Living with Cancer as a Chronic Condition
My first reaction to being diagnosed with Cancer was this overwhelming need to get it cut out of me. I felt like I had some foreign invader in my body that was out to kill me. This was War, and it was either me or the Cancer that would win this fight for survival. I think that my visceral reaction was caused by years of being inundated with stories of early detection, removal, treatment and survival or (G-d forbid) the opposite. Those who had their cancer “cured”, and those who had lost their battle.
My Mazal (good luck), was that I was diagnosed late December of 2012. All my doctors went on their Christmas vacations and I had a two week window to do the research that will probably save my life. Otherwise, (but for the grace of G-d) I would have been herded into Surgery (which can spread the cancer), Chemo (which may or most likely may not kill ALL of the most virulent invasive cancers) 1 and Radiation (which can both cure malignancies and also induce second primary tumors and chromosome aberrations). Many women are herded into these treatments in an assembly line fashion without looking into any other options, and without really understanding what is the absolute benefit or risks of each treatment. You can’t really make an informed decision that way. (You can see that according to the The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies or Dr. Ralph W. Moss's explanation of it, these “Golden Standard” treatments would have given me only an added absolute post Chemotherapy benefit of 1.4% in the next 5 years. Certainly not enough “Benefit”, to put myself through the damage, pain and expense.)
Since those first two weeks, I have read hundreds of studies and articles about Cancer in general and Breast Cancer in particular. This is my first foray into the (technologically challenging for me) world of blogging in order to share this information with people who need a plain speak version to comprehend the complex medical world of cancer. (Thank G-d for tech savvy children.)
Ketogenic diets have been around since the 1920’s to treat children with epilepsy who are unresponsive to medication. It’s recent use, as a way to slow down, halt and possibly even reverse cancer through the process of Apoptosis (cell death) is cutting edge to say the least, and most doctors aren’t even aware of this dietary metabolic treatment. As an Orthodox Jew it has been difficult to comply with a ketogenic diet because most recipes and meals add ingredients like heavy whipping cream and cream cheese to meat meals to raise their fat content (and I'm not even mentioning the bacon). For someone like me who keeps the Kosher dietary laws this was challenging to say the least.
I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. There are many excellent resources to help you start and maintain a ketogenic cancer diet and I hope to provide as many helpful links as I have found. This site, “Kosher Ketogenic.com", is my small attempt to help people like myself who want to incorporate the diet into their lifestyle, eat real food and continue to make Shabbat for their families. People who can’t put dairy cream on their roast beef and need real medical sources to bring to their doctors. You can’t do this alone. Doctors, and dietitians need to work with you especially starting out, to monitor and help keep you in the “Keto Zone”. It’s learning to keep a fine balance between eating to keep your body in good health but not one carb or protein gram more.
It's just like when someone is learning to keep Kosher for the first time, there is a learning curve. In fact if you've kept Kosher for a while you have an advantage. You've already learned that you can't eat everything you see. That you have to check the ingredients of anything you put in your mouth and that you have to wait to eat between certain types of meals. Also, you have experienced fasting, something most observant Jews do on two major and six minor fasts every year. And to top it off, you also know about "IF", Intermittent fasting, when righteous individuals fast on Mondays and Thursdays (Torah reading days), since this is all part of our Jewish heritage. These same skills and strategies are the ones you will use to be successful with your Ketogenic Diet.
Someone once told me that the story for most Jewish holidays goes something like this. “They wanted to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” For Cancer we need to change it to, “It wants to kill us, we won’t feed it, we’ll live.” With the help of the Creator of the Universe may this Dietetic Chemotherapy give us all a “Refuah Shalamah”(complete recovery).