Thanks, Coach…

Thanks, Coach…

…my Certified Holistic Health Coach, Rebecca Nenner, that is. (Visit for information leading to a healthier lifestyle.) More than a coach, Rebecca is my friend – and has been for many years. A former co-worker at the Connection Newspapers, Rebecca is as passionate about health and fitness as I am about the Boston Red Sox. She has been my guiding hand now for over five years, most especially when I was first diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer back in February, 2009. Although there are no whistles involved in her coaching, there are phone calls, e-mails, YouTube videos, Webinars and miscellaneous other advisories regularly landing in my in box. To say Rebecca has saved my life might be an overstatement, given that I am being treated by an oncologist; however, she has given me an alternate perspective on what I can do to help my body survive my treatment and live like I have a present and a future, a gift if ever there was one.

To say that I was a bad eater (think problem child) would be unfair to any child ever characterized as a "bad eater." My joke was: I eat about 10 things – all the time: meat and potatoes, bread and butter, bagels and cream cheese, pizza and more pizza; cake, cookies, candy and ice cream; bologna and hot dogs; sugary drinks for breakfast, lunch and dinner; salty snacks. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture, as Rebecca certainly did; and presumably you’ve noticed no mention of salad, fruits or vegetables included in my list. I wouldn’t say – or even admit to, intentionally ignoring the produce section in the supermarket but one would be hard-pressed to notice me walking toward that outside-aisle-type area of the store unless it was on the way to the Entenmann’s display. Typically, I shopped in the middle aisles where generally speaking, all the canned, prepackaged, processed, non-organic, less expensive and shall we say, less healthier alternatives were/are readily available.

Though I had healthy parents who both lived well into their 80s, neither of whom ever exhibited any history of cancer, I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at age 54 and a half, a longtime non-smoker to boot. I was given a "13-month to two-year" prognosis at the time. Processing that kind of information doesn’t happen overnight, I can tell you that. But eventually, you begin to sift through your options, traditional and otherwise, and proceed on a course of treatment/action that either stands you pat or changes you. I decided change was necessary and sought out Rebecca’s help.

The goal was to make my body’s blood chemistry (ph balance) as high and as inhospitable to cancer cells as possible by eliminating certain foods (basically everything I eat), and try to increase the oxygen in my blood stream and minimize the acid. The goal: to strengthen my immune system for the fight ahead. This meant – among other avenues – drinking alkaline water (using a machine that converts tap water to alkaline water, highly oxygenated), and following an alkaline diet: 75 percent alkaline and 25 percent acid. In addition to eating different foods than I ever used to (I give myself a "C;" friends who know my eating habits say I deserve an "A"), I take about 40 pills a day: Turmeric and Curcumin, Royal Jelly, Sea Kelp, Ubiquinol, Pancreatic Enzymes, Chinese Chlorella and Spirulina, Red Krill Oil, Juice-Plus multivitamins: Orchard, Vineyard and Garden blends; Resveratrol, probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D; in addition, I mix/drink baking soda with 8 oz. alkaline water once a day; I mix/drink one tablespoon of Braggs Organic Apple Cider, with the "mother," into my alkaline water once a day; spoon out 4 tablespoons of puréed asparagus twice a day; make fresh fruit/fresh vegetable smoothies once a day which also include flaxseed oil, almonds, hemp seeds, organic blackstrap molasses (unsulfured), and maybe even ginger if I can stand it (it’s very strong). I’ve recently added wheat grass and almond milk to my regimen. Next up will be apricot kernels and whatever else Rebecca tells me – within reason, because I’m still very particular and this whole eating thing is practically impossible for me to maintain.

What does all this stuff do? I don’t really know, but Rebecca does and I trust her. And five years later, I’m living proof. Even though I’m a survivor and a believer, I’m not a very good explainer. As I’m fond of saying, I know sports and chocolate. Rebecca does know more than that, a lot more, and for that, I am eternally grateful – and extremely fortunate to have her in my corner, because this cancer thing is definitely a fight.