Monday, 12 April 2010

What should I eat doctor??

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!


yatibahar said...

Eat lots of ulam-ulam Afzal. Kurangkan manis dalam makanan, lebihkan manis dalam senyuman :-)

joegrimjow said...

herbalife je mas

Anonymous said...

Salam Afzal,
Eating organic is of course the best way for everyone, its a pity kat Msia ni organic food is expensive and I dont think the masses(macam nama u all) can afford it .
The irony is,when food is organic, it means it is free from pesticides, herbicides,genetic engineering, etc, but, these organic food cost double the price of the 'normal'food sold in the market. Ayam kampung for eg, is about RM12-14 per kilo, while ayam 'cucuk'is only RM7 or go figure..
An obese person is likely a person coming from the lower income group, whose diet consist of rice, fast food and probably hawker food, a person with middle or upper middle class and higher can afford to change their diet or a gym membership to stay healthy.

Just a thought.

mak Teh

Wahidah said...

yup agre mkn je ape yg kita long makanan tu nanti tk memudratkan kalo start dr rs 'selera mati'..tu yg payah nak dpt kn kembali selera mkn i rite?

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Kak Yati - Aiseh, ulam tu yang saya paling lemah =(

Joe - Why don't you sponsor me one? ;)

MakTeh - I can't agree more MakTeh. How ironic is it that people are told to eat healthy, yet most of the foods that are nutritious for them cost twice as much as the foods that are detrimental to their health.

I am lucky enough that I am still able to afford them, but I pity those who wants to make a change but have their hands tied at their back as they just don't have enough money to pay for those type of foods.

Wahidah - Hmm, saudari macam dah terlari dari gerabak je ni, that was not really what I meant from this article =)

Alan said...

This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


Mohd Shahnom Ismail said...

Salam wbt

Mas, nanti buatla entry about your diet.
Nak juga tahu apa yang hang tengah makan sekarang.

Herbalife bagus, tapi addicted to Herbalife? hehe.. laburla duit ke Public Mutual untuk jana lebih banyak duit.

Teruskan berjuang Mas


Johanna said...

huhu~ serupa la kita.. makanan yg sihat (ulam2) tu yang tak leh terima dek tekak! hehe~

wah! kawan-kawan mas pakat promote biz dia orang ni, amacam mas? :)

Anonymous said...

sallam mas was wondering why radiation therapy wasnt consider from the beginning.nomally lympoma is sensitive to radiation plus chemo.
just wondering.even now the nodes on your neck can be irradiated to reduce the pain...and symptom.
but again diff hospital approach are not the same.even diff doc treat diffirently
i pray for your recovery.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Sharon - Thanks for dropping by!

Shahnom - Insya Allah akhi, I will share it in the next entry. Public Mutual? Kalau ikut hati, dah lama nak labur akhi, tapi fokus kehidupan belum sampai ke sana lagi, if u understand what I mean =)

Johanna - My mom has often tried to convince me into eating ulam but unfortunately it just doesn't blend well with my taste bud. =(

Anonymous - I did ask my consultant about radiotherapy in the past but back then the cancer was so spread it wasn't worth doing a radio.

Anonymous said...

sallam mas it is me again.
why dont you see a radiation oncologist here far second oppinion.after i re read your posting i think you wasnt given the all the options.HD lympoma even at your staging is treatable...nothing wrong with alternative medition but you can have both.i am not a doctor but i am a radiation retired.

yatibahar said...

Aik, mak dah convince pun x mau mkn jugak! You are really a tough cookie. Maybe you could start of with ulam raja, it tastes a bit like mangga. Lepas tu bleh la mkn petai etc. Agaknye kalau org suruh awk minum air hempedu bumi, lagi la x bleh telan kot ye. Give it a try, Afzal. Tok nenek kita sume umur panjang, agak2 apa dia org mkn...

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Anonymous - I have spoken to the Consultant radiologist in PPUKM and his reply was, "Stick to your current modality (ie the alternative medicines), if you don't notice any further improvements then come and see me." This was about 3 weeks ago.

Kak yati - Hmm, kak Yati kena tgk dulu herba yang saya kena minum setiap hari, tastes worse than anything one can imagine! So I guess I can probably tolerate ulam, it's just that I don't fancy them in my current diet regiment just yet.. =)

yatibahar said...

In that case, you are much better than me :-) I have never drank any that tastes bitter or worse than one can imagine. Hempedu bumi pun I take in capsule form :-) Whatever it is, keep up the good work! You'll be alright.

On another note, my father had non-hodgkin lymphoma, what's the difference with hodgkin lymphoma? I can only see the 'non'...

Cahaya. said...

i envy you.i think Allah really loves you.thanks to Him i get to know ur personal gratitude for sharing ur story here.may Allah bless ur patience with sth far better mas afzal.;)

ieja_abu said...

stay tough mas afzal:)

the-we-share-the-same-first-name writes: mas aliza;)

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Kak yati - Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma have both similarities and differences. What separates them is the exact characteristics of the cancer cells viewed under the microscope, as the former has a specific cell called Reed-sternberg cells.

But they can both present with similar symptoms, eg neck lumps, night sweats, etc. In general, it's important to identify the type of lymphoma (as to whether it is Hodgkins or Non Hodgkins) as it will determine the preferred line of treatment. Wallahua'lam

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Cahaya - Thank you very much for spending some time reading my humble writings. I am merely sharing my life experience to others, as my token of appreciation for everyone's support and prayers, which includes you! =)

Mas Aliza - Those born with the name 'Mas' must be strong, insha Allah! =)

Anonymous said...

Hey what happened to the cute kid in the profile pic?

Mak Teh

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Oh you've noticed MakTeh!

Well, the cute kid's picture, unfortunately has to be removed and substituted with a more professional-looking picture =)

But with sheer demands from fellow followers I may reconsider putting it back =)

Yellowrabbit said...

Salam berkenalan Mas,

Diet is a vital component of the regiment in managing cancer, whatever type it may be. I learned this through experience. After my mastectomy 9 years ago, I got the same advice from the doc. So, happily I ate whatever I liked. Two years into it, I had recurrence. So from then on, I have been more careful with my diet. No doubt at time I still succumbed to temptation. InsyAllah, I pray that Allah swt will always show me the right way. Amin. The same go to you, Mas. May He be with you all the time. Amin.

Lots of love and prayers from me and my family.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...


I can't agree more. I'm sure it must be difficult to resist some foods you used to enjoy, especially while being in a shopping complex. I know I certainly struggle occasionally. =)

hasma said...

salam mas,

pls share your diet regime, would like to know what are the herbs

i read anticancer: a new way of life (dr david servan-schreiber) and foods to fight cancer (Prof R. Beliveau) and was quite shock that the evidences were already published in journals 15-20 years ago--i am still searching for more evidences

and yet like you said it was not emphasized in our med schools (i went to UKM)

it is not emphasized by the dietitians either, they only advise high caloric diet to cancer patients (which is contradictory to dr david servan-schreiber's findings), plus no advice on antioxidants, polyphenols, resveratrol and other anticancer foods

i am changing my diet myself because 3 in my family have cancer, will write a few things about it in my blog

by the way, i gave u a blogger award few days ago for your effort to educate/ increase awareness :) keep it up!

get well soon, and when you can work again hopefully you can bring a new light/perspective in treating cancer patients-- i pray for this

fazmila said...

i have read an email saying that the natural cancer remedy is soursop or durian has something that will cure cancer..please drop by my've put an entry about it..hopefully it can help you..May Allah bless you..Amin..

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Hasma : What a coincidence, I have just started reading the same book you mentioned (ie Anti Cancer - A New Way of Life by David Servan) today!

Insha Allah, I shall share about some of the diet changes I've made lately in the next entry. Ohh, thank you so much for the award, I've checked it in your blog and honored am I to be awarded with one.

Do let me know if there's any help I can offer for your family members with cancer. Thanks!

Fazmila - Thanks for sharing, I've certainly received a lot of emails about khasiat durian belanda against cancer. Am currently reading further on it.

el nino said...

go mas..minum alicafe la..hehe, jangan percaya herbal life joe tuh..

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum Dr. Mas,

Please don't forget to include natural mineral water or filtered water without chlorine together with your diet. A lot of plain water (free from chlorine) drinking will InsyaAllah help rejuvenate your cells towards your recovery.



Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Cha - Aihh, anta duta AliCafe kat Nottingham ke? =)

Anonymous - Thanks for sharing the information. I certainly am drinking a lot of plain water, and it certainly helps a lot in terms of cleansing the body off toxics.

hasma said...

referring to your offer, "Do let me know if there's any help I can offer for your family members with cancer"---actually Mas, there is a favor i would like to ask from your mum,

can she give some moral support to my mum? my younger bro is battling non-hodgkins lymphoma, he is about your age

my mum's blog is

many thanks!