anti cancer green smoothie and my story
Hi recently my father was taking chemotherapy tablets for his renal cell cancer and he was telling me that this medication uses anti-cancer properties from certain anti-cancer foods to try and fight the cancer so I thought I’d write about these foods today. Plus this is the perfect time to share my cancer story with you. It’s long…lots to cover over 10 years of sickness plus recovery!
It started in 1995 with really invasive surgery for a brain tumour in my right temporal lobe. According to the neurosurgeon I was lucky that it was low grade and discovered fairly early. It was the following treatment and years of medication that had the most impact on my body and life.
I’d had symptoms for years of headaches that were attributed to various things eg. migraines/hormones/high blood pressure combined with severe fatigue, digestion and stomach problems and nausea that lasted up to 2 days sometimes 3 times a month.
Eventually I found a chiropractor/naturopath who changed my diet to no sugar, dairy, coffee, tea, yeast, grains except for rice (basically a candida diet) and the headaches disappeared. When I started experiencing headaches again I thought I just needed to get back to that diet and also stop drinking coffee! But the floaty dizzy feelings were different than anything I’d ever experienced so I went to the GP late 94 also thinking I may have low blood pressure…or something. He rang me the next day after doing some reading on the neuro signs I had and sent me for a CT scan that consequently showed something. The next thing was an MRI that was put under the door of the neurosurgeon’s surgery and going home to wait for what came next.
A few days later the neurosurgeon rang me at home after seeing the MRI and said “yes it’s a brain tumour and the hospital will call you…and I’m leaving scripts stuck on my door as I’m going on holidays” and hung up.
That was the extent of information given to me. Even going to doctors was something I hadn’t done very often, preferring natural and alternatives etc. One of my favourite books I discovered when I was about 16 was The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine full of interesting information about herbs and plants and natural cures. The neurosurgeon then called my parents and told them I couldn’t drive as there was a chance I may have a seizure. So I had to move back home with my 2 children who were under 6. Only sIx weeks before we’d moved into our new home I was paying off after my marriage had ended so yes really bad timing!
The scripts collected from his door were for Dexamethasone (a steroid that reduces swelling in your brain) and Dilantin (anticonvulsants). They were my first introduction to prescription medications…up to that point I didn’t take any over the counter painkillers, avoided antibiotics, didn’t take any prescription medications plus didn’t drink or smoke…
2 months later I was in hospital having the tumour removed. After the operation the neurosurgeon actually rang my mother (I was 34, not exactly a dependent child) after the pathology was done and told her the tumour was malignant and she came in and told me…the word cancer was never mentioned.
I started 8 weeks of radiotherapy after going to a “planning meeting” which consisted of me lying on an Xray table for hours having Xrays taken. I had a list of questions for the oncology radiotherapist but by the time they had finished this she had left the hospital. No information was given to me about the side effects of radiotherapy or the side effects. The neurosurgeon told me after my operation before I left hospital that I would need radiotherapy but did not explain what it was and also told me I would have speech memory problems and that it would effect my creativity!
I had just started working as a high school art teacher before I was diagnosed so yes I was concerned about this. I was not told about hearing loss, permanent hair loss, teeth damage, general poor memory, problems thinking clearly, or managing tasks I previously found easy eg teaching. Remembering names and recognising faces important! Plus there was the permanent damage to the pituitary eg hormones- early menopause, high prolactin and low sodium. Wondering now if I had known this or been told what I would have done?
Radiotherapy started the next day which afterwards was incredibly painful. I lay on that table day after day playing a game of Space Invaders in my brain where the space invaders would eat up all the tumour cells.
One day in the radiotherapy waiting room I picked up some brochures and one was on brain tumours- that’s where and how I discovered malignant actually meant cancer. I spent time in the hospital library after this reading anything I could find on brain tumours including textbooks and then contacting the US Brain Tumour Association online for all the information I could read via print outs from a friend’s computer. This was 95 remember, personal computers and the internet weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now.
I saw the neurosurgeon after radiotherapy and had a long list of questions for him- eg why hadn’t I been asked any questions about diet, lifestyle, work, where I’d lived etc etc and also about my grandfather who died in his 70s of the same brain tumour but in a different part of his brain. I was concerned that this may be genetic and was worried about my children.
I’d asked his hospital in Sydney to send me his medical records and there it was- the same tumour, an astrocytoma glioma. He was considered “not a candidate for radiotherapy” and then went to a hospice where he die a short time after.
The neurosurgeon spent all of 2 minutes looking at his surgery then he was going out his door saying he had to go to the hospital and had no time for questions…yes really…
Life stopped for me after the radiotherapy. I felt completely drained of all energy and had zero interest in anything. I couldn’t drive, couldn’t work, was still at my parent’s house and I was having weird symptoms, severe headaches and dizziness. I had scans that showed damage from the surgery and scar tissue.
The GP and neurologist starting giving me a variety of anti-convulsants and painkillers. The GP also gave me anti-depressants for the headaches but they made them worse. Then one day he gave me a script for Endone…oxycodone instead of the usual Panadeine Forte for my neck, jaw and head pain.
I moved back to my home and life passed in a drugged out blur. I would leave the chemist with a box of 5mg 100-200 Endone tablets. I was also given MS Contin morphine then finally Physeptone in March 2000…which for me was the next major lifestopper. Physeptone is an opioid analgesic tablet for pain relief. Of course all opioid painkillers are addictive and have side effects-including severe depression.
Really all I needed was support, an holistic nutritionist, somewhere to go to do a juice feast detox etc and naturopath plus detoxing and nutritional support but I couldn’t afford it plus I was in this toxic, barely conscious, oblivious out of it state most of the time. I did have some acupuncture while I still had private health cover during radiotherapy and can only describe it as mentally lifesaving and one of the rare times I felt I was back in my body. All the doctors and neurologists had to offer me was what they wrote on their prescription pads and my doctor actually told my concerned family I”d probably end up in a nursing home!!! He really should have had a sign on his door saying
ABANDON ALL HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!
This began the years I was unable to get out of bed…and in hindsight becoming severely depressed or something and unable to think rationally or clearly about where I was or what I was doing. I had sunk to such a low that the highlight of my day was the knock on the door signalling the arrival of the daily cocktail of addictive opiate painkillers and diazepam. These had been delivered to my door everyday for around a year by the pharmacy.
I also had undiagnosed early menopause with all the associated symptoms that I had no rational explanation for apart from thinking alternatively there it is the tumour has come back and I’m going crazy! This was from the damage to my pituitary gland from radiotherapy and I was on medication for high prolactin also from the radiotherapy that had psychotic side effects…and another side effect from all the medication was an ulcerated oesophagus… which also required medication…plus anti nausea and reflux GERD medication.
The radiotherapy had also given me 100% hearing loss in my right ear and loud ringing/ tinnitus. I had major pain in my right jaw as the surgeon had cut the muscle in front of my right ear in the surgery and I discovered later from the chiropractor the surgeon had also removed the muscle on the right side of my head.
Then in August 2004, 10 years after my operation (and coincidentally when Victoria Boutenko was in her office in America inventing green smoothies!) I woke up in intensive care with a tube down my throat not knowing where I was or what had happened. My first thought listening to the sounds around me- I’m in hospital.
My 15 year old daughter saved my life that day. She had stayed home from school and she found me having a seizure and called an ambulance. I’d had a medication (Tegretol) low sodium related seizure that continued in the ambulance all the way to emergency. My lungs had collapsed, I stopped breathing and woke up in ICU intubated after being in a coma for 3 days.
After a few scans I went home about a fortnight later. I also had a broken left ankle after falling over in hospital after a reaction to a new anti-convulsant that also gave me hallucinations and severe vertigo…yes you can only laugh in hindsight!
So I was sent home with a plastic bag containing the same 8 medications I’d been prescribed previously and a different just in case anticonvulsant and…got back in the bed I was unable to get out of for the previous 2/3 years- because of a severely depressed nervous system and seriously toxic body/brain.
After being home for about a week and unable to keep my eyes open for any length of time or even concentrate enough to read (and I read SO many books during those bed years!) I woke up one morning, looked over at the envelope of tablets on the bedside table and in that moment (cue light bulb over head symbol!) I decided to stop taking EVERY medication I was on and STOP going to anymore doctors and take control of my own health and body as no one else was going to do it except me…and if I didn’t do it I may end up dead very soon.
I realised in that moment and in the following weeks how the radiotherapy and medication had severely affected my quality of life and nervous system for 9 years to the point I could not work and could not get out of bed or leave home for days at my lowest point. In hindsight I had undiagnosed significant depression (or something very similar from the surgery and radiotherapy) and severe nutritional deficiencies both resulting from my cancer and treatment and all the toxic medication and painkillers.
Just making and committing to this decision was empowering. I took control, rang the chemist and told them I didn’t need any tablets that day…the pharmacist rang back to check if this was true, yes absolutely it was. I made one final visit to the doctor just for clarification on when I started taking certain medication as the previous years had morphed into a black memory hole.
So in September 2004- within 2 weeks of stopping all medication- I had what I describe as a black fog lifting out of my head and there I was back in my body and head for the first time in almost 10 years! Interestingly my sense of taste and smell came back too.I got out of bed, moved the TV back to the loungeroom and started thinking about every hospital and doctor visit I’d had since I was diagnosed. I knew exactly what I needed and why I had lost 10 years of my life on this rollercoaster I’d been unable to get off since that first diagnosis and literally being subsumed by the whole cancer hospital doctors pharmaceutical industry where people come a far last.Obviously what I was feeling for the first time in years was some rage,indignation and anger-no not bitterness or regret but just a fight back/take control feeling that was empowering and made me want to be a survivor rather than a victim…As my brain started detoxing and rational thought and logic kicked back in.
I started thinking about the 3 previous admissions to hospital for low sodium and how absolutely nothing was said about food/sodium/nutrition. On all the medication I was taking I had zero appetite and was hardly eating anything- I was always sent home after a few days in hospital on water restriction, eating crappy hospital food and told to limit my water intake to 2 cups a day!
Medication free I had an initial detox that seemed to last a few horrible months combined with giving up coffee withdrawal. My usual morning before the coma in 2004 was wake up, take my tablets then make really strong espresso in the bialetti so I could just try to stay awake for some part of the day.
I’d drink a huge mug of espresso with milk and about 10 or more nutrasweet tablets….
I decided to go completely dairy and egg free a short time after giving up coffee.
For years I was eating just enough to stay alive. I was a vegetarian who had started eating meat years before I was diagnosed then stopped after radiotherapy when i just couldn’t eat it anymore. I was eating no fruit and vegetables and eating too many eggs with lots of cheese on toast. I remember tomato and grated carrot toasted sandwiches were a staple and also creamy packet microwaved pastas.
I remember too having major anxiety every time I went into a supermarket being faced with all the aisles and food and choices.
Having no access to the internet I dragged out the only books I had on nutrition and healthy food, some going back to when I was 17 when I was making alfalfa sprouts, wholemeal bread and torturing my family with lentil casserole… and I started researching first sodium then making a list (love lists!) of all the healthiest foods I should be eating under vitamin and mineral sections.
Any food that was listed in a few sections eg the ones that had the most nutrients I started eating-eg oats/celery carrot and apple juices/vegetables/leafy greens/whole grains/ beans, nuts and seeds. Research research research! It was like I’d discovered this amazing secret eg food and the healing powers of nutrients.
I knew I needed healing and food was definitely the best place to start. The main thing that was missing from 10 years of doctors, specialists, scans, blood tests and hospital.
I started eating more nutrient rich whole food, threw out packaged processed food (cheese,eggs, sugar, white pasta and the Arnott’s shortbread biscuits that I ate for breakfast dipped in my Nutrasweet saturated espresso!) and drank litres of water with lemon juice, made lots of vege soup and then started walking…round the block for 5-10 minutes then increasing it daily to 40-60 minutes around where I was living.
I went to the neurologist to check if I really did have any epilepsy that I had been taking all this medication for. I really wanted to get a normal license as I’d been on a restricted driver’s license since the operation when I was automatically prescribed anti-convulsants- Dilantin, Epilim, Lamictal then Tegretol which all had severe side effects. These are routinely prescribed for just in case of epilepsy when you have a brain tumour. The EEG test showed what I thought-
I didn’t have any epilepsy…the only seizures I’d had were a blackout 6 weeks before diagnosis and the low sodium seizure in 2004.
The year after my operation I had small temporal lobe seizures that were changes in consciousness- smell taste hearing music etc but the daily medication I took for 10 years was much worse than these. I haven’t experienced any since 2004 and being medication free… and the EEG proved this! I drove straight to have my license changed and a new photo taken…for the first time in 20 years I was legally driving where I wanted.
Over 2007/8 I had gained about 12 kilos after I returned to work as a teacher and the emotional impact of my mother dying in August 2007. I felt really low- lethargic, low energy, severe upper back and neck muscle tension, anxiety and had decreasing interest in work/life and was also having cravings for sugar/coffee and chocolate bars and chips.
I had started drinking coffee again with rice milk and honey to try and increase my energy levels and focus to get through a day an exhausting (mentally/physically) day at work. I was also dealing with stressful memory problems from the radiotherapy-speech memory and facial recognition.
I felt there was much more I could do- on my mind/body/health balance and what I was eating, why I was craving certain bad stuff and stress/energy levels etc but didn’t know what I needed. I’d settled into an easy cook the same foods and freeze them cycle and was eating zero raw food and no leafy greens- I didn’t even know what kale was!
So the research began again- the first raw online site I went to I saw someone making a green smoothie. Straight away I knew this was doable and what I needed-I’d had some major molar damage from the radiotherapy/anticonvulsants so chewing lots of hard raw stuff and tough leafy greens was out… my original recipe used 2 stalks celery/1 cucumber / 2 big handfuls of baby spinach/ 1/4 of a lemon/lemon juice/1-2 bananas/ 1 green apple/big piece of ginger. I still have the bookmark I scribbled this recipe down on back then- Green Drink.Wow I can only describe the feeling of that first week blending and drinking a green smoothie for breakfast as pure energy coursing through my veins and body.
I wanted to drink more during the day whenever I was hungry. I wanted to tell EVERYONE I met how amazing this could make you feel!! SO I discovered greens, green smoothies and thousands of people around the world feeling the same as I was.
I had stable mood and energy levels throughout the day, more motivation, concentration, less gallstone symptoms and immediate weight loss. Skin, hair, teeth and nails- I could see the difference.
The main thing is I feel something I can only describe as ‘zingier’-like an internal buzzy feeling of something that just feels right. My increased energy and exercise means no more muscle tension and joint pain and just feel (mind AND body) generally more in balance. So there has been this amazing ripple effect in all areas of my life.
I stopped wanting to eat anything sugary or stodgy and was inadvertently eating more fresh raw food-15 kgs melted away and I craved real fresh raw food for the first time in my life- it was so incredible I wanted to share this with everyone.
I stuck to baby spinach in that first year, then read more resources like Victoria Boutenko’s books and Robyn Openshaw’s green smoothie book then started this blog, printed green smoothie info cards to give people and started researching all the different greens and going to Farmer’s Markets and talking to growers about greens! I met Victoria Boutenko recently in Sydney at her green smoothie talk and her final words were “Use good health as your tool to go out there and teach and inspire others!”
I discovered a testimonial I wrote in the new 2010 edition of Green For Life! I’d forgotten I’d sent it to her when she was asking for testimonials of the effects of green smoothies in your life.My Year Of Green Smoothies page 125. Not sure why it hasn’t been attributed to me but it is definitely my story.
I was so inspired by the testimonials I read online of the changes in health people were experiencing and the list of health benefits eg- it was like this huge secret with so many health benefits that all these people out there knew and wanted to pass along to others. Robyn Openshaw The Green Smoothie Girl has said that 84% of people she teaches green smoothies to then teach others. Not because she tells them to but because they feel the incredible changes that adding this to your life has.
Some of the benefits you will feel after drinking green smoothies-
Boost your immune system
Increase digestion efficiency
Help stabilise blood sugar and hormone levels
Balance body pH
Increase your energy
Reduce joint pain and arthritis
Reduce illness and cravings
Boost mental performance
Improve skin hair and nails and help acne, eczema and psoriasis
Help maintain a healthy weight
So this is why I’m really passionate about the healing power of whole foods and healthy eating and why I am critical of mainstream medicines complete disregard and ignorance of nutrition and whole body wellness and disease prevention…and their myopic sole reliance on just medication for every illness. We have become a fast food society where we rely on a pill for every ill and the symptoms of disease are treated and medicated rather than investigating the cause of illness and redressing imbalances, deficiencies etc.
I’ve always said “There are more ways to enter a house than through the front door! eg think outside the box.
Cancer and green smoothies ? Eating fruit and vegetables every day reduces risks of getting cancer but which ones have the best anti-cancer properties and what do they have to do with green smoothies?
Here’s the science. They’re called anti-angiogenic and they are cancer fighting because they contain naturally-occurring compounds known as angiogenesis inhibitors. Angiogenesis inhibitors stop the spread of cancer by preventing tumours from creating new blood vessels. Without new blood vessels, the tumours cannot survive…biotech companies are starting to look into this and add elements to cancer drugs. Though I think the whole plant has been designed so all the elements work together though so I know which one I would prefer.
These anti-angiogenic foods include
Greens-kale parsley bokchoy broccoli
Fruit/berries-orange red grapes blueberries strawberries cherries raspberries blackberries/cranberries pineapple apple lemon
Green tea ginger and dark chocolate!
Does this list sound a bit familiar? Yes- because these are some of the main ingredients of a green smoothie..except the dark chocolate of course but hey we can always be adaptable! No surprise that green smoothies are getting such a big wrap by daily drinkers and healthy food advocates. I wonder what it will take for the dieticians, nutritionists, GP’s, doctors and oncologists to get on board…
My prescription for general good health and happiness? Green smoothies!! Jane
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” Dr. Ann Wigmore