To me, the most valuable experience was being with a whole group of people who understood what it felt like to fight for your life. We all desperately want to get our lives back, go back to work, be able to do a whole days worth of activities without having to excuse yourself in the afternoon to take a nap. We want to take bike rides and go hiking without having to worry about passing out or getting sick. I was so excited to go to HHI because it gave me the hope that the old me, the one that used to jog 5 miles a day, work a full time job and traveled whenever she go the opportunity, was a hop skip and a jump away. Unfortunately, I believed I would leave that place a totally different person, full of energy and strength and with the mental fog, aches and pains long gone. In reality I left feeling worse than when I arrived.
My thyroid, which was bad when I arrived, just got worse. It is the worst it has been since I was first diagnosed with thyroid disease 7 years ago. I have muscle fatigue and aches, tachycardia shortness of breath and heat intolerance. I blame the slow death of my thyroid on the chemo, they told me this would happen and I expected it, but I also believed the raw vegan diet would turn it around in the right direction. Also, by the time I left my allergies were so out of control that I couldn't breath out of my nose and had horrible chest congestion with a cough. My allergies were bad when I arrived, but only got worse. ( I question if drinking wheatgrass is good for someone who is allergic to grass. I'll be conducting my own experiment when I get rid of this constant congestion to see if it comes right back when I start drinking it again.) I felt like such crap that I forked over a bunch of money to change my flight home 2 days earlier than I originally planned. I felt defeated again. I had such high hope for HHI and what a drag to leave there feeling worse than when I arrived. I now know its going to take more than 3 weeks to make me feel better, I have put my body through hell trying kick cancer's ass and it's going to take more than a few weeks to reverse those effects. I'm not going to give up; I'm going to continue to try to figure out what's best for me, but it's not easy when every famous health food guru is telling you to do something entirely different when it comes to keeping cancer at bay.
One says juice the crap out of carrots and the other says avoid carrots, another says stay away from dairy and animal products and the other says those have nothing do with cancer, another says high fat causes breast cancer while others prove that isn't the case. Some say if you've had cancer stay away from all sugars, even those found in fruits, while others says gobble up all the berries you can stuff in your face. Another book says the mediterranean diet is what keeps my boobs healthy and happy. How in the world are we all supposed to make sense of all this conflicting information. Now I'm anxious and my mind hurts.
On the flight home I pondered all of this in my mind. Besides, how can one diet be for everyone? I started to think about everything I've read, all those conflicting gurus and their promises to health-topia if you follow their protocol. They all have a ton of conflicting information, but I thought about the points they all converge on:
1. Stay away from manufactured food.
2. Eat organic, non-GMO foods
3. Eat more plants.
4. Stay away from sugar
Ok, this makes more sense now. The day after I arrived home, I met with my ND, Dr Warnock (He is quite possibly the best doctor on this earth) because I felt like such crap, but to also because I wanted to discuss my cancer fat camp. ( When I told him I was going, he thought it was a good idea mostly because it would help me lose weight, which it did, and one of the best cancer fighters is having a slim hot body.) I asked him, is there one diet that is for everyone? And he said, "No." He continued by stating that we are all made up of different genetic factors and we've all been exposed to different environmental factors, what might be good for me, could be bad for someone else. He also agreed with my 4 points mentioned above, emphasizing that sugar is cancer food, but he also said that berries and other low sugar fruits are good for me, a big no no at my cancer fat camp. .
Then my sister came home and blew the front door off my brain full of food knowledge. She has been doing some food research for me and opened my eyes to some the most important plant-based health claims out there. Without going into details, I think all of us that are considering making diet changes based on things like the movie "Forks Over Knives" or the book "The China Study" should check out this blog first.
I can't help but to feel like I have been duped lead down this weird cult-like raw-vegan-plant-based food craze based on some poorly conducted studies that provide you with false evidence that this lifestyle is the only way to live a long and healthy life. I totally drank the kool-aid.
From everything I've discussed and learned this week I feel like I have a better understanding of how I am going conduct my diet. I'm going to continue to juice everyday simply because gosh darn you get a ton of nutrients from a glass of green juice, I'm also going to continue to not eat meat because I simply don't like it (I hate the labels vegetarian or vegan because people often flash to visions of militant like animal lovers spraying people with red paint), I will eat a mix of raw and cooked food because both are delicious, I will eat organic because pesticides and gmo products are disgusting and I will stay away from that nasty cancer feeding sugar while allowing myself to indulge on berries here and there.
Here is another interesting read by Michael Pollan Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants