compulsively eaten sweets and baked goods until I either felt sick or crashed. Usually, a bag of cookies never made it into the house. By the time I got home from the store, I was putting an empty bag in the trash. And let’s not even talk about Girl Scout cookies, especially Thin Mints. I could kill a box in 10 minutes; then, I would feel ill. Giving up the sweets and pastries was critical…so I just did it.

I’ve been a big eater and a foodie for years. But, I began to eat differently — even eating foods I had refused to eat before, like beets and almonds. I’ll even eat  walnuts, as long as they are absolutely pulverized.  (I don’t like how they look or smell.)  My weight has been easy to maintain. Believe me, I can clean a plate! I care about what goes into my body, and I don’t count calories.

I became a mindful eater.

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Battling Breast Cancer – From Fear to Courage: The Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on February 13, 2008, the day before Valentine’s Day. I cried for four days. It was my wake-up call.  After hiding out in my office, I got myself together. I  started to deal with my new reality, methodically, like an athlete in training.  Armed with a high school-level knowledge of anatomy and a lot of common sense, I started my research.

I found an unnerving amount of information on cancer and glucose. I immediately cut my sugar intake, starting with my daily hot chocolate (with extra pumps of chocolate in skimmed milk with whipped cream); a pastry; and a Big Grab bag of M&Ms. (Humans are wired to have a sweet tooth, and mine is ridiculous.  My brother, David, called me “Cookie Bear.”)

So began a lifelong struggle to give up the sugar.

My chiropractor, Dr. Melanie Six of Six Chiropractic in Alexandria, Virginia, gave me two books to read:  It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong and Eat 4 Your Type:  Four Battle Plans for Cancer by Peter D’Adamo. The first book inspired me.  (I know Lance is now a disgraced doper, but he is also a cancer survivor and founder of Livestrong Foundation. His book helped me have hope and courage.)

I didn’t want to be a passive participant in this medical drama. I didn’t want to simply show up at the doctors’ offices and the labs, and take the drugs. My question to Dr. Six was: “What can I do for myself?”  She gave me another book called Eat Right 4 Your Type, which outlines the blood type diet.

The author of Eat Right 4 Your Type is a naturopath physician. He described the immune system of my rare blood type AB+, as “not even having a lock on the door.”  My reaction was, “Whoa.”  In contrast, the common type O has a “high-tech security system.”  Based on that assessment, I accepted that my immune system is probably challenged. If diet mattered, I didn’t want my body to work any harder than it had to in dealing with the treatment.

I adopted the diet the next month.

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