When I received my CANcer diagnosis at the end of 2015 I felt, for the first time in my life, like I really had absolutely NO control over anything. As I was still fretting about the possibility of loosing my hair (which I didn’t – Yay me!) I was signed up for a six month regimented treatment schedule, blood tests, respiratory tests, fertility preservation and I had a hand full of prescriptions for multiple anti-nausea drugs. By the way, NONE of this really fits into a thriving and energetic 27 year old’s daily schedule…
I quickly realized that if I had any chance of coping through this, I had to surrender to the fact that my life was no longer mine as it once was – I now had people telling me where to be and when and for how long. And honestly, I was incredibly thankful for this! When you are told you have CANcer, decisions become so hard to make, so having someone tell you exactly what to do when is a God send!
I surrendered to the fact that I had to tell my boss and several supervisors that I wouldn’t be working for the next eight months or so (don’t tell them, but I wasn’t overly upset about this 🙂 ). I also surrendered to the fact that my wedding, which was planned to take place in a month and a half, may have to be cancelled days before if I was losing the battle with the side effects of the drugs (which I wasn’t, and didn’t have to – another win for Tessa!). This was all out of my control – but I was okay with that. I was okay with it, because I found something that I had COMPLETE control over – my diet.
After endless hours of googling I had discovered that, not only does a raw food diet provide your body with all of the nutrients and vitamins in the simplest form that it needs to flourish, but many consider it an alternative treatment for diseases like cancer, and many people shared happy ending stories of CURING cancer using this method. WHOA! I was astounded. I knew that for myself and my loved ones, my path was to undergo the chemotherapy treatment, but I also knew that if people could cure severe ailments with a raw food, plant based diet, it could only help me through my journey to come.
First step – clean the cupboards, the pantry and the fridge from all processed, sugary, salty and processed-white-floury “foods”. Although Travis was fully supportive of this, and on board to plasticize his diet along with me, he is a meat-eater at heart, so select animal products made the cut to keep their home at Casa Inkster 🙂
My oncologist has been my primary clinician throughout this journey – he is heavily involved in Lymphoma research, and I know I have been in good hands. However, when I shared with him what my own research about a raw food diet had told me, and requested his advise on it, all I received was a scoff (at best). He told me that I shouldn’t bother changing my diet and that it wouldn’t effect the disease or the outcome of the treatment. At all. I was confused, but happy to say, I was also skeptical. I remained on a strict raw food diet, and within two to four weeks I saw the symptoms of the disease start to melt away. I also felt more energetic and no longer experienced the need for a post-lunch nap. I was no longer constantly scratching itchy skin, and even breaking the skin on my legs from scratching so hard. I was no longer waking up to night sweats nearly every night, and the allergy-like symptoms I had been experiencing for months melted away. However, the most exciting side effect of eating raw foods was when I saw the small jelly belly-like lumps on the left side of my neck start to get soft and shrink in size. This was incredible!
As you can imagine, I continued to exclude animal products from my diet throughout my six months of treatment. However, I did begin to find the raw food diet to be quite limiting. It was winter time and I was craving soups and warm comfort food, so I compromised and adapted a vegan diet, with a large portion remaining raw food. I made at least 30 oz. of fresh juice a day, had a smoothy nearly every day, drank 5-8 cups of green tea daily, and ate more nuts, seeds and berries than I ever would have cared to on my former diet.
And am I ever happy that I did! Just as plants nearly erased the symptoms I was struggling with, they also gave my body the support it needed throughout my treatment, and made me feel healthier than ever before (which is something people DO NOT usually say while they are on chemotherapy…). Sure, I felt the cumulative effects of the drugs and began to feel weaker as time went on, I needed more sleep and rest than usual and eventually gave into one of my husbands favourite pass times: napping. But, I truly believe I have plants to thank for not experiencing nausea, for having the ability celebrate with a glass of champagne immediately after my 12th (and last!) treatment, and for having the ability and gumption to do a four hour road trip to attend the Dixie Chicks concert with my mom and sister the day after my 12th (and last!) treatment.
It is truly incredible what a plant-based diet has helped me accomplish. Now, after having finished my treatments and feeling like I have put this journey to bed, I will continue to eat a vegan/raw food diet. I have never felt more energetic and healthier, and am thrilled with the fact that I don’t experience the discomfort after eating a large meal anymore. And this is not because I don’t eat large meals, but because now my large meals are clean, whole foods, and easy for my body to digest. I have also had so much fun experimenting with vegan cuisine to make more exciting, more flavourful, and fresher foods than I ever have before. Who knew that you could make a delicious and creamy caeser salad dressing using almonds and apple cider vinegar, a zingy tzatziki sauce using tahini, or a cheesecake out of cashews? A cheesecake using cashews people!!!
Eating plants has put a pep in my step, put the ying in my yang and most importantly, helped me get healthy. I plan to use this space to share some of my favourite vegan/raw food recipes – stay tuned!
“Food is Essential to Life – Therefore, Make it GOOD”