February 8, 2019
Living With Childhood Cancer
“When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” ~Terry Clark, Lifehack Quotes
A cancer diagnosis for a child often changes the nutrition and lifestyle habits of the entire family.
When my granddaughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes, at the age of 8 months, the lives of her parents and other members of her family changed forever. Now, 18 months later, she is in remission, thanks to the medical treatments and assistance she received from health professionals, our love and support and that of her friends, AND important nutritional and lifestyle changes.
Words Parents Don’t Want To Hear
“Your child has cancer.” After the initial shock and emotional turmoil, everyone’s focus quickly shifted on fighting this cancer. The doctors assured us that the retinoblastoma was the result of a small genetic mutation in my granddaughter’s body at conception and that she had been born with a 95% chance of developing it. Mercifully, this cancer is curable and, even though a recurrence is probable, it can be treated and remain stable. The worrisome part is that my granddaughter now has a 25% higher risk of developing another, secondary cancer.
When her parents learned of those risks, they immediately asked the specialist what they could do to try and prevent the occurrence of any other type of cancer. He told them not to smoke in the house (this was a non-issue, to begin with), to avoid overexposure to direct sunlight and to eat as little processed and barbecued meat as possible. The parents had heard that processed meats were bad for one’s health, but didn’t know at that time that such meats were linked to a higher risk to develop cancer.
This is when it dawned on the parents that good nutritional habits would play a big role in their daughter’s ability to avoid a secondary cancer. After researching the subject in depth and watching documentaries about cancer prevention, they decided to fight alongside her and to be the best role models they could by making big nutritional and lifestyle changes as a whole family.
New Nutritional Habits
The parents thought that their eating habits were “healthy” because they had a side of vegetables at every meal, as well as sufficient protein and dairy products. In researching nutrition, however, they discovered that the food a person eats has a big impact on both body and mind, and plays a significant role in preventing diseases, including cancer. How a person treats his or her body does impact longevity.
The parents have adopted very different habits. The whole family now follows a plant-based diet. Vegetables (coloured and greens) and fruit, organic as much as possible, are part of every meal. The family now eats mostly whole (and whole-grain) foods, having meals at home as much as possible. The whole family is very happy with this new plant-based diet. Everyone definitely feels a lot better, “lighter”, and has more energy. Everyone’s taste buds have changed so much that nobody craves meat or dairy products anymore. Everyone really feels that their nutritional habits contribute to a healthier, cleaner body.
Motivating Children To Eat Healthy
By being a good example for their daughter and her sister, the parents teach them to appreciate the food they serve. They start with vegetables, especially when they are very hungry, before serving a dish combining grains, beans, tofu, pasta, soup, etc. Everyone always eats a lot of vegetables (especially greens), fruit (especially berries), raw nuts, flaxseeds, whole grains, and anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric. As often as possible, the parents serve their daughters either a smoothie packed with berries, greens and flax, or a soup full of vegetables. The parents let their daughters help in preparing meals, teaching them to understand where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
Other Lifestyle Changes
Because reducing exposure to known carcinogens in the environment is just as important, the parents also got rid of all products containing toxic chemicals. In their home, the parents now use natural alternatives and superior quality microfibre cloths to keep all horizontal and vertical surfaces clean. Castile soap is used to handwash the dishes, with naturally derived biodegradable soap for the dishwasher and laundry. As for personal care products, the parents make sure to buy body soap that is free of petrochemicals, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and other harmful ingredients. The parents also try to buy biodegradable products and to avoid any that is synthetically scented.
The parents have even decided to use eco-friendly, non-toxic wood stain for the deck, where the family spends most of the summer days. Everyone is much more aware of what comes in contact with their skin and how it could affect them in the long run. They are convinced that continually making little changes like those will surely help their health, all the while contributing to a cleaner environment.
It is now a known fact that most cancers are caused by environmental factors and lifestyle habits. Research has shown that cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. My granddaughter is fortunate enough to have parents who made an educated decision to take this opportunity to make significant nutritional and lifestyle changes to support her healing process and to reduce the risk of her developing a secondary cancer down the road. The whole family will reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle that leaves them feeling better every day and free of disease.
And this, dear reader, is why I became hooked on health and wellness and decided to become a Holistic Nutrition & Health Coach with NutraPhoria. This journey is one on which I embarked for myself, for my family, and for all those wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle.