I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. EVERYTHING. As hard as it is sometimes for me to accept the bad things in life, I always remind myself that while I can’t understand why it’s happening right now, it’s meant to be and later on, if I’m lucky, I’ll see why it’s happening.
In 2006, shortly after having my daughter I had a lump removed from my left breast. Prior to this I had had 2 benign lumps removed and was told that I simply had breasts that produced benign lumps.
A few years after I had the lump removed, I got sick and tired of having no energy and basically feeling ‘yuck’ all day. I did some research on different diets and came across Clean Eating. Everything I read about it made sense to me. Eliminate the artificial crap from your diet and help your body grow stronger. I loved it! My family and I went cold turkey into the lifestyle. We threw out everything processed and pre-made and went grocery shopping the same day. We’ve never looked back.
In April of this year I went to see my doctor because there seemed to be a lump right under the scar from the 2006 surgery. She sent me to have an ultrasound done and I was told there was a lump there but it looked perfectly normal and to keep an eye on it. In August, after sensing something wasn’t right, I made an appointment to go see the doctor. We had just moved to California and while I wasn’t thrilled with going to a new doctor I knew I needed to be seen. After seeing the lump my new doctor ordered a mammogram and ultrasound STAT. Literally, I had to go straight from my appointment with her to get it done. The next day I had an appointment with a general surgeon and he said that while the lump doesn’t look cancerous, that it was large enough that it needed to be removed right away. A week later I had surgery. A few days later I was told that I had a Phyllodes tumor. Little is known about Phyllodes tumors. Only 3% of the population experiences these types of tumors and they tend to be very fast growing and can quickly turn cancerous. Unlike breast cancer they do not respond to chemo or radiation and most doctors have little to no experience with them. I was also told that the outer edges of the tumor showed precancerous cell division and that having a mastectomy on my left breast was the recommended course of treatment.
I can only imagine what might have happened if I hadn’t changed my eating habits when I did. As it turns out, that 2006 lump I had was a Phyllodes tumor. What if I hadn’t started eating clean? Would the tumor have come back quicker and turned cancerous? I truly believe that eating clean caused the tumor to be slow growing and kept it from turning cancerous.
In a few weeks I’ll be having a double mastectomy and my doctors have told me that this will eliminate any chance of the tumor coming back. I decided to have both breast removed (as opposed to just the left one) for symmetry and to make it easier to fit into clothes and feel comfortable with my own body. I’ve decided not to have reconstructive surgery although if at some point in time I feel like it’s necessary then I can also have it done.
The events over the last few weeks prompted me to research whether there were any diets that helped to ‘cure’ tumors. I did a LOT of reading and research. I also learned so much more about nutrition and the role it plays in our lives. Most of the research I was finding kept leading me to plant-based diets. I talked to my husband about this and we both thought it would be good to do a 3 day trial eating only a plant-based diet. That meant no dairy or meats. This was no small feat. My husband only eats 5 vegetables – corn, mushrooms, edamame, potato and onions. That’s it folks, nothing else. He’s also a BIG meat eater. He’s also the most supportive man I’ve ever met and if I was going to go to a plant based diet then he was coming along for the ride.
On our first day eating only plant based food, while I was googling for recipes to try I came across a blog that talked about the movie Forks over Knives. It said it was available on Netflix so I suggested to my husband that we should watch it that night. We watched. We were shocked.
After the movie ended my husband turned to me and said he would never be able to eat meat or dairy again. I think this probably shocked me the most. My husband is the last person I thought I would hear those words from. Not that I blame him. I also came to the same conclusion.
That night we talked for a long time and decided that the health of our family was more important than the taste of meat and dairy. When we started eating clean we were overwhelmed. What would we eat? What could we eat? What about all the stuff we would never eat again?!!! A few months into the clean eating lifestyle and we had more food choices than we knew what to do with. We figured that eventually the same would happen with a plant based lifestyle. Right now it’s a little scary. You don’t realize just how much meat and dairy play into your life until you eliminate it from your diet! But it’s just the beginning and I’m confident that in a few months we’ll look back and wonder what we were so worried about.
This last week has been one of the toughest when it comes to food that I’ve ever experienced. Finding things for my kids to eat that they actually like. Finding things for my meat eating, non plant loving husband to eat has been even harder. But each day, while I cook, prepare and research recipes, I can’t help but think what this decision means for my future and my family’s future. Will this spare one of us from getting cancer? Will any heart disease we have begin to go away?
Everything happens for a reason….
For anyone interested in the plant based lifestyle, please take the time to watch Forks Over Knives. We are now a week into eating a strictly plant based diet and we’re loving it. Oddly enough, my kids are loving it! Of course I’ll be sharing all the recipes I discover with you and I’ll also be blogging about the ups and downs of this journey. You can follow my adventures here.
Let me end by saying that this was truly a personal decision that my family and I made because it’s what was best for us. What’s best for my family may not be what is best for yours. This is why I never judge or criticize those with a different lifestyle. The Naked Kitchen will continue to be a place that provides support, recipes and information for those that follow a clean eating lifestyle. Whether you are a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or raw food lover – it doesn’t matter to us. We welcome everyone along for the journey!