Monday, March 07, 2005


TV pretends to show us life. Okay, mostly it tells us to buy things. But I was watching House, my new favorite medical show about the world famous diagnostician who doesn't actually want to ever see any patients. ("Patients lie," he says. Which is stupid because even if they do, their fingernails don't. Neither does their skin color, the way they walk, or a thousand other things a good diagnostician notices. But Hugh Laurie plays Dr. House and he's fabulous, so it's like reading Spiderman comics--spider powers make no sense, but after you swallow that this is a world in which they do, everything else is fun.)

Still, Dr. House correctly diagnosed that one of his associate's father had cancer because the guy was eating a macrobiotic diet and had the blue dot tattoo on his neck for aiming radiation therapy. The guy admitted that he had metastatic lung cancer and a prognosis of three months.

Okay, I buy the blue dot. But a macrobiotic diet? Don't get me wrong, I had friends on the macrobiotic diet in the eighties (and to be honest, they looked unhealthy, but maybe being unhealthy was why they got on a macrobiotic diet in the first place.) But this guy was supposed to be a well-respected rheumatologist. I don't think macrobiotic is the cancer diet these days and I'm really not sure that a rheumatologist with three months to live would think macrobiotics was going to add significantly to quantity or quality of life. And they were eating at the hospital cafeteria. Not a hot bed of sprouts and brown rice, right?

I don't know what is a good cancer diet other than women with estrogen-sensitive cancers should avoid meats with added hormones. And I've heard that dairy can affect certain cancers (which again, makes sense because milk is a substance whose purpose is to help a cow gain a half ton of weight in a year--milk naturally has hormones in it.) I figure House defaulted to macrobiotic because it was a kind of short hand. Macrobiotic = extreme + healthy.

I think that there are ways to eat more healthy when you're sick. But as usual, TV has failed to tell me what they are. So it's back to lots of fruits and veggies and anti-oxidants. And maybe some Hagaan Daz now and then.


Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Only slightly off topic: I adore Hugh Laurie. I think I fell in love with him in Sense and Sensibility, when he played the dreadful Mrs. Jenkins' son-in-law. He's wonderful.

If a good diet caters not only to the body but to the soul, Haagen Dasz is definitely on it.

March 07, 2005 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ugh! Goo! Chew! Munch! Eat!"

"Are you still eating that Macro-biotic food..? ...Anybody will tell you its UNHEALTHY!! The guy that invented this diet dropped dead at a cocktail party!!"

"I know.. I'm eating this junk in memoriam .. not every man has the integrity to die of his own philosophy.."

From "The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins", by Hugh Dan O'Neill

March 07, 2005 9:44 PM  
Blogger Motherhood for the Weak said...

Yum, ice cream -- I've always found it to be the cure for whatever ails me.

Good luck on the walk. I don't know if the weather is quite ready for you though--here we went from 60 down to 19 in about 3 hours, we're freezing! Spring feels like it's far, far away.

Yoga scares me, but I'm not that flexible. If you try it, I hope you like it!


March 07, 2005 9:58 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

A person with metastatic cancer and three months to live is not eating macrobiotic. A person with metastatic cancer and three months to live is eating hot fudge sundaes. Believe me, I have thought about this.

I was recently on a conventional panel devoted to musing about who New Line Cinema should cast now that they have purchased Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and everyone agreed that since Alan Rickman is too old for it, Hugh Laurie would be perfect for Strange.

(I didn't create this digression, Madeleine did.)

March 08, 2005 7:30 AM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

I will take the rap for this digression--I'm the one who said I love Hugh Laurie.

But yeah, three months to live? Hot fudge sundaes and really good scotch.

March 08, 2005 8:30 AM  
Blogger Heather Mackin said...

Hi Maureen,
I have been really struggling the past few weeks and haven't posted in a while but have been catching up with your blog every few days.

As for House, I watch that show too and I totally thought the same thing about that diet. I've been told by my nurses to eat "comfort foods" so I felt guilty when watching the show as mac-n-cheese is sooooo not on a macrobiotic diet. My mother would love to see me eating like that but most of the time I'm just happy to be eating at all.

I hope you're doing well as we go into chemo week.


March 08, 2005 10:00 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Not to dis ice cream (which I love as much as I love Hugh Laurie, of course), but I know a couple of people (my sister in law, in particular) who would eat macrobiotic to the last moment if they thought it gave them an ounce of control in an utterly uncontrollable situation. People are comforted by strange things.

Me--hot fudge sundaes, lobster, single malt.

March 08, 2005 1:12 PM  
Blogger Responsible Artist said...

The spouse watches House with the same sort of Peggy Fleming mentality that I exhibit when I watch ice skating. He finds it irritating, because they do a lot of stuff nobody would ever do (or admit to it).

PS - I like macrobiotic food. Sometimes, a very pleasant soup is involved.

March 08, 2005 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cancer diet? I'm thinking totally organic, even meat, like giraffe and ostrich--if not totally vegetarian. And avoidance the Demon Sugar. Though I would make an exception for Kerbey Lane Organic Restaurant's Mocha Tofu Vegan Cheezcake.

Sorry for the grammar. Editor by day, language butcher by night. The wordsmith's version of the drunken, promiscuous priest.

No way anyone with 3 months to live is eating macrobiotic. Except for those seeking distraction from the inevitable. I suspect we die, alas, as we've lived. But I can live with not knowing. No rush at all.

March 08, 2005 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I don't normally bother with comments but feel a little bored today and am trying to waste a little time. I was just surfing around the net (actually looking for info on New Lung Cancer Treatment) when I came across your blog. Just wanted to let you that I've gone back and read through some of your past posts. They caught my interest and I can relate to a quite a bit of what you say. So keep it up - I guess.

January 27, 2006 1:30 AM  
Blogger Hebbie36 said...

I stumbled upon this site accidentally, but feel compelled to comment. I hate to be in the minority here, but as a 36 year old non-smoker who was diagnosed with advanced LUNG CANCER, I can say from experience that when a doctor tells you that you have cancer and may die, you will change your life in ways you never dreamed. And yes...I AM on the "anti-cancer" macrobiotic diet. I've been following it for 10 months and I can happily report that my last scan showed NO NEW GROWTH of the 40 nodules in my lungs. I have personally met MANY cancer patients who's cancer was sent into perminent remission from fact, I met several of them last month on a macrobiotic Carribean cruise -- there were 650 of us. Macrobiotic followers did not die off in the 80's....we recently partied up and down the carribean islands!

April 09, 2006 12:08 PM  

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