When you are first diagnosed with breast cancer you find yourself moving swiftly down the tried and tested conveyor belt of conventional treatment until you fall off at the far end and try to pick up your life again.
These days you’re likely to given some sort of prognostic indicator that quantifies your odds of recurrence and shows how the various forms of medical treatment can help.
Unless you are very lucky indeed you will not be told about any of the complementary therapies available to you, despite substantial evidence that they can change outcomes for the better.
Nevertheless, most of us know instinctively that we could and should make diet and lifestyle changes, even if we don’t know exactly what they should be.
I’m glad you’ve found me because twenty-three years ago I was in the same position and I’ve spent the majority of my time since then learning how to help myself and others to put breast cancer behind them, and I’d love to help you too.
Pimp Your Prognosis
I want to help you to do everything you can to survive your cancer diagnosis. After all, your prognosis is based on the average response of the average woman – and you’re not average in any way. The fact that you are reading this page is proof of that. My aim is to help patients join the ‘long tail’ of survivors – that group of happy people who defy the odds by thinking outside the conventional box, embracing their personal power, and recognising that there’s more to life than conventional treatment.
But I want to be completely clear that the first thing you must do is get the best medical help you can as early as possible in the cancer process. Nutritional therapy is a complementary option, designed to work in addition to conventional medicine to improve outcomes, enhance recovery and reduce future risk. Patients who are metabolically healthy respond much better to treatment, experience reduced side effects, recover faster and enjoy improved outcomes.
The Five Frontiers
Although medical treatment is an important part of the picture we all know it doesn’t provide any guaranteed outcomes. In fact, outcomes tend to be pretty random and unpredictable.
When I was diagnosed (back in 1997) I came across some statistics on spontaneous remission: cases where cancer had magically disappeared without explanation. But the curious researchers who examined the case histories found that patients had changed their diets, taken supplements, changed careers, reduced stress – in fact done a lot of things that make a great deal of sense to improve their health. That was a revelation to me. A decade later, Dr Kelly Turner’s project, Radical Remission, documented hundreds of similar cases showing that fundamental diet and lifestyle change can create miraculous results, even in ‘hopeless cases’.
The science behind these individual successes is not as miraculous as we might thing. There is abundant and significant evidence that medical treatment is only one of the ways we can make a difference to cancer outcomes.
I have studied the subject for 20 years and I have arrived at the conclusion that there are five key areas that can change cancer outcomes; I call them the Five Frontiers
The evidence is very clear that the way we think, eat and live has a fundamental bearing on the way cancer behaves. Plus we all have genes that change our risk factors – many of which can be coaxed into behaving differently with diet and lifestyle interventions. Each of these areas can also help treatment to work better to create a powerful treatment plan.
Drawing on 17 years of clinical observation and experience, I support my practice with functional and nutrigenetic testing to help clients understand and improve their health: gastrointestinal function, hormonal balance and genetic polymorphisms can all help us build a picture of why your body is struggling.
Building a Personal Protocol
Everyone’s cancer is different, and personal programmes are the best way to leave no stone unturned. For some of us, the power of food, sleep, fasting, exercise, sunlight and joy may be just as important as surgery, radio- and chemotherapy. Given the right conditions, your body has more healing power than the whole of the NHS put together. If you look at the anecdotal stories you will clearly see that there is no grade or stage of disease that cannot be reversed – your body is always trying to heal – even when the mechanisms behind these transformations are not properly understood.
Based on this understanding I offer a clinical nutrition service for breast cancer clients. I want to be clear about what nutrition can and can’t do: for example there is no evidence that you can cure cancer with diet alone, but it’s possible that you can create such a healthy tissue environment – or cancer-hostile microenvironment – that your body can mobilise its healing potential against the identified ‘hallmarks of cancer’ and inhibit, destroy or transform the rogue cells. Nutrition can also help other therapies to work better: for example it can improve the effectiveness of chemo and radiotherapy, and work in synergy with pharmaceutical protocols, whether with licensed or repurposed drugs.
In clinic, my aim is to put metabolic pressure on cancer cells and also to improve the cellular microenvironment and support the systems involved in cancer so that your body can mobilise itself against the rogue cells.
Will we work well together?
In my experience, tackling cancer in this way attracts exceptional people and it can bring exceptional results. I find it a great privilege to work with the clients who choose me and I am getting used to hearing the phrase, ‘my oncologist can’t believe how well I’m doing’. However, it’s a demanding approach that may be overwhelming for some, and the desire to change has to come from deep inside you: for that reason I only work with people who contact me directly, so please don’t ask me to help your mother or your best friend, no matter how much you love them: if they are not fully on board and driving the process this is not the path for them.
It’s not unusual for the people I work with to have very strong instincts and convictions about the path they want to take and the things that are important for healing. My practice is firmly evidence-based but I always encourage clients to tune into their inner voices and intuitions, I believe there’s knowledge there that we ignore at our peril. (In fact most of us were ignoring it for a long time before diagnosis!)
In recent years the challenge of food and planetary sustainability has added another layer of complexity to our food choices: a plant-based diet is at the core of all my food plans and I work with a range of omnivorous, pescatarian and vegetarian clients, but it is much more difficult to achieve a nutritionally optimised anti-cancer diet as a strict vegan. If you have immovable beliefs around food or habits that will be hard to change, then nutritional therapy may not work well for you. The whole idea of nutritional therapy is that you need to find a different diet to the one you’re eating in order to change your health.
How do I know it will work?
Since almost all of my clients are having treatment at the same time as working with me it’s difficult to make any claims about what is having an effect. In my view it’s the whole combination – medical treatment combined with a synergistic diet and lifestyle plan. Correcting nutrient deficiencies, rectifying hormonal imbalances, gut disorders, calming inflammation, improving detox and repair and addressing sleep and stress issues can help treatment to work better and help you to stay healthy to withstand more treatment. It’s a winning combination that makes all the difference.
Sometimes, despite excellent medical care and monumental personal effort, cancer remains unstoppable; it’s something that we just don’t understand. While nutrition can help at all stages of the process, it is important not to see this as any sort of personal failure.
Everyone, no matter what your diagnosis or stage of disease, can benefit from a nutritional protocol aimed at supporting metabolism, hormones, immune, digestion and detoxification – to improve general health and create a more cancer hostile microenvironment. You can book an exploratory chat or arrange a consultation below which will lead to a comprehensive, evidence-based diet and lifestyle programme based on your diagnosis and individual circumstances.
Leaving no stone unturned
For patients who have been through conventional treatment and have no detectable disease this protocol provides a blueprint for recovery and may be all you need although I may also recommend functional or nutrigenetic testing to help us understand how to promote a complete return to health. I also offer a follow-up consultation service should your treatment of health needs change.
For patients dealing with active cancer nutritional therapy is still relevant. There are several well-researched nutritional approaches that may help to potentiate cancer drugs, support immune function, regulate gene expression and support your body to deal with treatment. Oncogenic testing can help us to be more specific about remedies and, when combined with functional and nutrigenetic tests, it’s possible to build a programme designed for maximum nutritional impact.
For all clients, it is important to approach nutritional therapy with an open mind; while we will work with your preferences, you need a flexible attitude to food, willingness to change drinking habits and meal times, and scope to address sleep and stress levels. So… if you’re still reading, if you’re prepared to work with me in a space of uncertainty, and in a spirit of partnership, then please book a free exploratory chat below or jump straight in and book your first appointment:
If you decide that the clinical approach is not right for you please have a look at my workshops – they may be just what you’re looking for – or visit my resources page to find further areas for exploration.
Picture: Artwork by Tracey Emin from a photograph by Dawn Waldron