The Carnivore Bucket List

You do have control over your own destiny.

If you are just joining us on this journey, I’ll give you a brief back story. I was floored when I found out in February that I have follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer, at age 35 — I tried to preemptively fight against something like this for what seems like my entire life. I’ve always eaten “healthy”, but really in the last six years revolutionized the way I consume food by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), grow an extensive garden with vegetables and herbs, and shop exclusively in the organic section. I’ve also tried to limit my toxin exposure as much as possible. So none of this made any sense to me. I was, and a part of me still is, angry about the unfairness of it all.

When they told me at Sloan Kettering that there was nothing I did to cause this, I believed them. They went on to say that the only known cause of lymphoma is pesticide and herbicide exposure. My doctor here explained that I was likely exposed to something in the environment. Quite naturally, I thought a lot about that, and I racked my brain thinking back to all of the times I frolicked in lawns (not my parents) that were sprayed with Round Up — all for the sake of pretty grass. In my 20s, I lived in an apartment complex for seven years that sprayed every inch of the lawn — the yellow flags warning of the toxic chemicals were everywhere. I had two dogs, and there was no place for them to pee except the sprayed grass. They would step all over it, and then sleep in my bed at night. Gross. I didn’t know any better back then. The EPA recently claimed that Round Up doesn’t cause cancer. Does anyone really believe this? I call bullshit, and I’m nearly positive that this was the catalyst for my lymphoma. Environmental toxins are something I had little to no control over.

They told me at Sloan Kettering that there is nothing I can do to prevent the lymphoma from coming back; with my type at my age, it is very likely to rear its ugly head again someday. And while I respect the hell out of these doctors, who have the access to new research, and made me feel so comfortable and confident — that they had my back in all of this… I have to try. I have to believe that I have control over my own destiny. While toxins are the only known cause of lymphoma, I’ve heard and read on many occasions that the foods we eat can increase the risk factor. I finished the book, “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, an MD who went to a specific prestigious medical school because it had classes in nutrition (something most doctors don’t have to take in their medical training). He claims through noted research that a plant based diet is the best way to prevent and reverse the risks of the top killers, and this makes total and complete sense to me. In the section on blood cancers, he claims that 50g of poultry (a chicken breast is about 350g) increases your risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma by 50–250%. Not that everyone who eats poultry is going to get a blood cancer, but that’s a horribly high risk increase— too high. A risk I’m just not willing to take anymore. A risk I wouldn’t have taken at all had I known.

In this quest for improved health, my family is slowly transitioning to a plant based, whole food, vegan diet. We’ve already spent the past three weeks eating mostly vegan. By the end of the summer, I want to be off meat and cheese completely. By the end of the year, I will have eliminated the rest. Slow and steady, so I don’t give up.

While other people are doing this new carnivore diet, where all you eat is meat, my family is eliminating it altogether. My husband jokingly said one day, while we were thinking about some of our favorite places to eat on vacation, “we need to have a carnivore bucket list”. And, so, here it is!

Our Carnivore Bucket List:

  • A bagel with cream cheese, especially when the bagel shop over does it on the cream cheese and you have to re-slather it over every inch of your bagel.

A couple bonus points for plant based veganism… I get to save the animals and the planet. Eating animals is one of the worst things you can do for the environment. So, really I should get a pin or an award from PETA and the tree hugging hippies, which I guess I, myself, have become to a large extent.

I’ve had some people tell me that they’d rather live to be 85, but eat the foods they love than live to 90 and have every meal feel a bit like torture. First of all, you get used to eating the good food, even if it tastes a little boring at first. Once I started eating REAL food, food that was grown locally, food that was organic, food that wasn’t processed, I could never go back. Secondly, it might not be the difference of 85 and 90; it might be 90 and 35. Would it be worth it then? I can tell you from experience, there is absolutely nothing I’ve ever put in my mouth (and I can think of a lot of things I love — see list above) that is worth what I’m going through right now. Absolutely nothing.

They say life without risks isn’t worth living. Now that I’m nearing the end of my treatment, with the divine news that the lymph masses are gone, I feel exhilarated. My spirit wants to be reckless and risky and stupid — like I was in my 20s when the invincibility factor is still at play. Because, I feel A.L.I.V.E. But, mostly, I think I just want to go on vacation. Probably to Newport Beach so I can walk the beach with my Alta coffee looking for sea glass and check off a great majority of the restaurant portions of this bucket list …since, for me, food isn’t one of those risks worth taking.

Remember, YOU are in charge of your own destiny. What you eat matters. The toxins you expose yourself to matters. The toxins your neighbors expose you to matters. But, be at peace with however you choose to live your future. ✌🏻

I'm a: mom. wife. daughter. sister. teacher. writer. friend. cali girl. lymphoma survivor. local-organic foodie. new age hippie. packers fan. believer

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