Cancer is a mysterious thing. So are statistics. Statistically, 1 in 8 women in this country will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they are 851 but, apart from drinking alcohol, the risk factors for breast cancer are largely unavoidable, like being a woman and getting older2. Breast cancer just strikes at random, like bad voodoo, and some people respond in kind, turning to a sort of magic, like juice diets and caffeine enemas3, or baking soda and salt4.
Sadly, some people turn their backs on the proven 21st century cures and embrace this quackery. Steve Jobs is not the only person who has died regretting he didn’t take his doctors more seriously5
But I admit that when the bad voodoo struck from inside, like a creepy alien affliction from the x-files, I turned to my own voodoo, which consisted of madly scouring the internet for anything proven (or even hinted at by some study) to increase survival or reduce the side effects of chemo. I walked diligently to protect my heart6, I took fish oil to protect my muscle mass7 and vitamin D to increase the efficacy of the docetaxal8. I ordered glutamine off the internet and drank that in orange juice to ward of neuropathy. It’s disgusting, especially if you’re suffering from chemo induced nausea9.
This was my way of taking control of my life when it suddenly seemed to be under the control of the doctors.
Now that my life has returned to relative normalcy, I still continue my voodoo to some extent. I can’t help it. It’s deeply entrenched in my psyche, so, along with my daily tamoxifen, I take 4.5g of fish oil, because some poor rats with chemically induced mammary tumours who were fed a diet of 17% fish oil and tamoxifen did much better than those fed corn oil9. Since that study there has been quite a lot of research into the synergistic effects of fish oil on tamoxifen at a molecular level10.
And along with the fish oil, I take vitamin D, which has long been known to be protective against cancer11 and low vitamin D levels during winter are now thought to reduce the bioactivation of tamoxifen to endoxifen12
And, to a certain extent, this little weight loss exercise is also voodoo. As I’ve mentioned more than once, even a small increase in BMI correlates with a recurrence, so I am pleased to report that my weight today is 55.2kg.