Are you a glass half full, optimistic and look on the bright side of life kind of person, or the pessimistic glass half empty kind? Positive Psychology research into optimism has shown correlations between optimism and a range of positive outcomes: increased life expectancy, general health, better mental health, increased success at work, greater recovery rates from operations and better coping strategies when faced with adversity. In my own mind and for my own life, I often envisage myself at the empty end of the glass. However, the optimistic part of me really showed up when I needed it the most: being diagnosed with cancer.
Rather than sink into a helpless depression or adopt an angry ‘why me’ attitude towards cancer, I dug out my old psychology research hat and placed it firmly on my head to investigate ways to deal with this cancer thing. With my optimistic, positive outlook, I immediately began researching information about the type of breast cancer that visited my doorstep, and what I could do to change my mind, body, soul and environment.
Whilst my experience with the public health system was fantastic, the only disappointment after my surgery was the recommended treatment: radiation and drugs. Being someone who only takes a headache tablet once or twice a year, the thought of ingesting a drug like Tamoxafin for 10 years, with its long list of side effects and carcinogenic properties was an unacceptable form of treatment for me. Especially when the drug doesn’t cure cancer and only blocks the receptors in the tumor cells from binding to estrogen.
My question is, so what happens after 10 years? Being told by the surgeon that taking the drug would reduce the chance of my cancer returning by 30-40% were unacceptable odds for me. That’s a whopping 60% to 70% chance of cancer showing up again on my doorstep. In my research, I also discovered that a high number of cases of estrogen-positive cancers were returning due to treatment resistance to the drug Tamoxifen^ which factored into my decision not to take Tamoxafin at this point in time.
And its funny, one night out recently in Geraldton I bumped into an old acquaintance who I hadn’t seen for about 20 years, and he had heard about my ordeal through a close friend. He asked how my treatment was going and said something like ‘well you have always been positive’. This surprised me as his impression of me from all those years ago was as a positive and optimistic person.
Reflecting back on my life, my personality, my attitudes and my interactions with others throughout my adult life, I came to realise I am a ‘helper’. I love to help people become better versions of themselves and see the world in a positive light. When receiving feedback from friends or colleagues, I have been told that I had a positive influence on them, which is totally unexpected, as its just who I am – my soul, my essence. It’s funny what people experience of you can often be different to what we experience within and of ourselves.
In the five months since changing my diet, eating habits and exercise, my friends and family say I am looking good and especially my skin. Feedback which keeps me motivated to stick to my new way of life; and pursue a healthy body through nutrition, exercise and optimism about a bright, cancer-free future.
Here are a few dietary changes I have made^^:
- Adopted a whole-food plant-based approach to eating.
- Added fresh cold-pressed juice every morning of celery, carrot, beetroot, apple, ginger, turmeric (with cracked pepper which boosts the health benefits of the curcumin in turmeric by 1000x).
- Added daily dose of ground flaxseed (2 tablespoons) to help dampen excess estrogen.
- Added more beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices to my diet.
- Replaced cows milk with almond milk. I make my own home-made, preservative free almond milk.
- Eliminated alcohol. Research consistently shows that alcohol increases a woman risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
- Eliminated all dairy. And the associated hormones and growth promoters in milk (namely IGF-1 an insulin like growth factor).
- Significantly reduced animal protein (currently only eating animal protein once or twice a week of either chicken, eggs, meat, or fish; and may eventually eliminate all together).
- Eliminated coffee. Coffee is acidic and I need to keep my gut health alkaline.
- Eliminated 99% of refined and added sugar from my diet.
- Eliminated nutrient-deficient processed foods, junk food, fast food, bottled sauces, sodas etc.
Here are a few resources I found useful:
Mum’s Not Having Chemo by Laura Bond (2013)
The China Study by T. Colin Cambell (2016)
How Not To Die by Michael Greger (2018)
Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss (2013)
Food Matters (2008) documentary
Fed Up (2014) documentary
That Sugar Film (2014) documentary
Zara top | Hudson jeans | Jimmy Choo shoes | Chloé sunglasses | J.Crew bag | Lovisa earrings
*this post is not sponsored
^My decision regarding Tamoxofin is solely my own, and a personal choice due to personal circumstances.
^^These are dietary changes I have made based on my own research and type of cancer, and in no way do I claim to be a doctor or expert in cancer cures.