July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada.  It is the 4th most common among men and 12th most common cancer among women. It is estimated that approximately 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.

The Bladder

The bladder is part of the urinary system. It is a hollow organ in the pelvis that stores urine before it is eliminated from the body.

The bladder wall is made up of 3 main layers:

  1. The urothelium is the inner lining of the bladder. It is made up of urothelial cells. The urothelium is also called the transitional epithelium.
  2. The lamina propria (also called the submucosa) is the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the urothelium. It contains blood vessels, nerves and glands.
  3. The muscularis propria is the thick, outer muscle layer of the bladder. It is made up of 3 layers of smooth muscle.

Common Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Pain while urinating
  • Frequent urinating but only small amounts at a time
  • Blood in urine

Possible Causes of Bladder Cancer

Although one cannot conclude with absolute certainty the cause of bladder cancer, the following factors have been linked to the disease:

  • Smoking and other tobacco use
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Radiation exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Parasitic infections

Tips for Preventing Bladder Cancer

There are obvious things that you can do to help prevent bladder cancer when some of the possible causes are known.  They include the cessation of  smoking and limiting exposure to radiation and chemicals.

Drinking lots of water encourages frequent urination.  This helps you to get rid of harmful chemicals that can build up in your bladder.

Added to this eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk for many types of cancer including bladder cancer.









not eating

Integrative Tips When You Can’t Eat During Cancer Treatment

It is not a failure nor is it a sign of weakness to take anti-nausea medications, called antiemetics, during cancer treatment. In fact, when warranted, you should take anti-nausea medications so that you can maintain caloric intake and stave off nutrient deficiencies.

Common drugs that may be used to prevent or control nausea and vomiting include:

  • Ondansetron
  • Dexamethasone
  • Lorazepam

When nausea strikes and food intake declines, it is important that you try and get easily digestible, nutrient dense foods and liquids in to your system to maintain weight and nutrient intake.

There are many natural strategies that you can use either individually or in combination to help you through this time.

Tips for Supporting Cancer Patients Who Don’t Feel Like Eating

Here are some tips that you can use when nausea strikes and you just don’t feel like eating:

  • Increase intake with fluids and electrolytes.  Adding a pinch of himalayan salt to water is a quick strategy to increase electrolytes
  • Cook vegetables and eat at a warm temperature
  • Decrease intake of raw foods as these can be harder to digest
  • Include nutrient dense smoothies in to your diet
  • Include bone broth in to your diet to increase intake of important minerals and gut healing nutrients
  • Consume ginger i.e. in tea form, in crystallized form, added to stir a fry and in homemade juices
  • Use peppermint i.e. in tea form, essential oils
  • Drink Chamomile tea to soothe an upset stomach
  • Avoid greasy or fried foods
  • Avoid foods with strong odours
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Eat smaller more frequent meals
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Muscle relaxation with guided imagery

Along with the above mentioned tips, I also recommend that you keep a food journal.  This can help you to identify and keep track of food that has both worked well in your diet and foods that have not.



3 Common Characteristics of Cancer Survivors

June is Cancer Survivor Awareness Month.  Battles are being won as the war against cancer continues.

  • Over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis (Canadian Cancer Society)⠀


  • Cancer death rates have been declining since 1988 among men, and since the mid-1990s among women (Government of Canada, Canadian Cancer Statistics)⠀

  • Cancer mortality rates are decreasing more than 2% per year for lung, colorectal, prostate and oral cancers in males; breast and ovarian cancers in females; and Hodgkin disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, and larynx cancer in males and females (Government of Canada, Canadian Caner Statistics)⠀

My unique vantage of being both a cancer survivor and a professional working with cancer patients has offered me the opportunity to bear witness to some common threads that weave many survivors together.

Although not exhaustive, I feel that these are the most constant traits of cancer survivors that I see.

3 Common Characteristics of a Cancer Survivor

1. A resolve to make necessary changes in diet and lifestyle

cancer survivorsMany cancer survivors change their diet to include whole, plant-based foods and eliminate processed, pro-inflammatory foods because they understanding that what they eat can either enhance health or detract from it.

Supplements to support health are often included along with dietary changes.

The importance of proper sleep, exercise and mindfulness is appreciated and strived for within the lives of many cancer survivors.

2. A willingness to take active participation in determining their cancer protocolunderstanding

Most cancer survivors have asked questions, considered many avenues of care and have taken an active role in determining the cancer protocol that feels right for them.  Many cancer survivors have taken an integrative approach to their care including modalities such as yoga and meditation in to their cancer protocol.

3. A belief that their body can heal

Survivors tend to have a strong belief that given the proper tools their bodies can overcome and heal from cancer.  Once established, a common trait of survivors is the firm belief that their protocol will be successful.

Life after a cancer diagnosis is different.  As with any profound event we experience, cancer resets the framework for us moving forward.  But we do.  We move forward.

We are survivors.

cancer survivors






Common Signs That Your Liver May Need Some Attention

Weighing between 3.17 and 3.66 pounds (lb), or between 1.44 and 1.66 kilograms (kg), your liver is the largest solid organ in your body (mine too!) and performs over 500 functions including being a key detoxifier.

So your liver works hard every day.  But sometimes it gives us signs that it may need some support.

Here are some indications that you may need to give your liver some lovin’.

Do you wake up at night?

If you wake up consistently between 1:00am and 3:00am, your liver may be asking for some support. While we sleep, the liver becomes more active and works on cleansing and detoxification. Waking up around this “liver time” can signal that the liver is exhibiting signs of toxicity and needs some detoxing.  Many times this happens from eating either too much sugar in the evening or animal protein.


Eye problems

Conjunctivitis, lots of mucus, itching, macular degeneration, dry eyes, and cataracts may indicate liver weakness. Another physical clue is a vertical line between the eyebrows.



Angry emotions

If the liver is congested and being forced to work too hard, it becomes “hot,” causing excessive anger and irritation.

Hormonal imbalances

PMS, hot flashes, and pre-menopausal symptoms are increased due to a congested liver.

Skin Problems

Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, skin rashes, acne and dry skin are clues.


This condition can often be caused by a congested and toxic liver or even stressed adrenals. The colon should still be addressed, but it is often not the root cause.

 10 Steps that Support a Healthy Liver

  1. Eliminate toxins from your diet and your life as best you can.
  2. Drink pure (filtered) water throughout the day.
  3. Drink your lemon water first thing every morning.
  4. Eat dark greens, preferably raw, every day (e.g. “green juice”, a big or green salad). Eat lots of celery (a good source of plant sodium that helps support the adrenals), watercress, broccoli, kale, cucumber, spinach, romaine, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro, and sour green apples.
  5. If not vegan or vegetarian, eat animal protein between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. It can be stressful for the liver to eat the animal protein later in the day or evening, especially if you are showing signs of liver stress.
  6. Remember, you need protein to support and detoxify the liver. In addition to protein naturally found in meats, good complete protein sources can be found in beans, nuts and seeds such as hemp seeds and chia seeds.
  7. Eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  8. Make sure the colon is supported and clean. When toxins remain in the colon, they are sent back to the liver. The liver then sends them right back down to the colon in the bile. To help permanently eliminate these toxins from the body, add extra fiber, probiotics, and filtered water.
  9. Sweat! Saunas and exercise are a good way to sweat.
  10. Assist your lymphatic system – Use a body brush every day to stimulate your lymphatic system and help move lymphatic fluids. You can also lymphasize, which is a way to stimulate lymphatic drainage, ridding your body of toxins, wastes, trapped protein, bacteria, and viruses.  What do you need to do?  Jump on a mini-trampoline — this is called rebounding.  This creates an ideal condition for cleaning the cells.  The vertical acceleration and deceleration help the cells squeeze out waste.






What is a probiotic?

Probiotics have become a common supplement in many people’s daily health plan.  But what exactly are probiotics?  What are their benefits and how do we know which one to choose?

The term probiotic is derived from the Greek language meaning “for life” but for our purposes I will use the definition as per the World Health Organization.

WHO defines probiotics as:


live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”

For clarification, ‘live micro organisms’ are beneficial bacteria. ‘The host’ is you.

Now what exactly qualifies as live also needs to be clarified. In a scientific space, ‘live’ refers to ‘survivability’.  Survivability through the harsh environment of the stomach, through the small intestine and in to the colon.

Of great importance also, is the fact that the beneficial bacteria that we consume when taking probiotics do not colonize in the gut.  They confer their health benefits but within days of stopping use, the probiotic it is no longer found in the gut. This means that these bacteria are transient.

Benefits of Probiotics

The studied benefits of probiotic are many.  There is strong and increasing evidence supporting beneficial effects of probiotics to:

  • improvement of intestinal health
  • enhancement immune response
  • reduce levels of serum cholesterol
  • prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • cancer prevention

Within the cancer sphere, the exact mechanisms are under investigation.

studies have demonstrated that certain members of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. decrease the levels of carcinogenetic enzymes produced by colonic flora through normalization of intestinal permeability and microflora balance as well as production of anti-mutagenic organic acids and enhancement of the host’s immune system.

In vitro and in vivo studies have indicated that probiotic bacteria might reduce the risk, incidence and number of tumours of the colon, liver and bladder.

Now if you have taken the foray in to the world of probiotic supplements it can be a confusing arena.

First let’s take a look at the naming of probiotics.

Probiotics are named according to Genus, Species and Strain.  In this example Lactobacillus Gasseri M58820, “Lactobacillus” is the genus, “Gasseri” is the species and “M58820” is the strain.  This is commonly abbreviated to L. Gasseri M58820.

Now that we have naming aced let’s consider what goes in to you purchasing the right probiotic.

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Probiotic

What are you taking your probiotic for?  

Different probiotics will be beneficial for different health conditions.  In one study for example a group of people who took a combination of Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2 showed decreased inflammatory markers after 3 weeks of use.

Determine the health reason that you want to take a probiotic for and research the strains best suited to help you.

Is the supplement company reputable?

There are many reputable supplement companies with good quality probiotic products.  Some offer many strains of bacteria in their supplements.  Some may offer single strains.  Some companies offer both.  Many are research backed and offer novel delivery methods.

Check out the company. Read their research and settle upon a company that resonates with you.

Is the strength appropriate for the strains used?

The strength of a probiotic is the number of Colony Forming Units or CFU’s found on the label

Some probiotics may be effective at dosages of 1–2 billion CFU per day, while others may require at least 20 billion CFU to achieve the desired effects.

The number of colony forming units that you need really depends on what you are using the probiotic for.

For general good health, experts recommend between 6 to 10 billion CFU’s each day.

For minor health problems 20 to 30 billion may be adequate.

For more serious health problems, professionals may recommend higher doses. VSL#3 for example could be recommended for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis.  It contains over 100 billion CFU’s.

Do your research.  Ask these questions and you will find what works best for you.