Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Luproncalia, and how to stop a cancer

I keep meaning to post long updates, but I have a bad case of Lupron brain. I feel like my head's full of cotton that has been soaked in gloom-ahol. It's been difficult for me to stay on task.

I'm struggling with the post-treatment period. I'm mostly doing well, but it's a time of such change and uncertainty that I'm often not sure how to plan my day. (Lupron wants me to sleep or stumble around the house like a zombie. I try not to listen to Lupron, but it's very persuasive.)  One thing that helps structure my time is to take a few actions that reduce the risk of my cancer returning.

What are these actions? Well, teasing out the right activities from all the myths and bad advice is very hard. There are more opinions about how to stop cancer than there are seconds in a day. It's really, really overwhelming, especially as a new patient; I've often felt really guilty for not keeping up with every piece of advice I stumbled across, which is goofy because much of this advice is unsubstantiated and just causes more stress. Even scarier: some of this advice is dangerous. One guy urges taking massive doses of vitamin C, for example, which can make radiation therapy less effective. And then there are the folks who poisoned themselves by eating apricot pits. Oy.

So, here are the things I've decided to do.

1. I met with a cancer center nutritionist early on. She helped me sort through the many, many food myths and facts. Then she basically advocated a heart-healthy diet. I was already eating pretty well (many veggies, a few farmers' market meats), so I upped my veggies, reduced red meat, started eating more leafy greens and whole grains and made a few other small changes. This might not do much to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence; studies on diet and cancer are few and messy. It's good for my bod, though, so no harm there, and it's freaking delicious.

2. I take my Tamoxifen and bend over for my Lupron buttshots.

3. I exercise, because holy crow, this is one exciting emerging area of cancer research. Some studies put the benefits of daily exercise at a 54% reduction in cancer recurrence risk. That's better than chemo. I walk every day, and try to fit in half an hour of elliptical most days a week, because that's exactly what the ladies did in the studies and I'm a geek like that.

After that, I just have to trust in luck. It takes a lot of bravery, and some cookies and walks on the beach with my sweet man.