The Story Behind our Clean Eating Blog
Katie: That's a picture of my mom on the right. Isn't she beautiful? In October, 2010, an unassuming little white splotch was detected on her annual mammogram. When she called me that evening, she said it was nothing, really. Just a little spot. Probably a cyst. Her voice trembled. We made it through the conversation, doing what we could to be brave. Then, separated by sixty miles of highway, we both cried ourselves to sleep.
Fourteen days later, a biopsy revealed that the little splotch was an aggressive type of cancer (HER2+). Prayers went up. Sleep was lost. A decision needed to be made. The doctors recommended a lumpectomy, but my mom wanted something more aggressive. Four days before Christmas, she had both of her breasts removed in a bilateral mastectomy.
After Mom recovered from surgery, her doctor recommended following up with three to six months of chemotherapy. But she refused. Instead, she decided to go with Herceptin, a targeted drug therapy for her type of cancer.
We all knew that Mom was taking a chance by refusing chemotherapy. So we wanted to find a way to supplement the treatments she had chosen.
Mom: One week after the diagnosis, Katie sat down with her dad and me and informed us that beyond conventional treatments, we were "going to tackle this thing on a cellular level." A health and nutrition fanatic, Katie was not impressed with the Dr. Pepper I drank for breakfast, or my bi-weekly trips to Taco Bell.
Katie: Is that all?
Mom: Okay, okay....or the M&Ms, Reese Cups or Snickers I awarded myself each time I went grocery shopping.
Katie: My mom's idea of "watching what she ate" was to select the candy bar at the check-out with the lowest amount of calories. (I'm not kidding about that by the way).
Mom: At that time, Katie was suffering from a serious injury to her hands, wrists, and arms. For months, she couldn't drive, cook, or even pick up a t-shirt without pain. Her husband had to brush her teeth. She couldn't use a computer, but she was determined to research facts about healthy eating that would help me fight the cancer.
Her husband helped her bring home dozens of books. Then she sat down at her dining room table, and began to write. She wrote page after page of notes about cancer-fighting foods, nutrition facts, recipes – all the information she could find that might help me fight the disease. She stopped frequently to ice her hand; then she would pick up her pen and continue writing.
The next time we were together, Katie presented me with a notebook containing over 25 handwritten pages of information. I looked up from the notebook with tears in my eyes. I realized that she had sacrificed her own health to help restore mine, and I promised that I wouldn't let her down.
Katie: Every week, Mom and I would meet to talk about food. I thought our first session went pretty well:
Katie: Here's a list of foods that you might like to try for snacks.
Mom: What's that thing on number seven?
Katie: It's Hummus, Mom. You dip your carrots in it.
Mom: You want me to eat what for a snack?
Considering our little bit of a rough start, I have to say that my mom really surprised me. I gave her a package of Almond Hershey Kisses, and told her to eat two after lunch and dinner each day, to help her taper off of eating so much sugar. She never opened the package.
Within a week, she was taking recipes for everyday foods, and creating her own healthier versions. She is a genius in the kitchen, and has found a way to make healthy foods actually taste good...Edible foods, like pizza, pastas, soup, waffles, and desserts. She started posting these recipes on her Caring Bridge site. Friends and family were eating this stuff up (literally).
Katie: Much of our inspiration for the nutrition plan came from a book called "Anti-Cancer: a New Way of Life." The author, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, was a scientist who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After several attempts with conventional treatments, he began in-depth research into the food-lifestyle-cancer connection. The results of his study extended his life by an estimated 18 years.
After 5 months of "eating for her life," my Mom had lost 30 pounds, and felt better than she had in years, despite the infusions she received every three weeks. We knew it was not a cure, but we felt empowered, knowing that she was no longer poisoning her body with foods that would weaken her immune system.
My mom now shares what she has learned about nutrition with anyone who will listen (nurses, patients, strangers she meets in line at Walmart). I am amazed by her generosity, and the way she has started inviting these people into her home to help them learn about healthy eating, and offering samples of the great recipes she has come up with. These are not just anti-cancer recipes....they are anti-diabetes, anti-heart disease, anti-cholesterol. They are for anyone who wants to take control of their health before it takes control of them.
Mom: The number one thing I hear from cancer patients, as they sit in a circle under florescent lights, chemo bags tethered to their arms is this: "If I had known I would get cancer, I would have taken better care of myself before."
Katie: This is our chance. Let's take back our health, and decide to nourish our bodies instead of tearing them down. Let's do it for our kids, for our spouses, and for ourselves.
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