When I re-emerged in the ‘real’ world from a week long digital detox on Sunday to learn of the scrutiny and controversy surrounding wellness bloggers Belle Gibson and Jess Ainscough and their approach to cancer treatment it rattled me.
The responsibility I carry in sharing my cancer experience and healthy lifestyle information is something I take very seriously.
I want to you to know exactly where I stand on cancer treatment, why I share my cancer experience and what healthy living means to me.
My cancer experience
From time to time I share very personal aspects of my cancer experience (you can read my story here). This has not been easy for me and is something I do only where I believe it serves a purpose – like raising awareness and supporting cancer research in my role as a speaker for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I am passionate about doing whatever I can to improve the support, treatment and outcomes for women diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly young women.
Too many young people I know have had, or are currently going through cancer, including someone very close to me. It absolutely breaks my heart and I cannot bare to see more young lives compromised by this insidious disease.
I am also supporting Melbourne man and fellow cancer ‘thrivor’ Justin McLean to raise awareness of the foundation (Thrivor) he has established to set a global standard for the treatment of cancer patients all over the world. What Justin is doing has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives not just of cancer patients, but people suffering from other illnesses too, for generations to come. You can read about Justin and Thrivor here.
My views on conventional medicine
Conventional medicine saved my life. I had my cancer surgically removed two days after my diagnosis – I wanted it gone, pronto.
The surgical margins were clear and the cancer hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. For this reason I have an excellent prognosis and minimal chance of my cancer returning.
I opted to have further preventative treatment on the advice of my medical team. I had six weeks of daily radiotherapy and then began taking anti-hormone medication (Tamoxifen). Both are highly toxic treatments for a young woman, but I wanted to do everything in my power to reduce my risk of recurrence.
Tamoxifen presented huge challenges for me (you can read about this here). But I gave it a red hot crack for 15 months. Now, nearly two years on from my diagnosis I have come to the very difficult decision stop taking Tamoxifen because of the extent to which it was impacting my quality of life. I have done this after extensive research and consultations with my doctors.
I have the utmost amount of admiration, respect and trust in my medical team – oncologist Dr Richard de Boer, radiation oncologist Michael Ng and my surgeon Dr Su-Wen Loh, whose watchful eye I will be under for the rest of my life.
What healthy living means to me
I tested negative for the BRCA1 and 2 gene mutations and although my Mum had breast cancer too, it was a different type of breast cancer to mine, so we are not sure if my cancer was genetic. But I learned about a fascinating scientific concept called epigenetics, which is the idea that you can switch off cancer and other genes through diet and lifestyle. I find this hugely empowering. So I set out on a mission to learn all I could about health and nutrition to give myself the best chance of leading a long and healthy life.
I also learned that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, and that inflammation is at the root of just about every known chronic health condition. So I cut out processed food, increased the amount of vegetables I eat and limit my intake of inflammatory foods like sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol. I still eat meat but only in small amounts. I buy organic, local and sustainably sourced food wherever possible. Nothing radical – just a back to basics approach to eating whole foods. I feel better than I ever have as a result.
While I am a huge believer in the power of food in preventing disease and supporting the body through illness, I do not believe that food alone can cure cancer.
I take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing which for me encompasses much more than just food. It’s about moving my body daily, having a sense of purpose, meaningful relationships, managing stress, doing things that are good for the mind and spirit, and minimising my exposure to harmful chemicals.
Why I created Oh My Goodness
Healthy living should be easy and fun and this is the very essence of Oh My Goodness. It’s not about enforcing my food beliefs or medical treatment beliefs on you. I feel empowered with what I have learned and I want you to feel empowered too.
Healthy food shouldn’t be hard to find, so I try to make it as easy as possible for you. I also believe that healthy eating starts in the home, through my recipes I aim to show you just how easy it is to switch from processed ingredients to whole foods. I tell stories about different types of exercise in the hope of inspiring you to move your body in different ways too. I also love telling stories that help build our sense of community, people you might not know about who are doing incredible things, and giving you inspiration for wonderful things to do in your spare time.
Bringing these stories to you brings me immense joy. I have been so overwhelmed with the support you have given me – I love seeing your comments, hearing about places you’ve visited, recipes you’ve cooked.
Your trust and confidence in me is something I value more than anything.
I want to assure you that the stories I tell and the information I share comes from a place of authenticity, openness, honesty and genuine care for your health and wellbeing.
The stories and recipes on Oh My Goodness are based on my own personal experience and beliefs and what I do may not be right for everybody. I encourage anyone suffering with illness to seek advice from medical professionals, nutritionists, explore natural therapies and do your own research too.