Cancer Is ABOUT Maintaining Mental & Physical Health

Eating, Drinking And Exercising With Diabetes Type 2 And Cancer

Below are View Photos Of My MEALSsome of the meals and drinks I had, and exercise routines I did, during my chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments in order to maintain my strength, energy levels, diabetes type 2 diet and diabetes blood sugar levels. With chemotherapy treatments raising my blood sugar levels and zapping my energy and strength levels by half during the first 3 days of each chemotherapy cycle and thereafter, I had to try double hard to maintain my health.

One way I tried to keep my energy levels up was to maintain a balanced diet, which I had been doing for the previous 9 months to bring my diabetes HB1AC (overall blood sugar level) count down from 12.6% / 114 (mmol/mol) to 7.4% / 57 (mmol/mol). After a visit from a dietitian in Guy's hospital (London) it was a nice surprise when she said my diet was fine. So here it is, based on one breakfast and one evening meal per day.

Breakfast MEALS

Meal Amount Portion
Cereal 1 Bowl Porridge, Corn Flakes, Granola, Bran Flakes, Shreddies, Rice Krispies or Alpen.
4-6 Biscuits Shredded Wheat or Weetabix.
Toast 2 Slices Brown (Wholemeal) or White Bread – With/Out Peanut Butter or Blackcurrant Jam.
4 Slices Same as above, but other 2 slices with butter only.
4 Pieces Crumpets.
Eggs Boiled/Fried 2 Fried Egg (on Toast) or 4 Boiled Eggs.

When taking morning medication I found eating Weetabix the best choice of cereal, once they had softened in milk, simply because I could either hide the medication (tablets) within the Weetabix or at least take a mouth of Weetabix while swallowing the tablets. A banana was also a good place to hide and swallow tablets. Alpen, once milk softened, is also a good choice.

Lunch / Dinner MEALS

Meal Amount Portion
Fish 2 Pieces Spiced Makerel with Rice and Sauce (chopped cucumber and tomato in vinegar).
Breadcrumbed Fish with Chips and maybe Baked Beans or Peas.
4 Pieces Fish Cakes with Chips or Mashed Potato and maybe Baked Beans or Peas.
6 Pieces Fish Fingers with Chips or Mashed Potato and maybe Baked Beans or Peas.
Vegetables 1 Bowl ½ Brocolli, 1 Carrot, 6 Potatoes, 8-10 Brussel Sprouts, 1 tbsp Sweetcorn,
1 tbsp Peas and/or ½ packet of Runner Beans.
Salad 1 Bowl 4 pieces of Beetroot, 2 Spring Onions, 2-4 Boiled Eggs, 1 Grated Carrot, ½ Sliced
Red Onion, 2 Sliced Tomatoes, ⅓ Sliced Cucumber, 1 Bell Pepper, 3-6 Baby New
Potatoes and/or 1 Little Gem Lettuce. Plus Branston Pickle or Salad Cream.
Meat N/A 4 Lamb Chops, 1 Minced Meat, ½ Chicken, Stew, ½ Roast Pork, 4 Sausages,
1-2 Pies or ½ Spam.
Soups N/A Chicken, Vegetable, Tomato or Mixed Beans.
Take-Away N/A Chinese (Often), Kebab (rarely), KFC (rarely) or McDonalds (rarely).
Staple N/A Potato (Regular), Rice (Regular), Pasta (Sometimes) or Lentils (Rarely).

Snack MEALS

Meal Amount Portion
Fruit 1 Bowl 2 Apples, 1 Handful of Grapes, 2-3 Oranges, 2 Pears, 2 Bananas or 3-4 Kiwis.
Sandwich 1 Ham, Ham & Cheese, Jam, Peanut Butter or Butter.
Snacks N/A Cake, Biscuits, Chocolate Bar(s) and/or Sweets.

When I exercised (during or just after a long cycle ride or 30 minutes on the treadmill) I would often eat, depending on how I felt at the time, 1,2 or 3 chocolate bars simply because I knew I could burn off their calories. Alternatively, I might have ate a couple of packets of crisps or 2 cakes instead. And on a really rare occasion I might have ate a McDonald's burger meal or KFC chicken burger meal; whose calories I would then burn off with exercise.

Various DRINKS

Drink Amount Portion
Sugary N/A Orange Juice (Often), Lucozade (rarely), Cola (rarely) or Fanta (rarely).
Water 1-2 Litres Sparkling Water or Still Water.
Beer 1-3 Cans Have not drank alcohol since January 2017. I only drink very rarely these days.
Tea/Coffee 6-10 Cups Tea and Coffee throughout the day.

In general I tried to drink 1-2 litres of water per day, but sometime I would drink up to 4 litres per day; especially if I was exercising on that day. This was on top of the tea and coffee I drank per day.

As a diabetic I would still drink Lucozade, Coca Cola and other sugary drinks, but only when I felt the need to. Such as when my energy level felt low and/or when I knew I was going cycling. I still needed excess sugar (carbohydrates) and hydration to refuel me when cycling for example.

Exercise - WEEKLY CYCLING

Although my strength and energy levels were constantly kept at half throughout the first week of chemotherapy, I still tried to cycle 1-2 hours per day, four times within that first week, if I could; which was not always possible. It was a real mental challenge and muscle struggle, but if I did not try and keep up this level of fitness I knew the next cycle of chemotherapy would be an even bigger challenge; reducing my overall strength and energy in the long run. Before cancer I could cycle every day and do a lot more exercise.

To put this into perspective: Before I could cycle for one hour for example whereby I could cycle fast, even race people on the cycle lane, and cycle up hills with relative ease. With cancer I would normally need to get off my bicycle and walk up a hill, would not have enough muscle power to cycle fast at all and would find my journeys taking twice as long due to me becoming much weaker and tired very quickly.

Exercise - WEEKLY WALKING

If I did not feel the energy to cycle, I opted to do 30 minutes on a treadmill using varying walking speeds and uphill climbing levels. And if I did not have the energy for the treadmill I just walked to my local shops and back (about 30 minutes of natural walking). I would always try and do some sort of walking or other exercise, purely for circulation and weight control.

Exercise - WEEKLY WEIGHTS

For the top half of my body, I would try and do a few repetitions and curl ups with dumbell weights I bought from Argos. I did not attend a gym at that time simply because my strength and energy levels were not ready for that kind of fitness training yet. And with head and neck problems from this cancer I did not want to push my luck. Even with cycling I did not realise how much arm and neck muscle I used to use.

Mental Health - MONITOR THE DRUGS

In order to maintain mental health I first got to know the pattern of behaviour from my chemotherapy treatments/drugs and more precisely what symptoms and/or side-effects they would give on a certain day in their cycle. As chemotherapy purposely attacks your body in order to then repair it, my first step was to distinguish between common aches and pains versus chemotherapy drug aches and pains.

If I did not monitor how my chemotherapy, radiotherapy and their additional medicines affected my mind and body, I would have just put everything down to coincidence. As an example, I was recovering from sinus cancer in the severe winter months. Not the best time for recovery in terms of not knowing whether my cancer medication was giving me problems, the cold weather or both.

Chemotherapy Treatment - COLD IN WINTER

In the winter months I had to be careful not to get a common cold. The problem with the chemotherapy drugs in combination with blocked/broken sinuses caused by my cancer was that, to some degree, they made me immune to a common cold. As an example: My nose would not drip even during severely cold weather, but I would get a sore throat; an indicator that I might have been catching a common cold. Hence why I would take paracetamol as a precaution when those cold like symptoms appeared. Better to be safe than sorry.

As each chemotherapy treatment became predictive in terms of what it did to my body at certain stages of its cycle, I began to realise what was a chemotherapy side effect and what was a natural cold symptom. On cycles one and two this was not an easy task simply because of the way cycle one began to clear many of my sinus problems. However, by cycle three and onwards I was more certain of what was causing my sore throat, dry throat, blocked nose and so on symptoms/problems.

Chemotherapy Treatment - ENERGY & EXERCISE

In terms of exercise, and more precisely the aches and pains it left me with, taking Filgrastim became a mini nightmare for me.

On chemotherapy cycle one, day six of taking Filgrastim, I made the mistake of exercising on a treadmill. I did my normal 30 minutes, but in hindsight slightly over exercised with the lack of strength I had. This was because at that time I felt my energy level was okay. I did not realise my bones were lacking white blood cells because I was not familiar with the fact that chemotherapy purposely decreases/destroys your white blood cells whereby they are put back by Filgrastim.

With the knowledge of Filgrastim, and the way my energy levels would be affected by it, I then knew to wait until I had completed the eight day course of Filgrastim before doing my standard level of exercise. I still managed to walk to the shops and collect my girlfriend's son from school whenever my energy levels permitted though.

Chemotherapy Treatment - KEEP AN APPETITE

As well as exercising to maintain some level of energy throughout each chemotherapy cycle, another important thing I did was try and maintain my appetite.

Being a diabetic I needed to control my diet anyway, the types of food I was consuming, but with cancer I also had to control my diet's volume and frequency. Meaning, I used to skip breakfast and only have one big meal a day; for years. However, in 2017 I got my diabetes under control through better diet. With cancer I then ate up to four times a day, but with smaller meal portions and snacks.

Keeping a healthy diet and appetite are crucial if you suffer from cancer. Even the nhs acknowledge that those who can maintain their health and fitness during chemotherapy and radiotherapy tend to stand a better chance of recovery. Obviously not everyone can exercise and/or keep up an appetite, but at least trying is better than nothing. The fatigue cancer can give for example is enough for some people to ask themselves "What is the point in living?". Hence the importance of mental fitness too.

Chemotherapy Treatment - KEEP MENTALLY ACTIVE

The problem with cancer, once you have it, is that it is very easy to think about it all the time in terms of worrying about the future, work, family and friends and the fact you may die sooner than later whereby you may constantly ask yourself 'What happens when I die?' and think 'What is the point in living?'. Those thoughts can easily lead to depression and the lack of will to live; especially if you are bed-ridden with nobody around you.

With the just said, all I can advise is you try and take up a hobby that will keep you mentally, if not physically, occupied. Although I'm an easy-going, jokey, person and lucky enough to have a family around me to keep me active, I still did things to keep me mentally active - Jigsaw puzzles with my wife, computer games with her son, made this website, watched tv/films with the family and learnt a language; among other things.


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