A Mother and her Two Daughters

19 May 2010

Learning More about Cancer and Nutrition

Yesterday was my 6th chemo treatment day, which always begins with blood tests by the oncology lab and then a visit with Dr. Makhoul.  I was loaded for bear yesterday for the doctor visit with loads of questions about nutrition. 

One of the great things about this modern time is the Internet.  When I was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I had never even heard of this particular type.  Since then, I’ve found that most women don’t.  (But I’m working on that in a big way for another day – more on that later).  So naturally the Internet served as a great resource to find more information, even though the facts I discovered weren’t always uplifting.  But at least I know what I’m facing. 

As I have moved into the treatment phase, lovely friends have been great to come by with all kinds of food items that they swear to be cancer curing – many of the food items pushed by guys like Dr. Oz and other Super Food experts.  I have also learned through the Internet that the National Cancer Institute estimates that at least 35% of all cancers have a nutritional connection.  This is an interesting fact for all of us to ponder. 

So, after reading countless articles on cancer and nutrition, I am now eating all things purple and red (grapes, berries, mangosteen and 100% pomegranate juice), all things green and leafy (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), fiber for bulk, protein rich foods along with fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.  While all of these good foods help build a strong immune system, very important as you fight cancer, none of them have really been proven to be a cure for this ugly disease.  Quite honestly, chemotherapy and radiation are what actually cure cancer. 

But here has been my dilemma:
·      The Internet is flooded with web sites, blogs and articles about what one should eat to help fight cancer.
·      After getting into these various sites, I have found contradictory information . . . milk is good for you, milk is NOT good for you. 
·      I’ve discovered some of the most unusual foods and immune fighting methods such as barramundi fish, mistletoe extract and turmeric tea.  (Note:  the fish is good and can be found at Kroger, mistletoe extract is hard to find in Little Rock, and turmeric tea tastes terrible, but I’ve never been a fan of Indian food either). 

So, after presenting all of this to Dr. Makhoul and inquiring about the need to meet with an oncology nutritionist, here is his advice:
·      Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables and protein and fiber. 
·      Milk is good for you if it does not include hormones or antibiotics.  In other words, organic milk is good for you. 
·      Cocktails and chemo don’t mix.  That makes sense and not a problem for me.  
·      Remember that a cancer prevention diet is different than a cancer treatment diet, which is different than a post-cancer diet.  When you’re on an aggressive cancer treatment plan, eat what tastes good and doesn’t upset your stomach.  That makes sense too.  

The most important thing to remember is this - when conducting any kind of cancer research on the Internet, stick to reliable web sites like the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, American Institute for Cancer Research, WebMD and other well established sites with proven medical expertise.  You may want to stay away from homemade sites like mind or those like "AskCathyAboutCancer.com."  

Again, more sage and common sense advice from my UAMS medical team.  

Yesterday was chemo treatment #6, which means I have two more to go between now and mid-June.  Dr. Makhoul continues to believe that I’m progressing very well.  We’ll know more in a month when I have another round of diagnostic images before surgery July 19th.  I’m anxious to know.  In the meantime, I’m going to take Dr. Makhoul’s advice to eat what tastes good.  That means a bowl of chicken and dumplings for lunch, homemade by my dear friends Steve & Cissy.  I’ll top it off with a banana Popsicle.  Yummy!!  

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