Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food and Related Miscellany

I'm doing better today, am off all anti-emetics and not feeling
nauseous. Last night was rough. Plenty of things to worry about all
day, and the gig was decent but it was very sparsely attended so we
got very little energy back from the audience. We treated it as a paid
rehearsal and RY and MO took advantage of the $25 bar tab we each got
in addition to our pay. I ordered some baked mac and cheese with baked
chicken and a dark irish bread on the side that went down surprisingly
easily and quickly, though sat like a lump of coal in my stomach for
the rest of the evening. I'm off the alky-hol completely, so I sipped
a weak ginger-lemon mixture from home all evening. Turning down free
alcohol=commitment.

Thanks all for the great input regarding what to eat, etc. I very much
appreciate it. I was writing this as a comment but it grew so long
that I decided to make it a post instead.

I have several things going on at the same time which complicate
matters a bit. I am trying to eat healthier, certainly. But I also
agree that to a certain extent, any food you can get in you and keep
it down is better than no food. But in addition to this cancer/chemo
stuff, I also have diverticulosis. This is where the intestine
develops tiny little pockets that can become plugged and inflamed
(gross, I know) and this landed me in the hospital about 4 months ago
when one of them burst and I essentially had a hole in my intestine. I
was given the directive of eating high-fiber, whole grains, and
avoiding hard to digest things like nuts, seeds, corn and animal skin
(no more chicken wings, boo). Red meat is also frowned upon. This is
an oversimplification, but is the basis for how I have to eat
potentially lifelong if I want to avoid another burst-intestine
episode. So there's that to look forward to.

So with the existing dietary restrictions, I add to that the belief
that tofu and soy based products can increase hormone levels, and
since my tumor was listed as having "hormonal involvement" it is a
good thing for me to cut down on those products, at least at this
point until I know more. There's another big chunk off the list.

In addition to that, there is a belief (that I think has much merit)
that cancers thrive on acidity. Bringing one's body as close to ph
neutral as possible would be beneficial to fight that. So avoiding
acidic things like tomatoes, oranges, coffee, etc. is my choice. They
don't really sound all that good either, so that must be my body
talking.

Related to this, during chemo a body's mucous membranes can and will
become fragile. Avoiding the acidic foods (and using mild toothpastes,
rinsing with baking soda and salt, and using soft toothbrushes will
help prevent mouth sores (gross, again).

Additionally, there is a widely-held belief that cancers feed on
sugars. A quote from my PET/CT Brochure: "Growing cells use glucose as
a primary source of energy. The faster cells grow, the more glucose is
consumed." This is used as an explanation of how the PET/CT works, but
is a pretty clear indicator of the link between sugars and cell
growth. So, eliminating as much as possible from my diet all refined
sugars, alcohol, processed foods, fried foods and junk foods will help
to starve out the cancer. I have a friend that beat his cancer into
remission following this last diet. Regardless of the effect on the
cancer, few would argue that this would be a positive change in
anyone's diet.

Lastly, one's immune system is compromised during chemo. I am a
believer in organic foods, and with my heightened sense of smell,
conventional (normal) vegetables and fruits etc smell like bleach and
chemicals. Really. Organic stuff smells clean and is (because of the
lack of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc.) easier to digest and
easier on the immune system.

I went into this cancer thing deciding to become vegetarian again, but
only lasted about 5 days. With no tofu or nuts, protein is hard to get
for a vegetarian (unless one wants beans and rice all the time). Baked
chicken sounds and tastes awesome, and I have been listening to those
cravings and having it. Sushi is I think the perfect food, and sounds
great if a little rich for me. Eggs have turned my stomach recently,
being a little too rich as well. I have been craving cheese which is
interesting, since it is very rich, but is also a source of protein
and calcium. My information conflicts on the subject of cheeses: my
chemo handbook says mild cheeses, but these tend to be fatty. Hard
cheeses are better from a holistic nutrition point of view, but are
usually sharper and may be harder to digest and/or keep down. So I'll
experiment and see what sits the best.

So: Vegetables, melons, non-acidic fruits, chicken, turkey, fish,
brown rice, whole grain breads and pastas -- with liberal amounts of
ginger and garlic, and some cheese. These are super-healthy things
that are good for a body, don't interfere with my diverticulosis, are
beneficial during the chemo and and all sound good. Really good. In
fact, I could go for a table full of all of those things right now.

8 comments:

Lemony said...

Hmmm. That does limit things a bit, but there's still a lot you can do within those constraints. Have you tried just egg whites? They're pretty mild, and more or less straight protein. You can also get whey powder at the co-op and mix it into fruit smoothies. Lentils are quick-cooking and nutritionally rich. Chicken soup with brown rice, kale, carrots, and whatever other veggies move you sounds like a good fit, too. I could make a pot and freeze individual portions for you if it sounds good. Write me on fb.

Deborah said...

Sounds like you are doing a great job of taking care of your body as best you can. I'm proud of you. A good friend of mine recently battled prostate cancer with diet for several months, then felt led to go ahead with surgery. The diet likely reduced or weakened the cancer and his surgery and recovery was considered ideal. He and his wife continue to eat an organic diet, largely vegetarian, based on what they learned about foods that inhibit or encourage cancer. I learned some things from them and I will continue to do so with you in mind.

Sean said...

For some reason when you mentioned turning down free alcohol, it made me remember being in your room at Minicon, probably in 92, 93, or 94, and you offering me a sip of some whiskey you had procured from Canada. It was the first time I'd ever tried drinking anything other than wine and beer and champagne, all of which I either didn't care for or downright hated. So I tried a sip of this stuff and it was... amazing. It evaporated in my mouth, I never got to swallow it. It would be another four years, at least, before I had alcohol again, but that started me down the road of loving whiskey. And I've never been able to remember what it was, and though I've had some amazing scotch since then, I've never had an experience quite that transcendent with alcohol.

Which maybe isn't very supportive-sounding (dude, look what you're giving up!) but I guess what I mean is to point out a seemingly small, distant connection that actually slightly changed my life.

M said...

Lemony, sounds great and I will take you up on that. Thanks!

Deb, thanks. I appreciate any information you can send my way. I feel like approaching it from multiple fronts is the way to go, to increase my odds.

Sean, I don't even think I remember that exact exchange but I'm glad it left a dent, so to speak, and am happy to have ben part of it. Good Scotch hardly counts as alcohol anyhow (I can make a bottle last 2 years, nowadays). But I'll still plan to refrain, curse it all.

llochen said...

Mike,

Bill has had diverticulosis for much of his life (hereditary) and he swears by daily Metamucil (or one of its generic friends) to keep it at bay. He has had one bad attack where he needed antibiotics to calm the inflamation in his life. He takes the extra fiber daily. You path to extra fiber can take many roads, but I just wanted to let you know that the Metamucil has be very good for that.

Talley Sue said...

You just made me hungry! That actually sounds like a bunch of appetizing foods. I hope you'll be able to eat enough of them.

(Oh, and I'm a fan of Metamucil, etc.,; not for diverticulitis, for other gross stuff, but it's a fast way to get enough fiber)

Wendy said...

Yum - ginger! Glad that made the cut :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great diet actually, I know you will find lots of creative ways to make it work for you. Actually, minus the gluten and with a bit of red meat that's pretty much how I am eating now too! Feel free to come raid my garden for fresh herbs, and all the zucchini and greens you could ever need. Or give a shout and I'll bring a basket to you.
RHD

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