CATE'S BLOG

CANCER: THINGS NOT 2 SAY 2 A CANCER PATIENT by CATE MONDON

The Many Rants, Raves, and Rambles of Catherine

Things not 2 say 2 a cancer patient...

Cancer is a touchy subject... And lets be honest, a lot of the time it makes people uncomfortable. People don't know what to say, and with that, a lot of the time say things that come across as insensitive or rude. Here's my list of things that people have said to me that have bothered me (at some point or another) and why.

"You're only 20... You're so young."

Why yes... I'm very well aware of the fact that I'm only 20 years old and have a disease that will slowly kill me. Guess what? Cancer has no age limit. And no, cancer does not only effect young children and old people unlike the ads make it seem.

"If you have cancer, why do you have hair?"

Well folks, probably because having cancer on it's own does not make you lose your hair... Although this question often makes me to tear out what hair I have remaining. Yes, chemo does make the majority of cancer patients lose their hair, BUT it's the chemo that makes the hair fall out, not the cancer. Also, now they have technology that helps prevent hair loss that comes with chemo and has been proven to work marvelously.

"Man, I couldn't do what you're doing."

Um.... Thanks? It's not like I have a choice. I don't get to choose whether or not I have cancer. I either choose to try and fight it or I choose to die. There's no choice. You do it, or you die.

"You're so strong"

Now, I KNOW everyone means this as a compliment. And half the time, I do take it as such. But there are days when I'm alone, breaking down, and the last word in the world I would use to explain myself is as strong. And like the point above, I don't have a choice. I have to show up to my cancer battle each and every day. I have to take my meds, I have to deal with the side effects. Not being strong isn't an option.

"Wait... Since you have ovarian cancer, you'll probably never be able to have kids? That's so sad. Being a mother is the best part of my life."

You're right... I probably won't be able to have my own children but guess what? At least I'll be ALIVE. So if I adopt my children, they'll have a mom. I understand motherhood is this huge deal, but so is being alive to be able to experience it.

"I love you, but hearing about your health issues cause me so much stress which is why I've distanced myself."

I'm sorry that hearing about my problems cause YOU stress... It's not like you have to deal with the effects every single minute of every single day.

"Well at least you have an amazing support system."

This is a yes and a no. A weird thing happens to you when you have cancer. 1: People that were close to you get closer, they become your rock. 2: People that were close to you all of a sudden are distant. They rarely check in with you. You try to stay in contact with them, and they distance themselves from the damage and potential loss. 3: People you barely ever knew or talked to, all of a sudden want to be your best friend in the world and try to get ultra involved in your life. 4: People you barely know all of a sudden use you to get "cancer likes" on social media. They'll never have talked to you before, but now will snap a selfie with you and write a giant paragraph on social media about how they support their cancer friend.

"I read somewhere that meat causes cancer, I bet if you hadn't eaten meat you'd be cancer free"

Shucks, even if that is true... Guess what? That doesn't change the fact that I currently have cancer. So thank you for your weird speculation, but it's not helpful.

"Oh man, you have cancer? My aunt died of cancer."

Man... that's so... nice. As I fight for my life I just love hearing about all the people that you know that have lost in their battle. That really gives me hope.

"Well I saw this episode of greys anatomy where this cancer patient...."

Guess what? This is real freaking life. Not some soap opera where the different parts of this struggle are so skewed and turned around that they're nothing like the real thing.

"So obviously you're doing chemo..."

Actually, there are far more methods of treatment for cancer than chemo. Every persons cancer story is different, meaning that every persons treatment plan is different. There are oral meds, clinical trials, chemo, radiation, and surgeries.

CANCER: I HAVE CANCER...WHAT SHOULD I EAT? by CATE MONDON

The Many Rants, Raves, and Rambles of Catherine

The reproductive issue diet.

Many people have started to ask me and be curious about my "cancer diet." My cancer diet is something I actually stumbled upon before my diagnosis, when I was getting 6-8 ovarian cysts per month and battling endometriosis.

Basically I refer to it as "the endo diet" as its the most simple way I've learned to describe what it is. I did a ton of research online and in books and this is basically my comprehensive diet guide now that has helped a ton with my pain that accompanies my chronic reproductive issues. I don't claim this as my diet guide in the least, as all my knowledge is from outside sources that I've combined over the last 2 years. Now, this diet is NOT easy, not in the least. It takes a lot of planning and discipline, but the results are amazing.

Let me break this down for you... Basically you avoid any food that increases inflammation in your body (for those lovely chronic illnesses such as PCOS and endometriosis) and you avoid any food that naturally has a high hormone content in it or has added hormones in it. According to the book I read you're also supposed to be removing any preservatives as well, but I found that nearly impossible with all the other restrictions.

So what do you avoid?

Meat:
Red meat has a tendency to cause inflammation in your body, which can cause those pesky chronic conditions to flare up. Red meat (beef and pork) also contain toxins uric acid and toxins that make your digestive system have a hard time breaking down food, and releases those toxins into your blood stream, messing with your immune system, causing more issues in your reproductive system. Also, there are antibiotics and hormones found in these meats that mess with your immune system and endocrinology system, which also leads to flaring up of those chronic conditions. Chicken, and most meats have some hormones occurring in them naturally... So which ones are the very worst you might ask? Basically any "processed" meat. Ham, balogna, bacon, honey turkey, hamburger, hot dogs, ribs, and pastrami. What does that leave? Don't worry, I'll make sure to include in detail what foods you can eat after listing the ones to avoid.

Gluten:
In the 80's scientists decided that they were going to take on the glorious mission of ending world hunger, their solution was to genetically modify wheat to have a larger output. It increased it's germination cycle and productivity. Unfortunatly, they didn't study the long term effects of this GMO wheat. Do you ever wonder why conditions such as obesity, celiac, and gluten intolerance all the sudden became a thing over the last few years? After about 10 years, many peoples bodies cannot process the GMO wheat properly, causing inflamation and nutrient deficeit.
For those of us with chronic illnesses that cause us pain regularly, the last thing you want is a compound being rejected by your body, causing more pain and inflammation.
They also contain Alkylresorcinols, which act as a toxin in our blood that causes death to red blood cells and can harm/kill kidney and liver cells.

SOY
There's a reason this one is all in caps. Soy mimics estrogen in your body, causing your hormone levels to be heavily impacted by consuming soy. I'm going to go off on a tiny ovarian cyst tangent here... basically here's what happens on your ovary. You have estrogen, estrogen triggers your ovary to create a follicle. Normally, when you have a natural estrogen level (uninfluenced my mimickers) your ovary will create one follicle for ovulation. Too much estrogen can create multiple follicles. Normally, progesterone will be released later on, sealing the follicle off and releasing it. If you have too much estrogen though, the follicle cannot seal off correctly, causing a cyst or multiples. With soy being an estrogen mimicker, it basically messes with your entire ovulation process. It's also proven to contribute to causing low thyroid, and low thyroid messes with fertility and your weight.

Dairy:
Dairy is a mess... A normal dairy cow is injected with multiple hormone impacting compounds (estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone to name a few...), additional hormones to your fragile hormone system can throw everything off. Organic milk helps some with these issues, but since these products are a gestational product, they do contain some hormones in and of themselves.

Now... You're probably thinking, "then what the hell can I actually eat?!" I'll first list alternatives for some of the categories above, and then I'll list a bunch of foods you CAN eat with no remorse.

Meat:
Now, most meats have hormones in them naturally, at least a small amounts.
For beef: get organic, grass fed beef. Grain fed beef often have hormone fillers in their food which causes their meat to have a higher level of those extra, unwanted hormones that can wreak havoc on your reproductive system
Chicken: whats everyones favorite part of a chicken to eat? The chicken breast. Wanna know how they plump those breasts up most of the time? Pump em full of hormones. If you're going to get chicken, get organic, grass fed chicken (grassfed for the same reasons as above)
Turkey: As long as the turkey isn't processed (ground turkey, turkey lunch meat, etc.) you can eat as much turkey as you want.
Fish: For now, all fish is safe and sound. But make sure to keep an eye out over the next while as the FDA just approved the GMO of salmon, and we try to avoid new GMO foods so we can observe and see if there's going to be any bad side effects.
Pork: I'm sorry to tell you this... But basically pork is a no go. You can indulge in it maybe 2-3 times monthly, but since most pork products are highly processed, these are things we avoid all together.

Grains:
I know when I said gluten free I probably scared a lot of you, luckily we do live in an age with lots of fabulous gluten free products. You can also eat rice, quinoa, gluten free oats... basically anything you can get in a gluten free (I personally love rice and rice noodles.)

Dairy:
If you just CANT give your dairy up... (I really believe that since they're gestational products with hormones occuring naturally within them, they should be avoided all together) but I know not everyone can do that. Get your milk organic. Also, do research on the producer of your milk, and make sure their cows are grass fed, because what they eat highly impacts the milk content. The talenti gellato is my go-to for ice cream if I have to cheat because their dairy is super high quality, and all the other ingredients are basic and processed easily in your body. I also love almond milk as an alternative to normal milk. It tastes good and is creamy like normal milk. Also, whey protein is fine as long as its soy free.

Things you can go crazy on:
ANY veggie, ANY fruit, eggs, rice, fish, organic chicken and beef. Basically, your options are huge.

If you want to look for good recipes that 100% follow this diet, I suggest going on pinterest and typing in gluten free vegan food. This diet is 100% safe for my "endo diet" I've been following.

If you have any questions/concerns, or would like to be directed to any sources to learn more, please let me know and I'll be more than happy to try and help you out.

This diet is hard, but it's SO worth it. I noticed a difference in bloating, pain level, and how often my pain occurred after 2 weeks of following the diet. Good luck to those who decide to try this out. Please let me know if it works. Thank you - Cate

CANCER: THE STRUGGLE WITH CANCER FOG by CATE MONDON

The Many Rants, Raves, and Rambles of Catherine

THE STRUGGLE WITH CANCER FOG

There are many side effects of the drugs they give you to fight cancer. They cause nausea, hair loss, light headedness, detox sores, dry mouth, dehydration, and so much more. But there's a side effect that most people don't tell you about: "cancer brain."

You know when you're in the middle of going to grab something and all the sudden you can't remember what you were going to get? You retrace your steps and you get frustrated because YOU KNOW you were doing something, but you can't remember what. Cancer brain is like having these moments all day, every day. You're in the middle of a sentence, and all the sudden you can't even remember what you were talking about. You are about to type a word and for the life of you, you can't even dream of what that word was. You write down every single little thing, because if you don't, there's no way you will remember.

The most frustrating thing is you can feel the fog. You know that things aren't right. For me, attention span and concentration has been one of the hardest things for me. I was a 4.0 student in high school, I loved to read, and I loved to learn. I'm not saying that to brag, but to say how frustrating it is when all the sudden, things you used to be good at and things that used to be easy are now almost impossible. I sit, and I try to read, and I can't do it. I can't push through the fog. I get angry and frustrated because I know what reading should be like.

I've continued to do my classes during my cancer journey, and it's been extremely challenging to say the least. An assignment that would've taken me an hour before, now takes 3-4 hours, and is mediocre to the work I could've have completed before. I wish I couldn't feel the fog. I wish I knew it wasn't there, but you know. And its so hard to have part of your mind taken by this terrible disease as well.

I'm not saying this for pity, but to explain why I am the way I am. Sometimes, I sincerely forget that I have plans with someone if I didn't write it down. You could tell me something yesterday, and there's a pretty large chance that I most likely won't remember minuscule details. I can start to text someone back, get distracted, and I might not even remember to ever reply, assuming that I finished the text that I started.

Please, be patient with me and those of us dealing with the side effects of our medications. We hate the side effects just as much as you do, and we get even more frustrated with ourselves than you could ever even imagine.

Losing control of your body is hard enough, but losing control of your mind is terrifying.