I was 28 when I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, an ocular melanoma.
Conventional treatments helped to stop the growth of my tumour but didn’t have the long-term impacts for which we were hoping. The side effects from the treatments were severe and I felt like my body was out of sync.
After a relapse and lots of struggles with vision loss and other side effects, I was confronted with a difficult choice: taking my eye out or trying regular injections into the eye.
Since my diagnosis, I had been researching and studying nutrition for cancer and was frustrated by the conflicting information available to me. Still, I persisted because I knew deep down that nutrition was the most important step on my road to better health.
All the time, much of the information on cancer and nutrition focused on the benefits of raw foods, vegetarianism and veganism, plant-based diets and gluten-free whole grains like buckwheat and quinoa. I tried everything!
But I soon realized that my “clean” eating approach with lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and very little fat or protein hadn’t made any real difference for me.
In 2012, I came across the ketogenic diet and the notion of “cancer as a metabolic disease.” I was immediately fascinated by the research and the fact that ketogenics was used for diagnostic purposes (e.g. PET scans), but not for cancer management. I became very curious.
I spent a long time reading the latest studies, networking with experts in the field and also experimenting with recipes. I was intimidated and even a little afraid of starting the ketogenic diet but news of my eye getting worse pushed me to the limits.
My consultant agreed to monitor me while I gave the radical dietary changes a chance. I admit that it certainly wasn't easy. The idea and theory sounded great, but what on earth was I going to cook? Especially with a 2-year-old and 8-month-old in tow? What should cancer patients eat if they have to cut not only refined sugar but also many "habitual" carbohydrates out of their diet? Without ruining their gut, run out of energy or develop nutrient deficiencies?
I was in the fortunate situation that the ketogenic diet dramatically changed the way my tumour "behaved" and that since 2012, I've been in stable remission. And, through research, experience and creativity with recipes, I developed a blueprint for the successful implementation of the ketogenic diet and have been sharing this with patients and practitioners alike- for the past seven years. As an experienced lecturer and speaker at conferences and in cancer centres, I know exactly what the main “pain points” and questions are when it comes to carbohydrate-restricted ways of eating.