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Food for thought, and health


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I often do not get much in the way of replies or conversation as I bring up this topic.  I am not sure why and many online forums do not seem to be too active.  But here I go anyway.

I was initially diagnosed with NSCLC stage 4 in Oct of 2017 and started chemo (carbo, avastin, alimta) in January 2018.  I did chemo, chemo with radiation and then immunotherapy.  In June of 2020 we stopped treatment as things were largely stable and I had been through a lot of treatments and toxicity.  I needed a rest.  Now, 20 months later, I have progression and spread and it is worthy of attention and probably starting a different immunotherapy treatment (Opdivo) very soon.  But that's just background.

From day 1, I started altering my food diet and lifestyle and I have never stopped.  I firmly feel this has helped my body and mind  be stronger, helped fight the disease (never expected it to be a cure) and helped my body cope with the harshness of medical/radiation treatments.  I do not believe a strong and healthy diet (and lifestyle) will necessarily cure cancer, especially stage 4 NSCLC.  However, I feel a well noursished, physically fit body and mind will perform better under the adverse and damaging conditions of chemo , radiation and immunotherapy.  I still coach travel soccer, am a fitness enthusiast, join 5 k fundraising events, ski and do other things very often that would on the surface seem out of character for a stage 4 lung cancer patient.  This has been no picnic (especially the radiation...whew that was tough) but I seem to always bounce back and regardless of the cancer, I am and have been back at the gym, on the golf course, in the pool, on my bike and motorcycles and staying really active and having fun with my teenage boys.

So my question is (to which I rarely get a reply) does anyone out there also depend on and believe food, diet and excercise are integral to treating cancer, along with modern medicine?   I spoke with many patients who believe it probably is the right thing to do, but they just can't give up their food pleasure, which I agree was/is very difficult.

Anyone interested in sharing their stories or thoughts about this?  Let's get a conversation going.  Do you have questions for me about what I do?  I am not a preachy vegan (or a vegan at all though I eat many vegan meals).  I might get a little preachy about us doing all we can to help ourselves.  I understand everyone has their own situation and eating right and all that good healthy living activities are much easier for some due to environmental and support capabilities than others.   

I will leave you with this thought.  No one thought I had 4 years to live.  Even my doctors scratch their heads.  There is no way to say what definitively helped, but I can't help but think that everything I did helped in its own way and that is why I am still here and active.  I hope  to hear from you.  Time to go drink some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.

Love and peace and health

Steve

 

 

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Seriec,

Welcome to our forum.  We do cover a host of topics here including nutrition and even "Complementary Therapies" which can be found here.  In some of our Zoom meetings we have had Oncological Nutritionists speak on the value of a healthy diet as well as habits and its value to the patient during treatment and in general.  Diets like the Mediterranean Diet have been recognized across the board as a healthy way to maximize good nutrition.  As you said; "diet can't cure cancer" and you are correct.  Of course healthier diets and habits may help prevent disease by maintaining a healthy immune system, but there are no guarantees.  Additionally, there are no present consensus supported studies that show cancer being heavily impacted by diet, although a person's ability to go through some of the difficult treatments can surely be impacted by what their diet is and how it affects their overall body health.  

You may hear from others soon.  Some folks I know from this site follow some very healthy diets and view that as an important contributor to their overall health.

Lou

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Steve,

Welcome here and congratulations on your successful treatment outcome. To your question: "does anyone depend on and believe food, diet and exercise are integral to treating cancer along with modern medicine?" Your use of the word integral complicates an answer. Integral means essential or fundamental and so giving full weight to the meaning, I would answer no.

Had you used helpful or beneficial or supportive, then my answer would have been an unqualified yes.

The problem with suggesting diet as a curative means for cancer is the proliferation of diet-driven scam cures that fill our world of cancer treatment. There are naturopaths who claim (loudly) that certain combinations of micronutrients (often exorbitantly priced) are effective cancer cures. In some states, naturopaths have licenses to practice medicine! A simple Internet search will yield a multitude of exorbitantly priced megadose vitamin C cancer cures, many claiming "money back guarantees". Wikipedia has a list of disproven diet and other means cancer cures here. It is a very long list and many have been convinced to seek these "alternative" methods and seen savings depleted and life shortened. Recall Steve Job's experience as just one example.

A balanced diet and exercise are keys to healthy and happy life. They are in themselves good things. My wife has a masters degree in Nutrition and her expertise has been valuable during my treatment. But, she would never assert diet had anything to do with curing my lung cancer. 

I was diagnosed Stage IIIB in February 2004 progressing to Stage IV. I've had every form of treatment except immunotherapy. Precision radiation cured my lung cancer. Diet and exercise didn't do any of the heavy lifting.

Stay the course.

Tom

 

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Hi Steve,

I am also a proponent of “Food As Medicine” and like you made the commitment from day one.  I’m on targeted therapy for 40 months and also have a team scratching their heads.  I participate in the LiveStrong program, acupuncture & oncology message.  
I have a team of board certified integrative medicine specialists as part of my team.  I’m not exclusively vegan but participate in a no feet is better than two feet and two feet is better than four feet.  In other words cold water fish & organic Turkey along with veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds & grains.  Take a bunch of supplements as part of an anti inflammatory regiment.  
Michelle

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I'm of the same mind as Tom on this question. Prior to getting lung cancer, I used organic ingredients and usually ate a healthy diet, with lots of lunchtime salads. But for me, no diet could prevent post-9/11 toxic exposure from catching up with me 18 years later (which seems to be on schedule for many of us survivors). 

For most of 2019, I was on a keto diet that restricted sugar and carbs. Regardless, I was diagnosed at Stage IIIB in October 2019 at age 66. 

Like you, I found radiation to be extremely difficult. At that time, I was lucky if I could even drink an Ensure. Diet went out the window completely. 

Today, after chemo and radiation and now currently on a targeted therapy, I am NED. Those are the treatments that have gotten me to where I am today. I do try to adhere to a good diet (mostly fish and plant-based--and I like some vegan options out there) but it's to keep my blood sugar/A1C in a range that makes my primary doctor happy. I also think that any kind of exercise (I like walking) can clear your mind from negative thoughts, and it's my aim to keep those to a bare minimum. 

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Thanks for the replies all.   As for being on the same side as Tom, I think Tom is on the same side as me as I stated I do not believe a strong and healthy diet (and lifestyle) will necessarily cure cancer.  That seems to be his point as well.   I also agree with Tom that I am leery of cancer cures or diets being marketed everywhere.  I feel that is a disservice to patients and may lead them down potentially dangerous or at least disappointing (or expensive) paths that produce little or no results.  That's why I stick to really nutritious food as opposed to supplements and packaged things that are supposed to help.  It seems that Tom and I also agree that while medicine does the heavy lifting for addressing the cancer, a proper diet is helpful in having a healthy(ier) life.

I am clarifying my position here as it seemed I was being heard as a proponent of using food instead of clinically proven medicines...I am not.  I just wanted to know if anyone else had any results, positive or otherwise of really focusing on food and lifestyle as an additive measures.  Tom did take issue of me using the word integral and by definition, I see what he means.   I integrate the food and lifestyle into my overall care, like an integrative health center would  by bringing conventional and complementary approaches together to care for the whole person.  But I can switch the word "integral" to "additive" without changing my perspective.

Sure there are many healthy people who get all kinds of cancer, and then there are people who seem to get by just fine being obese, smoking and living in conditions that most primary doctors would call very unhealthy...so one never knows.  It is like when we opt to take chemo (and I've opted to take plenty as I thought it was the best tool I had to address the disease), but there are no guarantees that chemo (or immunotherapy) will work so we take our medicine and wait and see.  It has worked for some and not, or only partially for others.  My point is that there is more we can do than just rely on medical procedures (cut, poison and burn) that have proven to be damaging and depending on your cancer, just a palliative measure, meaning the doctors already stated they cannot cure you with medicine.   I also can't stop thinking of caregivers I've spoken with or read their stories where they firmly believe the chemo killed their patient as opposed to the cancer.  I've seen it myself. 

I think food (and other things) can really positively impact your life, assist your immune system, give you energy, help address side effects of chemo etc.  And likely it won't get rid of existing tumors, but it seems feasible that loading up with antioxidants, nutrition, gut supporting food might quite possibly help prevent spread and/or progression.    We all get to choose how we live and if the cancer is going to cause my early demise, I want the time I have to be as fulfilling as possible.  So if I eat a little less pizza, eat a few more veggies etc and I am able to attend and fully participate in life's milestones, I will call it a win.  

As for no clinical studies on food and cancer, there actually are plenty done globally by scientists and PhDs for many years. One of the published scientists I found intersting was Colin Campbell PhD.   Also, here is an interesting, high level read from Harvard school of public health citing a AICR study as well.   https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/cancer/preventing-cancer/

Whatever approach you use, I hope it works.  I am thrilled that some of you are cured and/or have an NED status.  I am not so fortunate.  Maybe one day.  But I do feel well and strong most of the time (except after radiation..as I said...that was tough).  So that leaves us with just cheering each other on.  Be well all!! 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a little late to this discussion, but I have made a decision to follow a Mediterranean-style diet. I will eat chicken or turkey once a week, but mostly beans, nuts, veggies, fruit, etc. Red meat at Christmas and on Easter due to family tradition, and I enjoy it immensely. 

I've found the World Cancer Research Fund International and their report, Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective, to  be a fascinating and comprehensive review of data about the connections between these things and cancer. My attitude about nutrition has been influenced by this report. 

Speaking candidly, I fear I will make myself a little nuts if I get into focusing intently on nutrition-as-medicine; I would feel an awful sense of what did I do wrong  if/when the cancer progresses-- and I believe the nature of lung cancer is it tends to progress. 

In an article in the Atlantic, the writer tells of her aha moment in understanding exactly what cancer is-- and the control she has over it. Granted, she is grappling with the popular-- and disproven-- thought that a positive attitude can beat cancer. But when her therapist tells her the secret of cancer: "Cancer occurs when a group of cells divide in rapid and abnormal ways. Treatments are successful if they interfere with that process," I decided to make that a touchstone in my own belief system. 

I'm doing what I can diet-wise to support my body. I feel good about that. 

Radiation is a bear. Here's hoping you get some good results soon. 

Karen

 

 

 

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