Observations on the diet One year later.
It's been one year since I started the diet. Looking back, the year seems to have flown by. I was one of 3 women in my community who was diagnosed around the same time. I seem to be doing the best. The diet has allowed me to shed all the excess baggage (weight) I've put on in the last 15 years. It has given me boundless energy (rests and daily naps are a thing of the past). I am off statins and triglyceride medication. I no longer need sleep aids or acid-reflex medication. My swollen hands and knees are gone. Though I don't really exercise, (this is a walk don't run diet) I seem to be, all things considered, in pretty good health.
Of the three of us diagnosed with breast cancer, I have the most virulent form of the disease. One of the ladies and I shared the same oncologist when we started out (the third was using the same oncology group). This shared oncologist wanted to do the same things for me that he did for my friend, and but for the grace of G-d I might be in the same situation as her. Her cancer has now metastasized throughout her spine up to her skull and she's doing Chemo again. May Hashem (G-d) grant her a Refuah Shelamah (complete recovery). The other's immune system has been compromise to the point that she has very little energy. Did I make the right decision to do Cryoablation and go on the Ketogenic diet instead of "The Golden Standard?" I'd like to think so but only time will tell. I have kind of taken on this diet while standing on one foot1.
Do I still have cancer? I would have to say yes. What I know now is that Cancer is a very complex disease. In the article, "The effects of surgery on tumor growth: a century of investigations," the team concludes that "some of the most clinically important properties of cancer may better be understood by considering it as an organ-like structure rather than as an invading organism." That means that we should look at cancer not like an invading infection, but like an organ created by mutated cells in our bodies that are trying to survive and thrive. They have strategies like chemical signals that can hide them from the body's immune system, they can ingest proteins and nutrients from burst and damaged cells that live in their neighborhood (thanks to chemo and radiation damage) and can signal the body to build them a feeding bridge of blood vessels. They can even incorporate the special talents of other cells like macrophages (which can promote the proliferation of tumor cells directly by secreting growth factors) to help them in their mission to survive and spread. Tumors have access to and can produce chemicals that suppress distant metastasis (endostatin) and that grow the original tumor (angiostatin). A kind of "push me pull you" behavior that, with the removal of the primary tumor and it's angiogenic inhibitors, allows CTC (circulating tumor cells) to proliferate (metastasis). So maybe the knee-jerk reaction of cutting it out isn't always the best option.
"Throughout tumorigenesis, cells acquire a set of functional capabilities including self-sufficiency in growth signals, insensitivity to antigrowth signals, evading apoptosis, limitless replicative potential, tissue invasion and metastasis, and sustained angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the multistep physiological process of new capillary growth from pre-existing blood vessels, and is requisite for the growth and spread of cancer. In many cancers, the balance that normally exists between angiogenic inducers and angiogenic inhibitors shifts toward the proangiogenic state resulting in the synthesis of new blood vessels. Initially cancers co-opt the existing vasculature. Then the angiogenic switch results in the production of factors that induce angiogenic sprouting of the vasculature. Expressed pro-angiogenic factors bind to receptors including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor and neuropilin-1 on the vascular endothelial cells of nearby blood vessels and promote cell proliferation, migration, and invasion into the tumor. This is important as avascular tumors are limited in size and require development of new blood vessels to deliver the necessary oxygen and nutrients, and for removal of cellular waste through the interstitium. Therefore, reducing or inhibiting angiogenesis removes a vital lifeline that allows cancer cells to grow, invade nearby tissue, metastasize, and form new colonies of cancer cells."2
After 50 years of turning my body into a cancer incubator, through the "healthy" western diet of low fats and high carbs., I had become the poster child for undiagnosed metabolic syndrome. I was always hungry, my triglycerides where sky high and not well controlled by medication. My waist was apple shaped and what worried me the most, was that I was having short term memory loss.
I am now fighting the cancer by sticking to a ketogenic diet and not feeding it . By taking medications and supplements that prevent angiogenisis. By making my bones, liver, brain and colon inhospitable to CTC's. By choosing not to be treated by the "standard and customary," I haven't had a real sick day since I began my treatment. If I tell you that going through the cryoablation was nothing. It was nothing. It was a 2 out of 10 pain wise without anesthesia and all I had was a little flu like symptoms after the procedure. The sentinel node biopsy was much more painful and it took me a month to recover from. The only side effects that I had with the ketogenic diet (a diet which is diuretic by nature) was constipation, easily treated with extra magnesium and reactive or false hypoglycemia when I started Metformin which took some time to control. I really needed guidance at the beginning of the diet which was hard to find. Also I needed help tweaking the diet when I was still loosing weight after I had reached my weight loss goal and my weight loss should have stopped.
Today my weight is stable. I don't loose my car keys anymore (another positive aspect of ketogenics), though I do sometimes put down my cell phone and have to call it to find it. My vision has improved (after a steady decline over the last 10 years, last weeks exam showed that I now have 20/25 vision and explained why I'm taking off my glasses more and more to see more clearly). I now know that I was starving my brain by staying on such a low fat, low cholesterol diet and taking statins. Though I find I still have word retrieval issues when I speak (my mind used to think 2 and 3 sentences ahead when I was in my twenties), I find that the right words come when I am writing. Maybe it's because writing slows me down a bit. My insulin level is flat and as a consequence I'm never hungry. My sense of smell has been heightened. When I walk into a grocery store I smell the apricots long before I see them. In the bakery I can taste the Challah as though it's in my mouth; I don't just smell it. Taste and smell are connected. I have to set my cell phone to remind me to eat as I don't get the usual body cues (hunger pains or stomach gurgling) any more. If I forget to eat I will have some lightheadedness late into the evening and that's my cue that I forgot to eat. I don't have food cravings any more. Though I still enjoy my daily chocolate.
I am very fortunate to live in the twenty-first century. I have access to the latest medical research and am able to contact those doing it. I have become an educated patient.
Can anyone do what I'm doing? Yes! It takes perseverance. A desire to ferret out the truth and the mental strength to not let the medical establishment push you into anything. Something that comes naturally to an Am K'shi Oref (a stiff necked people). Cancer is not an emergency! In most cases your cancer was 'cooking' for well on to 10 years before it was even of the size that any 'modern' method of detection could have found it. You have time to make an informed decision.
I now see my job, as far as my health goes, to continue to do what I'm doing. To keep my cancer on the metabolic edge. To continue to use the benign Adjuvant therapies and not feed it. The clean MRI's I've been getting show me that they are more effective for me than chemo and radiation. To keep learning more about the mitochondria and the metabolic process. And most importantly to share what I've learned.
1. A reference to Rabbi Akiva being asked to explain the Torah "standing on one foot". His answer was "Treat your fellow as you would like to be treated yourself, the rest is commentary."