As you have, by now, seen, there are a lot of ups and downs and in-betweens that come with having cancer. Maybe this is the case with just life in general. Either way, when I write frustrated posts like yesterday’s, about health insurance; and Saturday’s, about how i’m feeling (don’t ask me how i’m feeling), I write them because these things are just part of living with this.
Unfortunately, with cancer as with life, the negative happenings are sometimes more thought- and post-provoking than the positive. Those of you who know me in real life know that i’m generally a happy, enthusiastic, and sun-seeking person. Those of you who don’t see my frustrated or sad posts and worry. I don’t want any of you to worry.
As I’ve said, this is my depository of thoughts. I deposit my words here and then they’re off my mind. I could do this in a journal, but I love the casual formality of the blogging style of writing, and I love the phrase “i am a liver,” so I keep coming back. My insurance problems, though they currently seem insurmountable, will gradually get resolved in one way or another. Soon, I’m sure I will have a new world’s biggest, most tear-provoking problem (maybe the liver transplant?). These things happen with cancer, and with life. You don’t have to worry and you don’t have to do anything. Just keep reading.
And now, i’m going to write about something–one of the many things–that makes me happy. That is, being vegan. As you may recall, I took the plunge on a trial basis almost 16 days ago. I know that’s not a very long time. Maybe it’s premature to gush about it. But i’m going to anyway.
I still have no expectations and no delusions about how my diet choices (no meat, no dairy, eggs are OK) will affect my body. Maybe they won’t. But an unanticipated effect has been the change in my mind. Becoming vegan and limiting my diet, ironically has given me the freedom to think actively about what I really want to be eating. Most of the time, I find that I really don’t really want to be eating cheese or dairy or meat–I just always did. Being vegan probably isn’t for everyone; but it’s working for me so far.
I want to buy most of my produce from the farmer’s market because I love going to the farmer’s market and I love knowing where in the world my fruits and veggies come from, I love how amazing everything tastes, and I love how much more I value and try harder to use the fresh produce I get there. I didn’t need to be vegan to make this change, but I spend less money on cheese and yogurt now (well, no money), so I feel freer to spend a little more at the farmer’s market every week. I intend to buy my eggs at the farmer’s market, too. I don’t want to just replace all the dairy and meat I used to eat with soy. I’d rather eat the real thing which tastes better and is less processed–or find new things to eat. I want to cook a lot and find creative ways to use the veggies I buy and to get the nutrients I need, and now that I don’t just sprinkle cheese on almost everything, I have to be creative with my seasonings and flavorings and dishes.
Sometimes, the amazing taste of the veggies themselves is all I need. But pizza isn’t really exciting anymore, unless you put a pile of greens and homemade tomato sauce on top of socca and call it a pizza. This arugula pesto i’m eating right now needed the saltiness that only cheese can provide…but a little lemon juice was a good substitute. I now put avocado on everything I used to just put cheese on. I think I like homemade almond milk better than regular milk–and I used to be a milk fiend.
I like these changes in my life and in my mind, so I like being vegan. I also like that I have the ability to control everything about this diet. If I am really really craving a fish taco one day, I can control whether or not I eat it (I did, minus the cheese). If i’m finishing up a frozen leftover and it has a little parmesan sprinkled on top, I can still eat it. I can decide after my two-month trial is up that I want to add back in certain cheeses, occasionally (parmesan, maybe?). If I am out and I need to eat something and nothing is vegan, I can do my best. If I miss ice cream desperately, I can have some (I don’t–but I probably will). I make the rules.
I underestimated how much I was craving some regular control over my life. So much of what happens to me I can’t control. I can’t control which doctors my insurance company contracts with. I can’t control how my body responds to the chemo. I can’t control how long I have to wait to see my doctors. I can’t control whether the cancer shrinks–or grows. I can’t control when I get a liver transplant. I can’t control how long I will live with this.
But I can control what i’m eating. I like controlling what i’m eating. One of my doctors told me recently that the the placebo effect in almost any study is 30%–even in the studies where the patients know they’re taking a placebo. I know i’m taking a placebo. But as long as it’s working, with my body and with my mind, I might as well keep taking it. I don’t think I have found the magical cancer cure. But it doesn’t matter. I feel good about it. Being vegan makes me happy.