Breast cancer blog: Dietary facelift abandoned, the foodie in me resurfaces

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 11:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 11:20am

The appetite came roaring back. I’m supposed to be losing weight with radiation (supposedly the body needs more calories for cell regeneration), but once again I am back to grazing and chomping away two months post-surgery.

I’ve acted upon those cravings of dark chocolate and plowed into bags of Jagabee potato sticks (totally addictive).

After the lumpectomy I swiftly had a dietary facelift out of fear - slashing out all artificial sweeteners, avoiding bread after hearing that anything with gluten was bad for the health, and limiting myself to celery sticks and apples.

The pounds melted away without me having to lift a finger in a totally foreign way.

The foodie in me has resurfaced and I’ve spent a good portion of recovery time noshing. I snack and sleep (exhaustion is one of the side effect), and snack again.

When a good friend came to visit me for a week, a big chunk of time together was spent on eating too. The trip to Disney took up a pattern: Jungle Boat Cruise, stop and eat, spin on the Alice in Wonderland Tea Cups, and stop and eat, go on “It’s A Small World Ride” and eat more. The ride to eating ratio was 1:1. Apparently I’ve gained enough spunk and gumption to once again occasionally treat myself to French fries and fizzy drinks with funky colors.

To be sure, I need to cut myself some slack because being a patient is exhausting. It includes a daily commute along with the mentally taxing reality of being surrounded by fellow patients who in many cases are worse off than me.

“Don’t you think this is depressing?” I asked the aunt recently after observing a rail thin woman her head bald from chemo sitting in front of me. She agreed and said the excursions into Cancerland made her value her health all the more.

This chapter has given me the permission to treat myself — rest more and yes, eat more. I think back to my childhood when a trip to the pediatrician earned me a sticker or lollypop. Now the daily trip earns me a chance to bond with a new friend or my aunt, and the reward a chance to celebrate the end of each round of afternoon tea or coffee. The treatment and recovery experience is a reminder that as with many things in life, time marches forward. The appetite returns.

The energy will someday resurface. I will someday get back to the pool. The sea of patients will change — some may get worse but many will get better. In celebration of George Harrison’s album title “All Things Must Pass.”

I should be thankful and grateful for the chance to come out today and for the good appetite…

During the most recent round the aunt and I celebrated with BLT sandwiches, steak cut fries and a Mt. Everest of sugar (French toast, ice cream and whip cream topped with caramel and almonds). Afterwards we sat out the downpour with a free wine tasting, white and red wine, Riesling, brandy and ice wine. I pinched my stomach complaining of the extra pound or two that had piled on, feeling guilty about the pigfest. I started getting philosophical.

“I should be thankful and grateful for the chance to come out today and for the good appetite…” I said, thinking of the landscape of patients in the waiting room clearly hit with side effects from treatment.

“I think what you mean is we had a good meal,” the aunt said with a smile. Her message was clear: don’t overthink things, less is more. Enough of analysis - eat and enjoy because all things will pass.