Guest Blogger Katherine Keys – Mesothelioma, Cancer, and the Healing Power of Food

by Maria Tabone

My name is Katherine Keys and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos in many ways. My exposure was a result of asbestos being spread into the air when the office I was working at was remodeled.At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed–a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.  I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma, Cancer, and the Healing Power of Food

Cancer is a dreaded word, and even more dreaded is mesothelioma. This aggressive, most often terminal type of cancer is most often seen in people who spent years exposed to asbestos. Most of these people were not aware of the exposure risks, usually at their jobs, and later faced the terrible consequences of living out the rest of their shortened lives with no more than cash from mesothelioma settlements to bring them comfort.

Mesothelioma affects the lining of organs in the body, most often the pleura or the lining of the lungs. It can be treated to extend life, but rarely cured. If you or someone you care about is living with mesothelioma, you may be facing uncomfortable symptoms from the cancer and treatments. Medicines can’t fix everything, and it is important that cancer patients harness the power of nutrition, if not to cure their disease, at least to heal from harsh treatments and painful symptoms.

Healing Foods Can Extend Your Life

A study that investigated how nutrition impacted patients with malignant mesothelioma researchers found that those with a better nutritional status lived longer. A healthy diet may extend life in patients with cancer because it provides the body with nutrients needed to carry out important functions, including those that fight cancer cells.

Additionally, treatments for cancer, like chemotherapy, can cause nutritional deficits. Eating well and consciously choosing nutritious foods can make up for those deficits. A good diet helps replace damaged tissue, fights infections in the body by strengthening the immune system, keeps the body strong and more mobile, and generally makes a patient feel better.

Using Nutrition to Counteract the Side Effects of Mesothelioma and Treatment

Good nutrition is healing for the body and it can extend the life of a cancer patient, but it can also help patients find relief from side effects Mesothelioma and some of its treatments cause pain, appetite loss, weakness, nausea, and digestive issues. Depending on your specific symptoms, your doctor or a nutritionist can help you decide what kinds of foods are best for you, but there are also some good general guidelines anyone can follow:

Nausea. Chemotherapy may leave you feeling nauseous and unwilling to eat, which in turn can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Try eating before treatment sessions and eat dry, bland, and soft foods like crackers, dry toast, and bananas.

Loss of appetite. Cancer patients often lose a taste for food and eat less. If food doesn’t taste as good to you anymore, try dishes that are more flavorful. Use spices, eat vibrant fruits like citrus, rely on your favorite foods and don’t feel you have to branch out and try anything new.

Diarrhea. Digestive issues are also common in patients with mesothelioma. For diarrhea, get plenty of fluids, especially with electrolytes and avoid foods high in fiber like beans, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains.

Constipation. For constipation, do eat high-fiber foods. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and legumes every day. Drink plenty of fluids, especially those with fiber, like prune juice or juices with pulp.

Pain. To help battle the pain of mesothelioma, include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and seasonings in your diet, like ginger, berries, walnuts, yogurt, turmeric, mint, and spicy peppers.

Living with mesothelioma is something that no one should have to go through, and yet so many people are suffering from this largely preventable type of cancer. Along with regular medical care and treatments, nutrition can be healing and is something that all patients should consider. Be sure to consult with your doctor or other health care professional before you make any serious dietary changes.


Maria Tabone
Maria Tabone

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