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Thread: Cancer And Vegan/Vegetarian Diets

  1. #1
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    Cancer And Vegan/Vegetarian Diets

    Hi Everyone,
    My dad was just diagnosed with cancer cells in the lymph node in his neck (a secondary cancer coming from skin cancer) and is exploring treatment options. I've been reading up a bit on cancer and nutrition and also talking to people and several places I've found where they suggest that a vegetarian or vegan diet helps with cancer prevention and also with the recovery process. I've even read some places where a strict vegan diet (that is, one that focuses on whole plant-based foods and is low fat) can halt the growth of cancer cells, though I'm a little hesitant to believe that (unless the cancer cells are in their early stages - that I might believe).

    I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years and I've been eating less and less dairy and eggs for the last 7 years, so I'm sort of a part-time vegan (looking to be full time, though). So I know for myself that being vegetarian and vegan have improved some of my health issues (like migraine headaches).

    I'd love to hear stories from people here who are vegan/vegetarian and decided to become that way after they were diagnosed with cancer. How has being vegetarian/vegan helped you (or has it not really helped)? What kind of meals do you eat and what kind of foods do you buy?

    If it's really helpful, I'd love to try and get my dad to go vegetarian, though he loves meat and is stubborn, so it won't be easy.

    Thank you!

    Tam

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
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    Hi Tam

    Well you won't win to many friends here if you insist on pestering your father to become a vegetarian. Nothing more annoying than pushy kids. Quite frankly its your dads life and he can do what he wants.

    During chemo it is important to keep proteins up so now would not be a good time to start becoming vegetarian. Also during treatment his taste will be affected and his taste will change dramatically. I could only tolerate a few foods and my diet was very bland during my treatment, not out of choice but by necessity as I could not tolerate strong tasking vegetables, the smells alone would make me nauseous.

    Now is the wrong time to pester your father wait until treatment is finished. Studies have shown that exercise is more important than diet when it comes to recovery and I would suggest seeing dad often and going for walks with him as far better thing you can do for him than pushing a vegan diet on him.

    I wish your father the best of luck.
    Age 60
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011

    NED AND DECLARED CURED on the 2/01/2013

    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  3. #3
    You'll find a lot of "advice" about that which is pure foolishness. I was a vegetarian for 20 years before my diagnosis, and I've met tons of patients on the Internet who were vegetarians or vegans for many years. This is cancer. There isn't any magic food that's going to stop it, and it wasn't any magic food that started it. We cancer patients need calories and we need protein. As the disease progresses, it becomes harder and harder to eat enough to maintain our weight and strength. Please don't make that any harder than it has to be.
    Diagnosed with stage 2c papillary serous cystadenoma borderline malignancy of the ovary in 2009. Hysterectomy, omenectomy, appendectomy, debulking.
    - 2010 - laparoscopy showed inoperable recurrence, so started chemo.
    - Frontline chemo - carboplatin and cyclophosphamide, six cycles
    - Additional chemo regimens: Avastin - ten cycles; Weekly Topotecan - 4 cycles.
    - Spring 2012 developed pleural nodules. Topotecan plus Avastin - 1year.
    - April, 2014, had surgery to remove Aspergillus infection from right lung.
    - September, 2015, started on Megace because my tumors are PR positive. Stopped Megace after three months.
    - September, 2016, hospitalized for shortness of breath and back pain.
    - September, 2016, respiratory failure reversed with prednisone. Maintaining on 50 mg Prednisone per day and supplemental O2.
    - October, 2016 left hospital with no supplemental oxygen. Feeling great! Will start tapering off the prednisone Oct. 10.

  4. #4
    Administrator Top User Didee's Avatar
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    Totally agree with the others. Had any of my kids tried to push me they would have been told quick smart. What the others have written above I second totally. It is bad enough when well meaning friends find anecdotal stories and miracle "cures" on the internet and become armchair experts over night. Always stick to proven medical science re diet etc. Vegans and vegetarians get cancer too.

    A close friend of my mother's, vego or maybe vegan all her life, very strict on herself re holistic and natural health and exercise died from colon cancer.
    Aussie, age 61
    1987 CIN 111. Cervix lasered, no further problems.

    Years of pain, bleeding, women's plumbing problems. TV ultrasound, tests, eventual hysterectomy 2007, fibroids in lining of Uterus.

    Dx Peripheral T Cell Lymphoma stage 2B bulky, aggressive Dec/09.
    6 chop14 and Neulasta.
    Clean PET April/10, 18 rads 36gy mop up. All done May 2010
    Iffy scan Nov. 2011. Scan Feb 2012 .still in remission.Still NED Nov 2012.
    Discharged Nov 2014.

    May/2012. U/sound, thyroid scan, FNB. Benign adenoma.

    Relapse Apr 2016. AITL. Some chemos then on to allo transplant. Onc says long remission was good. Still very fixable.

    SCT Aug 2016

  5. #5
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    Um... ok. Where exactly did I imply that I was "pushing" and "pestering" my dad to go vegetarian? Seems like there are a lot of touchy people here when it comes to having their meat. Fine. I'll know for the future not to bring up the subject here.

    Tam

  6. #6
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tammay View Post
    Um... ok. Where exactly did I imply that I was "pushing" and "pestering" my dad to go vegetarian? Seems like there are a lot of touchy people here when it comes to having their meat. Fine. I'll know for the future not to bring up the subject here.

    Tam
    As a person with cancer I am very sensitive to the issues that people with cancer face. One of these is pushy children. I am not the only one here who feels like this. I am sorry if I mistook your question but describing dad as being "stubborn" because he did not like your plans for his health indicated that me that you were pushing your father.

    If dad is going to have chemo it is unlikely he will tolerate a "healthy" diet due to taste changes. Honestly it is not the right time to embark down this road. Wait until he has finished chemo. At the end of the day your father can do as he wishes and you need to step back and support him rather than fight him. It is his life, his fight and only he has the right to chose how to fight this.

    I am not even sure what cancer your father has as you have not included that in your sig. If you wish you can do this via settings in your profile page.

    So I apologise if I miscategorised you. However as a person with cancer myself I do not apologise for sticking up for your Dad to have his battle on his terms.

    Good luck
    Age 60
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011

    NED AND DECLARED CURED on the 2/01/2013

    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Top User po18guy's Avatar
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    As much as we want our loved ones to live long and in good health, that is not always possible. And, when a life-threatening illness arrives, it becomes 100% personal to the person afflicted. Now, loved ones are going to do what loved ones do. But, he has more than enough on his plate and no diet (even one that starts with a "V") is going to cure him, place him in remission, or possibly even keep him well nourished. Cancer patients must eat what they can, when they can - just as a soldier in any war must do. Even though you love him dearly, it is his life to live, to fight for, or to yield to the disease.
    05/08-07/08 Tumor appears behind left ear. Followed by serial medical incompetence on the parts of PCP, veteran oncologist and pathologist (misdiagnosis via non-diagnosis). Providential guidance to proper care at an NCI designated comprehensive cancer center.
    07/08 Age 56 DX 1) Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma-Not Otherwise Specified. Stage IV-B, >50 ("innumerable") tumors, bone marrow involvement.
    08/08-12/08 Four cycles CHOEP14 + four cycles GND (Cyclofosfamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine, Etoposide, Prednisone & Gemcitabine, Navelbine, Doxil)
    02/09 2) Relapse.
    03/09-06/13 Clinical trial of Romidepsin > long-term study. NED for 64 twenty-eight day cycles, dose tapered.
    07/13 3) Relapse, 4) Suspected Mutation.
    08/13-02/14 Romidepsin increased, stopped for lack of response. Watch & Wait.
    09/14 Relapse/Progression. Visible cervical nodes appear within 4 days of being checked clear.
    10/06/14 One cycle Belinostat. Discontinued to enter second clinical trial.
    10/25/14 Clinical trial of Alisertib/Failed - Progression.
    01/12/15 Belinostat resumed/Failed - Progression. 02/23/15
    02/24/15 Pralatrexate/Failed - Progression. 04/17/15
    04/15 Genomic profiling reveals mutation into PTCL-NOS + AngioImmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma. Stage IV-B a second time. Two dozen tumors + small intestine (Ileum) involvement.
    04/22/15 TEC (Bendamustine, Etoposide, Carboplatin). Full response in two cycles. PET/CT both clear. Third cycle followed.
    06/15-07/15 Transplant preparation (X-rays, spinal taps, BMB, blood test, MUGA scan, lung function, CMV screening, C-Diff testing etc. etc. etc.) Intrathecal Methotrexate during spinal tap.
    BMB reveals 5) 26% blast cells of 20q Deletion Myelodysplastic Syndrome MDS), a bone marrow cancer and precursor to Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
    07/11-12/15 Cyclofosfamide + Fludarabine conditioning regimen.
    07/16/15 Total Body Irradiation.
    07/17/15 Moderate intensity Haploidentical Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant receiving my son's peripheral blood stem cells.
    07/21-22/15 Triple dose Cyclofosfamide + Mesna, followed by immunosuppressants Tacrolimus and Mycophenolate Mofetil.
    07/23-08/03/15 Marrow producing zero blood cells. Fever. Hospitalized two weeks.
    08/04/15 Engraftment occurs, and blood cells are measurable - released from hospital.
    08/13/15 Day 26 - Marrow is 100% donor cells. Platelets climbing steadily, red cells follow.
    09/21/15 Acute skin Graft versus Host Disease arrives.
    DEXA scan reveals Osteoporosis.
    09/26/-11/03/15 Prednisone to control skin GvHD.
    11/2015 Acute GvHD re-classified to Chronic Graft versus Host Disease.
    05/2016 Tacrolimus stopped. Prednisone from 30-90mg daily tried. Sirolimus begun. Narrow-band UV-B therapy started, but discontinued for lack of response. One treatment of P-UVAreceived, but halted due to medication reaction.
    09/16/16 Three skin punch biopsies.
    11/04/16 GvHD clinical trial of Ofatumumab (Arzerra) + Prednisone + Methylprednisolone begun.
    12/16 Type II Diabetes, Hypertension - both treatment-related.
    05/17 Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP) begun in attempt to control chronic Graft-versus-Host-Disease (cGvHD. 8 year old Power Port removed and replaced with Vortex (Smart) Port for ECP.
    05/2017 Chronic anemia (low hematocrit). Chronic kidney disease. Cataracts from radiation and steroids.
    06/17 Trying various antibiotics in a search for tolerable prophylaxis.
    08/17 Bone marrow biopsy reveals the presence of 2% cells with 20q Deletion Myelodysplastic Syndrome, considered to be Minimum Residual Disease.
    12/17 Bone marrow biopsy reveals no abnormalities in the marrow - MDS eradicated. The steroid taper continues.
    01/18 Consented for Kadmon clinical trial.
    03/18 Began 400mg daily of KD025, a rho-Associated Coiled-coil Kinase 2 Inhibitor (ROCK2).
    09/18 Due to refractory GvHD, Extracorporeal Photopheresis halted after 15 months ue to lack of additional benefit.
    10/18 I was withdrawn from the Kadmon KD025 clinical trial due to increasing fatigue/lack of benefit.
    11/18 Began therapy with Ruxolitinib (Jakafi), a JAK 1&2 inhibitor class drug. Started at half-dose due to concerns with drug interactions.

    To date: 1 cancer, relapse, second relapse/mutation into 2 cancers, then 3 cancers simultaneously, 20 chemotherapy/GVHD drugs in 11 regimens (4 of them at least twice), 5 salvage regimens, 4 clinical trials, 5 post-transplant immuno-suppressant/modulatory drugs, the equivalent of 1,000 years of background radiation from 40+ CT series scans and about 24 PET scans.
    Both lymphoid and myeloid malignancies lend a certain symmetry to the hematological journey.

    Believing in the redemptive value of suffering makes all the difference.

  8. #8
    Tammay, you said, "...I'd love to try and get my dad to go vegetarian, though he loves meat and is stubborn, so it won't be easy."

    Yes, that is pushing. Just so you know.

    Please understand, you came here to ask cancer patients whether switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet helps cancer patients. We are cancer patients, and we answered you: no, it doesn't help, and in addition it can hurt.

    And we're not just speaking from our own experience. I interact with a couple dozen cancer patients in my community, and I've "met" hundreds of others in forums like this one. Some of them try various diets, and there's no question I've seen some of them hurt themselves badly. I haven't seen anyone benefit. And I've seen a lot of family relationships damaged over things like this.

    I hope your father will join us here.
    Diagnosed with stage 2c papillary serous cystadenoma borderline malignancy of the ovary in 2009. Hysterectomy, omenectomy, appendectomy, debulking.
    - 2010 - laparoscopy showed inoperable recurrence, so started chemo.
    - Frontline chemo - carboplatin and cyclophosphamide, six cycles
    - Additional chemo regimens: Avastin - ten cycles; Weekly Topotecan - 4 cycles.
    - Spring 2012 developed pleural nodules. Topotecan plus Avastin - 1year.
    - April, 2014, had surgery to remove Aspergillus infection from right lung.
    - September, 2015, started on Megace because my tumors are PR positive. Stopped Megace after three months.
    - September, 2016, hospitalized for shortness of breath and back pain.
    - September, 2016, respiratory failure reversed with prednisone. Maintaining on 50 mg Prednisone per day and supplemental O2.
    - October, 2016 left hospital with no supplemental oxygen. Feeling great! Will start tapering off the prednisone Oct. 10.

  9. #9
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    I'm new to this cancer forum and was glad to read that no one is offering extreme nutritional advise or suggesting we can cure cancer with diet. When my husband started losing weight from muscle loss and his PSA was rising, our son suggested we watch the documentary, "Forks over Knives." It was compelling and hosted by two likeable, grandfatherly doctors with a strong vegan/vegetarian message. We thought it wouldn't hurt to try a vegan diet for 3 months, right? Just to see if Hubby's PSA would drop. The cancer center nutritionist where I work said absolutely not. Hubby needed more protein, not less, she said. And in fact, as muscles age, we all need the protein leutine that is found mainly in meat and dairy.

    Keep up the good encouragement!

  10. #10
    Hey Tam.

    It's really thoughtful that you love your dad so much that you want to help him eat healthy. I was my mothers caregiver when she went through chemotherapy. It was really hard and exhausting. I felt the same way that I wanted to heal my mom and make the cancer go away.

    But it was important to focus on what she could eat and wanted to eat. We focused on adjusting the flavor of the foods that she naturally liked and that is what helped her to eat again. I had to always remember that everything she knew was being taken from her and to accommodate for the few things she wanted and could control.

    Good job taking care of your dad! Sometimes us caregivers just need a little encouragement. It's gut wrenching to watch someone you love go through something so terrible.

    Hope this helps.
    -Chef Ryan Callahan
    Last edited by lisa1962; 07-27-2015 at 05:36 PM.

 

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