When I was having regular chemotherapy treatments about a year ago, I remembered one particularly important conversation I had with my doctor during one of our clinic appointments.
I asked him if there is anything in particular in my diet that I should avoid taking, or change, to help with my recovery from cancer.
My doctor replied, "No Mas, just eat whatever you feel like eating. But try to avoid take-aways, just so that you don't catch any food infections given that you are immune-compromised."
With all due respect to my doctor's expertise and knowledge, I think that was when I made a mistake. I took him at his words that I should do nothing with my current diet. Thus I wasn't too bothered to even look up at the importance of the right diet in the battle against cancer. I take a a lot of fruits and juices anyway, so my diet couldn't be too bad, could it?
What has diet got to do with battling against cancer?
I'm not too sure about other medical schools, but as far as I can recall, diet change wasn't much talked about as part of the holistic treatment in cancers. The focus was more on teaching us to consult patients with cancer about how the chemotherapies work in killing cancer cells, etc, which is obviously important, no question about that.
But not about how diet can play a part in preventing the cancer from worsening. Well, some might argue that such emphasis on diet might suit more to the job scope of a nutritionist than medical doctors.
Whatever it is, I still personally feel that there are some diet tips that can be of no harm for doctors to be aware of, so that they can share it to patients with cancer. If one believes that the approach to tackling cancer is a holistic approach, then diet has to be one of its component.
Given the evidence-based medicine (EBM) heavily emphasized in the world of medicine nowadays, we have to be careful in what we say to patients. When I want to talk to my patients about how diet can play a part in tackling cancer, my advice should be based on sufficient evidences supported by scientific methods.
Have you got proofs to back what you are saying, doc?
Back when I was having treatments in the United Kingdom, I did nothing but relied solely on the hospital medications. I was the passive passenger, letting the clinicians decide what is best for me. But now, I can no longer play a passive role in the fight against MY OWN illness. Time to play a more active role. I know I have to take charge. Survivors take charge.
Ever since my return to Malaysia, I have started to make some major adjustments to my diet. All as part of my holistic approach in my fight against Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The change has not been easy I must admit, as I have to discipline myself against taking foods I used to enjoy so much in the past.
My mom is certainly playing a huge role too, adjusting the way she cooks so that it fits into the changes I have made in my diets. Only Allah knows how difficult it must have been for her at the beginning, but I know my mom is an expert cook that she will always be able to improvise her way of cooking to suit my diet regiment.
As I have mentioned in one my previous entries entitled "Making decisions in life", we can never shy away from having to make important and crucial decisions. Decisions about our own life. And today, I have decided that my battle against cancer is more than just eating the right medicines. It is also about eating the right, healthy foods. Eating right starts with your decision. Decide!