There’s a blog I’ve been following intermittently for a while, called Chris Beat Cancer. I don’t know Chris and he doesn’t know me, but from reading his blog I can determine we are kind of “cancer twins.” We were both diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2003 (both at a rather young age). We both had surgery but declined the recommended chemotherapy. We both embraced nutrition rich diets that included lots of vegetables and juiced vegetables. And we are both alive to tell the tale (with no recurrence of the colon cancer).
The day is coming, slowly, slowly, when there will be separate tabs on this blog for cancer and health related posts and resources, but until that day, I’m going to addChris Beat Cancer to the sidebar here.
I’m sick–just a cold, or maybe the flu. Everybody talks about the awfulness of the flu, but when I look up the symptoms of flu vs cold online, every cold / flu I’ve ever had seems to fall right on the line between two. Are muscle aches and fatigue really just the purview of the flu? Well, maybe it’s the flu..
Whatever the diagnosis, I stayed home for two work days, and now I’m staying home through the long weekend. I have very little will to do…anything. You know how they say the “mind is a good servant, but a bad master”? It’s a kinda buddhist thing to say, about how you have to restrain your mind and not just let it run rampant as it likes. This restraint requires a certain kind of determination that at various times in my life I have had, and at present do not have. My mind has no desire to do disciplined things like stay still for meditation, apply itself to writing or even pay pay attention to a conversation. If you call me, there’s a good chance I won’t pick up the phone, because holding a conversation, even with you, seems like too monumental an effort. My mind doesn’t want to do anything on its own steam, it wants to have its hand held and to be entertained.
And in my current state, my mind wins:
I let it watch two seasons of Downton Abbey in two days until I was bleary-eyed and my brain was sodden and saturated with the stream of soapy input. (Everything in italics is a spoiler, avert your eyes.) She’s pregnant with the new heir of Downton. She’s slipped on a bar of soap left by the wicked servant and miscarried! The heir of Downton is lost at war. He’s miraculously returned! He’ll never walk again, or bear children. Oh my god, he’s walking! But he’s about to marry the wrong woman. No, wait–she has Spanish Influenza…she’s dead! The Season Two finale provides some beautiful closure with a proposal on a snowy night. It was a good and convenient place to stop for what I hope is a long while. On the third day, I let my mind read seven scripts for the Good Wife. Because it is not related to writing, it will sometime accept forty minutes of Illustrator CS5 instructional videos, so there’s that. And of course there is sleeping.
Meditating again… I once had a practice. I had a tendency to act like I still had a practice, but I didn’t. I do now. Twenty-five to thirty minutes in the morning and the evening, ten or fifteen minutes mid-day at work, and whenever I wake up in the wee hours of the morning buzzing with adrenaline–for however long it takes to calm myself down.
Ix-nay on the sugar-say… I did this the first time around for about a year after my surgery. Everything I read supports that sugars and cancer do not play well together (or, more specifically, that they play too well. The first time around there were days when this was really difficult and emotional. Thus far (i.e. for the last five days) it has not been difficult at all to cut out recognizable refined sugars. Rice and bread are a little harder, I think because it’s harder for me to believe they are “as bad,” but I have pared them way down.
Juicing: All veggies, all the time. I haven’t actually been manning the juicer, as life is, per usual, a little crazy right now–but I’ve been hitting the Robek’s at every chance, cutting the juice with water at home when I can (to decrease the sugars) and keeping half in an air-tight container for later.
Pulling remedies off the shelf: I guess I can say I’m “lucky” that the last time I had cancer, I was not employed, and I spend several months doing very little but researching supplements, various diets, etc. I had a pared down “maintainence” vitamin regime that I was never going to quit. I did. just got busy and didn’t reach for the containers on the shelf. But conveniently, they are all still there. The enzymes, the IP6 /maitake mushroom extract, the Pau D’ Arco tea, the Chlorella (alkalizing)/Tumeric (anti-inflammatory) tablets. Hot lemon-juice to flush the liver (and other stuff) in the morning.
I have scans happening this week, and an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist. I don’t know what I will find out, and especially when I’m tired I get anxious. But then I remind myself that no matter how dire the case may seem, I have met real people who have overcome worse, and I believe I can do as well.
My husband is doing the Master Cleanse and it’s making me hungry.
For those of you who don’t know Paul, his philosophy might be summed up as something like “Life is the stuff you do to pass the time between meals.” He likes to eat meals, preferably at a restaurant. He likes to plan where he will eat his next meal, the one after that, and maybe a special one sometime next week. He likes to look forward to his plans to eat meals.
For those of you who don’t know the Master Cleanse, it is a dietary program consisting of NO MEALS. Unless you consider water mixed with lemon juice (cleansing part), sweetened with a tablespoon of maple syrup (to keep your blood sugar up so you don’t faint), and a dash of cayenne pepper (to stimulate your metabolism) to be a meal.
Paul’s intention is to do this for ten days.
Fasts are an age old tradition, so I’m sure he will be fine.
The question is: Will I?
Normally, I like to consider Paul to be the one with “food issues.” Because of, well–all the eating, and planning, and the way any time you get in a car with him, you run an 85% risk of being “Paul-jacked” and taken to some kind of food or dessert purveyor.
I consider myself to be the person with a healthy relationship to food, because I sometimes eat vegetables, or take my lunch to work, or make frozen ravioli and broccoli at home instead of driving to to the Inland Empire in search of the only local branch of a chain restaurant that makes the kind of mac n’ cheese that I’m in the mood for.
Long story short, when it comes to food, I’m reasonable–he’s crazy. I’m moderate–he’s extreme.
Except now that he’s not eating, something is happening to me.
I think it might be like a sympathy pregnancy–except it’s sympathy starvation. All the sudden I’m hungry all the time. I’m constantly ruminating about what kind of food I’ll eat next. And when I start eating, I keep eating, because the idea of being hungry again is panic-inducing. Since I’ve begun writing this post, I’ve eaten two halves of a particular sandwich–a large bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich with garlic aioli on oversize toasted sourdough bread. The last time I ordered this sandwich, the shop that sells it was still on summer hours. The last time I ordered this sandwich I ate half for lunch, and the other half for dinner. But today I thought about the sandwich non-stop for five hours at work, while staving off hunger by eating a candy bar from a vending machine! And then I ate both halves in under twenty minutes.
And now, despite the whole earlier candy-from-a-vending-machine debaucle, I’m wondering if I need dessert. Do I need ice cream? Do I need a snack to get me through class?
And what about when class is over?
It is typical for me to be hungry when I get out of my night class at 9:30, but I don’t worry because I have an unofficial arrangement where Paul picks me up something wherever he happens to dine. Now, however, Paul won’t be dining. Alarm Bells! I am already mentally searching the shelves of the refrigerator for something quick and easy to prepare–in my imagination (and likely reality) they are frighteningly bare.
Oh no! I’m so hungry!
No, wait, you’re not hungry. You just had a huge sandwich.
Oh. Right. … But I’m going to be hungry!
I’m going to be happier when Paul is done with the Master Cleanse.
Another project I have going at the moment, since I am having a “normal life” with a job and such, is ordering a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box every couple of weeks. Each week the South Central Farmers–an organic cooperative–delivers pre-ordered boxes to different places in the city. One of the drop-off points is here on campus.
The box is an omakase kinda deal. You get what is in season and available, with no substitutions. Overall, this is good, as that is what we should be eating anyway, and I probably wouldn’t have the knowledge and discipline to research and buy these things on my own. In the grocery store I mainly just default to things like avocados and broccoli year round because they are super-accessible taste-wise, and I know how to store and cook them. This same laziness had led me to consider skipping the CSA box this week, but then I got an email from my friend in China, telling me how, because of all the bacteria on the food where she is, she is relegated to eating McDonalds, porridge and stuffed buns if she doesn’t want to get sick. This made me say to myself, “Self, suck it up and order your CSA box.”
This week’s box consisted of lots of leafy greens that I never buy on my own: Blue Kale, Siberian Kale, Green Chard, Red Chard, as well as beets, peaches, many zucchinis, and these: I had to write and ask what they were. (To be clear, I would not have recognized most of the greens, but they were on the packing list, while these were not). They are Ronde de Nice squash–kind of like mini zucchinis, apparently. I would link to a wikipedia page, but it seems they are so exotic that one doesn’t yet exist for them.