I am having to adapt our way of life for 6 weeks while my husband has radiotherapy for some pesky little stray cells that escaped the robotic surgery three and half years ago. The prognosis is good, but the process is painfully slow…
The surgeon tells us we must be very careful not to create gas in the gut as this can effect the precise targeting of the rays (in Singapore they naturally have the most up-to-date equipment). ‘No green vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas; no beer (or champagne I imagine though we don’t mention it!), no pulses of any kind, nothing wholemeal, no fruit for breakfast, especially not papaya, and no granola’ – or anything at all good for you in other words. But we can have courgette, carrot and mushrooms – and lashings of white rice and pasta of course, things that are really NOT on our normal menu!
I am also undergoing some maintenance acupuncture and consult Dr Ang. Food and diet play an enormous role in Chinese Medicine, he explains. Chinese doctors, unlike western nutritionists who give blanket instructions to their patients, are much more careful. They will test foods on their patients for a few days to see if there are any contra-indications – bloating, gas, queasiness – before determining the right type for the condition. Foods are, as you know, predicated on yin (cold) and yang (hot). For prostate cancer he advocates tomatoes (the carotenoid pigment may help prevent cancer by lessening damage caused by free radicals) in large quantities, mushrooms especially shitake, plus ginger and garlic. The one thing that is absolutely forbidden is RAW vegetables (and this coincides with western medicine as any raw veg will be hard to digest).
Of course you must also pay attention to the immune system which is always weakened by the assault of radiotherapy, and he gives me a list of everyday immunity boosting foods for various types of cancer:
|Soy bean||Cold||Prevents gastric cancer|
|Tofu||Neutral||Helps prevent cancer esp. breast cacner|
|Maize/corn||Neutral||Detoxes, reducing chances of colon cancer|
|Sesame seed||Neutral||General cancer preventer|
|Kiwi||Cold||Prevents cancers of oesophagus, stomach, intestines, lung, liver and breast|
|Fennel||Warm||Beneficial for colon cancer patients|
|Mangetout||Neutral||Anti tumour and good for radiotherapy patients|
|Cabbage||Neutral||Helps to protect against colon cancer – but will give you wind!|
|Tomato||Cold||Fights free radicals and protects against cancer|
|Papaya||Neutral||Good source of beta carotene which helps fight free radicals & protects against cancer|
|Asparagus||Neutral||Protects against skin cancer, lymph carcinoma, lung, breast and bladder cancers|
|Aubergine||Cold||Use for gastric cancer, lip cancer and cancer of the mammary gland|
|Pumpkin||Warm||Lung cancer, carcinoma of ammary gland and cancer of the intestine|
|Cucumber||Col||Generally anti cancer esp. oesophagus|
He then tells me the story of the Green and White Snake and the lingzhi mushroom, which we must take to boost our immune systems (I have been taking it twice daily for nearly two years now): it is a complicated story especially told by Dr Ang who is beside himself with joy, eyes shining and grinning widely as he recounts the tale. A beautiful lady marries Xu Xian, a young man who shelters her and her sister from the rain.
Unknown to him she is in fact a White Snake and will devour him at the time of the Dragon Boat racing. A monk, Fa Hai comes to warn the husband of his fate and naturally he does not believe him. Of course it comes to pass that she does indeed turn into a snake and he dies of fright. However, she loves him so much that she goes off to the sacred mountain to get a lingzhi mushroom, which is the only thing that will cure him. There she battles demons but eventually obtains the mushroom and he is saved. But the story does not have happy ending (it is a famous Peking Opera) as the lovers are split by the monk again and the White Snake disappears for ever, until her sister, the Green Snake, avenges her centuries later and her spirit is released.
‘If Chinese Doctor not know this story then he is not proper doctor,’ he says with a flourish as the tale finishes and he pops in the final needle.
Anyway back to the new eating regime:
I have been doing a lot of one-pot steaming and of fish on beds of ‘good’ vegetables like asparagus, aubergine, carrot and courgette, with extra turmeric, ginger and garlicserved with white rice. For this I have adapted the following recipes:
Fragrant steamed fish; Thai steamed fish, Cantonese poached fish
I have also been steaming chicken in the same way – this recipe is specially immunity boosting.
The Singapore laksa and Malaysian laksa are good, as are the chicken soups with rice noodles that are weekly staples, with and without tofu and added seafood or fish
I am also busy making fresh tomato sauce with basil for pasta which I am freezing and he can eat when I am away in Cambodia in a week or so.
Finally, I had a mountain of left-over rice after a supper party, and made a very delicious stir fried rice with omelette.
So think of us as we chomp our way through basically uninteresting food striving to make it both tasty, nutritious and immunity-boosting!