Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Being diagnosed with cancer was a terrifying experience. And living with cancer is also very frightening. Sometimes I peacefully coexist with it and at other times I twist and wriggle like a fish on a hook trying to get free of it. Sometimes there's space in my body for cancer, and sometimes, when fear fills every spare space, cancer cramps me and is noticeably uncomfortable. There's not really space for the two of us. Yes, I know cancer is me - my own cells - a part of me ; But sometimes it's a glowering menace residing in spaces inside of me where I don't recall inviting it. At the moment it's a Green Gremlin, a Grey Ghost, a Mauve Maverick who's cramping my style and dogging my days. It's my albatross and my millstone which I drag around with me from the moment I wake. I've found various coping strategies, but I can't seem to land on one that soothes me to the point of anaesthesia at the moment. So I'm going back to my beginnings of this journey. perhaps if I refocus I can get the threat down to a manageable level again. ( There is no apparent reason for this crisis of confidence in my ability to 'manage' my cancer. Just that I'm ravenously hungry all the time, I'm gaining weight - and in my research I've read that fat cells = oestrogen which in my case = cancer. I'm still not juicing quite as regularly as I was - which in my mind = acidity = hospitable conditions for cancer. And it's about 3 months since my last scan, and so another one is about due, and scans always bring on a case of the Screaming Ab Dab's)

When I was first diagnosed the whole family were obviously affected by it, and powerless to do anything. In an effort to reassure my daughter I drew up a list of what I was doing that would change my body so that cancer wouldn't exist. My thinking was that if I changed my body's chemistry, then cancer would be unable to thrive. The list not only reassured my daughter, but it reassured me. That list, to the best of my recollection follows. It was longer at the time, but I think that some of the things I changed have become so second nature that I can no longer recall doing things differently, and my memory is not as sound as it once was. I've included some explanations off why I did what I did, but I may be mistaken in some of my thinking, and I can't always recall detail as well as I would like. Please don't take this as a list of what you should do. It is what I have done and it helped me, and rethinking it will help me now. If it doesn't gel with you, let it go. There is no definitive set of instructions for coping with cancer and I'm most definitely not setting this out with that in mind. It's simply a record of what I personally found useful. It's a long list because I wanted to stress to myself how much I had changed from the person I was who grew cancer. I'm no longer that woman, and perhaps cancer won't be so happy with the woman I have become and am growing into. Lets face it, its all about managing cancer and managing uncertainty. I'm sure anyone reading this would be able to come up with their own list. It may take time and you may have forgotten ( fear affects the brain as does chemo !!) but I'd like to think you might find as much heart and comfort and courage from it as I have.

The list has become too long to give a brief description to all the things I've done in one posting. I'll make a start, but post about more in the next few days.

What I did and what I changed :

  1. No Dairy. I gave up anything that came from a cow. Prior to diagnosis I had read a book by Prof. Jane Plant called "Your Life In Your Hands". In this book a woman who herself developed cancer researched what might make a difference. She looked at world demographics and noticed that women in some cultures did not develop breast cancer to anything like the degree that we in the West do. She found a clear link to the consumption of dairy products. She eliminated dairy from her diet and is still here to tell the tale. ( She is still thriving and has a website at . )She is also quoted on many other cancer sites. The thinking in a nutshell as I understand it is that there are growth hormones in milk. There are also all the drugs and chemicals that we feed the cattle which get passed out through the milk, not to mention nasty things which I don't want to disgust you with. There is also a high level of protein in milk. This makes the body more acidic, and far from being a great source of calcium actually robs the body of calcium. I have read elsewhere, though I can't recall the source, that the calcium in milk is difficult for the body to absorb. As a consequence of this, dairy products - milk, butter, cheese, fromage frais, cream, yogurt, and anything containing these such as pastries, cake, biscuits, bread rolls and soft and sweet breads ( They contain butter and milk or milk powder ), pate, ice cream, most chocolate, some creamy salad dressings, soups, in short most processed foods ( dairy seems to be some sort of cheap filler once you start seeing what it's put into ! ) Dairy was the first thing I gave up, and I have stuck with this consistently. I read another book last summer by T.Colin Campbell called 'The China Study ' which confirms the findings of Jane Plant. Mr. Campbell also looked at global demographics and came to the same conclusions as Jane Plant, but he went further and did laboratory experiments. In fact he oversaw a great many experiments in the lab and found conclusive evidence that animal protein stimulates the growth of cancer cells. ( His website is found at )

  2. No Tea, Coffee, Soft Drinks. I knew from reading magazines and newspapers that caffeine was linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer, so gave up tea also. I drank more water and herb teas ; chamomile, peppermint, etc. Soda pop is high in caffeine ( even caffeine free has some caffeine ) and seems to be a cocktail of chemicals, so I steer clear of these also.

  3. Surgery. I would have the cancer physically removed. As it turned out the cancer had spread to other parts, but the surgery still reduced the load.

  4. Chemotherapy. I would remove any stray cells and kill whatever cancer was there to be killed. Again, whilst the cancer had spread, the tumours present were markedly reduced in size.

  5. Continued Medication. I would and continue to take Arimidex daily and Zoladex four weekly to suppress all oestrogen in my body. As my cancer is hungry for oestrogen I will starve it to death !!

  6. Water Filtration. I filter all my drinking water when I am in the house and drink bottled water when out. Very occasionally I have tea (herbal or green ) when I'm out and I have no control over the quality of such water, but by and large my water is all filtered. I am currently rethinking the water filtration system I am using. I use a Britta Water Filter Jug and I think I can improve on this. Unfortunately the filter I'm considering is quite expensive, and it's very difficult to compare filter systems. I'll keep you posted, though I'm leaning to a water remineraliser which is akin to reverse osmosis filtration but I think a step further. I believe ( but couldn't swear to) that the remineralised water would be more alkaline. The advantage of reverse osmosis or the remineraliser is that it filtes out oestrogens in the water supply ( from women taking the pill I've heard !!).

  7. Rest and Sleep. The body heals itself when we sleep. This we've all been told since childhood and it still holds true today, except now we have scientific proof and explanation. I did a lot of sleeping in the early days, and continue to rest when I need to now. I don't push myself too hard as I can't cope with the effects of exhaustion. When the body sleeps (in the dark )melatonin is created which is necessary for a strong immune system. I slept for England !! When we nap or meditate through the day the body is still healing. Adrenaline compromises the immune system as I understand it because new Killer cells aren't created whilst there is insulin shooting around the body. I believe it's to do with the fight or flight response - the insulin gives you the wherewithal to run away or stand your ground and fight. All the bodies energy goes into immediate survival. It's only afterwards when the insulin's gone and we rest that the body goes into maintenance and damage control mode. So after the stresses of the diagnosis it's not a bad thing to conserve your energy and rest and let the body get on with healing. I think that I'm enhancing my immune system when I rest. It's also important during chemo as all the rapidly dividing cells in the body are targetted and destroyed. Resting and sleep gives the body chance to recreate healthy cells.

  8. No Plastics, and particularly no oil in plastic. Plastic is oil soluble. When it dissolves into plastic it leak's a pseudo-oestrogen. As my cancer is oestrogen sensitive - and many, though not all breast cancers are - I eliminate all oestrogens wherever possible. I was shocked when I learned that plastic is oil soluble - in my words it dissolves into fat, be that dairy fat in the form of milk or cheese, vegetable fat in the form of olive oil, etc. , or any kind of fat or oil. Look around any supermarket and you will notice that a great deal of the packaging is plastic. Do you want a salad ? plastic bags and bowls. Do you want milk ? plastic cartons. Coleslaw and hummus ? plastic containers. Water ? Again it's almost all plastic bottles ( have a look at the TED podcast on itunes and I think like me you'll have a strong reaction to the ecological ramifications also !) Everything seems to be wrapped in plastic. Advice is now being given not to store water in plastic bottles in the freezer. Water !!! So perhaps it's not just oil that absorbs the plastic chemicals. I steer well clear - as much as I can in a Plastic World ! Please don't knock yourself out over this though. I still use a plastic bowl in my food processor - I haven't found one with a glass bowl, and couldn't justify the expense of replacing it at the moment even if I did come upon a glass one. My seed sprouters are all plastic. My toothbrush is plastic.. My water filter has a plastic jug. We do live in a plastic world. The best you can do is simply reduce the burden on your body as best you can. There's a website that you can check out that identifies the different kinds of plastic by their code numbers - sometimes found on the bottom of vessels and bottles. It is at The plastics that this site suggests avoiding are : Number 3 : pvc which stands for polyvinyl chloride and "contains softeners called pthalates that interfere with hormonal development, and its manufacture and incineration release dioxin, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor " Examples are meat wrap, cooking oil bottles, and plumbing pipes. Number 6 : ps which stands for polystyrene which "can leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen, into food " Examples are Styrofoam cups and clear plastic take-out containers. Number 7 : "the only plastic made with Bisphenol A ". It's used in baby bottles ( though it's no longer legal to manufacture or sell these in Canada I believe.), water cooler bottles and the epoxy linings in tin food cans ( You know that white lining in the can !) "Bisphenol A has been linked to a wide variety of problems such as heart disease and obesity."

  9. No Underarm Antiperspirants. We excrete wastes through our skin and I think the lymph nodes and sweat glands under our arms are compromised when we use chemicals to stop this process. I have no scientific references for this. It just makes sense to me. I've had all the lymph nodes under my arm removed on one side and antiperspirant isn't coming anywhere near me. It's an emotional decision.

  10. No Underwired Bra's. Firstly, having had a mastectomy, my choices in bra are limited to ones that will accommodate a prosthesis. Much as I would love to have a pretty underwired bra for aesthetic reasons, it's not on the cards for me, so the choice is largely made for me. There is, however, a logical reason or two for avoiding underwired bra's. Firstly there is a belief that the underwiring, in fact the band on ANY bra restricts the flow of lymph and consequently impedes the flow of toxins away from the breast area. Pools of toxins, acidic puddles, and cancer cells being ejected from the body can all get stuck and possibly lead to disease. I haven't found any really compelling evidence for this, but then I haven't really looked. I should think that if you looked at the demographics or the world spread of breast cancer, like the use of dairy, the wearing and non-wearing of a bra might bear a strong relationship to the incidence of breast cancer. However, as I have larger breasts, or a larger breast, and I live in the United Kingdom I really don't choose to go bra-less and have a lopsided droopy look when pert youth is worshipped. Vanity, I know, but you have to have some standards !! The other argument I've come across which relates specifically to underwired bra's is that if the wires are made of metal ( and many are not ) they can pick up on the electromagnetic fields and radio waves that abound in our skies, our homes and buildings, and our lives. I can't see these waves, or energies, but I do know that they exist. My t.v. and computer, and phone, and all my electrical devises pick up something that I cannot see, but which is clearly all around. The computer no longer needs hooking up to a modem, it's what they call wireless. This stuff impacts on our bodies. I haven't looked into it because I would be swamped and overwhelmed, but there is certainly some basis for concern if you already have breast cancer or are concerned about it in having wire over the sensitive area of your body all day long. I wouldn't choose to live near an electricity pylon, or near a phone mast either, though increasingly you have no say in where these things pop up, and electricity is being dug under ground where it's cost effective, so there's no physical evidence. It's a minefield I haven't explored and don't feel up to at present. Even the ground beneath our feet has electromagnetic fields that we are consciously unaware of, though birds seem more sensitive to it, and our ancestors, too, seemed more aware or ley lines, etc. It's not something I can speak knowledgeably about such things. ( I've just received an e news update from Chris Woolams at and there's an article about Eileen O'Connor and the Obama team wanting to meet her. She is very knowledgeable about phone masts and their impact on our health. Go have a look. )

  11. Green Tea. Some time into my chemotherapy experience I chanced on a book about superfoods called "Superfoods HealthStyle" by Steven Pratt and Kathy Matthews. In it there is a section on green tea, and an interesting little paragraph about it's benefits during chemotherapy. I'll quote it here so that if anyone chances upon this they can make up their own mind on its usefulness to them. I don't take much green tea now, because of its caffeine content, but I drank a cup every morning whilst on chemo after reading this. However, this was my own self-medicating ! There are no guidelines that I could find that give a recommended number of cups to drink. I also don't know if it works the same way with all chemo agents. At the end of the day i just did what felt right to me. I have a friend who dowses and uses a pendulum to ask her body what it needs and what is in its best interests. Given my time over I might now use that as a way to decide the right "dose". However, I drank LOTS of tea before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it's not a cure-all, and I consequently drink very little green tea now. It's possible that the milk which I always took with my tea bound up the good compounds and made it difficult for my body to absorb the healthy factors. I'll never know. I just used the tea along with visualisation and the knowledge that it could make the chemo more effective whilst I was having chemotherapy.

    "in the U.S. the Chemoprevention Branch of the National Cancer Institute has developed a project that will test compounds found in tea to study their cancer prevention abilities in human subjects. Interestingly, tea seems to help prevent cancer in a variety of ways. It's antioxidant ability has perhaps been most widely studied, but it also inhibits bloodflow to cancer cells, thus starving them. Green tea seems to be able to shut off the growth-promoting genes in cancerous cells, thus encouraging the cancer cells to self-destruct. Tea also helps neutralize the cancer-promoting properties of certain environmental toxins. One study showed that the polyphenols in green tea actually boosted the effectiveness of one of the most common cancer drugs - doxorubicin - by causing the cancer cells to retain the drug rather than repel it. " (pg 208 published 2006. )

  12. No Stress How can you have no stress when you've been diagnosed with stage iv breast cancer ? You can't. But I did take a different view of life and its irritations. Cancer gives a sense of proportion and perspective to things if it does nothing else. The state of the world no longer irritated and worried me when I thought I wouldn't be around to see the outcome. Al Gore brought out his film on climate warming and the imminent destruction of the world as we know it, but I was just an interested observer. I was concerned for what my family might have to go through, but I was distanced from it. It was too big for me to do anything about, and pointless to worry about. I found I had this attitude towards most things. I think cancer has educated me into handling stress and worry better. That doesn't mean I go around in a cloud of sparkly light with a beautific smile on my face all the time. There's always challenges, but I think I have more distance more of the time these days. I can observe more often and not get quite so embroiled in the details. Most of the time. Not by any stretch always. But I do think that once you've faced your own mortality and really looked it in the face there's less to be fearful of.

  13. No Processed Foods. There''s so many chemicals, fats, sugars, salts, and toxins, and so few nutrients in processed foods that there's much better things you can putt in your body, particularly if you haven't much appetite. However, I really miss the convenience of these foods, and the supermarket is full of them ! And as there's so much advertising of these products in the media I'm constantly reminded of what I'm missing. I do wish there'd be a ban on advertising these foods as there is on advertising cigarettes and alcohol.

  14. Deep Breathing. I used deep breathing as a way to relax and control my terror, and I used it to help me fall asleep. The bodies nervous system is triggered to relax if you breath deeply. It's an automatic response. When we're tense we breath in a shallow manner and more rapidly; breathing slowly and deeply triggers the relaxation response. We also detox through our lungs, so by emptying our lungs of stale air and refilling with fresh we are getting rid of poisons in our bodies. It's also easier to practise visualisation in this relaxed slowed down state. Picture breathing in bright healing light and breathing out the dark stuff. Deep Breathing also puts the body into an alkaline state which is where we want it to be. Cancer lives in acidity. ( It creates its own little acid pool from its own waste ! Yuck!! Inside my body ! Double Yuck !! )

  15. No Alcohol.

  16. No Salt.

  17. No Sugar.

  18. No Fat.

  19. Vitamin C.

  20. Supplements

  21. Enzymes

  22. Spiritual Healing.

  23. Connection - Support Groups

  24. Gardening - Support and Connection, Vitamin D, Communing with Nature and the Universe, Seasonality and the Circle of Life

  25. Fun and Laughter

  26. Funny Movies, CD's, Podcasts, Books, TV and Radio Programmes

  27. Exercise

  28. Skin Brushing and DeToxing

  29. Colonic Irrigation

  30. Antiparasitics - tea, milk thistle

  31. Essiac Tea

  32. The Great Outdoors and The Universal Everything. Spirituality

  33. Concentrate on the Immune System

  34. Raw Food

  35. Juicing

  36. Ceremony : Tea , Juicing

  37. Music for the Soul

  38. Water

  39. Research in books and on the internet - staying up to date and motivated

  40. No Toothpaste with Fluoride

  41. skin care products

  42. Sprouted Seeds

  43. Fermented Foods

  44. Heat

  45. Oxygen and Breathing

  46. A Sparkly Watch To Remind Me That The Time Is Now and It's Brilliant !!

  47. If Not Now When and Life's Worth it - Nothing Tastes as Good as Life. A Change in Outlook.

  48. Stay Interested. You're Either Learning and Open or Frightened and Closed.

  49. Journaling

  50. Art

  51. Growing Food and Living Foods

  52. Cooking

  53. Avoid Negative Energy - people, situations, books, media, etc.

  54. Enjoying the Seasons. It's Spring. Lets fill the house with sweetly scented flowers. How many more do you think you'll see ? Savour the moment and its gifts.


  1. Wow that is a lot of great information.

    Yes it is sad when you realize you are the the woman you once were ... we all have new 'normals'.

    I know I find great support from other cancer survivors .... they help carry me through the rough times.

    All the best to you.

  2. Hi Jill!
    As Daria said - that sure is a fantastic, positive amount of information! You just have to beat these latest 'fears' by looking at all those amazing changes you have made/are making.
    I am giving out your details to my patients as l just know it will further help them to read your input.
    Any time you need me - l'm here for you!
    Warm wishes, Pat Reeves