Wednesday, 3 August 2011


When I first got diagnosed with breast cancer, I made the decision to make a few changes: no junk food, no meat, no processed food, and loads of green tea. Basically, I was determined to have a macrobiotic diet similar to Gwyneth Paltrow's. But be warned: it is a VERY boring diet. Needless to say, this was slightly torturous especially because I love a good slab of rare steak. But I survived, even through the trip to South Africa, simply because they offer excellent quality and variety of seafood.

So, for the first three FEC sessions, I had two shots of wheatgrass everyday, no meat, loads of fruit and vegetables, no biscuits and a lot of cups of green tea. However, I was suffering with pretty bad nausea at the same time as a consequence of the drugs. So sadly, now I cannot look at a cup of green tea or a punnet of blueberries without retching. Which is an absolute pity because I know how good these things are for me.

I've made a horrid mistake here: I should've eaten, through all four FEC sessions, things that I normally crave but are not good for me: Doritos, Kettle chips, biscuits and the like. Then I would have developed an aversion to them. After all, whilst I'm having chemotherapy, I cannot develop cancer by eating all this junk - and the steroids are making me fat(ter) anyway.

Also, I found out too late that the acid reflux I was experiencing whilst doing the FEC was caused by the inability of my digestive system to process fruit and vegetables. What the heck. So although I had been eating all these healthy foods, as it turns out I wasn't even garnering anything healthy from taking them.

My diet is back to normal now, except that green tea, blueberries and red peppers are not on the menu. I'm still forcing back the wheatgrass as I'm convinced that it is helping me in terms of reducing chemo's side-effects, but I feel sorry for myself everytime I drink the vile stuff.

So, for anyone about to embark on chemotherapy, this is what I suggest: stuff your face with junk for the worst, most nauseous part of the chemotherapy, then switch to healthier food once the nausea as eased. Because by this time, the thought of junk food will just make you feel sick.

Darn. I wish someone had told me that!


  1. There are NO mistakes Chinot. Just learning curves all the time, some of which are steeper than most people should ever have to face.

    But DEAREST LL whatever you are eating, whatever you are thinking, whatever you are doing, IT IS THE RIGHT THING. Look at how amazing you look and are, when very many people would have been wiped out already by the chemo regime. Look at how many people you are inspiring, even on days you choose to stay under the duvet. YOU choose what to eat, YOU choose what to not eat, In my humble opinion it is YOU who is and are making the difference, not what you are and aren't eating.

    I was impressed with how you dealt with this EC diagnosis at the beginning, and with the early chemo picnics. I am now humbled at how you are maintaining a normal and challenging life, for you and your family. With not even a hint of self pity.

    NEVER doubt what you are doing is right. You have that very rare gift of being honest to yourself, and doing what it takes.

    I feel honoured to know you.


  2. i think i did tell you something like that... but not about food (unlike you, i was very weak willed and just ate anything i wanted).in my case, i couldn't stand to see the clothes i wore during chemo, and even the ring tones of my mobile... these would actually make me feel nauseous. but the good thing is that eventually, the automatic nausea reaction went away. so don't fret... i'm confident that eventually you'll be able to eat blueberries again :)


  3. I suppose you can always switch to strawberries. Or better yet, maybe there's Dorito flavored green tea. Now there's an idea that might just save the world. - Lito

  4. Lynne, THANK YOU. Pia, am definitely looking forward to this nausea going away! You're an inpiration! Lits, you cannot even begin to imagine how much your comment made me want to retch!!!

  5. I read your story some weeks back on PDI. I started a reply but, seeing how long it had become in an unfinished state and thinking I had sounded a bit like an expert which I was not, I threw the idea out the window.

    I've read about how, in laboratory experiments, cancer growth could be turned on and off by the amount of animal protein in the diet. So I'm wondering what kind of diet you have adopted.

    And reading that you've looked into and may have tried the macrobiotic diet, I thought I'd ask if you've run across the Gerson therapy.


  6. Hi Michael, thank you for your comment. I haven't adopted any diet at the moment - sadly I've never really had the self-control to follow diets of any sort! However, I do intend to give have my eating habits a proper overhaul once I've given the all-clear. Currently, I'm just eating as normal - but I suppose I'm pretty lucky in that I don't drink, smoke and don't like french fries!
    I looked up the Gerson diet - and it sounds pretty restrictive to me. But then I suppose this is mostly for people who have opted out of chemotherapy so need all the help they can get. Sounds pretty impressive though!

  7. Chinot is a pretty unique name. Is it your nickname?

    In "Healthy at 100" by John Robbins, I read about Dr. Ruth Heidrich who had breast cancer, overcame the disease, and lived on to become a marathon runner. She must be the same Ruth at I thought you might want to check her out.

    John Robbins, son of Baskin Robbins co-founder Irv Robbins, is vegan. I recommend his book as light, inspirational reading while you wait to take the diet plunge. If you decide to buy it, I suggest you might as well pair it with T. Colin Campbell's "The China Study."

    Among many practical nutritional information I obtained in the second book, I learned how beef consumption played into the high incidence of liver cancer among Filipino children in the late sixties, and how animal- and plant-based foods contribute to the general state of health.

    I didn't find it so difficult to adopt a plant-based lifestyle, and I'm hoping other people can pick up a few tricks from my experience. The books I mentioned will make far better starters than nachos.

    All the best to you, Chinot.

  8. Hi Mike
    Thanks very much for your book suggestions - I will definitely check them out.
    Have you not found it difficult following a vegetarian (or is it vegan?) diet in the Philippines? I can imagine that it might be quite hard as Filipino food, despite our excellent seafood, is pretty meat based.
    Have you got contact details so that I can email you directly? Would like to ask you more about your plant-based lifestyle...

  9. Hello Chinot,

    A fresh seafood meal is a blissful ride through a succession of sensory delights. The sight of steaming sinampalukang-kanduli or mixed-seafood-inihaw sensitizes the olfactory detectors, rouses the salivary glands, and stirs up an abdominal grumbling. (Oh, the morning catch!)

    As the fingers probe and pick the tender white flesh of grilled hammour, and oh so lightly tap it in calamansi-and-rock-salt dip, the palate gushes with fluid, anticipating a slightly salty, slightly lemony, surely delicious encounter with the bounty of the sea. This bit of a feast barely brushes the lips, goes straight into an impatient orifice, and starts to satisfy a hellish appetite with heavenly fare.

    The streaming, exhilirating experience culminates in gastric bliss that then, like an ocean lullaby, invites the sated soul to dreamy post-prandial slumber.

    Yes, Chinot, that would be I, now looking back at past encounters after becoming aware of pathogens in farmed fish (think hormones, antibiotics, and fishkills) and the increased ingestion of hard metals, including mercury, as one progresses upward on the wild fish food chain.

    Now that's a spoiler to many, but had not industrialization damaged our oceans by its sinister clouds and toxic effusions, occasional dietary cholesterol may be tolerable evil that comes with the essential omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and mackerel. But mercury!

    There's a plant-based source of this essential nutrient that does not come with harmful elements: ground flaxseed.

    Let me answer your question before I stray too far. Because plant-based food is available where I have been, I have not found it difficult to adopt a plant-based lifestyle.

    The trick, and I find this to be the hidden key that is really not so hidden, is to formulate and adopt an effective mindset.

    I will be happy to share with you the knowledge I have gained from my own experience. You may email me at michaeledq-at-gmail-dot-com.

    To life,