Mom’s Story

     “We can offer you chemotherapy, which might allow you to live a few months longer, or you can choose Hospice”. “Either way, we estimate you have 6-12 months to live”. I sat with my mother in the exam room as she received the news. Her diagnosis was metastatic breast cancer.  These were the only two options she was offered. “There is nothing more we can do.” 
     So, at 80 years old, mom decided to do nothing. No chemotherapy, no surgery, no radiation.  She told me the main reason was that she didn’t want to lose her hair but she also couldn’t imagine the stress and fatigue that would result from going to and from treatment for the next 6 weeks.  She figured, at her age, what’s the point in suffering through the last few months of her life with the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. As an experienced nurse that has seen a lot of suffering, I believe she made the right decision. Not only do conventional therapies often cause significant side effects, when used alone, their efficacy is questionable.  A recent study of 92 FDA approved chemotherapy agents found the cancer treatments extended life by an average of only 2.1 months. 

Food as Medicine

     I have come to understand there is something more we can offer cancer patients, no matter what is decided about conventional therapies. There are many alternative therapies and recommendations, but possibly one of the most powerful tools is using Food and Fasting as Medicine.  
     We had chosen a very large cancer center, with some of the best physicians I knew, yet nobody we encountered mentioned alternative or adjunctive therapies to consider, nobody asked about her nutrition.  They just threw out the standard advice as we headed out the door, “Eat what you feel like, calories are important”. All too common at the end of life, my mom didn’t really feel like eating or drinking much of anything, something unusual for her since she had struggled with obesity and food cravings most of her life. The only thing she could tolerate was liquid.  So, because I loved her, I followed their advice and provided her with sugar loaded shakes, juices, and of course, Ensure.  Now I understand that pushing these products was not only unnecessary but likely harmful, encouraging the cancer’s growth. One of my instructors, Dr. Nasha Winters, often says “The only thing Ensure does is Ensure a more timely death”.  
     While it may not be easy to change one’s eating habits after 80 years, there is little risk involved as a treatment option. Changing diet also does not have the side effects that frequently accompany radiation and chemotherapy – nausea, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea, skin irritation, fatigue and pain.  What’s more, a Ketogenic Diet and fasting can not only lessen these disabling side effects but it may even improve outcome.

Cancer and the Sugar Connection

     Cancer is an inflammatory metabolic disease.  Ketogenic diets have been shown to slow and even halt the growth of cancer cells, especially in those cancers that thrive on glucose.  Breast cancer is one of those. We can essentially  “starve” these cancer cells by eliminating their main source of energy, sugar and starch.  
     Traits shared by tumor cells are dysregulated metabolism and dysfunctional mitochondria. The ketogenic diet, caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, and extended fasting all cause a metabolic change, a reduction in blood glucose, and an increase in blood ketones. A Ketogenic Diet is a therapeutic tool, no different than detoxing, chemotherapy, or any other standard recommendation from a physician.  It is not solely the answer, meaning, if someone has major immune or toxicity issues, keto won’t cure that. But through multiple mechanisms, there is growing evidence that ketosis can prevent cancer cells from thriving and growing. It can reduce tumor growth factors, tumor size over time, and common treatment side effects while other primary problems can also be addressed.
     Another under-utilized tool is time restricted eating, or intermittent fasting, which produces high levels of ketosis and has a similar effect on improving metabolic efficiency.  Through the process of autophagy (cleaning up old cells) and apoptosis (cell death), fasting has the potential to improve our terrain, discouraging an environment that allows cancer cell growth and proliferation.

The Metabolic Approach 

     Most of her life, mom followed the “eat less move more” advice, using “healthy” vegetable oils, margarines, avoiding fat and drinking diet sodas.  The lifelong yo-yo dieting and intake of toxic “diet” food products no doubt contributed to her cancer and nutritional demise. As with most cancer patients, issues with food and weight weren’t the only contributing factors to my mother’s diagnosis though, just the most signifiant. I’m certain we would’ve been able to address some of the other reasons she got cancer if we’d explored further but it was not something she was interested in or motivated to do.  Her terrain was in disarray for much of her life.  We refer to the terrain as the “soil” that encourages the growth and spread of cancer.  In the Metabolic Approach to Cancer, Dr. Nasha Winters indicates there are 10 areas of the Terrain that to look at; Epigenetics, Metabolic, Toxic, Microbiome, Immune System, Inflammation, Blood Circulation and Angiogenesis, Hormones, Stress and Biorhythms, and Mental and Emotional. This is not meant to point a finger or blame, it is meant to educate, address and improve outcome. My guess is my mother had several of these areas that could have been addressed. She had signs of chronic inflammation.  She struggled with mental health and emotion management for decades.  She definitely had evidence of hyperinsulinemia and blood sugar disregulation, although she was never diagnosed with diabetes. She slept poorly. Her hormones were undoubtably imbalanced. Of course they always told her the labs, “were fine”.  She was often told her problems must be in her head, she became disillusioned with conventional medicine, rarely sought medical treatment, and sadly never had any screening for cancer. 

     There is more we can do, so much more than poisoning, cutting and burning. Implementing a well formulated ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet and time restricted eating is a first major step. These can be powerful weapons not only as part of a cancer treatment program but as a cancer prevention tool and for overall wellness.

**see my section on “Cancer” 



Not Just for Cancer

     Dad and I supported my mom as best we could, but now I realize that I could have done more.  I doubt I could have increased her life span, she was stubborn so it is unlikely she would have listened to me, her daughter, no matter how much I learned or how educated I was. Nevertheless, knowing what I know now, I might have at least offered her more options and some hope.  Since her passing, I have been able to assist other family members to improved health, mostly through eliminating inflammatory foods such as refined flour, grains, sugar, vegetable seed oils and processed foods.  My sister lost her stubborn “menopause belly”, eliminated arthritis, heartburn and chronic leg cramps, and my aunt has kept rheumatoid arthritis at bay, refusing the prescriptions that were offered.  My 89 year old dad has come off his heartburn and blood pressure medications, healed from a fractured hip exceptionally well, and has halted the progress of his “wet” macular degeneration.  Much to the surprise of his eye doctor who asked what he was doing, he now goes months without receiving the typical monthly eye injections that many with AMD have been told they will need for the rest of their lives.
     What health issues are you struggling with unnecessarily? What could you try instead of another pill or potion? Sometimes these type of dietary changes may sound like snake oil, improving and possibly even reversing diabetes, cancer risk, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, menopausal symptoms, PCOS, heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure etc., etc., etc., and, just maybe, they are. Simple, small, changes and swap outs may be just the thing that could work for you too. Why not find out now?







Contact me today and find out what you can do to help yourself or your loved ones. 



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