For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 50 years old and I last year had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the latest PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing. My latest PSA test in August was not quite so promising, back up to 3.9, in other words the downward trend has stopped. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
Christmas number 2 with cancer for poor old Rog T. What am I looking forward to in the new year? A biopsy and an MRI scan. The MRI scan is on the 12th January. The biopsy is yet to be scheduled. The MRI I don't really mind, but the biposy is something I'm not looking forward to. The procedure is unpleasant and the side effects are revolting. I have opted for sedation this time. I could live with the pain etc, but it was just so unpleasant. The doctor was singularly unimpressed when I asked for sedation. He gave me a "you are a big wuss" look, as if I was singularly responsible for depriving thousands of children cancer treatments by my selfish decision to avoid a teeny weeny bit of discomfort. Of course, he never said that. It was the look.
Christmas is a time of over indulgence. I have been trying to follow an anti cancer diet for the last year, and in the most part succeeding. I am avoiding dairy products. Despite my wife invoking me to have a bit of cheese, I didn't, Will one bit of cheese kill me? Nope, of course it won't but I'm scared of the rocky road. I find it hard to refrain from things I love. I am an all or nothing sort of person. Total abstinence is easier than "just a little bit". Besides I've also discovered a strange thing. Since I cut out the dairy, I don't get the awful hangovers of old. I have a theory that fats clog up the liver and reduce it's function. I believe (although I can't prove) that having a healthy, organic diet improves the bodies ability to process alcohol. Now I know, it is a bit stupid, drinking to excess when trying to beat a life threatening disease, but hey, "it's our contradictions which are keeping us human", to quote my good friend Allen Ashley.
I am positive about everything I do. When I lose a battle, I see it as a setback rather than a defeat. I analyse everything and see what I can learn. When my PSA went down, I saw it as a victory and a vindication. When it went back up, I saw it as a setback and sought to analyse where I've slipped into bad habits.
The biggest changes I've made are
1. Drinking pomegranite juice every day
2. Drinking green tea without milk
3. Where possible cooking with olive oil (high in Omega 3)
4. Eating organic vegetables & fruit (Abel and Cole fruit & veg boxes)
5. Trying to eat foods high in antoxidants (Tomatoes (especially cooked), berries, watercress)
6. Eating other beneficial foods (watercress, shitake mushrooms, pulses)
7. Using herbs & spices with beneficial effects (Tumeric, ginger, garlic, peppers)
8. Using natural beneficial sweetners (Manuka Honey, Lemon)
I've cut out where possible the following
3. Processed foods
4. Cooking oils high in Omega 6 oils
5.Trying to avoid salt & fatty foods
So how I've done. In the first list, very well. All of these things have been easy changes. On the second list, I find it harder. My lifestyle means I am not always at home for dinner. Meals often get skipped. At midnight, it is hard to get a meal that isn't fried chicken and chips in Mill Hill.
I find that I can tell my body objects to this. I can feel it fighting the ingestion of these things. I am also partial to crisps and salty nuts. I wish I could find some better alternative. I'd die for roasted organic cashew nuts with natural sea salt!
Then there is the boozing. I try and have at least two alcohol free days a week. I am pretty good at this, although Christmas has torpedoed this. I plan a "dry" January as a new years resolution. I do need a break as December has been a little too boozy.
One of the interesting debates I have followed it the value of "detox" diets. As my diet is "detoxed" much of the time (especially on non boozing days), I have a degree of sympathy for these, but I think the idea that you can have a few days eating carrots and drinking water and see long term benefits is bonkers. Drinks like green tea have high caffeine content, but are good for you.
I have read that diabetes can actually be reveresed by low fat, extreme low calorie diets. To me this makes sense. I believe with a passion that a low saturated fat diet would slash NHS bills. The government are cowards to not bite this bullet and have the debate.
So all in all, a new year and a new challenge awaits. We'll see how it goes