Whether you are newly diagnosed with a disease such as CANCer, receiving treatment or in remission, it is likely that you have a team of nurses, doctors, naturopaths, manual therapists and dieticians all telling you to do different things. What I wish I could give you is a coach. Someone to interpret each of these disciplines recommendations and develop a plan of action for you.
I certainly did not have a coach, so my method was to take notes from each clinician, research the world of google, consult with peers on any online forums I was a part of and make a decision from there. Through this experience, I have developed my top three ways of supporting my body through cancer. Each of these points can be applied if you are newly diagnosed and don’t know where the heck to start, if you are currently undergoing treatment or if you are in remission (which I hope you are!). Furthermore, if lucky little you has not been touched by cancer but are interested in enhancing your wellness, read on!
Feed your Body.
Eating a strict vegetarian or vegan diet is something I had thought about in the past, but never really seriously considered. My love affair with fancy cheeses and creamy greek yogurt was too strong to think about a break-up! However, as discussed in Planticize to Prosperity, when my diagnosis came a ‘knockin and I learned of the harmful hormones and growth factors within commercially produced animal products, it was a no-brainer. Growth is NOT something you want to promote when you have a tumour residing in your temple of a body.
I juiced my butt off, and I think you should too! I met Kris Carr (OK, but “met” her I really mean I read her blog and became obsessed with her books) early on in my diagnosis – this girl is the juicing queen! She has a great article here describing the different types of juicers that are out there (yes, it actually is more complicated than just buying a “juicer”). Drink 30+ ounces a day of mainly vegetable juice with minimal amounts of fruit juice to add sweetness, as sugars feed cancer cells. Juicing removes the fibre from your produce, giving your body access to an abundant amount of vitamins, minerals and enzymes – much more than you could sit down at the table and eat in one, two or three sittings! Flooding your body with a cup full of vege-goodness also helps create an oxygen-rich alkaline environment, which we love because cancer cells don’t :).
Drink your tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, which are anti-cancer compounds that inhibit the proliferation of tumours and may induce apoptosis (the early programmed death of cancer cells). Take your pick of traditional green tea, matcha, which is ground green tea leaves in a powdered form, or find a boutique loose leaf tea shop and fill your cupboards with fruity and spicy green tea blends. Drink 5-7 cups a day either hot for those cozy winter mornings or cold to stay on track during the hot summer months.
Depending on where you are in your cancer journey, it may also be important for you to add supplements to your diet. You may want to boost your immunity while you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment or support liver function during and following treatment to rid your body of harmful chemotherapy residue. Consult with your naturopath and oncologist on this one.
Don’t forget that skin is your largest organ, and everything you put on it gets absorbed into your body. Consider everything from shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap and make-up as having the potential of being harmful. Deodorant is a big one too, as it has a direct line to large groups of lymph nodes in your armpits. Purchasing regulated organic products is a relatively safe route, or consults lists such as David Suzuki’s “Dirty Dozen” containing compounds and chemicals to avoid.
Move your Body.
We all know that exercise is vital for maintaining good health. However, if you are dealing with something like cancer, it becomes especially important. If you are receiving chemotherapy, your body spends the days in between treatments expelling the harsh drugs before you get them topped up again. Go for walks, practice yoga or stretch in your living room to promote movement through your lymphatic system, as it is hard at work expelling these toxins.
Bouncing on a small trampoline is another great way to stimulate lymph movement – this may be too tiring of an activity to do throughout treatment, but a great way to detox during recovery mode!
Movement may also come in the form of manual therapies, such as massages, physical therapy, cupping or acupuncture. These are all great ways to support your body if your energy levels are low throughout treatment.
Rest your Body.
My main struggle throughout my treatment and recovery process was learning how to give my body a break and the rest it needs. Cancer puts a lot of stress on your body and can eat up a lot of energy. Remember, your body has been hard at work multiplying cells and creating a growth – this takes up a lot of energy! Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation can zap your energy levels big time, and surgeries add even more layers of stress. Furthermore, recovery time following treatments can be varying in lengths for everyone. It is important to not expect too much of your body too soon at the risk of creating further stress and damage.
Basically, the fine print of your Cancer Card reads “I am allowed to be a couch potato, and No, I will not be shovelling the driveway of snow”. So, embrace midday naps and don’t set a morning alarm if you don’t have to. You are the CEO of your body and it is your job to ensure it gets the rest and nourishment is needs to rebuild, revive and flourish.