The anti-cancer programme
I was known as ‘perfect’ Karen: I never smoked, ate junk food or red meat – although I love a glass of champagne – and I was a fitness freak who ran marathons. Then, in September 2011, I was diagnosed with hormone-receptive breast cancer after finding a hard lump in my breast. I needed surgery quickly, then chemotherapy. I didn’t often allow myself to think about losing my fight but it crossed my mind in darker moments.
A friend sent me Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a doctor who himself had cancer. I was so inspired by his research on nutrition it became a key part of taking control. He quoted evidence suggesting that sugar, dairy, fats and animal proteins are more likely to encourage cancer cells to grow.
I also wanted to be as well as possible during chemotherapy, so I consulted Harley Street nutritionist Dr. Simone Laubscher (www.rejuv.co.uk), who advises an alkaline diet. This gives your system a much-needed break so it can work efficiently.
My enemies were refined sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, meat and fats (apart from olive oil and some nut and seed oils). Coffee and soy were out. My friends were warm water with lemon and cayenne first thing (to detox the digestive system), line-caught fish, basmati rice, green tea, gluten-free pasta and a rainbow of veg and fruit.
It worked. I was never sick and seldom suffered from exhaustion. After five chemo sessions, I skied all weekend. Simone knew that I would stick to the diet but she told me not to feel guilty if I wanted a glass of champagne or fish and chips occasionally – ‘enjoy it: rebelling is good in moderation’.
Today it’s how I live. My favourite gizmo is a vegetable spiraliser so I can make pasta dishes with courgette ‘noodles’. If I fancy something sweet, I have fresh fruit or make chocolate brownies with low-gluten spelt and natural sweetener (see recipe at www.you.co.uk).
Post-cancer I am much healthier because I know what food suits my body: I look better, my skin is fresher and I am less tired. My last scan and tests were clear (I still take tamoxifen daily). I never thought I would say this, but my cancer journey has given me a lot.
THREE OF THE BEST DRY LEG SMOOTHERS
1 Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt, £19.95/from www.victoriahealth.com. This is made from a high-tech fabric that grabs and sloughs off flaky dead skin, leaving legs smooth and healthy-looking; it also reduces ingrown hairs, little lumps and clogged pores.
2 Sanctuary Spa 4 Day Moisture Oil Scrub/£9.99 for 250 g, available nationwide and from www.sanctuary.com. A big pot of scrub, packed with fine salt crystals to exfoliate, plus organic olive oil, gold of pleasure oil and shea butter to hydrate for up to four days.
3 Seven Wonders Miracle Lotion, £15 for 237 ml at www.victoriahealth.com - buy here. This longtime favourite combines 14 herbs, sweet almond and olive oils plus aloe vera, leaving skin immediately more supple and soft.
A NATURAL DEODORANT? NO SWEAT
A reader asks for a natural deodorant, with no aluminium. After trying for three weeks, I can recommend it for normal demands. It uses edible, non-smelly ingredients – milk of magnesia, xanthan gum, corn-seed flour, lemon myrtle, witch hazel and hops – to control pong-creating bacteria. £5.90 for 60 ml from www.moogooskincare.co.uk.
NB A deodorant does not block sweat ducts so this is probably not for sweaty Bettys.