Category: - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
That's the sound of me falling off the wagon.

The Crazy, Sexy Diet wagon.

I was doing so well.  Then I went to visit family.  And family came to visit me.  And there are only so many ways you can make salads before your guests go "seriously, stop it with the salads!!!"  OK my sister in law didn't actually say that... but I felt bad offering her nothing but lettuce during her stay.  Especially since she's been helping out getting some home improvement projects done.

Somehow in my head, good, hearty food is a better payment than leafy greens.

Or maybe I was just craving junk food so I'm using my sister in law as an excuse.... maybe...

So I'm relishing a few days break from my diet.  I'm sitting here drinking coffee, eating a sugar laden muffin and avoiding vegetable juice for a day or two. 

And to be honest... it's almost orgasmic.  I'd forgotten how good coffee can taste.  Although after 2 weeks without caffiene, a LARGE coffee was probably a poor decision.  Since I now feel like I should run around my office at least 4 or 5 times to get out some of this energy!!!!! 

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I might have to write another blog this afternoon when I crash from this caffiene high... but for now I'm just going to enjoy myself :)

Why does being bad always feel so good?!?!?!
 
Warning:  I'm about to get all scientific on y'all.  So strap on your thinking caps before reading this blog. 

How often have you thought about your body's pH?

If you just said "never", then you're totally normal.  I never once gave my body's pH balance a single thought.  pH balance was some catch phrase I heard in deoderant commercials.  But I never gave a single thought to the fact that my body had it's own pH and what that might mean for my health.

Just in case you forget what pH means, here's a little refresher.  pH actually means "potential Hydrogen".  Basically what it's measuring is how many Hydrogen ions are in a solution.  But this is better known as a measure of acidity.  pH is measured on a scale from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline).  7 is considered neutral.  Water is neutral.

So what does this have to do with health?  Well, our body is designed for a very narrow pH window.  Ideally, our blood pH should be at about 7.365.  So, we should be slightly on the alkaline side of things.  That is where our body operates at it's best.

When we deviate from this number and veer into more acidic territory, our body starts to get a little upset with us.  Many, many, many chronic illnesses have been traced back to acidosis (being too acidic).  Here are a few: heartburn, eczema, arthritis, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, auto-immune diseases, AND possibly cancer.

I know.  I thought the same thing.  Being acidic can make me have cancer?  You have GOT to be kidding!  I thought cancer was simply cells that grow out of control!  Well, back in 1933 a scientist named Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering that cancer thrives in an anaerobic environment.  English translation: the less oxygen in your system, the friendlier it is to cancer. 

Or otherwise stated: healthy cells grow well in an environment with lots of oxygen and cancer cells grow really well in an environment with less oxygen.

OK.  Now for the hard part.  Drawing the line of logic from Dr. Warburg's discovery to your body's pH levels. 

We all know that our body is made up largely of water, yes?  Above, I also pointed out that water is neutral (pH of 7) and has a chemical signature of H20.  This means 2 hydrogen molecules for every 1 oxygen molecule and could be otherwise written as HOH.  Water breaks down into H (hydrogen) and OH (oxygen+hydrogen).  In very simple terms, an acidic environment contains more H than OH, thus it has less oxygen.  An alkaline environment contains more OH than H, and therefore has more oxygen.

So, if cancer thrives in an environment where oxygen levels are low, it would thrive in an acidic environment.

Confused?  I hope not.

So assuming you're still with me, we've figured out that an acidic environment means lower oxygen levels in your blood.  And this, in turn, means a nice comfy home for cancer to grow in.

I'm hoping your next question is "Cynthia, what makes my body acidic?"

Well, there are lots of things that can contribute to this.  Stress, lack of exercise, drugs, cigarettes, anger... and food!

Food is a major contributor to our body's pH levels.  Foods like sugar, alcohol, meat, and dairy are all acidic foods.  Veggies and whole grains are generally alkaline.  So think about the normal American's diet.  We eat eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast (unless you're eating multigrain toast, this is all acidic).  Then for lunch, we get a burger and fries and a soda (again, all acidic).  Dinner might consist of a meat (acidic), a starch (probably acidic) and maybe a side salad (alkaline).  We feed our bodies acidic foods ALL DAY LONG!

And by "we", I really mean "me".  I ate that diet every day of my life.  Vegetables generally don't touch my plate.  Even when I would go on a "health kick", what I really meant was "low calorie".  I'd eat fish and brown rice.  Or chicken and whole grain pasta.  I had some of the basics there with my whole grains, but I completely ignored vegetables. 

For the last 18 months years of my life, being a full time working "solo parent" with little time to cook, I have done nothing but eat junk.  I'm sure my body was like the luxury, 6000+ square foot apartment in Times Square for cancer.  It was cancer's dream home.  Throw in my family's genetic pre-disposition for cancer and it's no wonder I'm 30 years old and a cancer survivor.

So, in the interest of continued good health and making my body as undesirable for cancer as possible, I'm makin' some changes 'round here. 

Step 1 was to get rid of coffee and soda.  So far, I've been doing pretty well.  I've cut back severely, but I won't lie and say I've eliminated it completely.  I'm looking to the long term and know if I don't indulge occasionally, I will never be able to stick with this.

Stop 2 was to decrease my alcohol intake.  But since alcohol and chemo didn't mix for me, this wasn't much of a change.

Step 3 has been to introduce more vegetables into my daily diet.  I've started eating at least 1 salad a day for a meal.  I've also started juicing (juicing vegetables, not taking steroids).  I'll write a blog soon about juicing because it's been... ummm... interesting.

My next step will be cutting back on sugar.  So stay tuned for that amazing and fascinating blog that talks about sugar and cancer... seriously, it's riveting stuff.  And it might be the step that causes me to lose my mind... because sugar and I are like peanut butter and jelly, we're meant to be together.

*sigh*  No pain, no gain, right?  RIGHT!?!
 
I'm giving up soda and coffee this week.  It's part of the diet.  It sucks.  Here is a little something I wrote about it in the midst of my angst:

Soda, how I love thee!
Your bubbles, they tickle my tongue! 
Your sweetness, it makes me smile!
On those days when I'm feeling run down and tired, you are there to pick me back up and keep me going.
Oh soda, how I love thee!

Coffee, you are my friend.
After a sleepless night, you perk me up.
After a long weekend, you keep me awake during those long days of meetings.
And on one of those frigid Minnesota mornings, you warm me up from the inside.
Yes, coffee, you are my friend.

But ALAS!  Now, we must part ways. 
Because I know you are NO GOOD for me.
NO GOOD AT ALL!
Soda... your processed sugars and chemicals are not welcome anymore!
Coffee... take your caffiene elsewhere!   You delicious temptress!

Oh... but I shall miss you.

*sigh*

I shall miss you both.

Goodbye old friends.

Goodbye!
 
During this process, I've made a couple of friends.

I call them my "Cancer buddies".

It's an unfortunate group to be a part of because there are only TWO criteria needed: Be awesome (not a bad thing) and have cancer (very bad thing).

Lisa is one of my cancer buddies.  She is awesome.  I am so happy that cancer introduced us to one another.  Back when I was first diagnosed, I went onto YSC (Young Survivors) in a panic!  I was pregnant, I had cancer, what the f*ck was I supposed to do now!  And I found Lisa.  She was pregnant and mid-treatment.  AND SHE LIVED IN MINNEAPOLIS!  Just a mere 1.5 hour drive away!  I immediately sent her a message that literally said "please be my friend."  (I'm subtle like that)

And she responded with an "of course I'll be your friend, do you need me to come to your first appointment with you?"

She left work early to go to my first surgeon appointment with me.  To understand the enormity of this, you have to understand that when you have cancer, you miss work ALL THE TIME.  So time in the office is sacred!  But she quickly and willingly made that sacrifice for me (told you she was awesome).

And was rewarded by getting to see my boobs.  That's how I know we're going to be lifelong friends, she saw my boobs on our first meeting.  I mean how can that NOT end up in a lifelong friendship :)

Anywho, we've supported one another throughout treatment.  We text each other weekly.  We'd text back and forth during our chemo treatments.  I actually looked forward to some of my Friday afternoons because I knew I'd get to hear from her and have someone to discuss the highs and lows of chemo with.

Basically I just have a ton of love for this girl, even though we're still really just getting to know each other. 

And to top it all off, we're both on the same level of semi-hippie-ness.  Meaning she cloth diapers her beautiful little girl, her husband is all about natural health remedies, and we're both looking for good ways to nourish our bodies and keep as many carcinogens away from us as we can.

So literally the weekend after she finished Taxol, she sent me an email asking what I thought of the Crazy, Sexy Diet and wondering if I might be interested in doing the 21 day cleanse with her.

What is the Crazy, Sexy Diet?  Why, I am so glad you asked!

It's a diet that focuses on eating green, leafy, uncooked vegetables.  We all know that veggies are healthy, right?  And we all know that cooking them takes away a good portion of their nutritional value, right?  So eating alot of raw, green, vitamin rich vegetables is actually pretty intuitive (even though we don't do enough of it).

However, the author suggests that our diet should be, at a minimum 60/40.  So 60% of your dinner plate should be covered by those aforementioned veggies.  The other 40% should be other healthy, lowfat, unprocessed foods like whole grains, beans, and even a little meat (if you don't want to go vegan).  Again, aside from the vegan thing, this isn't really all that crazy.  We all know processed foods are bad.  We all know whole grains are good.

At it's very basic, this diet makes COMPLETE sense. 

However, there are some other suggestions made by the author that will seem kind of alternative/hippie for most Americans.  Like going vegan.  And introducing juicing into your diet.  And she has some other lifestyle suggestions that I don't know if I can completely buy into.  Right now I'm just reading my way through the book (I'm on chapter 3) and understanding more of the "why" behind her lifestyle choices.

But, I do need to start eating healther.  And, generally speaking, this diet makes alot of sense to me. 

So, now that I'm 75% done with my treatment, I think this blog will move forward by trying to explore how to keep cancer at bay using natural methods.  Modern medicine has few to no good suggestions other than "eat low fat foods" and "exercise", so this is my way of exploring how deep my inner-hippie really goes and hopefully providing my readers with an understanding of changes they can make in their own lives to help prevent cancer. 

OK, that sounds far to "big" of me.  Like my goal is to bring about world peace.  I don't actually expect my readers to make these huge changes in their own lives.  But I do want to bring awareness and education.  Because cancer is truly becoming an epidemic in America and I don't ever want anyone that knows me to be diagnosed and say "if only I'd known..."

But aside from all that "beneficial to your health" crap I just said above, I expect this experience to provide me with alot of funny blog material.  Because let's be honest, I LOVE junk food, sugar and most procesed foods.  I love meat.  I think there is nothing better than a hot meal.  Basically, my current diet IS the "Standard American Diet".  This transition to raw, healthy, green is going to be a tough one.  This blog will NOT be from the perspective of an animal loving, bleeding heart, liberal who thinks we should eat more veggies b/c it's "cruel" to eat animals.  Nope, this blog will be from the perspective of an average American who knows this is the right thing to do for her health... but isn't going to love making the change.  I expect some of my blogs will involve phrases like "this is crazy" and "If I see one more green, leafy vegetable, I'm going to puke."  So even if you think I'm totally nuts, feel free to follow along and laugh at/with me.

Thus, my next few blogs will probably focus on the Crazy, Sexy diet, the science behind it, and my personal plans for how I intend to change my lifestyle.

Here's a hint:  Step 1, stop drinking soda and caffiene (OUCH!).