Why have I suddenly been diagnosed with cancer?

by 4086 · February 09, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Hi. I'm brand new here but I really feel comfortable after reading a lot of the questions and answers. I never had any health problems until this past December when I was diagnosed out of the blue (for me anyway) with cervical cancer. Had a hysterectomy, told I was cured ( everything was clean, including PET scan, CT scan, surgery margins) and then, three months later, the cancer is back and now spread to 2 lymph nodes, on my colon, and a bigger tumor than the original. Now I am going for chemo (had my third round) and being told I will be lucky to live 5 years.

So...for the past 8 years (I'm 35) I have been following a fairly strict paleo diet, although I don't do a ton of meat. I am trying to understand what happened...what did I do wrong? How did I end up Here? It's not genetic, both parents eat like crap and are old and healthy. Does anyone have any ideas at all? I am at a loss :-/

BTW I know a lot of people are very down on chemo, but it has been palliative for me. All the pain from my tumors pressing on sensitive nerves in my pelvis and my colon is gone and I was totally off pain meds the first week after chemo. I know it is poison and I suffer with the side effects every day, but I think being on a fentanyl patch for pain and sleeping all day was worse.

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15 Replies

18889 · June 15, 2012 at 09:07 AM

I am very sad to read your story.

I would advise you to go and read this page from the National Cancer Institute.


You have most likely become infected many years ago with a type of human papillomavirus.

"Researchers believe that it can take between 10 and 20 years from the time of an initial HPV infection until a tumor forms."

While some environmental factors may contribute to an infection persisting these viruses have evolved to be able to infect healthy people however perfect their diet.

Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus infections. These viruses are very common in the population, don't cause any symptoms and are easy to catch through sexual transmission.

I don't think you did anything wrong, you have just been unlucky.

55322 · June 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM

I'm very sorry to hear about what you are going through.

If you look at bones from the paleolithic and from foraging people, there is evidence that a fair number of people suffered from various possibly sexually-transmitted infections. No one likes to talk about them. I had an cervical cancer scare earlier this year, but luckily if it had been cervical cancer, I was getting yearly paps and it would have been caught early enough to be a nuisance rather than a death sentence. I didn't really want to blog about it, which was stupid, since this is something that can happen to anyone who has had sex with anyone who has had sex with anyone else, so it's something the vast majority of people are vulnerable to. After that, I got the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents most of the viruses that can cause cervical cancer. You didn't do anything wrong, you are just unlucky since Gardasil came out recently and is only available to people under 26 years of age. I know a lot of people in the paleo community are anti-vax, but I strongly recommend this vaccine to anyone I know who is eligible. And if people can't/won't get it, they need to get yearly pap smears if they are female (sadly quite hard in a country where most people don't have adequate health insurance).

Interestingly owsley stanley, a proponent of a keto carnivore paleo diet, had throat cancer, which is also caused by HPV in most cases. Later he died in a car accident. The paleo diet could prevent neither of these things. Luckily modern medicine can heal a lot of people who would have died in the past. Hopefully this is the case for you.

5810 · June 15, 2012 at 05:01 AM

I'm very sorry for what you're going through. No one deserves to suffer. I wish you the best in your healing journey.

I have some thoughts on your question but please take what works for you and ignore the rest. I know nothing about you or your life situation but I wonder how your friendships, relationships, community life and other important elements of your life are.

I ask myself the hard question of why I focus so much on diet when my diet is pretty darn clean. This piece of a blog article answered my question really well.

It’s easy to get too obsessed and mechanistic in our thinking about the extent to which we can control our health by controlling our diet. If the crazy stuff coming out the field of epigenetics suggests anything, it is that health is about a rich array of dietary and lifestyle factors that all interact with each other in complex ways.

To me, it makes the whole macronutrient debate look pretty silly. And as the New York Times has reported, it’s not about the numbers alone. It’s about the total lifestyle that went into producing the numbers.

In the long run, once you’re eating a relatively clean diet, variants on that just pale in comparison to things like stress levels, time outdoors, sleep, community, etc. In other words, many of the aspects of the lives of traditional/paleo peoples that are so hard to replicate in the modern world. Perhaps given that difficulty, focus on the one thing we can control most easily–diet–is understandable. It’s easy to get too obsessed and mechanistic in our thinking about the extent to which we can control our health by controlling our diet. If the crazy stuff coming out the field of epigenetics suggests anything, it is that health is about a rich array of dietary and lifestyle factors that all interact with each other in complex ways.

To me, it makes the whole macronutrient debate look pretty silly. And as the New York Times has reported, it’s not about the numbers alone. It’s about the total lifestyle that went into producing the numbers.

For myself, diet has become the easy part. It's one of the thing in my life that I can control. Work is another area of my life that's under control. I'm starting to feel this unexplainable urgency to get the rest of my life (in particular family, relationships, and community) into better balance.

Along the same lines of finding balance, Chris Kresser wrote this piece that really really resonated with me:

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

What I’ve observed in myself, in working with patients and in almost 20 years of meditation practice is that each of us has a significant blind spot or area in our lives where we lack awareness and insight. As a crude analogy, let’s call this a weak link in our chain and assume that the chain represents health.

Most of us invest the majority of our time and energy strengthening the parts of our chain that are already strong. These stronger links are where we feel comfortable and confident, where we can operate safely within the bounds of who we think we are.

And this is where the problem lies. No matter how much we strengthen the links in our chain that are already strong, if there’s still a weak link the chain as a whole isn’t stronger. It can break just as easily.

A better approach, of course, would be to focus our efforts on the strengthening the weak link. But that is much, much harder to do. Why? Because it usually requires us to step out of our concept of self and challenge our very identity. It asks us to grow and evolve and shine the light of awareness into the dark corners of our psyche. This isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s not as simple as popping a pill or eliminating nightshades from our diet. It’s a life’s work.

I sincerely hope that some of this speaks to you or, if not, that others here have some helpful insights.

20462 · June 15, 2012 at 04:23 PM

I am so sorry and wish I could give you a hundred hugs and a hand to hold. I was misdiagnosed last year with cervical cancer and was bewildered, confused, pissed, freaked in addition to about 300 other emotions. My deal turned out to be someone else' records in my file that a 2nd opinion discovered. I can only imagine what you're going through.

YOU did nothing wrong. I don't know the what/when/how as cancer doesn't run in my family, there is no history, yet my 35 year old brother had colon cancer that spread into his entire body. Who the fuck knows? I literally just punched my couch right now.

I think Matthew is on to something and am with Shari and her Forget the people who are down on chemo. I think many more of us are very much up on people doing whatever they have to do to get better and/or feel better.

I want to tell you that I have a friend who had cancer, went through treatments, and given pretty much a no chance of surviving. 9 years later they're still causing the best kinds of trouble and I wish you the exact same thing. I'm taking all the positivity I have and beaming it towards you.

8753 · June 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Sorry to hear about your news!

My husband was also diagnosed out of the blue with cancer, we were shocked because his side of the family has NO history of any real illness and NO cancers, in fact his father lived to 95, his grandmother 105 and his mother (91) is still alive, well and thriving as well as all his 9 other siblings, all excellent health.

There are a few differences between him and his family, 1) he has a high pressure corporate job, has for the last 25 years. Stress is a factor I believe contributed to this, because in general he has a iron stomach and is as healthy as a horse! 2) He left his country when he was 18 to come to the USA, he eats SAD (as does his family) but he has been exposed to more processed foods, whereas his family is in south american and still cooks from fresh and traditional foods.

He's had his surgery, got it before it spread and 3 years later is still going strong and clean, unfortunately hasn't reduced his stress level, he finds it more stressful not to be doing what he loves....so I do my best to feed and care for him as well as i can.

Do whatever you need to do to get better, chemo etc. At these points of illnesses one has to take into consideration various traditional medical methods to save your life!

You did nothing wrong, likely the first surgery dislodged some cancer cells and they spread. Our surgeon told us the same thing, they have to get the cancer out but if even one cell still remains it can multiply, hence the need to continually monitor.

Stay strong, focus on recovery and all the positives, they found it, its treatable and with a strong will you can beat it!!

105 · June 16, 2012 at 03:03 AM

Dear Chinaeskimo,

Firstly great big (((((hugs))))) for you!

After 3 years primal, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Feb last year. I'm 46. I went through exactly the same questioning of, Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? I eat primal! I do yoga for goodness sake! In the end I had no answers, other than life is just like that sometimes. I've learnt cancer has many, many causes. And while diet can certainly help boost the immune system there are many other factors which contribute.

I had surgery, radiotherapy and now drugs that make me a hormonal basket case. One of the biggest things for me has been losing that sense of invincibility.

But with that has come a new habit, where every day I insist upon myself to choose life.

I really recommend a book by Dr David Servan-Schreiber called "Anti cancer". A long term survivor of recurrent brain cancer, he has loads of information on diet, attitude, treatments etc, even delving in to the quantum biology sphere. I have found great inspiration in this book. As there are many causes, there are also a great many paths to wellness and a long full life.

Please don't feel you have to defend your use of chemo. You do whatever it is you need to do and do it with belief. On a practical note, at diagnosis I was found to be very deficient in both vit D and Iodine. So I recommend tests for these. Also, somewhat controversial, but dental health needs to be checked. I had what turned out to be an infected root canal tooth which over the years had been taxing (distracting?) my immune system without me even being aware of it.

From Sydney, I'm sending you waves of strength and vitality. :-)

15380 · June 15, 2012 at 08:01 AM

My mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer back in 1992. She had a hysterectomy, but her cancer came back in less than a year and it spread. She was told that if she was lucky, she would get another five years to live. Then she had three chemo treatments. In 1996 she had a surgery to remove her breast cancer.

She is still alive, not sure how well she is because we have a rule never to talk about health problems. She looks fine to me. I believe she developed her cancer due to a huge amount of stress she is under (my dad is the biggest stress factor I know). Some people are stress-resistant and some are stress-prone. She is the latter one.

She has always ate not a very clean diet. Lots of bread, butter, smoked sausages (salami type), cold cuts, cheese, milk, grains galore, meat, etc. I think my mom is gluten intolerant (because I am) but she just does not care and keeps eating gluten.

She was never big on vegetables. The only three vegetables we always had in our house were potatoes, carrots and onions. She also has very little fruit.

What keeps her alive? I believe it is her fighting spirit. She wants to outlive my dad - I think it is quite a noble goal. She also takes things easy now and tries not to stress over little things, although it is hard with her personality type. She has the best sense of humor than anybody else I know and this helps her a great deal. She laughs a lot and tries to find things in life that makes her happy. She is retired and she never knew how to swim, so she enrolled in a swimming class. She has not learned how to swim yet, but she had a lot of fun and even participated in a competition - she did not drown in shallow water and that's a big win for her! She also took a computer class and sometimes she goes to a karaoke studio.

So here is my advice for you - do anything possible to keep yourself happy on a daily basis. Try to find a way to laugh as often as possible and find pleasure in every day things.

I also have a question for you - what is a fairly "strict" Paleo diet that you have been following? Because everybody eats different things - some people eat Ray Peat, some eat safe starches, etc. What exactly do you eat? Thanks in advance.

P.S. I forgot to tell you - if you want to get some herbs after your chemo (for your overall health support) I know a very good herbalist.

118 · June 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Although, as I'm sure you know, every body, every cancer, and every circumstance is different per each individual. First, I will say my heart goes out to you and even though it's not easy, one person's diagnosis is not always the final answer. Some things just are the way they are and questioning the cause when it's all past due will only stress your body and can harm your healing. At the age of 17 I was told to have a hysterectomy. I had "bad plumbing" - PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, etc. I just continued to bounce to other doctors with the same recommendation. Then at 21 I was diagnoses with cervical cancer. Went through treatments and the cancer subsided. Eventually it all took over and at 28 I had an emergency hysterectomy with transfusions and the whole nine as I was hemmoraging. I had no choice. However, less than a yr later, cancer returned. Treated, then what do you know? It came back AGAIN. Now, keep in mind, I was raised Paleo (although I didn't know that's what it was called.) My father was a chef and we grew all our veggies and bartered with our neighboring farms for the meat and eggs. With small, short exceptions, I've eaten this way since birth and I still consider the chance it could return. I even tried pH diet modifications to heal. Perhaps they helped as I am still here against the odds. They may tell you one thing but who is the miracle worker if they are wrong? You have an amazing support group here that will be around for you at any hour. I hope you reach out if needed. Wishing you a speedy recovery and the chance to kick the doctor's words out of existence. If you need an ear or would like to hear more of what I did diet wise (I am a nutritionist but don't judge me for it), I'm always hanging around here. Best of luck to you...

487 · June 15, 2012 at 07:52 PM

Im sorry for what you are going through, i dont have clear explanation of why this happened to you, it could be because age, genes, environment, etc, somethings out of your control, the reasons are diffrent for every person, ill keep you in my prayers bud, and keep fighting!

6629 · June 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Eat grass fed meat. And eat brownies cooked with marijuana butter.

Hope you feel better.

10 · June 17, 2012 at 01:25 AM

I'm sorry to hear about you cancer. I'm a 25 year old male and recently had thyroid cancer tumor removed and a painless radiation treatment. My cancer is not as bad as yours but I understand all the worry and things going on with. I don't agree with the last poster to cut down on fruits. That seems ludicrous to me fruits and veggies have antioxidants and phytochemicals to help against cancer.

I wanted to share this woman's story wiht you. http://www.drmcdougall.com/stars/star07_ruth-heidrich.html

Her story is an important example of how he body never ceases in its efforts to heal and stay healthy.

A plant based diet away from meat helped her. Maybe try cutting all meat and dairy out of your diet. Eating fruits and veggies will help you body. I went to a plant based diet and I feel a lot healthier. I hope you give that a try. It seems you are passionate about animals also, its a kinder diet. God bless you praying for healing for you!

383 · June 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM

hey i am so sorry, i am no expert on this but i have read that following intermittent fasting, ESE (eat stop eat) is beneficial for cancer patients recovery, it is called autophagy, you should look into this in more detail, the author, Brad Pilon, of ESE (eat stop eat) has a book on this, you might want to research his website www.bradpilon.com where he discusses the major advantages of intermittent fasting for cancer patients especially those who have recently gone through chemo and radio therapy. In addition to this, i would eat a lot of cruciferous veg for their cancer fighting phytonutrients, as i said i'm no expert but i really do wish you the best.

95 · June 16, 2012 at 02:36 AM

I'm so sorry you're going through this! I hope you're getting lots of support in all areas of your life, and wish you profound healing.

I've read many times that it's best to cut fruit consumption WAY down, especially higher sugar fruits, when there's cancer involved, as cancer's preferred fuel is sugar (and apparently fructose counts), NOT protein as many vegans will try to tell you.

cancer IS a strange animal. my grandma got it from unchecked heartburn, if you can believe that.

50 · June 16, 2012 at 01:41 AM

I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. Cancer is a strange animal. I was diagnosed with melanoma 10 years ago. It showed up in the form of a mole on my forearm. The doctors always told me if I could make it 5 years without it coming back, I'd be good to go. Well, this April it came back in the form of a lump under the skin in the same general area of the forearm. Once again, the lymph nodes and margins were clear. Same as last time. I don't know where the cancer is hiding in there but now I know that it can and probably will come back. Why it hasn't spread and hasn't killed me, I don't know. There is no treatment for melanoma. Well, there are experimental treatments but I don't want to try those at this point. I wish you all the best in your battle with this. Just know that you're not alone.

48 · December 22, 2012 at 09:57 PM

Learn about Neu5Gc http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=Neu5Gc

Read The China Study.

Cancer initiators like viruses are not as important as promoters: fats, cholesterol, methionine, and probably Neu5Gc.

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