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August of this year during a routine mammogram they saw something they didn’t like. Three days later they came back
with dreaded ‘cancer’ diagnosis

– Rachel Ezelius

My Renewed Passion for Nutrition Post-Cancer

Four times a year since 2003 I have written in Fit2Print about something I thought was both current and exciting in my field of nutrition. As I type days after my surgery, I can’t think of anything more current. I debated whether to share my story in such a public way, but with the outpouring of concern and generosity, I decided my cancer story is nothing to be ashamed of or hide from, and it is not something that is going to define me.

August of this year during a routine mammogram they saw something they didn’t like. Three days later they came back with dreaded ‘cancer’ diagnosis, and here I am recovering from a double mastectomy. But cancer is not going to be this story. My passion for nutrition has been renewed as I see how much it is ignored. I probably had about 20 doctor’s appointments in the last two months. Not ONCE did anyone ask what I was eating.

Sure, the statistics indicate that merely living on Long Island, unlucky genetics or environmental exposure increased my risk of developing an unfortunately common cancer.

Interestingly, however, I found I had to be my own advocate and ask for bloodwork to look a little closer at my nutrition. It was then when I discovered low vitamin D levels, an abnormal hormone panel, blood sugars that are “normal” but high and a thyroid that was running amok. It was time for me to tweak my nutrition and look for some nonconventional ways to support my treatment.

First, I looked to increase my vitamin D levels. Adequate vitamin D is challenging to get through diet, and as a fair-skinned redhead, I probably also wasn’t getting enough through the sun. Therefore, I am now supplementing regularly.

Next, I looked to get my hormones in check. Some foods are considered hormone disruptors that I now put on my checklist to monitor. I changed out the type of water filter in our home to remove some of the toxins of concern like atrazine, arsenic, and lead to name a few. I reduced, even more, the use of plastic and concentrated on using only stainless steel, glassware, stoneware or cast iron. Although canned food can be convenient, I try to use it rarely and if I do I make sure it is BPA free. And I am now more vigilant in choosing organic meats and fish to avoid hormones, pesticides, mercury, and chemicals. I continued to use my fragrance and chemical free items and wool dryer balls but added essential oils to hygiene and cleaning products.

Finally, I tightened up my diet. I know how important it is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (ideally organic), eat foods lower on the food chain and that are minimally processed. I love the fruits and veggies that help metabolize estrogen, like broccoli, cauliflower cabbage, cucumbers, citrus, cantaloupe, and squashes so they are now on the weekly shopping list. Knowing its importance, I have also limited some of the high estrogen foods like grains, soy, vegetable oils, and dairy. I also got myself on a stronger pre and probiotic to increase the support for my gut flora.

My story has a happy ending. It has just made me more passionate about my clients’, my family’s and my own nutritional health, and we are all going to be healthier because of it.

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Laura Gilfedder

Custom paintings and drawings by Laura Gilfedder

About the Author

Raechel Ezelius

Rachel Ezelius

Rachel Ezelius is a Registered Dietitian who manages Fitness Incentive’s Eat Smart program. Questions? Contact her by email: Click here to learn more about Eat Smart

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