The book you are about to read is a glowing example of victory in the face of uncertainty, a purposeful path in the midst of chaos and a tale of a mother’s love for her daughter and family that kept her steadfast and focused in what would be the battle of and for her life! In this book, Heather Jose recounts every step and every emotion of her amazing journey. I can tell you that you will find this to be a great gift of incredible insight—an inspiring companion for you or a loved one facing cancer. This riveting story and the information contained within will serve both the newly diagnosed and those who are veteran survivors.
For me, seeing Heather for the first time was different than meeting most of the patients that had her same profile. She was an upbeat young woman who wore a bright blue bandana on her head and had an amazing smile. Heather was full of life and surrounded by family who loved and supported her. I thought to myself that she was much, much too young to fit the mold of someone who was battling stage IV breast cancer.
Heather had been through a lot, yet you would never know it by looking at her. I could see already that breast cancer, for Heather, was going to be a mere speed bump in the road of life as she was determined not to let it define who she was, nor stand in the way of the best years that lay before her. This young woman was motivated, engaged and ready to partner in her own health—all, according to research, essential attributes of a cancer survivor.
Both in my personal and professional life, breast cancer is a familiar foe. I lost a great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all to breast cancer and know firsthand how devastating the disease can be. Make no mistake about it: Breast cancer and the treatments to tackle advanced stages of it are no walk in the park. A great percentage of the cancer patients that I’ve had the honor of helping with their nutrition came to me with advanced breast cancer. Some lived, some didn’t. Some tolerated treatment and many really struggled through it. But the good news is that over the years, I’ve seen several people, like Heather, who were dealt a bad hand but still persevered and even thrived post-diagnoses. I’ve seen patients who chose to let their diagnosis be a launching point for a renewed quest for wellness and personal achievement.
Often, newly diagnosed patients are presented with pamphlets that offer general information about their disease, treatment options and their side effects that are typically over-generalized, impersonal and bleak in nature. Receiving the news that one has cancer is bad enough, but if that news is not accompanied with tailored messages of critical next steps infused with hope, the level of duress and even outcomes, can be negatively affected. Though this was initially the case for Heather, fortunately for her, she had family and friends who helped get her the answers she needed to properly battle cancer. Heather not only had great support but also chose to be an active participant in her own care. She utilized mind-body techniques, incorporated tailored nutrition and supplementation and engaged in physical care that helped minimize side effects of therapy and built up her strength and improved her response to treatment. So many patients are told to either not worry about changing their diet and lifestyle for the better or to wait until after treatment if they are going to do so, though evidence-based research refutes this still common and misguided bit of advice. Being engaged in one’s care versus being a passive recipient can make all of the difference in the world in the quality of life one experiences during treatment and its outcome.
The good news is that beating breast cancer is becoming more commonplace. Strides in medical science, early detection, better treatment modalities and a greater understanding of the importance of incorporating adjunctive care like good nutrition into a treatment plan is making a substantial difference in survival rates. But so much more can be done and needs to be done. And having a personal companion like Every Day We Are Killing Cancer that can relate to what you or a loved one are going through and provide those essential words of hope can be the most important “medicine” in that critical time period after receiving the “news”. You are not alone. You have a trusted friend in Heather.
—David W. Grotto, RD, LDN, nutrition expert and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life