Guest blog: Breast Cancer, Plants and Me.
Hey Everyone, my name is Sarah and like many others I connected with Sara from Ticking Off Breast Cancer through Instagram, which was and still is a place I can connect with others who ‘get it.’
I have a blog Nourish Flourish Me which I originally started as a general lifestyle blog. That was, until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2017, at 33 years old. I then turned to my blog for entirely new reasons and it became the place I shared my story throughout breast cancer treatment. It helped to almost de-clutter my mind.
One month after being diagnosed I decided over night to become plant based. I want to point out here that this is not a blog post to try in any way to convince anyone reading to become plant based. I have learnt a lot along the way and one thing is knowing what it feels like to get tied up with too many ‘you should be doing this or that’ or ‘try this, it will save your from the cancer’
After the shock of my diagnoses subsided (slightly), I pretty much became consumed with my own research on how to save myself. I think we all do this in our own ways. It’s instinctive: we see danger and either run or try to find a way out. The negatives to this are that ‘Dr Google’ can be a scary place – before you know it, you are reeling with survival rate stats that will occur if you don’t make Dr Google’s changes!
I felt I had a very ‘healthy’ diet (and by diet I mean the foods I chose to eat, not being on ‘a diet’) but I started to feel angry with the old me – I was trying to find fault in something I had done, trying to find something to blame. This first month was so emotionally painful, I lost all track of healthy eating and binged on not so healthy food choices. In a way I was almost rebelling against the me before cancer, and rebelling against a healthy lifestyle as I believed I was extremely healthy yet there I was, sat with grade 3 breast cancer.
I will openly admit to anyone that I decided to go plant based for health reasons. By this, I mean I feared my own survival in consequence to the books and documentaries I read. Like anyone scared, I wanted to save myself and I would do anything I could. As time passed I learnt this way of looking at my lifestyle and food choices became an unhealthy fixation on food, and this is coming from someone who suffered with an eating disorder at 16, I didn’t want to fear food, I didn’t want limitations. I realised that being scared into something could never be sustainable or healthy itself. I felt like I was kind of like running with the grim reaper behind me. I took a step back and here is what I believed helped me so much through my treatment and still does now. I decided to switch up my reasons for becoming plant based, and made it a choice which became the most positive lifestyle ‘choice’ I had ever made for myself, and for my mind.
What plant life taught me.
- Firstly I had to learn to cook all over again, this was so exciting and it also gave me a positive focus through treatment. It also opened my eyes to entire new food groups to cook with – foods I had never heard of and all incredibly nutritious which made me feel good both physically and mentally. I was doubling, if not tripling, the goodness I was getting daily from all of the foods I was consuming.
- I was excited to eat, I was excited to cook, like never before. It took me some time throughout chemotherapy to understand how I was taking such drugs that were in effect killing not just the cancer but all the good stuff in me. I felt that I had no control over my body. So, getting in the kitchen and cooking up some amazingly nutritious and tasty meals gave me some control back and I can’t explain how positive that made me feel.
Not just about your ‘label’.
I became, and am still, plant based. My entire blog and Instagram is filled with plant based recipes. But this doesn’t define who I am, just as cancer didn’t and still doesn’t define who I am. The problem with labels is that we fear them and fixate on them. In my mind I eat the best I ever have; I love food and more importantly my relationship with food is the best it ever has been. My energy levels are stable, my skin’s better than ever, and I feel good about my choices. The ethical reasons are a totally separate topic; however, since becoming ‘plant based’ I have become far more compassionate to this world we live in and for that I am only thankful.
It is far more than a label, it is a lifestyle ‘choice’ and I believe I am living my best life, and after months of fearing for my life I think that is a pretty special thing, to be able to choose to live my best life.
Thank you to Sara, Ticking Of Breast Cancer, for letting me share my story on your blog, and also thank you for getting me writing again, I did so much through cancer, I have forgotten how much it helps, to talk, to share, to connect.
If you want to check some of my recipes out head over to my blog.
Give this delicious Winter Warmer Chilli a go, I promise it won’t disappoint.
Website Blog : nourishflourishme.com
Instagram : nourishflourishme
Facebook : Working Girl Life