Booze, Sugar & Surviving Cancer
WORDS: Corrine Barraclough PHOTOGRAPHY Corrine Barraclough plus supplied
CB’s BC Journal
If I had to choose one word to sum up the early part of my breast cancer journey it would be… overwhelming.
Looking back, I was running on adrenaline as I tried to keep up with all the information I was being given in appointment after appointment. Suddenly, I found myself down a rabbit hole of data, facts, figures and advice, and swiftly became aware that I was going to have to be my own advocate.
I had to find a balance that felt right to me; the sweet spot between listening to what the experts were telling me, while simultaneously being proactive, researching, reading and arming myself with informed questions for each specialist visit.
One of the biggest words in the cancer conversation that kept coming up was sugar.
Does sugar cause cancer? Does consuming sugar increase your chance of cancer reoccurring? And what about booze?
As is always the way when you trot down a rabbit hole, you find leading, prominent voices that speak to you in language that sits well with you. Some voices just aren’t for me; the same on many topics.
I stumbled across Dr. Amydee BSP, ACPR, PharmD, with a doctorate in Cancer Care (find her on Insta and Facebook). Having been through cancer herself, she now devotes her time and energy to helping fellow cancer survivors thrive.
Her voice is strong and she cops a lot of hate for speaking the truth (she’s a woman after my own heart in that respect!).
“There is a myth that sugar causes cancer,” she says. “Sugar is not the enemy. You can live a healthy beautiful life while still eating sugar. Especially foods that contain sugar and fibre (eg. apples, strawberries). So many cancer thrivers have been lead to believe that they can’t eat fruit! It’s so sad. Of course you can.”
I can’t tell you what a relief this is to me.
Many people who know me, are aware I quit drinking alcohol over six years ago. For the first five years in sobriety my diet was not very healthy; I told myself that as long as I stayed sober, I could eat whatever I fancied. At that stage, I figured ice cream was better than picking up a drink. But, in the long term, unless you want to balloon to the size of a house, that’s unsustainable. So, I sent myself on a yoga retreat, quit sugar and fruit became my solo go-to for sugar fixes.
To be reading pages and pages of comments from cancer fighters and cancer survivors saying that sugar was, as Dr Amydee puts it, “the enemy”, was incredibly unsettling for me.
What would my long-term sobriety look like if I had to cut out all sugar to become and remain cancer free? If my sugar cravings in sobriety led me to an apple, I figured, what harm can that do?
Frankly, I’ve quit enough daily demons and I don’t want to have to cut all sugar out from my diet. I know I shouldn’t bathe in jellybeans or ice cream in the way I did in early sobriety, but fruit is an important part of my daily sobriety diet.
Dr Amydee continues, “When people suggest these unproven theories to cancer thrivers, they should also consider the mental hardship they are causing. Without proven scientific evidence, it is not helpful to share this information. It causes more damage than good.”
Might I suggest that applies to theories about booze and sugar causing cancer and all the other unsolicited theories that arrive on your doorstep when you announce you’re fighting the Big C.
More next week, I’m off to enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie!
Corrine was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer, which has spread to her lymph nodes. Her medical oncologists are pursuing a “cure”, which will begin with a six-month course of chemotherapy at Gold Coast University Hospital, followed by surgery at Robina Hospital and then likely further treatment.
Corrine will be writing a weekly blog journaling her personal journey for Ocean Road Magazinethroughout her breast cancer.