>For Partners & Spouses of those with cancer – guest post


On being supportive… – by David Sewell
I asked Verity if I could put down a few words of encouragement for the partners of those who have arrived at her blog because they want to start eating an anti-cancer diet. There’s no question that it will be a step out of your comfort zone, albeit a very healthy one, and you may find yourself rebelling against it. To be honest – I struggled for a while!  If this is the case please spare a few moments to read this.
Without getting into the science of diet and cancer there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that much of a modern western diet is actually facilitating the epidemic of cancer that is spreading through the developed world. Also it is a fact that one in three of us will develop some sort of cancer in our lifetime. So the first thing I would say to you is that just because your partner is now one of those unlucky ones it doesn’t mean that you won’t be next. There isn’t a ration of one diagnosis per family – this disease has no boundaries and certainly has no respect for ‘fairness’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people. It doesn’t give a tinkers cuss whether you are now struggling to support your family and partner both emotionally and financially and it doesn’t care how old you are.
 So maybe you need to consider that your partner’s anti-cancer diet might be a good idea for you and the rest of your family too? If you’re going to look after your partner then you need to look after yourself too. Give it some thought, eh?
A cancer diagnosis, amongst many other things, strips a person of the ability to control their own destiny. It takes over, it rears its head all the time and it will simply destroy everything in its path.
Or that’s what it seems at first.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Research has proved time and again that those people who take  back control, who develop a positive mindset, who nurture their bodies and their immune system and who take the fight to the cancer will survive far longer than those who give up. Cancer isn’t something your partner has to accept, it is something they can fight and it’s something they can live with. And it’s your job to help them.
One of the first things that happened to Verity after her diagnosis was that she found a book called ‘Anti-Cancer – a new way of life’ by a chap called David Servan-Schreiber. This book actually found her, in a book shop in Norfolk only weeks after her diagnosis (It had been left flat and open on the shelf – how amazing is that!) From this book she found the starting line of a journey that was well-researched, made complete sense and gave us all a new start in life. Her (and now our) diet is at the centre of this journey. She also started to browse the various cancer forums and found kindred spirits who were keen to change their diets but didn’t know how to deal with the new ingredients they were reading about. This was the inspiration for Veritys blog. Because Verity has always loved cooking she already had the basic knowledge to integrate the new food into our diet, in fact she positively enjoys the challenge. She is now passionate about helping others in her position to kick start their journey by introducing these new ingredients through her recipes.
So why did I feel it necessary to write this? Well to be honest I struggled with the change in diet. As a fairly simple meat and two veg man this was way out of my comfort zone. I felt resentment that roast dinners were off the menu and guilty for feeling that resentment. (note from Verity – we still have the occasional roast!) The little food bubble I lived in wasn’t prepared for this change in direction. So I’m guessing you might be feeling a bit like that yourself? If you are, there’s light at the end of this tunnel and it’s a bright one too.
An anti-cancer diet essentially utilises all of the foods that have anti-cancer properties and foods that will help to boost your immune system. It leaves out all the rubbish that our bodies just aren’t designed to eat and that may well have helped cause the problem in the first place. It’s as simple as that. So can you see why your partner wants to change their eating habits and needs a bit of support? And the side-effects of this way of eating are amazing. You’ll lose weight, have fewer illnesses, your concentration and memory will almost certainly improve. Essentially you’re taking on a healthy way of eating so all these benefits are just a product of that. 
But the most amazing thing about this new way of eating (because it’s just that – a new way of eating rather than yet another ‘diet’) is that you’re going to start to rather enjoy it. For me this change has several levels to it. Because you’re not piling artificial flavourings over your tongue every day, your taste buds start to react to far more subtle flavours. Food starts to taste really good! And it tastes even better when you know just how healthy it’s making you and that it’s helping to keep your partner in one piece.
I love seeing what creations Verity has put together and I have to say that 95% of the time I can put my hand on my heart and say ‘that was damned good!’ I enjoy listening to Verity explaining what the properties of the different ingredients are and how they will help us all. I’m also aware that this is subconsciously loading us with life-enhancing positive thoughts – day after day after day.
Meal times are an opportunity to eat and enjoy the most amazing variety of food that I previously rejected. Why I spent half a lifetime thinking that I didn’t like this stuff I have no idea but apart from now thoroughly enjoying the huge variety in my diet,  the benefits I listed above have really happened to me. I have lost weight although I still eat loads, my infamously poor memory is noticeably improved and I haven’t had an illness in the last 12 months despite the considerable pressure that we’ve all been under. And this is all waiting for you if you’ll embrace it.
But most of all you’ll be helping your partner to empower themselves which will have a hugely positive knock-on effect to your relationship. In short you’ll be fighting your partners cancer together. Side by side. Like it’s meant to be.
All best,
This weeks recipe by Verity:
“Meaty” Mushroom Burgers
Makes about 14
You can freeze these (before you cook them!)
250g Portobello Mushrooms – finely chopped
1 large Onion – finely chopped
4 cloves of Garlic – smashed, left for 10 mins then finely chop
150g of dried Green & Brown Lentils – sprouted for 2 days then steam for 5 mins
1 courgette – finely chopped
1 cup of Buckwheat Flakes (available from health food shops)
1/3 cup of whole Linseeds – grind in coffee grinder
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 dessertspoons Red Pesto – Riverford Organics do a lovely one
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs – Sage, Parsley & Thyme
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon turmeric
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Gently pan fry the onions in the oil until translucent then add the mushrooms and garlic. Stir occasionally until the mushrooms are cooked. Add the courgette, turmeric, red pesto, mix well then add to the sprouted lentils. Allow to cool a little then add the buckwheat flakes, ground linseed, herbs and beaten eggs. Season with black pepper.
The mixture should be quite “wet” at this stage, shape into Burgers (approx 8cm diameter) with your hands.
*At this stage you can freeze the Burgers*
Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same pan that you cooked the mushroom mixture in and cook the burgers over a medium heat for approx 5 mins on each side until golden brown.
Serve with salad or Sweet Potato Chips and Broccoli Sprouts
Try substituting the red pesto for chilli, or a little garam masala & cumin.
My daughter loves these too, I just make them a little smaller for her!
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