Yeah, so, my oncologist wants me to try a whole-food, plant-based diet.
He thinks a whole-food, plant-based diet is healthier, and considering that I’ve had cancer twice, he thinks it’s a good idea for me. The conversation went like this:
Doctor: “After chemotherapy is finished, I think you should try a whole-food, planted-based diet.”
Me: “HAAAAAA! I’m not doing that.”
Long-time readers of The Sonia Show probably remember that I was vegetarian for a while. I wasn’t very good at it. I fell off the vegetarian wagon whenever I was in the presence of fried chicken. There was also the time I got drunk and forgot I was a vegetarian and ate a bunch of sloppy joes at 2 a.m.
My oncologist and I have discussed my diet in the past. When I got cancer the first time in 2009, he encouraged me to go vegetarian. And I did … for a while. I fell off the wagon hardcore when I went on my honeymoon to Paris and Belgium with the idea that I’d jump back on the vegetarian wagon when I got home. Then I came home pregnant and, well, fuck it, I just started eating anything I wanted because I was knocked up.
Considering that I couldn’t handle being a vegetarian for very long, I’m pretty sure my attempts to be a vegan will fail miserably. Of course, it would make for really entertaining blog posts.
- “Yeah, so, I got drunk and ate an entire vat of processed cheese … again.”
- “Yeah, so, there’s no real meat in hot dogs, right? I mean, they are practically vegan.”
- “Yeah, so, you know how I always have a lot of birds at my bird feeder … well, it turns out those birds are delicious. Let me explain.”
When the oncologist encouraged me to go vegetarian the first time, I didn’t eat that much meat anyway. It wasn’t a huge sacrifice. I followed his advice. I wanted to be healthy. I didn’t want cancer again. I had the mastectomy of my left breast. I took the tamoxifen. I was doing the things I needed to do to discourage a re-occurrence of cancer. But as time went by I started to take the diet less seriously. And then the cancer came back in December 2014. I had a mastectomy of my right breast. I’m doing chemotherapy. And now the doctor is telling me to try a vegan diet.
I am not suggesting that I got cancer because of what I ate. I don’t believe that at all. The doctor is not suggesting that I got cancer again because I stopped being a vegetarian. He just wants me to do everything I can to stop it from happening again.
I feel lucky that both times my cancer was caught early and hadn’t spread, but I also feel unlucky that I got cancer twice. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to prevent getting cancer a third time. Maybe it’s just some random shit. But you know what’s not random? My diet. I can control that. And, if changing my diet will improve the odds that it won’t happen again then I need to at least try it, right?
I’ve been tested twice for the cancer gene, and I don’t have the gene. But I have had cancer TWICE, so I feel like I need to act like I’m genetically predisposed to cancer even though I may not be. I don’t want to make it easy for cancer to come back. If eliminating meat and dairy from my diet will make it more difficult cancer to return, then OK fine, let’s try that. Why not? It can’t hurt to at least try this diet, and if it doesn’t work out, well, that’s OK – at least I tried.
I can already predict that I won’t be super hardcore. I am not on board with never eating another It’s-It or never having another fancy steak dinner. Plus, I think cheese is delicious. But I think, generally, I can stop eating meat (I’ve done it before), and I can – at least – cut down on dairy.
I was talking to my acupuncturist about the diet, because I like to talk to the guy who is sticking me with needles. He is vegan. I told him that I’m not comfortable with the word “never” – like I’m NEVER going to eat cheese again. And he said that it’s about moderation. If his family is having dinner at a friend’s house and that meal has dairy or meat, they are going to eat it anyway. If he eats some meat or dairy he doesn’t use it as an excuse to bail on the diet. I found that comforting. It makes the diet sound more doable to me. I could treat meat or cheese as, well, a treat. I’m down with that. I don’t want to be the person that always asking, “Is there butter in this?” I don’t want to be high maintenance. It’s my nightmare to be considered high maintenance. Of course, it’s also my nightmare that I might get cancer again.
Apparently, there is a difference between the vegan diet and the whole-food, plant-based diet (You can check out “Forks Over Knives” to learn more about the whole-food, plant-based diet). The diets are very similar, but the plant-based diet also eliminates oil, refined sugar and processed foods. Honestly, it would probably be easier to go vegan. I could eat fries all day and claim to be a vegan. Maybe I could start there and transition to the more hardcore whole-food, plant-based diet if I so desire.
I’m not going to start the diet right away. I’m still doing chemotherapy, and I think I should be able to eat whatever I want while having poison injected in my body. That’s only fair. In the meantime, I will prepare myself by watching documentaries about how everything we eat is killing us.
I will try not to go on and on here about my diet, because this isn’t a food blog, and I don’t want to bore you.
You know, I started writing this blog back in 2003. This blog used to be about a single lady who liked to booze it up and rant about pop culture. Now it’s a boring-ass mommy blog about a lady with cancer. I’m surprised you’ve stayed with me this far, you guys. But I think if you can handle parenting and cancer blog posts, you can handle the occasional blog post about how I suck at diets.
What do you guys think? Have you tried a vegan diet or whole-food, plant-based diet?