About

In July 2012 I was a healthy, mid thirties, active and busy executive and stepmom. In August 2012, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It would take me eight months to re-identify as a healthy woman living with cancer. I’ve learned some stuff along the way, and continue to do so. I do not advocate abandoning standard medical treatment in favour of exclusive use of alternative approaches. I do advocate a patient’s responsibility to educate herself, and right to participate in treatment and health planning, and to incorporate complimentary approaches that are judged to be safe. In May 2015, my MRI showed progression and growth in my tumour, and so in September 2015 I underwent an awake craniotomy to resect as much of the tumour as possible, followed by radiation and chemotherapy during October/November 2015. When removed, my tumour pathology was classified as a WHO grade III anaplastic oligodendroglioma.

Living in the Canadian prairies, following a high fat/low carb diet to achieve “therapeutic ketosis”. I’m certified to teach yoga, am a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist in yoga and Breast Cancer Recovery, and Pilates, and am always interested in restorative effects of movement and meditation.

Loving: my family, my work, true friends, living in the present.

Excluding from my life: the cult of busy, small thinking, cold hearts.

Doing my best to contribute more than I consume and to sleep through the night.

 

This is a personal blog, produced in my own time and solely reflecting my personal opinions and learning; statements on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I am affiliated. All content is copyrighted.

 

35 comments

  1. Val Jansen · · Reply

    I read the article about you in the Saskatoon Express today. We found out on Dec. 18, 2012, that our daughter Ali (14 years old now) has a brain tumor. It is currently stable, and of course being monitored. They tell us they do not think it is cancerous, however, it is in a hard to reach spot.
    I was struck by the similarities in your story and ours……the unexpected and unwanted mail, the mental fog, and navigating through doctors, tests and appointments. After being “in the system” for just over a year, I realize that the cancer clinic really is a place of support and care (although my heart still races a little every time we have to go)
    I am looking forward to following your blog. I am not sure why I am replying, maybe it was the frank expression of the feelings that go along with this type of diagnosis. I have not accessed info on line. I feel I am informed through the medical community. I think too much research on line can lead to fear. We are living with a positive outlook and regular activities. I do not want my daughter to be fearful of what could be…..I want her to be a regular kid.
    I wish you the absolute best of luck with your ketogenic diet. Take care,
    Val

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  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Val, and for reading. Maybe we’ll cross paths in our watchful waiting travels! I have a draft blog entry waiting to grow up and get bumped out into the world about how scary, and really counterproductive, I think online research can be, so your point there definitely rings true for me!

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  3. Hi just found your blog and love your style! I too have a brain tumour (parietal lobe) most removed via a crainotomy (ignore spelling its still early in Scotland) frantically reading up on the keto diet and hoping to commence this but also live my life without resorting to living like a nun – no offence to any nuns reading this blog!!! I would love your help and advice on what you actually eat on a daily basis as I am so confused with all the info that’s currently out there – every book I read has totally conflicting information! I’d love to see a snapshot of your daily diet – god just joined your blog and I’m demanding already lol!!!

    Keep up the good work!

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  4. Thanks Lynda, nice to “meet” you. Thanks for reading. I’ll do a ketogenic day post about what a typical day is, that’s a good idea, and a question I get a lot. I use a lot of recipes from KetoDietApp, I have it on iPhone, and there’s also a blog. I don’t get anything for the endorsement, it’s just got good recipes, especially available on the blog; in the app, be warned that you have to unlock some with in-app purchases, though.

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  5. Aw that’s brilliant and will be so helpful – thanks. I’ll also download the app and see how I go. It’s so nice to find other people in a similar situation to you. I look forward to your posts and getting to hear a bit more about you. Have a good day.

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    1. I was also amiss in not mentioning The Charlie Foundation as a great resource. Their website was extremely helpful to me when I was first trying to understand what the diet involves. They have info and recipes and it’s all developed for parents dealing with kids who have seizure disorders, so it’s very straightforward. I’ll have to add it to my Keto post.

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  6. Great thanks! I’m currently tucked up in bed reading your recommendations – I’ve not had a good day today, my brain feels like its being pummeled so on other half’s orders I’ve been sent to bed with copious amounts of green tea! I’d rather of red wine but hey ho!

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  7. Wow the Charlie Foundation is excellent! Also downloaded the keto app here we go!

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  8. I found your blog, as I follow Keto news and also have been doing the diet for almost 4 months. I truly believe that you will be able to control the cancer thru this diet. I hope so…. Have you read or followed Stephanie Person? She is doing a lot in the ketogenic world and also cured her mother of a brain tumour… She has you tube video as well as Facebook page where she shares a lot of information… Sending all positive thoughts your way!!

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    1. Hi, thanks for reading. And thanks for the reference, no I haven’t followed her, but I’ll definitely look her up!

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  9. No problem !! on her Facebook she is Stephanie Person Skater, and on you tube she is stephanie fitskater
    She has a lot of great info. Also my macros are 80/15/5. as I
    worry that too much protein can convert to glucose by way of gluconeogenisis..

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  10. It’s so good to read about your journey and the success you are having. I am also on the ketogenic diet and having a brain tumor that I would like to clear! I just started the diet in June and I’ve explored numerous paths since the 2010 discovery with seizures and surgery.

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    1. Hi, Sandra, thanks for reading. I feel that I am always exploring, we have that in common! I wish you the best in your explorations.

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  11. Anne Marie · · Reply

    Hello! I just found your blog today as I was on my way home from a doctor’s appointment to determine the steps to take for my grade 2 oligodendroglioma. I was recently diagnosed this summer and have just now started exploring the ketogenic diet. I have only been following it for about a week as I’m trying to figure out what to eat and how much I am allowed. Finding resources like your blog is definitely helpful! I have a question that you may have already answered in one of your posts… I was wondering exactly how many grams of net carbs you have each day to remain in ketosis. I was also wondering if you had seen any improvement with the seizures since you have started the diet. I have similar seizures as you that affect my left hand and arm and also my face. The tumor appears to be about 6cm so the doctors are recommending treatment rather than just monitoring it so that it will hopefully not increase in size. I figure this diet can’t hurt things, right?
    I appreciate your feedback and any recommendations you have for starting this diet! Thank you for putting this information out there to help others..

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    1. Hi, Anne Marie, thanks for reading, I can definitely relate to your experiences right now, though I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I’m gratified that this information can be of use to people, I feel like I had a challenge to find it all, so I hope collecting it together is useful! Your thinking on the diet is much the same as mine was; I felt that with so many people eating this way for weight loss or as a general lifestyle choice, many of them for many years, it couldn’t hurt. In terms of your specific question regarding amount of carbs, I find I have to limit mine to less than 20 g per day in order to get what I consider good ketosis. I’m not sure if you’ve found the post on glucose to ketone ratios yet, but that’s really the key piece of information that helped me dial in my diet, was understanding how to measure blood levels, and how to try and get to the best zone that the limited research out there says might be most useful for managing or limiting tumour growth. The recommendation is to have glucose equal to ketones, or ketones higher, even better. The best “plain language” resources on this that I’ve found are in Ellen Davis’s ebook and also Miriam Kalamian’s ebook, both on my Resources page. In terms of how to eat to obtain ketosis, and figure out your personal carbohydrate and protein tolerances, Jimmy Moore’s new book, Keto Clarity, has some good chapters on that (also on my Resources page). Basically, how sensitive you are to carbs and to protein both matter in attaining ketosis, and it differs for every individual, but these resources give you enough to get on the right path, then I just trust my measurements.

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    2. Hi Anne Marie,
      It’s amazing to hear of someone else having the same tumor (oligodendroglioma grade 2), seizures, and the pathway of a ketogenic diet. However, I’ve had this experience for 4 and a half years and the tumor has grown (bigger than yours). I just started the diet in June of this year. I recommend Miriam Kalamian’s consultation and guidance. It’s hard to adapt to the diet and so it helps to have her information.
      I also take the Oxygen therapy a few times a week to complement the process. As well, I’m working with a Doctor who prescribes supplements to support the healing.

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      1. Anne Marie · ·

        Thanks for the information! I have been really struggling to figure out exactly how to follow this diet so that I can make sure I have the best chance at it being effective. I have an added challenge in that I am currently still nursing my 3 month old daughter. However, I will have to stop nursing when I begin chemo. Sandra, I am curious, have you had any improvement in seizures or tumor growth since you started the diet? I have an MRI scheduled on Monday and am very nervous to hear the results. It is nice to talk to others who are experiencing similar things.

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  12. Anne Marie,
    I just wish I could tell you the 20 simple steps that would easily turn this around (especially for your little daughter too!) I know the MRI’s are hard – hang in there!
    I had an MRI in June that showed a negative condition of growth and out of fear of the expected quick growth, they said to start the chemo and radiation right away. I said no I’ll take the time off for my kids for the summer. In the meantime, I started the diet (mid-June) as well as Oxygen therapy (avg. 3 times per week). Then I had the MRI at the beginning of Sept. The results surprised the cancer doctors! They said that it’s stable. The pictures showed a very slight growth however, no where near as drastic as they thought. I’ve decided not to do radiation or chemo. I have another MRI in Dec.
    So therefore, yes, I’ve had an improvement since I started the diet. There have been many adjustments as I go along. I’m grateful for the guidance from Miriam and I’m working with a wonderful doctor here who prescribes supplements and does tests to determine what’s happening. We have found some toxins and metals that are in the body. Thus, I’m working on supplements to cleanse in that way at the same time. In July, I did a major mercury cleansing, with good results! So I can’t guarantee that my good results on the MRI in Sept. were just from the diet and Oxygen.
    Feel free to ask more questions!
    Good luck with the MRI tomorrow!
    Sandra

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  13. Anne-Marie and Sandra, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I can only say that from my experience, I have not experienced any tumour progression in two years; I’ve been on the ketogenic diet since March 2013.

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  14. Scott Fiddis · · Reply

    Hi, you should think twice about the addition of animal products in your diet, I too have cancer and have found that the egf proteins in animal products promote tumour growth and cancer progression. You should look at systemic enzymes as an addition, namely nattokinase (pharmaceutical grade) as well as berries (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (every morning for breakfast)). Berries are very effective at reducing cancer growths. Systemic enzyme product (Naticor) is an excellent product (the originator cured himself of cancer using Naticor) or NattoXL and Neprinol together re systemic enzymes.
    Best of luck.

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  15. Hi Greymadder, stumbled upon your site while looking for information on blood sugar and ketone levels. I was diagnosed with high grade glioma early last year. Went through resection, radiotherapy, and am doing chemotherapy. I am also from Canada, doing the ketogenic diet. Diet has been going well for the most part, but recently have been struggling with keeping my after-meal blood sugar low. Therefore, a bit worried whether or not am still in ketosis.

    Just want to say hi. Good luck with your diet. You have an awesome blog with lots of useful information. Keep it up!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, I am always pleased to find a fellow Canadian online, as it seems options, and steps in the therapeutic process can differ based on regions of the world, and also certainly availability of some of the ingredients that people use for this diet are certainly region specific. I can relate to your comments about blood sugar, I’ve found the only reliable way to reassure myself that I’m on track is measuring my blood ketones, though this can be expensive at home. I’m trying out a reusable breath meter (ketonix.com), but don’t have anything to report yet!

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  16. Hi another Canadian here. I was diagnosed in November 2012 with stage 4 Breast cancer with 4 spots on my liver. I went onto a vegan diet immediately. I had 4 rounds of ACT, 4 rounds of taxotere, chest surgery, chest radiatin, sterotactic body radiation and liver radio frequency ablation. Although each stage appeared sucessful I have just heard I have 3 new mets on my liver (the original 4 are gone). Like you, I like to think I have an open mind to all possible treatments and whilst I believe the vegan diet helped my through some rough health challenges I now think I need to try something else.

    I switched to a keto diet 3 days ago. Next week I have to have the rest of my body scanned. If everywhere other than my liver is clear it is thought possible to remove my left liver lobe. Knowing that treatment on my liver has so far resulting in new mets I have began to think that all the treatments cause inflamation and thus while killing the targeted mets also promotes angiogenesis in surrounding cancer cells that are too small to detect. I am interested to see if I can stop the growth on this diet.

    There seems to be so few of us trying this method. If you are interested I will keep you posted on my progress. so far I had a bit of a stomach ache yesterday. Switching from vegan to this is a little tough on the body I guess. I have a blood glucose monitor and am using ketostix. So far I have got my blood sugar down to 3.4 and the ketostix say I am between 1.5 and 4. My blood sugar on Friday right before my switch was 5.7.

    I have sent my email if you are interested in keeping in touch.

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    1. Hi, Zoe, I’d definitely like to bee in touch and hear how things go for you. You’ve had quite a road so far, I admire how you continue to try to modify what you can! I really hope this helps. It sounds like you slid into ketosis pretty quickly, but most people feel kind of rough for the first week or so. I know I’ve read things online about vegan keto, or going from vegan to keto, but I don’t have links at hand. Your numbers look pretty good, though. Nice to “meet” you!

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  17. Hi Alix. Do you measure you glucose and ketone level and if so how low have you managed to get for you blood sugar?

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    1. I do measure both, there’s a post around here somewhere about an experiment I did to show why. My BG is usually around 4 to 5. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 3.

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  18. Hi Alix

    I have been following you for a while now and I just wanted you to know, I think what your doing with the Diet and maintaining a state of therapeutic ketosis is in my mind the best thing you could do. I’ve done a lot of reading on this subject and I’m convinced mainsteam medicine has no interest in curing cancer. I should qualify that statement, first of all I don’t believe their is a cure and never will be. The key here is causation and prevention. I’m not saying their aren’t environmental factors, their are, but Im a strong believer in you are what you eat.
    Lots of cancer patients get the standard care and continue to eat all the wrong foods that may have caused the cancer to get a foot hold in the first place, then get a relapse, by this time they’re ability to fight any kind of defense has diminished. The immune system is to weak.
    Bottom line is the only thing that will fight any cancer is a strong immune system.
    Keep up the good work and never give up.

    Grant

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    1. Thank you, Grant, for your encouragement and for reading!

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  19. Great info! How are you doing? Prayers with you. God bless.

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  20. Anonymous · · Reply

    Have you tried focused ultrasound? John Grisham (the Firm, author) has a free book on kindle about it.

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  21. Leonard Shea · · Reply

    Hi

    I am a teacher from Our Lady of Lourdes high school in Guelph Canada.

    Below is a link to a music video we put together to raise awareness for brain cancer.  It was shot at the ten4ten fund raiser where we raised $300,000!

    Looking to share this video with as many people as possible to demonstrates what community can do. 

    Here is the tweet we put out. Please go to my page and retweet my pinned tweet. It would mean so much to me.

    RAISING AWARENESS FOR BRAIN CANCER. New music vid SUNSHINE Nathan Finoro shaves head in memory of grand father’s brain cancer

    Please follow me on Twitter @leonard_shea

    I would really appreciate a retweet.

    Thanks

    Like

  22. Elizabeth · · Reply

    Hi Alex Thank you for sharing your journey! I have just started this! Little confused by stuff i need help understanding. Besides cancer I have type 2 diabetes. My calorie total only 710 now but at 20 gram of crabs , Ate 8 eggs i was told in group not to eat grass fed beef. I don’t think I can take my insulin to low! What can I do ? Can I eat almonds? Cheese sticks?

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    1. Hi, Elizabeth, I wanted to make sure you caught my reply, either here or on my Facebook group, since I saw you participating there as well, thank you. I try very hard not to ever offer specific nutrition or treatment advice, because I am not a medical expert or a nutritionist, so I can only speak to my own experience. The Resources page on this blog has an up to date list of very good, credible sources of information on the ketogenic diet and cancer, what to eat, and how to start. I wish you the best.

      Like

  23. You’re amazing

    Liked by 1 person

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