Preparing for Cancer Treatments and Dealing with Side effects

It is a reality for most cancer patients that part of your protocol will involve surgery, chemotherapy or radiation either as stand alone treatments or in combination.  With that said, it is of great importance that patients and their caregivers understand the necessity of preparing for cancer treatments and have strategies for dealing with their side effects.

Preparing your mind and body for treatment coupled with certain lifestyle adjustments can enhance therapy efficacy and reduce both the incidences and severity of side effects.  For instance, as noted in this report, Nutritional intervention and Quality of Life in Adult Oncology Patients by Marin Caro et al Marín Caro MM1, Laviano A, Pichard C 20071:

“Nutritional intervention accompanying curative treatment has an additional and specific role, which is to increase the tolerance and response to the oncology treatment (and) decrease the rate of complications”.

When side effects do occur it is of great benefit to have options in front of you to deal with them.  If too these side effects can be dealt with by natural means, medical intervention may be avoided.

In my own cancer protocol my medical treatment involved surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  As I made my way through each I took both mental and physical notes of what I felt helped me and of those moments when I thought “boy I wish I had known that”.  And it is from this exercise coupled with my professional training that I have created my ebook.

Side Effects Ebook subscriptionChemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery Natural Strategies for Preparation & Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments is a reference manual for patients and their caregivers to use before and during treatment.  It begins with strategies and tips for preparing for treatments and then moves in to chemotherapy, radiation and surgery succinctly dealing with common side effects by offering pointed complimentary strategies for dealing with each them.

I truly hope that you will find the information that is contained within my book of great benefit to you as you move through your treatments and into recovery.  Click on the button below to download this great resource for free!

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Complimentary Therapies Do Have a Place in Cancer Protocols

I am a Holistic Nutritionist, a certified Professional Cancer Coach and I am a breast cancer survivor. In my protocol for treatment I used both the medical path and the alternative path. So going toe to toe with the medical profession is not a road I wish to travel. But every once in a while I read an article that points my inner compass in that direction.

Recently I read an article entitled “Yet another woman with breast cancer lured into quackery by Ty Bollinger and “holistic” medicine advocates” by David Gorski, a surgeon who publishes under the name ORAC. He takes aim at Ty Bollinger and the film series he created called “The Truth About Cancer”. I am not going to speak to this aspect of his prose. Rather my issue is with his broad-brush swipe of alternative therapies painting a negative hue on their validity in cancer care. I cannot vouch for all holistic practitioners, only to those in the circle in which I practice. We look to oncologists as primary care and offer research based adjuvant therapies to support medical treatment such as acupuncture[i] [ii] for pain management, supplements to reduce various side effects of medical treatment i.e. glutamine[iii] to reduce the severity and duration of stomatitis, and lifestyle strategies such as meditation[iv] to mitigate the stressors of a cancer diagnosis and to positively influence cortisol and blood pressure levels. Our goal is to work with the medical team to offer the best overall protocol for cancer patients. Gorski offers no place for complementary therapies in cancer care as noted in this excerpt:

“Irritatingly, though, both used the example of… to promote their “integrative oncology” programs—and regular readers know that both Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic are heavily into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and “integrative” medicine and that both are very active at “integrating” quackery with conventional medicine”

 It is my very strong opinion that to dismiss alternative therapies as a whole in cancer care as “quackery” is an irresponsible swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction of his target Ty Bollinger.


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Although not taken on in Gorski’s article, the importance of nutrition within a comprehensive cancer protocol is also undervalued. Working within my own scope of practice, I find it particularly irresponsible when cancer patients are advised that their diet is of little consequence in fighting their disease. I have encountered this in clinic with cancer patients that I have seen. To avoid cachexia, or excessive weight loss, some patients are misguided and misinformed by the notion that any calorie is a good calorie so mowing down on cookies and chocolate bars are within reason. Without going in to the argument of whether or not processed sugar is a fuel source for cancer, let’s just agree shall we that it has minimal if any nutritive value and dare I say may actually be detrimental to overall health.[v] [vi] [vii] And that processed foods are really not a recognized nutritive food group, offering little to no positive health value during a time when the body needs proper fuel to fight and repair.

So let’s flip the mat then and talk about macronutrients shall we:

  • Protein is essential for big body issues such as tissue repair, immune function and cell communication. Is it not advisable that someone undergoing treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation should include adequate amounts in their diet? I’m not sure anyone would tell me that these treatments do not garner damage to the body rendering it in need of some degree of repair.
  • We need good quality fat, not just any fat. Fats provide us with energy. They are integral for proper cell structure. They help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. They manage inflammation and they contain 9 calories per gram as compared to protein and carbohydrates, which contain 4 calories per gram. A rather important nutrient as well.
  • Carbohydrates, for most of us, are our main energy source. It is important to get our carbs from nutrient dense, fibrous foods to help manage blood sugar. Fiber, also a carbohydrate, is essential for feeding our microbiome. And as an aside, science continues to discover the great importance of a balanced, well-functioning microbiome to our health.

Along with the macronutrients, the well-studied importance of vitamins, minerals, plant polyphenols and the like draw a straight line to the conclusion that yes, diet does matter. Why then would any doctor throw open the doors and say eat anything that makes you feel just fine? As I draw on my personal experience, I surely had a progressive oncologist then who told me to avoid soy products and limit my red meat intake. He saw some validity of dietary influence.

I strengthened my body prior to treatment using many “complementary” therapies including diet modification, yoga, meditation, supplementation and exercise. I maintained most of my routine during treatment and with the consent of my oncologist. And I continue to incorporate complementary therapies along with my medical therapies today as my prevention path.

Please do not throw the baby out with the bath water.   Build a team of responsible practitioners who understand the importance of working together and with you to build the best possible protocol for your disease. Complementary therapies do have a valid, important place in cancer care.

[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26977172/?i=6&from=acupuncture%20pain%20cancer

[ii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26853524/?i=11&from=acupuncture%20pain%20cancer

[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9762946

[iv] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26963792/?i=5&from=meditation%20stress%20cancer

[v] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9020271?dopt=Abstract

[vi] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326601

[vii] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/71/6/1455.abstract?ijkey=ad2ca9646513cd58a5e03142c5db3b95bdb63c45&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

Eat A Rainbow of Colours

Making a commitment to eating a rainbow of colours when it comes to fruits and vegetables is important not only for your palate but also for your gut.  Your gut houses the majority of your microbiome, your community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms, and eating your fruits and veggies helps to maintain a healthy balance of these organisms. Fruits and vegetables also offer vast health benefits from a variety of over 6000 flavonoids, a class of phytonutrients, that provide pigment to plants and are commonly noted for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.  But as research is uncovering, many flavonoids possess other health benefits including anti-cancer properties.  And it is here that we come full circle.  We need a healthy gut microbiome to convert flavonoids to their health promoting metabolites.

Apigenin is a type of flavonoid that has been studied extensively for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Apigenin has been shown to possess anti-carcinogenic properties on a variety of cancers including pancreaticcolorectal and breast cancer and is also being examined for its effects when combined with chemotherapy agents.

Apigenin is found in a variety of foods and herbs such as apples, broccoli, basil, onions, artichoke, oregano, chamomile and cilantro.  But it is most prominently concentrated in parsley and celery, two of the most commonly used staples in our kitchen.

Celery is labeled as the go to for making soups and broths and as the key to a successful calorie restriction plan as it is full of water (95% of it is in fact H2O) and fiber, the perfect combination for the war against weight.  Now you can add celery’s cancer fighting properties to its list of healthy benefits. And Mother Nature has made it so convenient to consume and the perfect vehicle for dips and nut butters.



Parsley is the most widely used herb in kitchens. And for good reason:

  • It comes in many varieties.
  • It’s available all year round.
  • It’s easy to grow.
  • It freshens your breath.
  • It has a very pleasant taste in a wide variety of dishes.

As well as the noted Apigenin flavonoid, parsley is high in Vitamin K and Vitamin C and is a good source of Vitamin A.

Chemoprotective foods such as celery and parsley can be easily incorporated in to our daily diet and they are just two examples of how nature provides us with powerful weapons in our cancer prevention and cancer fighting arsenals.


Rogers Daytime York Region

Rogers Daytime York Region

Today I had the opportunity to speak about Nutrition and Cancer Coaching close to home as a guest on Rogers Daytime York Region, hosted by Jaqueline Betterton (@HostJacqueline).  Jacqueline is a great host and guided our conversation through areas of my cancer coaching and nutrition practice.

The importance of addressing nutrition and lifestyle during cancer care is an approach that is truly a coming of age.  As guests of the show we all wait in the “Green Room” before we go on to the set.  Today there were five of us and as we discussed our reasons for appearing on the show we found out that 3 of us had gone through a cancer diagnosis and one had a spouse who had gone through cancer.  So to recount, 3 of 5 had experienced a cancer diagnosis on the patient front and one on the support front.  To me that is a staggering number.

Looking at the 2015 publication of Canadian Cancer Statistics it is estimated that 1 in 2.2 men and 1 in 2.4 females will develop cancer in their lifetime and while the survival rate has improved over the last 20 years we still have such a very long way to go.

In January 2015 the World Cancer Congress in Melbourne identified “cancer as an environmental disease caused mainly by avoidable lifestyle factors”.  Such lifestyle factors include smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet which may lead to obesity.

Obesity as a risk factor on its own is associated with increased risks of:

  • Esophagus
  • Pancreas
  • Colon and rectum
  • Breast (after menopause)
  • Endometrium (lining of the uterus)
  • Kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Gallbladder

Causation is not a straight line but the path to cancer care is becoming clearer.  Successful cancer protocols must not only incorporate allopathic care but also a very strong nutritional and lifestyle component.  It will take an integrative approach to truly start making a positive change to cancer statistics.



Roasted Cauliflower with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capers


Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that has a host of health benefits.  It is a great source of Vitamin C and a good source of manganese and dietary fiber.

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables along with others such as broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage and brussels sprout.  Cruciferous vegetables have antioxidant nutrients that help boost Phase 1 of liver detoxification and sulfur containing nutrients to boost Phase 2 of liver detox.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C).  I3C is the result of the breakdown of indole-3-glucosinolate through cutting, chewing or light cooking.  A great deal of research has been done indicating anti-cancer properties of I3C with various cancers such as prostate and breast cancers.

Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables. It can be used in so many ways from dips to pizza crusts.  Its mild flavour lends itself to the use of many different ingredients.

This particular one was a hit with my family so I thought I would pass it alone.


Roasted Cauliflower with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capers

Serves 4

1 Head of Cauliflower cut into florets

5 Anchovy Fillets

½ cup Sun-dried tomatoes

4 TBSP Melted Coconut Oil

2 TBSP Capers

4 Cloves of Sliced Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taster

Juice of ½ a lemon


Preheat oven to 220C.

Toss together florets, sundried tomatoes, coconut oil, capers, garlic, salt and pepper then put mixture on roasting pan.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Put cauliflower mixture in to serving bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice.

Serve immediately.