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  • jennygoss

Cancer Doesn't Wait for Excuses

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Oh, today is a tough one. Are you ready for some tough love? Because today is all about some extra tough love. Please read this with my genuine love for you all in mind.

Recently, a woman in a group I follow asked if there were foods which cancer hates. Some responses were along the lines of, "They don't know the answer and it's too late now to change a lifetime of bad habits. Just enjoy what time you have left."

Ooooh, girl! They had my blood pressure rising and it was not due to the Avastin.

I was baffled, to be honest. My first thought was, "Were these women living under a rock?!" My second thought was, "Nah, they're just in denial." Then I realized they were bought into the conventional model of oncology care through and through. As much as I think integrative cancer is becoming more mainstream, there are still many subcommunities in which the idea is fairly foreign. Some oncs still tell their patients to fatten up before chemo and give them license to eat more hotdogs than Takeru Kobayashi.

Yeah, I know Joey Chestnut beat him recently, but I don't care. I think Kobayashi is funny because he got arrested over a hotdog eating contest and then complained they didn't feed him enough in jail. If you don't believe me, google it.

Anyway, moving on- these are the folks that still think all you can do for cancer is remove it, get some chemo, and then keep your fingers crossed.

This ideology is wrong on so many levels and so many ways.

First and foremost, we do know foods which cancer hates. We might not know everything about nutrition and cancer, but absence of complete understanding does not equal complete ignorance.

Second, I didn't realize how little I was actually enjoying my life until I changed my diet and lifestyle habits. If you are not exercising or eating health promoting foods, you likely don't recognize how crappy you feel. It's not until you go a few weeks getting deep nutrition into your body and oxygenating attention-starved muscles until you realize how good you can feel.

Two weeks after my radical hysterectomy and appendectomy, I was walking several miles daily and felt better than I had in years. This was due partially to my sudden zest for life, but credit must be given to the life-sustaining foods I began to eat, too. Even my surgeon's team was shocked when they saw me for my post-op.

I'm routinely grilled on my new dietary habits. (See what I did there? Grilled?) People want to know why I eat this way, what research supports it, whether I'm just a sadist, if it costs a fortune, if I ever 'cheat,' and, my favorite, "If you can't eat meat, dairy, and white grains, what can you eat?"

(The short answer to that question is: vegetables. whole grains. fruits. In that order. With a seed or two here or there.)

I am by far no expert on nutrition- that would be my RD, Danielle. However, I have done enough research to be unable to refute the truth that people who eat more vegetables do better after a cancer diagnosis.

It's really not complicated. Eat vegetables, live longer. (Unless you get hit by a bus. That would be bad. Don't do that.)

That's not to say that I will live a long life, because let's just be real: I had late stage ovarian cancer. The odds are not in my favor for a long life even if I only eat superfoods. The odds start to tip a little bit in my favor with every broccoli spear, though, and I desperately want that for my kids. I'll take every spare moment I can scavenge.

I feel pretty positive about the lifestyle changes I've accomplished to do that, too. If I can change my life this much, literally anyone can. I have zero will power.

Here's what I have noticed, though, cancer patients are notorious for the "I can't"s. You know what I'm talking about?

  • I can't eat healthy. Vegetables make me sick.

  • I can't eat healthy. I don't have the time.

  • I can't eat healthy. I don't have the money.

You know what does make you sick, short on time, and broke? Cancer.

I learned pretty early on when talking to people that they didn't really mean they can't eat healthy because x, y, or z. What they really mean is, "I can't eat healthy because it's hard and I'm addicted," or "I'd rather eat unhealthy and pretend it doesn't matter than to face this challenge head on."

And I get it. It is hard. The food industry does have food chemists who spend their entire careers making that corn chip taste irresistible. Sugar does change the dopamine reception function in our brains. Binge eating is associated with poor psychological coping mechanisms. There are a lot of reasons to fail at changing your diet.

But I know one BIG reason why you might not, especially if you're a Christian.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Don't claim you are a Christian and say that you can't. You can.

This is food we're talking about, not being martyred. Ol' Paul was facing something much more sinister than salads when he wrote Philippians.

We are fortunate enough to have food and food choices. Some folks throughout the world- and even our country- are going hungry as I type this. You think you can't choke down some kale? Forgive me for being harsh, but get real! Have you ever actually been hungry? Like really hungry?

Maybe you don't like to eat as much as I do. I missed my dinner by an hour last night and I was about to make my husband pull over so I could graze on the median strip. Choking down some veggies is really not that big of a deal.

If you have access to a screen to read this blog, you have the ability to change your diet. You're just choosing not to.

That distinction matters. Once you realize it's a choice, you have the power to change your choice.

It really makes me angry when people try to tell those who are trying and want to change that it's impossible or pointless. Of course, no one is going to force you to sit at the dinner table until you eat your peas. This isn't pre-school. You get to choose whether you are going to actually fight this with everything you can or not.

And truly, it is YOUR CHOICE. Go ahead and eat KitKats for breakfast every day if you want, I won't stop you. Just stop trying to sway others to your unhealthy point of view when they desperately need hope.

Very few people get cancer because of some fluke. It wasn't something that happened by chance and the odds are, you won't beat it by chance. (I did it again, didn't I? I'm the queen of bad puns.)

I have heard women complain that saying such a thing makes them feel guilty. So what? Get over it. Right now isn't the time to be sensitive. Right now is the time to put on your game face. It's okay to be scared. It's not okay to give up. You likely have parents, siblings, maybe a spouse or some children, certainly friends. They all need you and would miss you. So, at the risk of getting the reputation of being no-nonsense and no fun (I am fun. I love nonsense.), I'm going to tell you once again to pull up those big girl undies and get to work. (Unless you're a boy, in which case, please don't tell me about your big girl undies. My husband would not approve of that conversation.)

You can change your entire life to fight this.

Stop making excuses and tackle it with me.

Here is a very small sampling of some research on diet and cancer:

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