It’s two days after treatment round 5 and I’ve just had the contraband vitamin C. It’s not allowed 48 hours before or after treatment. The pharmacists are worried that all its goodness will interfere with the poisons. Oops! Am I being cynical?
Anyway you can probably guess from what I just said that I decided to continue with the treatment. And now I only have one round to go. Yay!! Then I just have to consider the 2 year maintenance programme of GA101 every 2 months. The side effects are not as bad as those from the bendamustine (the chemo drug derived from mustard gas – I’ll let your imaginations run riot with that one) as in they don’t linger but it’s not all that pleasant while I’m having it. Anyway that’s a decision for a another time.
I started to write a blog about how I came to my decision but the accumulated fatigue stalled that. I’ll get to it over the next day or so. I’m writing this because I am noticing some other types of side effects that I feel compelled to share. The side effects of having changed my diet completely to vegan. It’s now been just over 4 weeks since I last ingested any animal products. A little bit of chicken in a salad and quiches that were brought into chemo by my mother and my amazing friend Susan. It was my birthday and we had a party in the Chemo Day Unit. But not one bit of meat, egg, cheese or milk has passed my lips since then (and there was very little in the month before). Which is amazing since cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches were de rigeur post chemo.
And not only have I been completely without animal products for 4 weeks, but my husband, partly wanting to support me and partly inspired by the hot and fit plant-eating firemen in Forks Over Knives, has joined me and has been almost vegan for 3 weeks. I say almost because he has a negligible amount of milk in his 2 cups of tea a day. And we are noticing huge changes.
- I just had chemo 2 days ago and I’m sitting here writing a blog. The other 4 rounds have seen me completely wiped out at this stage. The side effects are meant to be cumulative, not reducing as I go on. I don’t feel great but I feel better than I have other rounds. I even left the house yesterday to do a mercy run to Terra Madre (organic store extraordinaire), something I couldn’t have done the day after treatment in any of the earlier rounds.
- Weight loss. I’ve been steadily losing weight since I started making changes to my diet when I got the diagnosis. However, my darling is dropping weight like there is no tomorrow. It might have something to with the fact that he’s not overeating because he doesn’t like anything he eats but I won’t concede that to him.
- We are both sleeping better. Really. He’s sleeping through the night and getting at least 6.5 hours of solid sleep. The best thing is that he is doing it quietly. So quietly I can forget he’s even there. And I was considering a separate room because the snoring was so interminably loud. I believe I have been sleep deprived for years due to his snoring and now, I’m sleeping soundly and deeply and not having such tumultuous dreams.
- All I was hearing from my beloved in the evenings was “I’m really tired”. He’d arrive home, share this insight, park himself on the couch and sleep until bedtime. Then he would wake up, watch tv for a couple of hours and then go to bed. Now he comes home from work, does some ironing, washing, googling etc and doesn’t mention his energy levels at all.
- We look healthy. The whites of our eyes are white. Our skin seems polished. And even the doctors have commented on how healthy I look for someone coming to the end of my treatment. I went to the Bar Dinner last week and I think people were genuinely surprised to see me looking healthy. They expected to see me at death’s door.
So they are the changes we are noticing this early in. I’m having multiple juices each day with lots of raw vegetables. I get a rush of energy each time. My body is just loving what I’m putting into it at the moment and it wants more. Who knows what the future holds. Diets come and go but the benefits of the plant-based diet have revealed themselves so quickly and so obviously that it’s hard to see any other way of eating. The ONLY thing not available to humans on a plant-based diet is vitamin B-12 and I’ve got the work arounds on that – nutritional yeast and supplements. So on that note, I’m off to make a carrot, beetroot and ginger juice to help my blood repair. So be it.