Guest blogger Laura Duralija Rocca is currently studying to become a registered holistic nutritionist. She shares her favourite recipes on her blog, veganhootenanny.com, which focuses upon holistic vegan and chemo-friendly foods. Last week, Laura shared her story about the challenges of maintaining a healthy vegan diet while undergoing chemotherapy. Here’s what happened next.
After I had finished my final course of chemo, I was, as many patients are, excited and relieved’but also nutritionally deficient. It took me a long time to bounce back and get my vitamin and mineral levels back up. It struck me that this was a bit of a problem.
I realized that I could not expect my oncologist to help me heal after chemo, or prevent my cancer from recurring a sixth time. The focus of Western oncology is to rid the patient of known malignancies. My oncologist was in the business of eradicating cancer once it was there; he was not in the business of preventing it. Preventative medicine was up to me. So, I promoted myself to CEO of my body.
I decided that, in order to conquer cancer in my lifetime, I couldn’t continue to live in three-month intervals, awaiting the results of each scan; I was going to have to take charge of my health, as well. Upon leaving Toronto, I did some research, and enrolled in The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition‘s Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) program. The focus of the field of holistic nutrition is preventative medicine. I believe that preventative medicine is the missing link in our health care system, so this was the perfect fit for me.
I feel as though I am learning many valuable things throughout this course of study, and have made some surprising discoveries. Three that stand out:
‘ The study of holistic nutrition involves a lot of science. I mean a lot. I studied theatre in university and had not taken any science courses since high school, and suddenly, I was writing a biochemistry exam. The field of nutrition is patient-centred, and science-based.
‘ Holistic nutritionists are not diagnosticians. It is not my job to diagnose a condition, but to find deficiencies and imbalances, to relate these to nutrition, and then to work with a client towards making dietary and lifestyle changes that may remedy these imbalances.
‘ Holistic nutrition is a fast-growing field. Alternative, or complementary therapies are quickly growing amongst cancer patients and survivors, and many high-profile medical doctors, such as Dr. Elson Haas, who wrote the popular Staying Healthy With the Seasons, and Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, who wrote Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life, are raising the profile of the field by integrating preventative medicine into their practices.
It is my hope that, upon graduation, I can offer nutritional support to cancer patients who may have been frustrated or experienced appetite-suppression and deficiencies as I did. After all, we all have the power to become CEOs of our bodies. Only we can promote ourselves to that job title, but it is up for grabs.