The full node clearance surgery went ahead on the Wednesday afternoon in week 10. Once again I became re-acquainted with my hospital room and once again I became re-acquainted with hospital food.
Something that I have found quite interesting during this process is that, apart from the standard ‘how many units a week do you drink’/’do you smoke’ discussion, there has been absolutely zero questions asked or information given about diet and nutrition. The more you read about this topic, the more you begin to understand that diet can play a significant part, not only in cancer prevention, but also in ensuring that you can do your best to live as long as possible once you have had a cancer diagnosis.
Ticking time bomb…
I think those days are gone when we just thought ‘that’s it, great, cancer out, had chemo/radiation so I am now cancer-free and can get on with my life’. The reality is, and especially with a cancer like breast cancer, is that it can come back to haunt you when you least expect it, and when your life might be ticking on quite nicely very much. I know this to be true because I have friends for whom it is the case, and parents of friends for whom it is the case.
My approach, to try to give myself some control over those things that are within my grasp, has been to make some major diet changes. Sugar for one, has been downgraded significantly in my life. I still allow myself the occasional sweet treat, but that is now what it is. Occasional, as opposed to always having a pudding, sugar in my coffee and so on.
Please, not another bloody vegan…
Equally, much of what I eat has become the trendy term of ‘plant-based’. Not vegetarian or vegan, because even with those diets there are processed foods that you can resort to, but mostly, eating things that are natural in origin and cutting down/out on the meat.
Don’t get me wrong, if the time comes when I fancy a juicy steak, then I will have a juicy steak; however, meat will now be occasional as opposed to a weekly part of our diets. The irony that I have an 81-year old stepfather who has eaten pretty much what he has wanted and, apart from being blown up, has never had a significant illness, is also not lost on me. The difference is that I now have had, (or do have) a significant illness, so when there is scientific evidence out there to tell me that one way of eating will improve my chances of survival, then surely that route is the one that I have to take?
‘How Not to Die’..the clue is in the title
As well as online research, I sent off for the ‘How not to Die‘ cookbook. Not only is the title catchy! but it does have some very interesting recipes to kick you off in the Plant-based sphere of cuisine. Personally, I do think that there are still far, far, far!! too many plant based dishes that seem to be one form or another of curry. There are only so many curry dishes you can eat, and being able to adapt things like shepherd’s pie, into a plant- based version, seems like a much more sensible thing to do.
Certainly, in hospitals, both in the UK and France, there are a hell of a lot of improvements to be made in the nutrition provided. In France, the standard breakfast tends to be a couple of portions of French bread with butter and jam, a ‘compote’ (stewed fruit-processed) or yoghurt, and a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate. Not an ounce of goodness in any of it. As for ‘le lunch’, well…the picture below sums it up….(WTF??) Not exactly inspring for the culinary capital of the world…
And now, back to the surgery. All, once again, seemed to go very well, and once again, I was back home within 48 hours, (thank God, given the ‘nutrition’)with a follow-up consultation the following Monday and then the consultation with the chemo doctor a week after that. Another week, another appointment. This had become my life.