How the diagnosis of Cancer led Kayle Martin to going plant-based. "I'll never go back to a non-vegan diet!"
I recently connected with Kayle Martin on Twitter. I was humbled yet excited to hear how she positively turned her life around. I am grateful to her for letting me interview her.
This post shows the steps she took, to not only beat Cancer but live a rich and enhanced life. Kayle, recognises how successful these changes have been. She respects them and values them enough to continue living the same way. Why wouldn't you, when you look like this!
Would you tell me a bit about the Cancer? What type was it?
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (stage 2 Ductal Adenocarcinoma) when I was thirty years old. I found a lump in my right breast on my own (it was palpable) while I was living 2,000 miles away from home caring for my ailing grandparents. That's the irony in my story. Even though I was care-giving for family members, it was me that needed to be taken care of in the end.
How much did the doctors think it would impact on your quality of life?
The doctors were very concerned about me mostly due to my age. It was a real challenge being diagnosed at a young age for many reasons. The doctors took as many precautions as possible, but they also wanted to use aggressive treatments right away.
Did they suggest doing anything to prevent it from getting worse?
In allopathic medicine from my experience, the doctors tend to move quickly. I had a lumpectomy surgery within 6 weeks of my initial diagnosis and if it were up to them, I probably would have had surgery within a week of knowing about the cancer. Although I asked my oncologist and breast surgeon about changing my diet, I found that it was a topic they didn't understand and didn't want to talk about. According to some, they could lose their medical license if they told me to do something other than the recommended treatments they were offering (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation). I later realized that diet and lifestyle choices were up to me as the patient. No one should go to an oncologist expecting to receive information on something (diet) when they've only had 8-12 hours of training in. That would be equivalent to going to a Chevrolet car dealership to buy a Ford. It's simply something that they most likely won't know much about and it's not their fault; just the way the medical system and schooling is set up. While I did take (most) of their advice, I created my own team of health professionals to guide me through the process. I worked with a Naturopathic doctor, a chiropractor, a doctor of Chinese medicine, an acupuncturist, a colon hydrotherapist, and the list goes on. I really wanted to create a plan using as many complimentary medicines as possible.
Did they think it could be removed?
Yes, as I mentioned above, the oncologist and surgeons wanted to move quickly to remove the cancerous tumour. They didn't want to waste time and I am certain my age had something to do with it. Due to the tumour having no lymph node involvement, it could be easily be removed, so they opted (with my permission) to go down that route first. Some women have to undergo chemotherapy to shrink the tumour in size before surgery, but that wasn't the case for me.
What was life like before you were diagnosed with cancer?
The two years before my diagnosis were a complete whirlwind. I had a relationship come to an unexpected and abrupt end that left me dishevelled beyond belief. I left my job of six years. I moved half way across the country. I got a new job. I was then let go of from that job. I ended up moving again, which took me even further away from home.
So there was quite a lot of upheaval.
In terms of diet; I was a vegetarian, and had been for nearly 20 years. However, I was a junk food vegetarian. At my diagnosis I weighed my heaviest. I was probably a 25-30 pounds overweight.
How did you feel generally? What was the attitude that you felt/expressed most of the time?
Even whilst the cancer was active and growing inside of my body, I never remember feeling bad. I was probably a little tired from the junk I was eating, but other than that, I had no complaints. Once the diagnosis hit, my mind went into a bit of an awful place, but I think that's only to be expected with the news of a possible life -threatening illness. I was completely overwhelmed the first couple of months, but had a beautiful change of attitude once I found my planned path to healing.
Did you eat differently?
I believe it was within two weeks of my diagnosis that I completely changed my diet. I went totally plant-based after watching some alternative cancer films all of which had the same exact suggestion - cut out acidic foods as cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. In other words, animal products like meat (which I wasn't eating), dairy, eggs and sugar. Looking back I am proud of myself for the amount of discipline I was able to achieve. I lost weight immediately as well, just another great advantage to eating plants! A few months after my diagnosis I attended and graduated from The Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, Georgia under the direction of well known raw foodist and cancer survivor, Brenda Cobb. I immersed myself in all things raw, living and uncooked and adopted a 100% raw food diet for 1.5 years which I feel completely aided in my healing process. In fact, when I did go in for chemotherapy and radiation treatments later, I found that I didn't get sick. Not once. I think I set myself and my body up for the best possible success.
This photo shows Kayle before the diagnosis and after eating differently.
Were you physically active?
I've never considered myself to be an athlete of any kind. I generally got my exercise then and now from walking and hiking. Being out in nature has always been a soothing and comforting place for me to spend my time.
Did you smoke or drink?
I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, and am very proud to say that. I have never been a heavy drinker either. I used to have a glass of wine occasionally with friends and that was it.
Did any of this change after your diagnosis?
I gave up all alcohol completely for at least 1.5 - 2 years after my diagnosis.
Did you feel differently afterwards?
I have never felt better in my entire life than when I was living a 100% living foods diet. My skin radiated. My energy sky-rocketed. I felt truly happy. The plants, I think, had everything to do with that. My mind and attitude even changed. I became so grateful for the cancer experience. I still feel blessed today that cancer touched my life. It gave me a reason to take control of my health, put things into perspective and to truly live.
What now? Stay the same? Go back to how things were?
I have never gone back to how things were in my life before cancer. After gaining the knowledge and lessons learned from a gift like this one, there is no going back. Though I don't currently eat a 100% raw food diet, I have stayed vegan for over 5 years. I watch my sugar intake and my stress levels and don't take anything for granted.
Cancer was my teacher, and really, the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I have made incredible lifelong friends through the process, I've changed who I am for the better, and I have grown tremendously. In fact, I now spend my time writing a weekly vegan blog, giving talks and interviews about my cancer story and how that in turn, ultimately lead me to veganism. I also volunteer regularly with cancer survivors.
My life includes much more peace and compassion than ever before. I am an animal advocate, a lover of all plants and enjoy helping others obtain and adapt this type of lifestyle. My ultimate dream is write a book and go on a book tour to share my story and experiences to help others live happier, healthier lives.
"It is increasingly obvious that environmentally sustainable solutions to world hunger can only emerge as people eat more plant foods and fewer animal products. To me it is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chance to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long-term health, are the safest, and are also, far and away, the most compassionate towards our fellow creatures."
- John Robbins