The Upside to Pelvic & Abdominal Radiation?
Keeping my girlish figure. Recovery is making my intestines incredibly sensitive, resulting in a little more awareness of what I take in. All those comfort foods that are supposed to be “treats?” Yeah, those happened a little more often than I was realizing (especially the booze). Here’s a fun list of extreme edibles and potent potables that were staples pre-cancer and are now once-in-a-while goodies. Not because I’m actively trying to be healthier, mind you, but because my body can’t handle them:
Burritos. Bourbon. Sausage & Peppers. Nachos. Red Wine. Champagne (MOST SORELY MISSED). Mac N Cheese. Lattes. Milk. Steak. Anything With Red Sauce. Anything With Cream Sauce. Pastries. Diet Coke. Salsa. Raw Fruits. Raw Veggies.
So, you know, thanks A LOT, cancer, for making me eat healthier. I can think of easier ways to go on a diet!
Note to Self:
When curious whether your post-treatment body might be ready to reintroduce some of the things you love but had to give up during treatment, maybe try them separately, just in case the answer is a firm NO.
Spin class OR raw tomatoes, for example.
…she writes from bed, where she’s spending the rest of the day in a tiny bit of agony.
What the $#&@! Do I Eat Now?!
Like many cancer patients, I’ve gone through a series of stages regarding what to eat along this journey. I’ve heard and read so much: no sugar. Daily shots of wheat grass. Eight pounds of fresh fruit a day (juiced). No red meat. Only red meat. No dairy products. As much green tea as your body can handle. No carbs. No coffee. Well, a certain coffee if it comes from the bowels of a jungle cat. When you’re first diagnosed, the pressure to find the exact cocktail of cancer-fighting organic goodness can be really overwhelming and quickly adds to the list of scary unknowns.
Everyone remembers the day they were diagnosed, what they did in the hours following. JLP and I went to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch. And later, when asked what I wanted for dinner, I requested chocolate cake. It was the best damn chocolate cake I’ve ever had.
Two days later, determined to do the right thing for my body, I was shunning all carbs. I’d eaten paleo before, so I knew what to shop for and what to toss from the cupboards. That night, I had a cheeseburger with no bun. In the days that followed, I decided the no-carb route wasn’t for me. Not because I couldn’t hack it, but because here’s the thing: we eat well. Damn well. On the whole, our eating motto is simple, local, fresh. We know our farmers, we know our seasons, we know our tastes, we know our chards from our kales. There was no way I was going to go through all this cancer bullshit for however many months and completely pull a 180 on my diet at the same time.
Until the PET scan. When I read the results and for the first time saw that a few lymph nodes were involved, showing concern for metastatic disease, my first thought was, chocolate cake. Second thought? Bourbon. Everyone knows cancer cells love sugar! (Don’t they? To be honest I haven’t read that - only told by well-meaning loved ones. See what I mean?!) Had I been spoon-feeding those cancer cells the fuel they needed to multiply at an even faster rate? If I hadn’t been so stubborn, showed some sort of willpower at the mention of an heirloom-plum-filled gourmet donut, might those squamous cells have stayed put and not ventured into my lymphatic system? The dread and guilt was all-consuming. For a day, maybe two. I’m sure it was along the 3-hour drive either way to the doctors or after that obscene banh mi at Out the Door that I decided, fuck it.
Was that not the most glorious chocolate cake I’d ever had? Didn’t I appreciate that plum donut so much that I immediately called the purveyor to thank her for her ingenuity and craft? Weren’t those times with Brooklyns at the bar some of the most treasured moments I’ve had with JLP?
There is a time in this journey that we all realize life is too short. It hits us at different times; we may have previously been aware of the sentiment and agreed with it for all intents and purposes, but certain milestones ignite in us the pure understanding that indulgences are what make our lives rich, whole, fulfilled.
This week, as I monitor my fluid intake to ensure my kidneys are flushing out that toxic cocktail when what I’m really craving is some Bulleit with maraschino liqueur and a little vermouth; when I’m Googling whether cottage cheese will help or hinder my bowel regularity because it’s the only thing that sounds good; when I thumb my nose at JLP’s concerns and buy a Trader Joe’s frozen macaroni and cheese dinner because it really is one of my favorite comfort foods ever, I am vowing to be off this self-imposed cancer diet roller coaster for good. I ask myself this: A) Does it sound good? And, as a followup, B) Will it make me poop? Too much? Not enough? That’s it.
And as long as I can handle it, Saturdays, my dammit-I-sat-through-eight-hours-of-chemo-yesterday days, are now my gourmet donut days. Because life is too short not to indulge once in a while.