My grocery shopping just became even harder this past week with the release of a study about the levels of arsenic, a known carcinogen, in rice. As a breast cancer survivor, I have spent the last seven years working on a diet that is nutritious that will also prevent a recurrence. I avoid soy, gluten because of gluten intolerance, meat, lactose because of lactose intolerance, nightshades because of fibromyalgia, and pesticides. I avoid personal care products that contain parabens because of their estrogen-like effect on the body. I buy natural cleaning products to avoid as many chemicals as possible. I try to buy organic for the ten foods that contain the highest levels of pesticides. Because of my gluten intolerance, I was eating mainly corn and rice products (cereal, pasta, bread mainly) and trying to find corn products without GMOs. Now I need to limit rice because of arsenic.
I know I am a little obsessive about food. I am haunted by my sister’s last year of life. I don’t have the BRCA1 OR BRCA2 gene. Since all four members of my family have been diagnosed with cancer (my father also died of cancer), I am left wondering if the cause could be environmental or diet. Preventing cancer is hard work; preventing a recurrence is even harder.
After an hour spent strolling the aisles of the grocery store a few days ago, I had a nearly empty cart. I had passed by the cereals with GMOs and products made with corn or rice. I was tempted to buy more products made with quinoa, but honestly, quinoa and I don’t like each other. I picked up some spinach, bananas, and a magazine on healthy eating and came home. A few minutes later, my daughter called to ask me if I heard about the spinach recall—e-coli apparently. I sat down with my banana and the magazine, hoping I could find a recipe using some grain other than corn or rice that would also include pesticide-free vegetables. I’m not very hopeful.
I know I might be extreme in my obsession to find healthy diet options. I have no control over genetic factors. I have limited control over my environment, although I can be careful about the cleaning products I bring into my house. I can buy paraben-free cosmetics and organic fruits and vegetables. I can’t control what goes into the food I buy. I wish I could.
My book In My Sister’s Footsteps: A Walk with Breast Cancer has just been published and is now available on Amazon.
I hope my sister’s courage and sense of humor during her cancer diagnosis and treatment will be an inspiration to anyone diagnosed with cancer. Her spirit was strong, and she left behind a legacy of hope and a love of life that can guide us all through challenging moments in our lives.