I have completed the fourth round, which I had been contemplating not doing at all. I had Avastin this last Tuesday. It is pretty easy, and very little in the way of side effects for me. I had had to drive down to Denver in the Arctic blast / snowstorm, which was a bit treacherous. I took my sister-not-in-law to the airport on the way, and luckily her flight actually made it out, and was not one of the 500 that were canceled.
And…, I’ve decided to go ahead and do at least another round, per Dr. West, and hope that will do it. I might do a sixth round, but so far just the fifth is scheduled, in two parts, for 11/19 and 12/6. I asked them to schedule around my birthday (11/17) and traveling for Thanksgiving. They are quite accommodating.
I have resigned myself to it at this point. Not thrilled, but as I said before, can’t really argue with her logic.
On Eating Right
I’ve been working with my own IFS counselor on what is going on with my parts that some of them feel so very rebellious about eating the way Dr. West and others are prescribing. The theory is that cancer is a metabolic illness, that sugar / glucose in the blood is the sole means the cancer cells use to feed themselves. Therefore starving them can be helpful. Other normal cells can use fat as an energy source.
However I have some parts of me that really question this ideology, as a purely ketogenic diet of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates forces one to refrain from a YUGE source of phytonutrients, namely most fruits and some vegetables. This seems counter-productive to me.
I have been a Paleo Diet adherent in the past and found it helpful in avoiding the rheumatoid arthritis that runs in my mother’s side of the family. Dr. Cordain wrote an article about the long term effect of keto diets versus Paleo. To be fair Dr. West does not advocate keto for me for forever. And in fact she is advocating a low-carb Mediterranean diet rather than strict keto. Still I have a part of me that just does not agree that forgoing fruit is good for me. And what’s more it just plain doesn’t want to.
I’m already eating WAY better than the standard American diet (SAD). I don’t use refined sugar at all. Most of the time, per Paleo, I’m avoiding grain based carbs, but I do allow myself, especially lately, some cheating on that. We eat organic at home as much as possible. It is much harder to eat out organic.
Happily, I have found a meal service that is super friendly to how I am trying to eat: SunBasket. It is organic, has a “carb conscious” option as well as a “Paleo” option. And it is delicious! And it is eco-conscious in how it packages. It is nice to have had someone else plan the meal, do the shopping, and send it to us, so that we can just prepare and eat. It is quite a relief, and takes some of the decision making responsibility off of my plate (while putting good food onto it). It is more money per person than doing it all myself, of course, but it is less per person than eating out, and probably way better quality. So that has been a delicious and helpful way to help me stay on track.
That being said, in my last IFS therapy session, I and my parts decided that one of them just really can’t live without pizza. So the compromise is to have good pizza once a week. What makes pizza generally a no-no is high-carb, low nutrient, wheat flour crusts, and dairy-based cheese, and possibly also nitrate treated meats. From some places I could order a gluten-free crust, which would most likely still be a high-carb some-sort-of-grain based crust, without cheese, and without nitrate treated meats. However, ordering out likely means none of it will be organic. I could buy pre-made pizzas from Natural Grocers or other grocers that are more conscious of such things. Or I could make my own. In any case, the verdict is that I have to have some at least once a week. Homemade would probably be best. I hear good things about cauliflower crusts….
But more to the point, the recent issues my parts are facing are more existential angst type of issues. I may not be using that term precisely as Kierkegaard would, but the questions I’m dealing with include things like: What am I doing with my life? What have I been doing with my life? What would I be doing with my life if I manage to get and stay in remission for some extended period of time? Can I really bet on staying in remission for some extended period of time? And if so what is the best way to accomplish that? Am I going to keep going through recurrence / remission cycles indefinitely until I die, which seems to be the common path? Or am I going to get remission / NED, and stay there, per Dr. West?
I confess to some depressed moods recently, and depression is not great for being on top of what one thinks one should be on top of. Parts that are depressed just want to self-soothe, and apparently in my internal system, they self-soothe with yummy things that aren’t on my diet. I suppose I’m lucky that my self-soothing parts don’t do more extreme things like substance abuse. But maybe I could even consider food a “substance” in my current situation. “Hello, my name is Andrea and I’m addicted to yummy food that’s bad for me.” Yummy Food Addicts Anonymous. YFAA.
What I know about self-soothing behavior, in the IFS model, is that it is done by Firefighters, often offset by Managers, both dealing with or trying to avoid pain held by Exiles. The more extreme the behavior of the Firefighters or Managers, you know the bigger the pain burdens held by the Exiles. I guess it would make good sense that I have pain burdens around cancer, (maybe some pre-cancer burdens were causative, even) and that some of my parts would want to self-soothe. So the real cure to eating badly is to heal Exiles so that Firefighters don’t feel the need to self-soothe in that way. It doesn’t really help to load up logical reasons why one should, as a Manager would. That just pits Manager against Firefighter without ever really getting to the underlying reason why Firefighter is behaving as it is.
And healing and unburdening Exiles when it comes to this sort of life and death existential conundrum is not so easy. Pretty tricky. But I’m working on it. And for now, I’m making some progress.
I was aware this week that cancer has made my life harder (duh). It’s like I was going along, gradually getting things in order, and then BAM, “Okay, now you’re ready for the next challenge!” It’s like I’ve leveled up in a video game or something. “Great! You’re doing so well, we’re going to make it all harder for you!”
Maybe life is like that. No rest for the weary. I’m kind of tired of that. Is there any time when I can just stop leveling up and learning something? I remember being exhausted by the prospect of that even in high school. Is there ever going to be a time when I can just stop, and rest, instead of having another huge set of challenges thrown at me? Apparently, the answer is no.