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So, you got the dreaded diagnosis. You went through your treatment plan with your oncology team. Sadness, anger, denial and who knows what else have made an appearance. You are NOT alone. What you’re feeling is so normal and it’s ok to feel all of that.
If your doctor is like mine, she may have advised you to do everything you can to stay healthy. But what does that look like? You could ask five different people what that means and you’d get five different answers!
I’d like to share how I learned to be healthy in spite of cancer.
Why Good Nutrition Is Important During Treatment
Honestly, good nutrition is ALWAYS the best idea. It’s a huge challenge to eat healthy though, because we are surrounded by advertisements that entice us to order a pizza or get ourselves into the popular fast food places.
We can’t just blame the advertisers though. When we don’t PLAN how we will eat, we really are just setting ourselves up to fail.
It’s been said that “If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Well”. I couldn’t agree more. And I’m here to tell you that eating well is totally worth it!
We can always find time in our busy schedules for what we want to do, so when we wrap our mind around the fact that eating healthy is going to help us, we will make time for it.
If we plan out how we will eat and do some meal prep in advance, those advertisements won’t have the same power over us. Eating well will go a long way in helping you to THRIVE through your treatments.
Have You Heard of The Paleo Way Of Eating?
When I was first diagnosed my daughter shared with me The Paleo Diet. After learning about the benefits of this way of eating, I quickly decided that I would go on a strict Paleo diet. Because of eating this way, when I was done with chemo my doctor actually commented on how well I did compared to other chemo patients. I completely gave credit to my diet. Incidentally, patients often report an average 20 pound weight gain during chemo. Me? Not one extra pound!
I not only changed how I ate, but I stopped drinking water out of plastic bottles, Almost completely eliminated sugar and processed foods, did not drink soda of any kind, did all I could to avoid preservatives and other processed foods.
This may sound radical, and I suppose it was, but it was SO worth it!
What About Sick People?
At the time of my chemo I had 11 grandchildren. We all know that kids seem to be germ magnets, right? In my research, I learned that chemo will knock down your white blood count which will in turn make you more susceptible to catching pretty much anything you’re exposed to.
So, during chemo, I wore a mask when out in public and for 20 weeks, I had zero physical contact with any of my grandchildren. Was it hard? You bet it was! Was it worth it? Ask my oncologist!
My advice is to use good judgement. Wash your hands frequently, be careful around knives as a cut can very quickly become infected, use hand sanitizer, things like that.
Sacrifice Time With Family If Need Be
I am sure that I offended a few people along the way when I asked to confirm that no one was sick upon entering my home. My family heard that more times than I can count. If anyone was sick, either they stayed away out of respect for my wishes, or I didn’t visit them.
I was probably more extreme than many chemo patients, but my oncologist told me very early on that if I did get sick, it could delay treatment. With the end game already in sight, I wasn’t willing to risk a delay if there was ANY way I could avoid that! I ended ON schedule!
What About These “Chemo” Diets?
There are many diets out there that you’ll find to be recommended for chemo patients. My best advice would be first to just be sure you’re looking at a reputable site (ask your oncologist who she recommends) and honestly, the cleaner you can eat, the better for your overall health period! Just be careful you don’t fall prey to someone who is selling something that you really don’t need.
One of the best resources I have found for good nutrition during chemo is Dr. Axe. He has some no-nonsense advice on how to get healthy and stay healthy. Even if you’re NOT a cancer patient!
I’m Done With Chemo. Can I Go Back To My Old Way Of Eating?
If you didn’t eat well before cancer and you cleaned up your act during chemo, I really want to encourage you to keep going. After all, you’ve now made some great strides in improving your overall health! Yay you!!
If you continue to eat well after treatment and you really see how much better you feel, my hope is that you’ll choose to continue on that path.
I really like The Whole 30 Diet because it has done so much for so many. I think of it as a 30-day ‘reset’ for your body. People who have done it and stuck to it have reported things like, not needing an inhaler anymore, weight loss, able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, and so much more. Check it out!
What About You?
So, you have a decision to make that could mean a change in lifestyle. If you’re like me, just the fact that you got the cancer diagnosis was a lifestyle change all by itself, so it really wouldn’t be difficult to change other things too. It really is just a mindset that you will have to adopt. This comes easier for some than others, but let me encourage you that if you will at least try to stay healthy, you’ll be much better off in the long run.
I hope you’ll let me know how you do in your journey. Drop me an e-mail or leave a comment below. I’ll be right here encouraging you along as you go.
Here’s to Thriving and Not Just Surviving!