Thursday, May 2, 2013

It’s not what you eat

I think I told you I found this quote somewhere:  

“It’s not what you eat – it’s what’s eating you.”   

But eating right – “The right stuff” – is soooo important.  So this, I hope, will help all of you, whether or not you are dealing with cancer; this is practically the recipe to a long a happy life.

So my story today starts in 1931 when a Dr. Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel prize.  He discovered that cancer is caused by weakened cell respiration due to lack of oxygen at the cellular level.  He also proved that cancer thrives in anaerobic (without oxygen), or acidic, conditions. In other words, the main cause for cancer is acidity of the human body.

Here is the technical bit – but take your time and read it slowly; I believe we have to understand something to take away our fear of it.  So here goes:  In his Nobel Prize winning study, Dr. Warburg illustrated the environment of the cancer cell. According to him, damaged cell respiration causes fermentation, resulting in low pH (acidity) at the cellular level.  Ok so far?  The damaged cells start to ferment causing acidity.

He also wrote about oxygen's relationship to the pH of cancer cells’ internal environment: “Since fermentation was a major metabolic pathway of cancer cells, cancer cells maintain a lower pH, as low as 6.0, due to lactic acid production and elevated CO2.”


He firmly believed that there was a direct relationship between pH and oxygen:  Higher pH (alkaline) means higher concentration of oxygen molecules while lower pH (acidic) means lower concentrations of oxygen.

A normal healthy cell undergoes an adverse change when it can no longer take in oxygen to convert glucose into energy. In the absence of oxygen, the cell reverts to a primal nutritional program to nourish itself by converting glucose through the process of fermentation. The lactic acid produced by fermentation lowers the cell pH (acid/alkaline balance) and destroys the ability of DNA and RNA to control cell division. The cancer cells then begin to multiply. The lactic acid simultaneously causes severe local pain as it destroys cell enzymes. Cancer appears as a rapidly growing external cell covering, with a core of dead cells… And there you have it:  We have known the proven cause, prevention & cure of cancer since 1931:

Eat alkaline forming food

Funny thing is that things which appear acidic e.g. lemon juice and tomato are actually alkalizing foods while food that appears to be alkaline e.g. milk is actually highly acid forming.  For a detailed list on alkalizing foods feel free to Google but here is the bottom line:  All meat and animal products are bad – i.e. acid forming.  But a surprising amount of vegetarian go-to options are also acid forming:  Here is a list of the things we would think are alkaline but are in fact acid forming:

Almond Milk, Black Beans, Chick Peas, Green Peas, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Pinto Beans, Red Beans, Rice Milk, Soy Beans, Soy Milk, White Beans, Cashews, Legumes, Peanut Butter , Peanuts, Pecans, Tahini, Walnuts , Corn, Lentils, Olives, Winter Squash, Blueberries,  Canned or Glazed Fruits, Cranberries, Currants,  Plums, Prunes ….  And my dears the list goes on.  


The key is balance.  We should aim for a 60-40 balance where most of the food we eat will be alkalizing.  Tinus aims for a 80-20 balance, where the 20% is literally left for accidentals, I try my best to ensure that not one thing we eat will contribute towards acidifying his body.  But we have problems like fruit that are highly anti-oxidant e.g. blueberries but which are acid forming, coffee, same thing, high on anti-oxidants but also highly acidifying.  I’ll tell you now how I deal with it – but for you, just remember the balance 60-40.  And please don’t stress – because stress undo all the good you try to do with eating right, so if you love cheese – cheese it up, the happiness factor balances it out :D

Here then are some of the foods I have in our arsenal and links to why:
Green tea and Rooibos mix the rooibos ‘cos its yummy and good and I don’t have to say anything else – oh yes, just one thing:  It makes the green tea drinkable : D
Bazil nuts for Selenium but Tinus also takes a Selenium supplement:

There are many more – spring onion, garlic, kale and and and .. but these are the ones we have on a daily basis.  And then our morning smoothie – I have a few standard ingredients and then I may add a few optionals.  But before we start:  Blue berries are our daily basis BUT it is acid forming – actually most fruit are because of the sugar in fruit.  Happily I have discovered that the fat in coconut milk slows down the absorption of the fruit into your blood stream.

Anti-cancer smoothie:
I use mostly frozen ingredients, it’s great in our summers here, plus easier to have on hand every day.  Just a note – please peel your bananas before you freeze them – if you don’t, you’ll remember that I said you should J
1 cup blue berries / blackberries (or both)
1 cup mixed berries
1 cup young coconut milk
1 banana
Piece (about 7cm) of fresh ginger root chopped small
1 tsp Cinnamon

Optional – if I have – theses always fresh
Melon (cantaloupe)
Red beet
Alpha alpha sprouts

Blend and serve – in pretty glasses, to enjoy if possible sitting down in your garden or in your favourite place without rushing, thinking how blessed we are to have so many beautiful things on this planet to help us heal and grow – especially the people who love and support us – like you.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It was the worst of Times

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Another long stretch of no blogging – so sorry – like I said, sometimes I don’t blog because we’re so happily busy, and sometimes there are the dark days when I don’t dare blog for fear of spewing pain over the lovely white pages waiting to reflect my sadness and despair.  A few diary entries to help us catch up:

18 January:  Happy day.  The results of the bone scan will be available on Sunday, 20 Jan.  One of the highlights for me yesterday was late afternoon:  We drove out and found a sand dune not far from our house, where we could see the airplanes come in to land (on final approach) we listened to Nightwish and watched the planes land and the setting sun painted the sky orange and pink and everywhere around us, and in us and through us swirled delicate ribbons of Octarine.

24 January:  Happy day. Oh my word, I still haven’t posted this – it is an old weakness of mine, unwritten letters used to clutter my desks from home to home.   So on Thursday it was Tinus’ birthday, on Friday we went to his company’s beginning of year function, it was lovely – based on the X-Factor idea, people in the company performed singing, dancing and acting pieces.  Sadly the guys far outshone the girls. Saturday was the appointment with doc, the bone scan result:  “The appearance of the activity at the left humeral head medially with the subtle CT change is probably suggestive of solitary lytic lesion.”

This is very typical of what we are dealing with on a regular basis.  Firstly the doctors are very reluctant to commit to any opinion, and then there are the words.  Having cancer in the family certainly increased our vocabulary.  Anyway, so if you ask Google you will see that a lytic lesion is an area of a bone that has been infected by cancer, or a fungal infection, another type of infection or TB.
So we’re still not sure.  On Sunday I had the first meeting with the new South African Women’s Association’s photography club – it was great, really looking forward to seeing where this is going.  On Monday Tinus was scheduled for a biopsy (EBUB), I scrambled around trying to manage the logistics around getting Tinus to the hospital and the kids to and back from school between their various extra murals.  The Monday biopsy was then postponed till Tuesday at which point I decided to let the kids stay home from school for the day.  Sometimes I just wish all the other things can be put on hold so we can focus on this one thing.  The biopsy went fine but I didn’t see the doctor afterwards, appointment scheduled for Saturday.

Tinus said that he now wants to start the chemo even if the doctor thinks he’s got a good chance of removing the cancer in the lower lung by means of surgery.  If he gets surgery now it will be another six weeks before they can start chemo and he doesn’t want to take the risk of waiting any longer. 

Today is Thursday, the Prophet’s birthday, a lovely lazy stay-at-home day.  We actually fled to miss the volumous joyful celebrations we expect to be echoing from the mosque speakers shortly to a lovely little place I’ve recently discovered called Café Retro.  The two of us are sitting here side by side on a sofa with the faces of The Beatles quilted onto it, jazz music playing in the background and the remnants of our two “shots of ginger and honey” on the table in front of us.  (Dis lekkerrr want dis gesond)  Mmm yeah, here and now, life is good.

7 April:  And here we are today; Tinus is busy getting his 3rd session of chemo in this series - after this they are going to do another PET scan to see if the cancer reacts to the chemo – if it’s going away.  This is so scary.  The worst thing is that you do not actually know if what you’re doing is the right thing.  Everywhere you read about how bad it is to get chemo – how chemo causes cancer to come back stronger (like Tinus’) and that it shortens your life, instead of lengthening it. 

We are trying so hard to eat right, to reduce stress, to be happy.  Surprisingly hard.  A while ago Tinus said to me that after this chemo he’s not going to have any more – irrespective of the outcome – and that scares me.  It feels as if we will choose not to do anything, but you know what, I do think living well is a good strategy.  Interesting point in case:   
We’ve been focusing on the alkaline vs acid food.  Tinus measures the Ph levels of his body every morning; And in spite of us (when I say us I mean me) making sure that we eat the right food some mornings his body Ph is completely acid.  Which is rather demoralizing, but we carry on – fortunately its really easy – I love the pretty food we eat, lots of veggies and fruit, over here of course we can get the most interesting fruit and veggies from all over the world.  I also make sure that we only eat organic, non GM food.  

For the past week we were on holiday in Fujairah.  Eating hotel food – and although you can choose healthy food from the buffet – some people - I don’t specifically want to mention Tinus :p – doesn’t, and when the waiter comes to take our drinks order, the same people would order Sprite or Coke.  Then when we got home we had the weekend at Comic con, where the healthiest thing we could buy was beer ^^ However, this morning, when he did his Ph test it was 9!!! Completely alkaline – my opinion:  De-stressing way more effective than diet in maintaining a good healthy body.    

The drip here next to me has a surprisingly soothing putt putt putt sound, pumping poison into Tinus’ body.  What are we doing?  Is this good, is it working?  Tinus said to me just now he is fine, as long as he’s not in hospital, but as soon as he gets here he gets this ”Oh fuck I’ve got cancer” feeling.  This time around the nausea is less than during the previous series of chemo sessions.  The chemo this time is stronger – they actually keep him overnight, and he’s got this port thingy implanted under his skin to prevent his arteries from decaying too rapidly.  Scary scary scary.  He gets five different anti -nausea medications, as well as an anti-nausea patch, then there are at least nine more bottles and boxes of medication.  At the end of the first week after the chemo, he gets a series of subcutaneous injections to prevent his bones from deteriorating – I don’t think I actually said, but yes, the cancer has spread to his bones.

There is a part of me that wants to stay right here, in this moment in time.  Here in hospital, at the beginning of spring in the desert, Tinus next to me, safely in the hospital bed, happily working on his laptop with the chemo running into his veins.  Here in this moment where we are safe in the knowledge that this could work.  I do not want to move to tomorrow, where Tinus will feel sick and weak, where he will suffer from fever and cold sweats alternately, where his body will hurt and rebel in agony as it try to reject the poison that we fed it.  I do not want to move into that day somewhere after tomorrow’s tomorrow where we know for sure if this was worth it.  

We think we know so much, but we know so little.  We try to believe so hard, and we find it so hard to believe, we try to do what is right, and we do do what we think we know is wrong.  It is not easy, but it rained last night and rain in the desert is always wonderful.  This was doubly special, because it was possibly the last rain of winter – tomorrow will be spring.  Let it be our spring of hope, after the winter of despair.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

It was the best of times

Sunset at Bab al Shams (Gateway of the sun)
  2013. I know a lot of you think when I don’t blog it’s because it’s not going well.  Well, sometimes, a lot of times actually, I’m just having too much fun, seizing the days of brilliant sunshine and floating in bubbles of happiness. 

Bab al Shams in the moontlight
17 January:  Happy day; It is Tinus’ birthday and we’re having a lovely day. The reason why I’m blogging now is because he’s busy getting a bone scan.  So a quick catch-up for those of you who missed the bits in between:  There were more spots … out damned spot … there was the TB and lots of medications but spots are not going away, so doc says let’s take them out .. de ja vu .. operation, took five lymph nodes out some tested positive for cancer, yet another PET scan was scheduled but we had to wait for op scars to heal.  It was Christmas then Lizana and Ulrich came to visit for ten days and it was the best of times:

Having the two of them here was such a treat!  They are part of our Hopefield family, our neighbours and such good friends.  Upon arrival Ulrich announced that they will take care of meals, which couldn’t have been more perfect.  Many of my fondest Hopefield memories feature an afternoon/evening spent with the rest of the family around some interesting and or exotic culinary creations by the master chef extraordinaire team aka Lizana and Ulrich.

On the way here Lizana sat next to someone who said a weekend is all you need to see and do all that there is to see and do here … good response word here : incredulous … Lizana and Ulrich were here for ten days and I think we got about halfway through everything we could have seen and done.  Dubai and the UAE is such an amazing place (how many times have I said that :D ) and there are so many things to experience here that I actually worked out an itinerary to make sure that we get as much out of the time we have together as we can.  I wanted to make it so special, for this was also a holiday for Tinus, in the normal course of living here he sees very little outside of his office walls or boardroom windows.

Lizana and Ulrich in front of the Burj Khalifa
Destination Dubai:
Dear Lizana and Ulrich
Thank you so much for choosing Olivier tours for your vacation operator. 
Please find attached a suggested itinerary.  
27 Dec: Arrival:      05H35 @ DXB followed by lots of hugging and kissing :D Relaxed morning, possible early afternoon nap. (R&R)  We were thinking of sun downers at Bab Al Shams followed by Baskin Robbins (Ibn Battuta Mall) and a night drive home via Shk Zayed rd 
                                      28 Dec: Sunrise from highest building in the world - tickets booked for 06H30
                                       Breakfast at Tiffany’s not available (yet) but perhaps Armani ^^ or one of the many other places.
                                     Possible afternoon nap (R&R) for evening out.  Possible Festival City with water and light show.
                                    29 Dec: Ain trip:  Camel chocolate factory, Camel souq, tea at road side tea shop with ultimate aim for late lunch at Jebal Hafeet which will linger till sunset and then drive home.
30 Dec:  Bastika Heritage tour – tickets booked for 10H30  The tour takes place in old part of Dubai, after tour (which I think includes dates and coffee) we can take an abra (water taxi) to the spice & gold souq, lunch at the creek side café. Possible movie under the stars in the evening at Wafi rooftop garden.
31 Dec: Sharjah Blue souq, Aviation museum, quick trip to the beach to dip our toes in the Persian Gulf and back home for afternoon nap. (R&R)   Desert Drumming – starts at 20H30 … return home next year.

etc etc ...

“Olivier Tours” actually managed to stick to their schedule fairly well.  The strikethrough showed the ones we didn’t do.  I loved the way Lizana would say “When last did you do something for the first time? Oh yes, today, and yesterday, and the day before that.”

Ulrich in the Old Souk
The time passed so quickly – ha ha – I just had this in my head : <disembodied dramatic voice> “… like sand through the hour glass..” get it… sand .. desert… anyway. 

Before we knew it Ulrich had to leave.  His sister and her family moved to Dubai quite recently and on the second to last evening that he spent with us we had a lovely braai at our place with them as well as a long-time friend of Ulrich’s who lives in our area and his family and a few of our friends and parts of their family.  The evening turned out to be so much like the evenings at the Merry Widow, a perfect end to a lovely holiday.

Lizana striking a girly pose in Rak Al Khaima
Lizana stayed on for a couple of days more and it was exactly what I needed, girl time :D  On the last day of Lizana’s stay she was part of one of our more regular experiences – an appointment at the oncologist:

We went to the doc to get the results of Tinus’ most recent PET scan, the one after surgery in December.  He showed us the scan on his computer screen - it lit up like a macabre Christmas tree:  bright lights showing hot spots from his left clavicle to his lower right lung.  His oncologist suggests that we prepare for the worst – because of the lymph nodes all being connected he wants us to consider the possibility that the cancer cells could be spread all over his body and that he would now classify the cancer as aggressive.  And it was the worst of times.