Now, to answer your questions -
1. What specifically have you changed in your diet to prevent breast cancer?
Great question! Certainly, breast cancer prevention is one of my biggest passions. The basic idea is to keep my body in optimal health, so that it is not a conducive environment for cancer growth.
The best analogy that I've heard is this - when all of the plants in your garden are dying, you don't look at the plants and say, "My goodness! What's wrong with those plants?" Instead, we always look at the plants and think, "There is something obviously wrong with the environment. Too much water. Not enough water. Too much sun. Not enough sun."
Our bodies are the same way. When we get sick, there is something causing the sickness. So, it's not enough to only remove the symptoms (i.e. cancer, in my case). Instead, we have to change the environment to fix the problem at its root cause.
So, what can you do to get your body in optimal health? I'm not a medical expert, but I can tell you what I've been taught to do.
1. I don't eat any gluten or any refined sugar. I use only agave nectar and stevia as sweeteners. And, I use those sparingly. People always ask, "Why don't you eat wheat and sugar?" For many people, wheat causes inflammation, and inflammation is a fertile environment for cancer growth. Sugar feeds cancer. And, let me be honest. This was a hard thing to adjust to, but I feel so much better without wheat and sugar. And, any excess weight just slid right off of me when I cut these two things out of my diet. A healthy BMI is critical for breast cancer prevention.
2. I eat only organic animal products. Our animals are now poisoned with antibiotics and hormones. For me, this is a non-negotiable. If it's not organic, I will not put it in my mouth. I have this mental block about putting hormones into my body, when I know that I have a propensity for hormone-fed cancer. I just can't do it. I don't eat any pork.
3. I eat tons of vegetables and fruit (mostly vegetables). I make sure that I eat a salad every single day. I take my lunch to school every day, and it always consists of an avocado, a vegetable (usually broccoli, cauliflower, or celery), and a serving of fruit. On most days, I eat somewhere between 10 and 15 servings of vegetables and fruit. I buy organic when it's available, but I do eat produce that's not organic. I have a vegetable wash that I soak it in.
4. I get ample sun exposure, without sunscreen. Here's the deal with sunscreen. If you think back to 75 years ago when people ate fresh food from their land, and they worked outside all day, skin cancer was not a concern. Why? Because their diet supported their bodies' defense of cancer. Sunscreen is full of chemicals and toxins. Now, this doesn't mean that I bake myself to a crisp, but I do get about 20 minutes of sun exposure to most of my body on most days. This is the best way to get Vitamin D, which is critical for fighting diseases, especially breast cancer.
5. I drink lots of water. I wish that I drank more.
6. I drink green tea every single morning. Green tea is full of cancer fighters.
7. I get regular exercise. Brian and I are doing P90X. I hate it, but he loves it. I hate all forms of exercise, but it is critical to optimal wellness.
8. I spend quiet time with the Lord every day. This allows me to clear my mind and place my burdens on Him. He's far more capable of handling them.
9. I get lots of fresh air, and I make a conscious effort to breathe deeply. Fresh air is important. Our courtyard is my haven, and I just sit and soak in the relaxation out there. It's awesome.
10. As you know, I take gobs and gobs of supplements to bolster my immune system. (Perfect Food Super Green Powder, Reservatrol, Iodine, Rosemary, Curcumin, Ginger, whey protein, intestRestore, mushroom supplement, fish oil, flax oil, Vitamin K, Vitamin D3, Melatonin, Calcium, Vitamin B, breast cream). Here's what I know about supplements - it is VERY difficult to self-supplement. This is one of the main reasons why I sought out a doctor to oversee my supplementation and nutrition.
11. The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin is very close to the diet that I follow. I highly recommend the book. This website provides some recipes: http://www.biblicalhealthinstitute.com/Resources/JordanRubinsRecipes/tabid/80/Default.aspx We probably don't eat as much meat as the diet suggests, and we definitely don't eat all of the grains that the diet allows. But, this is a great start! The main premise is to eat a high protein diet of food in its purest, most natural form. No preservatives. No chemicals. No toxins.
12. Hormones. This is a sticky subject. I can just give you my opinion, and then you can make your own judgments. I started taking oral contraceptives when I was 17. I had all sorts of female issues, and this was the solution at the time. Breast cancer takes about 8 years to become detectable. When I was 25, I was diagnosed with estrogen-fed breast cancer. You draw your own conclusions. My belief is this - I do not believe that birth control pills cause breast cancer, but I KNOW they feed it. So, if your body is like mine, and you have a propensity for breast cancer growth, then birth control pills are adding fuel to the fire. Again, make your own decisions. I'm just telling you what I know. If I had it to do over again, I would change my diet, and see if my female issues improved.
So, that was a long explanation, but I've changed EVERYTHING. This has been a LOT of work, but I can't tell you how good we feel. Brian has been a trooper, too. He sticks fairly closely to my regimen (minus all of the supplementation, although he does the green powder and he's about to start the fish oil. He just doesn't know it yet :) Brian has lost about 35 pounds, and he looks great!
It's been interesting to follow this route. Many people look at me like I'm crazy when I talk to them about my dietary changes. In fact, just this week someone said, "Do you actually think that eating like that is going to change anything?" My answer, "Yes. I do." Go ahead, try it for a month and see if you don't feel phenomenal.
2. How do you eat out on your diet?
We hardly ever eat out. The diet kind of removes the fun from it. But, when we do eat out, I usually order a salad with a vinegar-based dressing on the side. Occasionally, I'll order fish. I try to steer clear of meat because you can bet on it not being organic in a restaurant, and, like I mentioned before, organic animal products are a necessity for me.
3. What do you and Brian do for date nights?
Brian (I know you are reading this), do we have date nights? Actually, this is funny because last night I said to Brian, "Every night is date night for us. Right, Bri?" He just laughed and said, "Right." Honestly, we don't go on too many dates. We are home bodies, and we have put ourselves on a tight budget these days. So, our idea of a fun night would be making dinner, eating on the courtyard, and watching a movie in the man cave. Sorry, we are boring, but I love it. We like lots of rest and leisure. We spend many nights dreaming the evening away in the warm breeze on the courtyard. We just tell old stories, share fears, work through problems, and dream about the future. It's great.
4. Do you have any fun summer plans?
Oh, thank you for reminding me that I need to work on our summer calendar. You see, for a while we didn't schedule anything because we thought that I'd be doing the yucky chemo. But, now that I'm not, I need to get some fun things scheduled. We'd like to go to Colorado to visit Brian's grandparents. I just love it in the summertime. Such a great place to recharge our batteries! We're also planning to visit my aunt and uncle in Austin and some friends in Oklahoma. We made a goal when we were first married of leaving the country at least once a year. That's not going to happen this summer, but we're hopeful to make the escape before the year's end.
5. What's the name of the website that you've written devotionals for?
I'm not currently writing for it, but there are some very talented writers contributing weekly.
6. In what ways has your life changed for the better since your first diagnosis?
This question has really got me thinking. . .
I think, first and foremost, I know the Lord in the deepest and most intimate way. I know, because of his history of help in my life, that He's got my back. He's allowed me to be more bold in my faith and more urgent in ensuring that others know Him like I know Him. He's forced us to lay all of our cards on the table and say, "Okay. We've got nothing. It's all you."
Also, I know that Brian loves me unconditionally. It's almost incomprehensible for me to sit here and think about all of the situations in which He has proven his extreme love, devotion, and protection of me. He's definitely proven his manhood :) That man has swooped in and saved so many days for me. And, you know what I love? Now, he calls me or texts me numerous times a day just to make sure that I'm okay. He does this because I'm his. I just know that I have his heart and he has mine.
It's weird to say, but I'm far healthier now than I've ever been. Because I've sought God very specifically on this whole diet thing, I know that this is part of His plan for my healing. You see, my regimen is costly. Very costly. So costly that I often feel guilty about my maintenance costs. So, I've prayed on numerous occasions, "God, if it is your will and your plan for me to keep going with this lifestyle, then you're going to have to provide it. We just can't." And you know what, He has provided every single time. Sometimes through readers like you.
So, I guess the biggest thing is that the Lord has changed me into a spirit-filled person. I now realize that every single action of every single day is orchestrated by God.
Well, friends, I've been wordier than I intended to be, so for now, I will close. More answers coming tomorrow!