As a cancer survivor, healthy eating has become paramount to my survival. All the research points to the fact that a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables is the key to preventing not only cancer, but a myriad of other diseases. Look around you at the people walking down the street and it will become crystal clear that you are what you eat. See a few Big Macs out there?
I’ve always been fairly conscientious about what I put in my mouth, but I do have a sweet tooth. I can remember watching “The Biggest Loser” a few years ago with my ice cream bowl on my lap. Ironic, huh? I wasn’t seriously overweight, but I was enjoying a form of denial. After all, I did cut up fresh fruit to put on top of my dessert.
Shortly after that. I started running and got serious about my diet. I was fairly strict during the week…no dessert and no alcohol. I ate lean meat and tried to cut back on my carb consumption. But I never tried to live with complete deprivation because I believe that this leads to failure. I allowed myself to indulge that sweet tooth on Saturdays, usually in the form of some decadent ice cream shop creation involving lots of chocolate and the word “fantasy”.
So there I was, proud as punch about my healthy new lifestyle, and I got cancer anyway. I was in shock at the seeming unfairness of it all. What about all these yahoos smoking and drinking while double-fisting Krispy Kreme doughnuts?! They’ll probably live forever!
My diagnosis made me realize a couple of things. First, cancer is a sneaky, relentless disease that has many causes. Even if you do everything just right, you aren’t immune. Second, you can always take steps to give yourself a little more insurance. I was eating better than most, but I was still nowhere near the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, which is still inadequate.
Since my ordeal, I have made a concerted effort to scour vegan and vegetarian blogs, books, and other resources to find new recipes. I still eat meat, but I’ve cut back, and I try not to use any products from large commercial farms. I also limit dairy, but cheese is a tough thing to give up!
This year, I raised an organic garden, although it has been very challenging lately with all the rain. Asheville is trying to become a suburb of Seattle, I think. I’ve had yellow squash and phallic cucumbers running out my ears. I made my own pickles, and a vegan blackberry cobbler. Right now, I have green beans, watermelon, and pumpkins trying to take off. The tomatoes finally lost the battle to the weather, so I’ll be pulling them out this weekend.
Overall, the garden has been a success, and not only from a food standpoint. There’s something soul sustaining about digging in the dirt. At the end of a really crappy day, I can’t help but feel better standing among my veggies.
I feel pretty good about my choices most of the time. I’ve come up with a supplement regimen that works. I’m getting more creative and healthier in the kitchen. That mental piece is still a work in progress, but I’m trying to figure out my path to happiness and fulfillment. The only thing I can ask when I look back on my life is that I did everything I could to change the outcome and survive. The rest is out of my hands.