Hi, my name is Ellen Marsh. I am a brain cancer survivor and nutrition writer. In October, 2009 I was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, an oligodendroglioma. At that point my tumor measured 5.2 x 5.9 cm, about the size of a large egg.
Before being diagnosed, I was leading a pretty healthy lifestyle. I ate a vegetarian diet, exercised, didn't smoke or drink. Sounds good, right?
even rode my bike to work three days during the week before my first CT
scan! So yes, I was in shock when I found out. Angry, confused... It
just didn't make any sense.
A few months later I read a book that gave me hope and a healthy plan. Anticancer: A New Way of Life convinced me that I might live longer if I ate more of certain foods and less of others. I decided to commit myself to an anti cancer diet before starting any other treatments.
didn't want to have brain surgery, but I was willing to try a year of
chemotherapy (Temozolomide, also called Temodar) instead.
So it began in February, 2010... two months after I started the anti cancer diet. During that year my tumor shrank to just over half of its original volume. I was relieved, but also exhausted, even months after I had finished taking Temodar.
I kept following the anti cancer diet and researching how cancer grows and what can stop it from spreading. But I was still worried the tumor might start growing again.
I had no idea if changing my diet would make any measurable difference.
But what else was I going to do between appointments? I had another six months to wait for my next MRI after finishing chemotherapy. As the checkup got closer, I felt really anxious. I still do as each MRI approaches.
So the big question for me was this...
In January, 2011 I finished a year of chemotherapy.
That was my only medical treatment for brain cancer.
At first I had an MRI scan every three months, but each time my tumor kept shrinking, so my neurologist said I could have checkups less often, every six months.
How much smaller is the tumor now?
Less than 8% of it's original volume... the size of a chocolate covered almond. The tumor is in a state of regression (similar to cancer remission, but this is the term used with primary brain tumors). Each MRI shows that my tumor continues shrinking!
My latest MRI was in March, 2015.
I started out looking for people who had beaten cancer with alternative treatments. For most of them, diet was central to their recovery.
But along the way I found all sorts of other people who "let food be thy medicine and medicine, thy food" (Hippocrates). The more I looked, the more recovery stories I found... for multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.
I'm grateful that I could do this research at all. An oligodendroglioma tumor is slow growing. It takes around 15-25 years to get large enough to cause symptoms. If I'd had a more aggressive brain tumor, like glioblastoma (or GBM), I may have run out of time before I could save myself or share this information with you.
I moved to Canada in 2006. The cost of my health care is covered here. If I were still living in the United States this would be a very different story due to the financial impact of a brain tumor for patients and their families in the U.S. It's quite sobering to know this.
It shouldn't take so much time to find this information!
I sorted through many stories to find the most helpful and inspiring ones -- success stories of people who have recovered from chronic disease and what they eat to get healthy again.
While a healthy diet is not the only way to regain your health, it's one aspect of your health that you can control. Eating healthier can be cheap, low risk and you can easily begin today.