My internist eyes me and poses a question. “How’s your diet?” She’s
trying to determine how well I’m taking care of myself. I stare back at
her with a smug
expression. “Better than yours or anyone else’s in your office,” I
challenge. She laughs and drops the subject. But I don’t and begin
unbeatable diet: kale, collard greens, beets, Brussels sprouts,
leeks, garlic and dandelion greens. And that’s just my snacks.
When Jack LaLanne is your idea of the perfect man, then you’re
obsessed with well-being. I’ve always maintained good habits with solid
regular exercise. I never smoked, consumed 8 daily glasses of water,
wore sunscreen and favored a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and
grains. Yet, it was I
– not others with their wanton epicurean ways – who developed
cancer. How could that be?
Apparently, I didn’t factor in that I’m human.
Upon hearing the “C-word,” I had to face the hard, cold truth that I
was finite, despite my admirable lifestyle practices. My oncologist
braced me for the
long ordeal of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery – while adding
that I was “healthy” enough to endure the tough road before me. Oh, the
irony of being
referred to as “healthy” with a cancer diagnosis. Her prediction
came true, though. My routine helped me get through the arduous regimen.
After treatment ended, my goal was to do all in my power to prevent
repeating that most unpleasant episode. So I ramped up my diet by
about nutrition, scouring product labels and buying organic,
non-GMO, farm-raised, “all natural” whenever possible. People avoid
dining with me.
My exercise program diversified, as well, adding yoga, pilates and
swimming to strengthen, stretch and tone. After the onslaught of
treatment, I emerged
with less balance and flexibility, lymphedema and other challenges.
There are superb organizations that address survivors’ physical issues,
because of the
toll that treatment takes.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to accept is my post-cancer body
is not the same as my “before” version. But then again, I’m not the same
And while taking positive steps to rebuild my body is a powerful way to regain my life, I’m realistic about its limits.
It seems that many survivors, like me, try even harder after our
ordeal to control our mortality. I guess it’s a human tendency.
doesn’t work like that. We’re just not that powerful.
So while I still reach for the grass-fed and wild-caught, I’m also
aware that it’s more for my overall health and well-being than anything
else. But that
might not be so bad after all.