Sunday, 29 June 2014

Green is good

I went to an event run by the Aratika Trust, a local organisation that supports people with a cancer diagnosis. The first day was for anyone wanting to improve health and the second day was about the importance of eating well when you have a cancer diagnosis. Local doctor Britte Noske made a convincing case for sticking to a plant-based, mostly raw diet in order to starve tumour cells of the energy they need.

The star of the nutrition weekend was Aleisha Wyllie, author of a cookbook called Life is Great. She describes herself as a passionate foodie who loves having fun in the kitchen transforming traditional recipes into healthy wholefood creations. A couple of the things we made and then ate for lunch

  • felafel - made by blending together chickpeas, steamed kumara and undressed coleslaw with a dash of curry powder and garam masala
  • broccoli cream - blitzed raw broccoli, avocado, red onion, celery, mushrooms and sprouts
  • carrot cakes - made in food processor with all raw ingredients; carrot of course, with red pepper, turmeric, garlic, tahini, sprouts and sunflower seeds; squished into muffin moulds to make cakes
  • quinoa salad - dressed with apple cider vinegar and flaxseed oil

I couldn't help picturing the faces of Eva and Annie if I turned up bearing "carrot cakes" and produced Aleisha's version. 

Each day we made a juice and also several different green smoothies. Aleisha showed us how easy it is to make our own sauerkraut. Sauerkraut packs all the nutrients and phytochemicals that make a cabbage a superfood and the fermentation process adds heaps of probiotics. 

In those two days I had more vegetables and fruit than I have had in total over the last three months, not that is saying much as I have been pretty much living on Ensure. Lots of things still hurt my throat, most things still taste bland and make my mouth go furry, and I just can't swallow anything dry; but I am getting more of an appetite. I have been making vegetable soups thickened with nut milks.

Can't say I don't wish I could still enjoy a ham toasted sandwich though. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Quietly improving

It's good to be home again. From the sofa by the fire I enjoy watching the swans and scaups out on the lake, and with sun streaming in it is a good place to doze off. I still get tired, but I'm able to do a lot more. My throat has settled down, and I'm not coughing/spitting all the time. There's still a feeling like pins-and-needles in my tongue but at least it is moving around properly again so I can talk easily just like before. The new normal is a mouth without saliva, and that brings it's issues but I'm not complaining! It's easier to live with than the mucus. And that's enough detail - the point is I am feeling pretty good and getting out and about.

The reading feast is continuing, but I confess I gave up on the The Luminaries. I don't think I can blame chemo brain, much as I'd like to, I think I just found there wasn't enough reward to care enough to keep up with the complicated threads of the narrative.

Food is a funny thing. I lost my appetite completely. To maintain weight I need at least 5 bottles of the "Complete, Balanced Nutrition" that I get on prescription by the carton. I have found you can feel hungry without having any desire to eat. Hunger means time to pour another bottle down the tube (and try not to smell it, yuk). Now that I can swallow without pain I am starting to eat again, but I'm having to work hard at creating enthusiasm for food. The only thing I crave is a long drink of cool fresh water. I can only do a sip at a time and it is all flat and furry and just doesn't have the satisfaction factor any more. So next time you fill a glass at the tap and drain a glass of refreshing, quenching, lovely water, take a moment to be thankful and to enjoy it fully.

I'm enrolled on a nutrition workshop this weekend, so maybe I'll get some inspiration that will help with getting my appetite back again.

A recent evening walk by the lake at twilight