This brave and moving account of going through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from breast cancer is by Leslie Blood. You can follow her on Instagram @leslie.blood
My name is Leslie. I am a 38-year-old journalism professor with a passion for nutrition and health research. I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer one year ago. As an ultra running super vegan, the diagnosis took me, and everyone who knew me, by surprise.
I found out early on that I would need chemotherapy, surgery and most likely radiation. This was devastating for a number of reasons, but I knew I had to do whatever I could to get better so I could continue to be there for my family. I have an amazing husband and two little boys who have been along for my journey into the Paleo lifestyle.
Chemotherapy was incredibly hard. I opted out of steroids, so while I felt like myself, I also felt pretty terrible. By the third round of chemo, (I would need six) I was incredibly anemic. I was still running almost every day and I knew if I wanted to continue I had to change my diet.
Enter Paleo. I had done a fair amount of research on the ketogenic approach to treating certain forms of cancer and decided that the Paleo diet seemed like a reasonable place to begin. I even remember my first Paleo dinner, a ground bison taco salad!
I hated to admit it to myself, but it was the most delicious meal I had eaten in years. It took two weeks of adding in the protein while reducing the grains, but I began to feel more energetic and I was even able to start some light weight training.
None of my doctors could believe I was still able to run and lift. My medical team did not have any definitive nutritional advice for me, so I continued to research as much as I could on my own. I was incredibly confused by the nutritionist’s “everything in moderation” approach since I was pretty sure by this point that cutting out refined carbohydrates had helped lessen my fatigue and bowel inflammation.
No one likes a comeback story more than me. I love seeing people rise up better than before and I just did my best to picture this for my future. I would sleep in my running shoes and workout clothes so that I could roll out of bed and go seize the day before I had time to register how scared I was.
After completing six rounds of chemotherapy, I had a double mastectomy without reconstruction in September of 2015. I knew if I took good care of myself through exercise and diet there was a chance I may even come out of this nightmare a new and improved version of myself.
Slowly but surely I started following Paleo Instagram feeds. I was so inspired by all the body positivity and cool recipe ideas. I was disappointed when my medical team recommended radiation, but I knew with my new diet the time it took me to heal would be minimal. I was right.
I know that there is no one solution for every one. I also know I am still new to this way of life and so there are many aspects of how and why Paleo works that I am still in discovering.
I am my own research subject in this case though, and I cannot deny how much my health has improved after going Paleo. I run less than I did before, lift more than I did before, and even without breasts, feel more confident in my body than I did before.
I think that is the most meaningful part of my journey. I have more respect for myself and my body now. I do not want to run myself into the ground and eat things that hurt my health. I want to honor what works and let go of all the things that no longer serve me.
I do not know what the future holds. I know I am going to do whatever I can to keep the cancer from coming back. I am starting to feel like myself again and I know I have significant diet and exercise changes to thank for that.
I am so grateful to the amazing Paleo community that has provided me with hope. I cannot say “thank you” enough for all the inspiration I have found online and been able to apply to my life.
Too much reading...
How about dessert?