For the love of Science
There was a time, a couple of years ago now, where I needed to step out of my life for a period of time so that I could address the raging anxiety I was dealing with on a daily basis. About three years had passed since I had completed my treatment regime for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and I had been in remission ever since.
But I was struggling with being a 'survivor'. I was keenly aware that there was a possibility that my cancer would return and I so desperately didn't want it to. During my treatment and for many years following, I consumed as much information as I could about how to stack the odds in my favour to avoid a relapse. I devoured books on wellness and cancer prevention. I read all the articles floating around on facebook and that friends shared with me about the latest studies.
I understood from all of my research that what I chose to fuel my body with was going to have a huge effect on my outcome. So I made it my mission to always choose to eat the foods that would help me to avoid a relapse, the foods that would keep me around to raise my girls.
And that was easy after the first book I read. And it was easy after the second or third because I had chosen books that backed up what the first had said. (It was a long drawn out process, but let me see if I can remember it for you).
I ate a raw food diet first. (And I quickly cut out all meat, and dairy). Until I learned about how important it was to cook some vegetables in order for our bodies to be able to access some of the nutrients. So I added some steamed veg.
I cut out coffee and drank green tea, until I learned that caffeine was bad for me. I drank water and herbal tea. I switched back to coffee when a study came out and showed that it was good at reducing my risk of some cancer. Well, heck, that sounds good. Not only do I not want a relapse, I also don't want any other flavour of cancer...
I added fish back into my diet when came across a doctor who also had cancer that highly recommended it. Then I cut it out when I read Ian Gawler's work. I cut out oil and salt too.
Then I put meat back in, and oil too because fat was good for me, or so I was told. But only free-range meat...and cold-pressed organic oils...
Coffee enima? Ok, so I stopped just short of a coffee enima, but I will admit, I did torture myself at length about whether or not I should do it.
I slipped off the health food wagon numerous times and would feel awful about it, but after a good mental bashing from my best inner critic I would always climb back on.
I finally settled on a purely whole foods vegan diet which lasted for about 9 months. My whole family did in support of me (bless them). But my body didn't feel good, at all, and somewhere at the end of that nine months I just began to lose my grip. I had a combination of information overload and a body that was not coping on such a restrictive diet (later revealed as an auto-immune diagnosis). I kept coming across so many studies that contradicted each other. Tomatoes were good, tomatoes were bad. Bananas are full of potassium, bananas are full of sugar. Moderate alcohol consumption fine, moderate alcohol consumption will kill you. Kale, kale, kale! You get the idea.
The 'science' that I was consuming was consuming me. And I had to learn a very hard lesson about how I took on information going forward...after, of course, I spent a few months working with a medical psychologist (these are very special people in our medical system who work with those of us who have undergone some kind of medical trauma) to bring my anxiety back to a manageable level - that must be a post for another day.
Which brings me to why I shared this story with you in the first place. I think John Oliver puts it best, sprinkled with his hilarious sense of humour, about how and why media outlets so often report untrue or incomplete information as science.
We want to hear from you. How do you cope with the cancer 'science' that pops up everywhere? Did you fall into the trap of trying to keep up like I did? Did you choose to ignore it? Or do you just put your feet up, have a glass of your favourite wine, some chocolate and enjoy chasing life? :)