AND THEY’RE OFF…

Topsy-turvy this week!

The Belmont has just finished and I know how that horse feels.  It’s like I’m at the gate running the most important steeplechase of my life.  I made it through the first hurdle and now the course is getting tougher.

Two obstacles knocked me off my Louboutins this weekend back to back. First – the nausea. Second – well, that can wait for the next posting.

Remember when I said listen to the nurses, I didn’t, and there I was in the shower, light-headed, about to fall to my knees, feeling like I was going to lose it.  Thank goodness someone was there to help me.  My Mom helped me out of the shower, I sat down – head in hands until it passed.  Then I actually took the medicine that the doctor gave me in case of nausea.  The nurse had said – at the first sign of nausea, take a pill.  My first two days were smooth sailing and I thought I was in for an easy ride.  No such luck.  Why was I so presumptuous – because I had a nice shoe collection?  So I swallowed the pill that the doc had warned me would make me even more constipated and I ate a piece of toast.  Five minutes later I was pretty good.

My doctor has also wanted me off of white refined sugar which he feels really feeds the cancer.  Now honestly that is like telling an alcoholic to go cold turkey.  I am a sugar fiend – in my tea morning and night, hard candy, lollipops, cookies – I eat it all – especially when I am here in Philadelphia.  My main adversary is ice cream – any Ben and Jerry’s to be exact and Capogiro’s (capogirogelato.com) Lime and Coriander sorbet. To torture me, Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack (philadelphia) just opened here – with their fabulous Shakes and Concretes. He was kidding, right?!

I knew in my heart that I would have to now be proactive to ensure that I had no other shower incidents.

Today, THE GOODS reflect some of what I found to be helpful for dealing with the difficulties of nausea, constipation and sugar-free living.  This being new to me – it all may change in the next weeks but, as of now, this is what I got. Funnily enough, I am actually finding that it’s easy to GAIN weight living sugar-free.

1. MORNING TOAST: Forcing down a piece of toast with butter or cream cheese with my tea (I am not a coffee drinker) the minute I wake up has helped me tons.  It settles my stomach almost immediately.  I can wait to eat a proper breakfast a bit later but this first toast has become my lifeline. After that, I tend to put something in my mouth about every two hours with bigger meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Eating some sort of protein at least twice a day has helped with my energy levels and made me feel strong.  Ginger is supposed to be good for nausea but I haven’t tried it yet.

2. WATER: Think how hard your liver works on Sunday morning after a night of cocktails, beer and/or Thunderbird. Well, with all the crap coursing through your veins right now, it is imperative that you drink tons of water and, gasp, keep off of the alcohol.  No matter how much water you drink, drink more!

3. SNACKING: These have done me good in times of trouble: raisins, pretzels, Triscuits, especially the Parmesan Thin Crisps, Babybel’s.  Pretzels have been my go-to in times of need.  When my mouth started to hurt a bit, I got bald ones – Unique unsalted splits are my favorite: uniquesplits.com/pretzels-unsalt.asp.  I also always have a Cherry Pie Larabar in my handbag at all times: www.larabar.com.  These are all natural fruit bars…cherry is fabulous but they have loads of flavors from which to choose.

4. QUIRKY FOODS ISSUES: I have had to keep away from onions and spicy food because my mouth and throat get tingly.  Your mouth is going to do funny things so be aware.

5. THE DREADED CONSTIPATION – I know no one really wants to talk about this but it can get so bad with the chemo and the Zofran (for nausea) that you can end up in the hospital.  I was really afraid of this happening so I took too much fiber to start and got cramps.  One Colace a day plus, the miracle of all miracles, Konsyl (konsyl.com) – not just for people going through chemo.  Mix a teaspoon and a half or a packet and a half with Simply Orange or Apple Juice (simplyorangejuice.com), which has no added sugar, and swallow it down everyday and you’ll be fine.  Trust me – this is something I know about!

6. SUGAR-FREE SNACKS: I don’t do and can’t recommend any artificial sweetener.  I hate them all and think while going through chemo..and life..you should keep away from them.  Honey, real Maple Syrup, Agave are all fantastic substitutes…all low-glycemic and natural.  You can find them in supermarkets or health food stores.  I took my own Vermont Maple Syrup to the diner and slathered my blueberry pancakes and no one batted an eye.  There are loads of drinks made with agave: Columbia Gorge Organic: Lemonade with Agave at Wholefoods (cogojuice.com) can’t be beat.  I also made my own iced tea and added agave  – tasted like normal.

If you live in a big city, you might be able to find a bakery such as Sweet Freedom Bakery in Philadelphia: sweetfreedombakery.com.  They don’t use any refined sugar in their baking and you could never tell.  They use coconut sugar which is also low-glycemic and tastes nothing like coconut.  Google “vegan bakeries” and your nearest city to try and find one near you.

7. JUICES: I am a big fan of the idea of juices but I always forget to drink them.  Now with the chemo and all, I am shooting to have a fresh juice every week.  A friend of mine told me her Grandmother was sure she kicked aggressive Ovarian Cancer by adding freshly squeezed carrot juice into her daily diet during chemo.  She lived to be 97! Here in Philadelphia we have Pangaea Earth Foods (pangaeaearthfoods.com): the Miracle Tonic and the Skinny Green are great.  Yellow Juice Bar is meant to open any minute (yellowjuicebar.com). Find a juice bar in your town or buy a juicer.

8. KINDNESS: Be kind to yourself when thinking about what you put in your mouth.  Treat your body well and eat those foods that are good for you and that you like.  There is plenty of information out there about what constitutes a good healthy diet.  Try and stick to that…BUT do allow yourself a treat now and then.  As in Harry Potter where chocolate is given as medicine, I believe that my eating ice cream and having a sip of wine once a week is a necessary part of living my life…the rest of the week, I can stick to sugar-free living.

If I find anything else out about foods that might help, I’ll tweet about them. (@chemoinlou).

As for the second obstacle, oh baby…that deserves its own post!

5 thoughts on “AND THEY’RE OFF…

  1. Hmm, agave syrup is a great replacement for sweeteners, like you say, and other has got to be coconut sugar (it’s granular, which is great for baking or adding some sweetness to your cup of tea or coffee).

    As for the nausea, my nurses always said to take the pills before the nausea starts, since it’s much easier to control that way. But you know what – whatever works for you is the best option.

    Good luck and keep going!

  2. SLS says:

    Thank you!

    I had never even heard of coconut sugar before…how fabulous.

    Re nausea: I hate taking pills before I have to, but that is just me. I feel I want to try to see if I can manage, but listen to your doctors and nurses!

  3. Dried apricots are fab for constipation – don’t ask me why – and they taste like jellies – its a win win.

  4. Stephanie Morris says:

    For those who find laxatives cause cramping, I highly recommend the more mild docusate sodium, which is a stool softener you can take in gelcap form and is readily available in all U.S. drugstores. Taken regularly with lots of water works wonders for me with no discomfort. Miralax is another non-habit forming stool softener that can be put in anything you drink or foods like applesauce, oatmeal, etc. The key with all these things, as you’ve said, is to drink lots of liquid.

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