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THE FIRST THING A NEWLY-DIAGNOSED BREAST CANCER WARRIOR NEEDS IS INFORMATION. 

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Foods to Avoid During Chemo
When you have Estrogen-positive Breast Cancer, Estrogen is your enemy (because it is your cancer’s best friend), and any “Psuedo-Estrogen” is also your enemy.  A ‘Pseudo-Estrogen’ is easily mistaken by the body for a true Estrogen, and, in fact, your body does a little tap dance with ‘Pseudo-Estrogens’ and actually turns them into virtual copies of Estrogen.  Soy is a “Psuedo-Estrogen’, as is Licorice. (Oh darn!)
 
According to many researchers, Estrogen-positive Cancer gains strength not only from Estrogen, but from ‘Pseudo-Estrogen’ as well.  As a result, many health care professionals advise that Breast Cancer Warriors (BCW’s) avoid Soy in its many and varied forms (Soy Beans, Soy Sauce, Tofu, Tempeh) as well as other ‘Pseudo-Estrogens’ such as Licorice.
 
Having said that, we should also point out that there are others in the health care field who believe that the potential health benefits of Soy (when eaten in moderation) outweigh the potential harm.  For more on the subject of Soy, click here: www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/ask_expert/2009_10/question_14.jsp
 
 
When you are undergoing Chemotherapy or Radiation, there are several other foods that can be problematic.  Unpeeled, uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables are chief among them. Raw Eggs are also on that list of ‘no-no’s’, which means say goodbye to Egg Nog during the Holiday Season.
 
While your body is going through Chemo or Radiation, your immune system becomes compromised.  As the toxic effects of Chemo and Radiation do their job of killing cancer cells, they simultaneously do quite a number on the body’s healthy cells, including our disease-fighting White Blood cells.  That is why Oncologists regularly check a chemo patient’s White Blood Cell Count.  If the count is too low, meaning that the treatments have reduced our number of healthy White Blood cells down to a precious few, the doctor will recommend an injection of a drug that will help your body produce more White Blood cells.
 
The injection is virtually painless, although the side effects of this injection can include some bone and joint discomfort for a brief period of time.  This discomfort is the result of the bones actually expanding a bit, in order to give the Bone Marrow more room in which to amp up its ability to create those much-needed new White Blood cells. (It is our Bone Marrow that creates our blood cells).   This minor and temporary bone discomfort is definitely worth the resulting increase in White Blood cells and increase in the health of your Immune system.  If our White Blood Cell count is too low, we are at risk of serious health complications (and in rare cases, even the possibility of death) due to infection.  So, if Chemo or Radiation causes our White Blood Cell count to fall below a certain level, Chemotherapy must be put on hold, and when you’re fighting cancer, that’s not a good thing. 
 
The toxic effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation can also decrease a body’s supply of natural Digestive Enzymes and healthy bacteria, both of which are used to help us digest food and to deal with many of the common forms of bacteria that typically adhere to virtually all fresh foods.  It is this decrease (or even complete elimination) of healthy bacteria that can open us to a potentially dangerous complication. 
 
During Chemotherapy, any uncooked, unpeeled food can pose a significant health hazard to BCW’s.  Foods such as Lettuce, tomatoes, celery, apples, peaches, grapes, cherries…..in short, any raw, unpeeled, uncooked food can make a chemo patient very, VERY sick, very suddenly, and very seriously! 
 
We know of dozens of BCW’s who, within a few hours of eating a simple green salad, have found themselves suddenly and severely sick -- projectile vomiting, their fever spiking to an alarming 104+.  (More often than not, the culprit turned out to be bacteria on the lettuce).  This is nothing to fool around with.  This can be life-threatening.   While on Chemo, a body temperature in excess of 101 is reason for concern, as your Oncologist should tell you.  If, however, you suddenly find yourself being violently ill, and feverish, you should immediately (and we do me IMMEDIATELY) get to the Emergency Room.  
 
Our advice:  while on Chemotherapy or Radiation, avoid all uncooked, unpeeled foods.  That means NO LETTUCE.  If you want to eat fresh fruit (apples, peaches, pears), make sure that you scrub them with a professional anti-bacterial food wash, AND PEEL them!  (no kidding!)  If it can’t be peeled, don’t eat it!  Unless you have mastered the fine art of peeling grapes, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc, etc, etc….forget about eating them while you’re on Chemotherapy.  In fact, we recommend that you do what many BCW’s have done: while on Chemo or Radiation, say goodbye to green salads, as well as all unpeeled fresh fruit or veggies and eat only cooked, or thoroughly, seriously scrubbed and then peeled foods, and if a food can’t be peeled and can’t be cooked, then don’t eat it.   (And, if you’re going to eat foods such as melons, oranges, lemons or limes, make absolutely certain that you seriously, thoroughly, severely SCRUB the exteriors of each before you cut into them, so as to get rid of any bacteria that might otherwise move from their skins or rinds, onto your knife, into the sweet, tender insides of the fruit, and from there, into the sweet, tender insides of you!)
 
Other edibles to be wary of while fighting Cancer include Sugar, and Acidic foods.  Extensive scientific research has proven that cancer cells thrive in high Sugar and high-Acid environments.  (To learn more about the dangers of Acid, click on the article entitled: “The Acid Trip”.)  Better safe than seriously sick!!   You’re a BC Warrior, we know you can handle it. 
 

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Bernie Siegel, MD., Medical Advisor to the Breast Cancer Warrior Foundation; author of numerous best-selling books including "Love, Medicine & Miracles," world-renown doctor and expert in the field of the mind's ability to inspire healing, answers your questions:

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Dear Dr. Siegel  – I have BC…and my oncologist says I need radiation.  I don’t know why, but…there’s a voice in my head telling me not to do it.  Should I listen to the voice?  Is it possible that some inner part of me knows something that the doctor doesn’t know?

– Sterling (SC)

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Dear Sterling --  Yes this could be your intuitive wisdom or gut feeling or it could be…

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Unfortunately doctors and health professionals, in general, do not study success. We are far more likely to consider an unexpected recovery to be due to the treatment or a spontaneous remission. However, I have learned from my experience with patients and by asking them, “Why didn’t you die when you were supposed to?” that they always had a story to tell.

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