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Case study: 'I changed my diet after cancer'

IF YOU had asked me before my diagnosis of breast cancer whether I had a bad diet I would have said no but, looking back, it wasn’t the best.

I ate red meat most days, perhaps a portion of vegetables and very little fruit. A very sweet tooth meant that I munched my way through a couple of bars of chocolate every day. I also slept nine or 10 hours a night and still woke up tired, yet I never put it down to my diet.

During my treatment, I read many books on nutrition and came to the conclusion that to keep healthy I must eat healthily. Towards the end of my chemotherapy I bought a masticating juicer — a low-speed machine that will grind any raw fruit or vegetable including those like broccoli, wheatgrass and cabbage. My daily routine now starts by juicing spinach, broccoli, cucumber and celery. It sounds disgusting but I just hold my nose and gulp it back. This is followed by a shot of wheatgrass and some carrots and apples. I also eat fruits that are high in anti oxidants such as blueberries, cherries and strawberries.

The big thing was cutting out refined sugar — so there was to be no chocolate bars. Instead, if I feel the need, I eat a couple of squares of very dark chocolate. It’s not quite the same as the high I used to get from the slabs of milk chocolate but it will have to do. I also restrict red meat to once a fortnight and supplement instead with fish and chicken.

The results were almost immediate and I bounced back from my last two chemo sessions very quickly. Two months on, I now have buckets of energy, require no more than six or seven hours sleep and I don’t feel tired during the day.

I’ve included my family in the healthy eating regime. Initially, my kids balked at drinking vegetable juices but now they do without complaining.

They do moan that they have been deprived of takeaway pizza — apparently, my homemade ones are not quite the same. Nobody will say that diet will prevent cancer or its recurrence, but they will say that it can reduce your risk and that, for me, is a good enough reason.