The other day a co-worker asked me, "Do you find that you eat better and make healthier choices since your diagnosis?" This question speaks to a common assumption about survivorship, which in my case, is wrong. I made the opposite choice after my diagnosis, I ate french fries and cookies all the time!
After finishing treatment, I read a very powerful book that I highly recommend to all cancer survivors, Picking Up the Pieces. This book helped me understand what my nutritional choices implied when the authors described two common types of survivors. The first are those who change their habits as a result of a brush with death seen as a second chance, and the second group rebel as a result of a diagnosis that is seen as an injustice on an already healthy individual.
I fall into the second group.
I ate healthy, didn't drink Coke or fried foods (often), I exercised, made good decisions and valued self-improvement. And still, I was diagnosed with cancer. Part of me believes that we all should do what makes us happy, and accept the inevitable consequences. The other part of me knows there are several risk factors that are known to cause cancer, all of which each of us should avoid.
Now, 18 months since my diagnosis, I don't order french fries. The long-term side effect of treatment was an added 20lbs, which I'm trying very hard to keep off. And even though I'm not gorging on french fries and cookies anymore, I still keep that mentality with me: Do what you will and come what may.
... Just don't do anything that causes cancer.