I have been on a bit of a “blog-iday”, taking a break from all things cancer while I focus on other pursuits and await the results of my early April MRI. I am pleased to be able to report that I received a “stable” result, which means no change in the tumour. That’s two full years since my first diagnostic scan, with no change in the watchful waiting approach, because there’s been no change in the tumour. I have not had any medical treatment, no chemo or radiation, during that time. Not because I was against it, but because my team of doctors more or less agreed that these interventions should be reserved in a future arsenal, and if this tumour remains well-behaved with slow growth and doesn’t display any aggressive conversion or invasive characteristics, we can all happily co-exist.
The only treatment I’ve employed is a dietary overhaul, going to a low carbohydrate, high fat ketogenic diet over a year ago. See my one year diet report here. I cannot say without doubt that this diet has prevented growth or spread of my tumour. I can say it didn’t hurt. I recently had my annual physical, my first after starting this diet in March 2013. I came through with no concerns. Normal cholesterol, normal thyroid function (which had been a little sluggish in the past). I am living proof that eating fat doesn’t make you fat!
I was excited some weeks ago to receive a copy of Ellen Davis’s book Fight Cancer With a Ketogenic Diet: A New Method for Treating Cancer. I’ve read and re-read it during my hiatus. I love it. I wish I’d found it last year when I started this diet. It would have made things so much easier. One of the chief challenges I encountered was that so much of the information available online about a ketogenic diet is framed for weight loss. I was continually frustrated in trying to navigate through the overwhelming amount of information out there on low carb, Atkins, Paleo, keto diets, and trying to tease out the information that applied to me. I wish I had found Ellen’s book sooner, because it’s all here.
I need to see the science behind what I’m reading, and I want to satisfy myself that it makes sense to me. This is, for me, the number one strength of Davis’s book. It presents the scientific support for using a ketogenic diet to fight cancer in an accessible manner that is written with the layperson in mind. And it supports that with links and references to the source materials, for people who want to do a deeper dive.
What I was really looking for when I started researching dietary interventions for cancer was essentially answers to the classic who, what, when, where, why and how’s of it all. Davis’s book really lines up all of this information for an overwhelmed reader. From what the diet is and why it can fight cancer, who leading researchers are in the area and what their research shows, to who should NOT follow such a diet, the top of mind questions are all covered in dedicated sections. And there is a lot of “how” information, which is also tremendously valuable to find collected together and set out logically for you. How to start, how to monitor progress, how to customize the diet, cooking techniques, it’s all here. There is also a wealth of information on the questions that pop up as you start out – how much water do I drink, can I drink alcohol, what’s the role of fasting, how do I eat out at restaurants, what to do when travelling, how long to do it, what role does or should exercise play, what about medications and illness, what if I’m a vegetarian?
One of the key things I wanted help with early in my diet was understanding how to know whether what I was doing was working, and the section in the book on Monitoring Progress in Chapter 4 is very well done. It motivated me to get out my blood reading meter and re-visit my own data collection again. I spent about a week finding the same information last year when I started, and arrived at the same blood meter recommended in the book, used in the same manner. I had to experiment to arrive at a schedule for when to take readings, which Davis sets out for you in this section, and again would have been useful for me.
Finally, there is a great deal of valuable information provided as appendices, including recommended supplements, worksheets for calculating calorie requirements and macronutrient levels, food diary templates, etc. Davis incorporates a “food exchange” system that allows the user to think about carbohydrates in a sort of points system that could be less onerous for some patients to wrap their minds around than worrying about grams of macronutrients in everything they consume.
I have already recommended this book and Davis’s website to a number of folks who ask me about my diet, and received feedback that matches my own impressions. This is a valuable resource for anyone working on understanding how to make dietary and lifestyle changes in the face of a cancer diagnosis, or that of a loved one. Ellen’s book is available at her site, below, in ebook format, which makes following links to other external sources and information easy.
I would like to thank Ellen Davis for providing me a copy of her book free of charge.
Ellen’s site: http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/