Good Advice or Quackery?

When I was first diagnosed, I was bombarded with advice from friends and family to the extent that it was impossible to know which to heed.

I ultimately decided that the experts were best placed to advise me and thankfully had a number of people I could turn to.

Thinking about diet

When I asked a friend who is a breast cancer nurse specialist what she thought about advice to cut out sugar, her response was, “If I hear anyone tell me again that sugar causes cancer, I’ll probably kill them.” When you dig deeper it’s very clear that too much sugar can lead to obesity. And while obesity may be a risk factor for cancer, researchers say sugar alone doesn't cause cancer.1

The next one was, “Have you heard of Gerson Therapy?” Well I hadn’t, but I looked into it and realized that I probably wasn’t getting enough nutrients in my diet, particularly from certain vegetables that I didn’t like and therefore didn’t eat. So I started juicing those vegetables and having a juice for breakfast every morning.

Ultimately, though, this proved to be very expensive! Sourcing organically grown vegetables pushed up the cost hugely, and I was spending c. $40 per week, which frankly became unaffordable given my reduced income. But just imagine if you were using the Gerson Therapy and juicing 15-20 pounds of organically grown fruits and vegetables daily! Wow, how much does that cost?

What I was - and wasn't - willing to do

Then I was told to cut out red meat and processed meat, and also to cut out dairy. This for me was a step too far! I’d been told I may only have two years to live, and the thought of not eating a nice steak every now and then or some beautiful cheese made me miserable. I was already miserable enough as it was with dealing with my diagnosis.

I turned to the expert, my oncologist, who said, “You obviously lead a healthy life-style as a runner. The key is in having a good balanced diet, so keep on doing that.” It’s fair to say that I had a reasonable diet, and so I maintained it, although I did reduce the amount of processed food that I ate.

Other advice

“Cannabis oil, you must use cannabis oil.” Really? It certainly wasn’t going to reverse my stage 4 cancer, although I had seen decent evidence that it was helpful for pain management, so it may be something for the future. I’m grateful that, once I started treatment, any pain that I had been suffering very quickly dissipated, and I’ve been pretty much pain free now for nearly 4 years.

Then came advice on supplements, but I was very lucky in that the advice came from someone I knew who was a cancer research scientist and whose advice I knew I could trust. So I started following some of his recommendations.

Is it doing me any good? I haven’t got a clue, but it doesn’t appear to be doing me any harm apart from in the wallet! A word of warning here, though: always discuss supplements with your healthcare team, as they may contraindicate with your cancer treatment.

Trying something new

The final piece of advice turned out to be absolutely significant! Every June there is a cancer conference in Chicago, ASCO, and at the June 2017 conference they announced great outcomes from trials of this new “wonder drug” Zytiga. It got press coverage worldwide, and several friends messaged me about it.

So I discussed it with my oncologist and we changed treatment paths from Docetaxel chemotherapy to Zytiga. My cancer has been stable for well over 3 years with an unrecordable PSA. This was the best advice ever to me!

My questions to others

To readers, I ask:

  • What advice have you received?
  • Has it worked wonders for you?
  • How do you work out which is advice, and which is quackery?

For me, I followed the experts and its doing the trick so far!

Let me know in the comments below what advice you've heard.

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