Monday 16th May 2016

It’s the day before my second round of chemo. I’m due to go and see a nurse at my local GP’s office to get my second dose of Prostap – the androgen deprivation drug that is controlling testosterone levels in my body.

The past week or two has been largely uneventful in terms of my condition. I’ve handled my first chemo session well and there have only been a few symptoms – an ache in my leg a few  days afterwards that caused me to limp a little, pains in the nails on my fingers and a lot of redness and itching on the backs of my hands, particularly the hand that the chemo drugs were fed into. There was also a little ‘wound’ where the needle went in. It was some kind of delayed reaction as it had taken about a week or two to appear but it healed over the past couple of days

Additionally I’ve had horrible taste in my mouth come and go, affecting the flavours in my food. However it didn’t happen often and in no way affected my appetite or made me nauseous. In fact the anti-nausea drugs I was given to take home with me, after last chemo session, haven’t been touched.

I’ve also been a bit lax with my corticosteroids. I’ve missed doses several times and when I went away for a few days to Edinburgh I forgot to take them with me. While I was there I found that my beard was moulting quite a bit; there were hairs all down my chest and whenever I touched my beard I’d find my hands covered in lots of little hairs. Finally I ended up trimming it for the first time in weeks it started to look a bit thin.

The only real comments I can make about the past week or so is in relation to food. Over a week ago I decided to go online to see if I could find any books to support my research. I did find a hefty and expensive volume on Nutritional Oncology. However the cost for the most up to date version started at £152 for the Kindle Edition while I could get an earlier edition (from 1998) for £14.95.

I was debating with myself whether to buy one of these when I saw a couple of other books listed in the search results for ‘nutritional oncology’. They were written by a Professor Jane Plant – a scientist who treated her own advanced breast cancer with nutrition much to the surprise of herself and her doctors.

Because many of the factors that affect breast cancer also affect prostate cancer she had written about both types. I purchased her books Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome Prostate Cancer and The Plant Programme: Recipes for Fighting Breast and Prostate Cancer.

As I write I’ve started reading Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome Prostate Cancer. So far it has given me a sense of hope, especially due to her assertion, on page 11, that “even advanced cancer can be overcome”. The insight it has given me into the weaknesses and uncertainties of conventional prostate cancer care make me feel that there is more to the story than our doctors are letting on.

When it came to reading The Plant Programme I really wasn’t sure. I leafed through it and found some recipes that include eggs, chicken and squid. Some of my earlier reading pointed to a eggs being implicated in driving the development of prostate cancer to aggressive and advanced stages. However I am reserving judgement until I’ve read Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome Prostate Cancer where she may explain her rationale for this.

Eating out over the past week has been a mixed experience. I went out with Alison and my parents to a local restaurant and the vegan choice was dismal. Alison is determined that I will eat oily fish to get my Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids so when she saw that one of the specials on the menu was mackerel with a beetroot and orange salad she ordered it for me. To keep her happy I didn’t argue and I really regretted that. When the food came it was sparse and bare on my plate. The beetroot and orange salad consisted of a few very thin slices of cucumber and beetroot and there was no sign of any orange. It turned out that she had ordered a starter when I was expecting a main course. I love my food and I felt like crying looking at this pathetic plateful. The waitress must have seen the look on my face and asked me if I wanted another fillet. I said yes and she appeared with another mackerel fillet on an otherwise empty plate. My vegan resolve collapsed completely and I ended up having the leftovers from everyone else’s plates and then having a pint of ale and a slice of cheesecake as I was so irritated with my ‘meal’.

In stark contrast was my visit to the The 78 Cafe Bar where the food was 100% vegan and totally delicious with generous, satisfying portions.

Beetroot and hummus were two things I had never considered as a suitable combination until visiting The 78. For a starter I had Hummus, Beetroot Hummus & House Marinated Olives with Salad and Toasted Pitta Bread. Extremely tasty and could have been a main course in itself.

If you are looking to go vegan as part of your cancer fighting regime and looking for places where you can eat out, or even just looking to find out how tasty vegan food can be or to get inspiration for what you can prepare yourself then you need to give this place a visit.

I was there with Alison along with my sister and my brother in law who had just gone to get checked out for prostate cancer in response to what was happening to me and also the fact that his dad already had the condition. Thankfully he had gotten the all clear.

As mentioned, I had gone away to Edinburgh for a couple of days and during that time I had managed to eat very healthily. In the past when Alison and myself had done trips to Edinburgh there tended to be lots of alcohol and lots of sugary, processed snacks. This time the alcohol was vastly reduced, restricted to a few glasses of red wine for me. Our packed lunches consisted of a lot of fruit, such as cherries, grapes, pears and apples while the odd wholefood pot was purchased from Marks & Spencer.

When I came back home I resolved to start cooking properly. Meals were starting to become a bit of a struggle. I was starting to become tired of microwavable grains and rice mixed with canned, mixed beans alternating with stir fry. So, over the weekend I tried a couple of recipes.

The first was Jamie Oliver’s Vegetable Chilli. It was actually pretty good and Alison loved it.

The second was Lemon Avocado Chickpea Mash which should have been easy to make but I was surprised at how difficult it is to mash chickpeas without the correct equipment. I tried sticking them in a blender but centrifugal force just threw them against the sides of the blender container leaving the blades spinning ineffectually. After some perseverance I got them reasonably well mashed. Next challenge was to find out how to use avocados. Did I need to peel them? I had no idea as I’d never eaten one before.

I was getting so exasperated preparing this that I forgot to add the spring onions and although I enjoyed it Alison felt there was something missing. I didn’t want to tell her it was the spring onions that were a part of the recipe that I had missed.

Anyway, that’s the past week or so. I sign off for the day having just had my second Prostap injection with the next one scheduled for 8th August. My next post will be about my trip to Beatson for chemo tomorrow.


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