When Alix Hayden found out she had brain cancer in 2012, instead of surgery and chemotherapy, she chose to fight it was a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet, which cancer researcher Dr. Dominic D’Agostino said can starve cancer cells, was the treatment of choice for Hayden.
Ketogenic appears to work because each cell in the body uses both fat and glucose. Cancer cells, unable to live on glucose and fail to thrive on ketones, are starved by limiting carbohydrates. Restricting carbohydrates in the diet can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood and blood insulin according to D’Agostino.
Hayden’s diet was approximately 65-percent fats, 30-percent proteins, and 5-percent carb. While her brain tumor didn’t shrink with the ketogenic diet, it didn’t grow bigger. Hayden, whose tumor was categorized as slow-growing, has documented her recovery on her blog, “Greymadder.”
By September 2015, things had changed slightly, and Hayden decided to have the tumor removed. The long and winding journey from ketogenic treatment to surgery is outlined by Hayden on Greymadder.
Can You Count? Can You Speak?
Surgeons often perform brain surgery on people who are awake when the tumor is near the area of the brain engaged in speech. By having the remain alert and conscious, the surgeon can test as he goes. The surgeon, according to Hayden, would ask: “Can you count? Can you speak?” The surgeon would have the confidence to remove things that they may not if the patient were asleep.
During a pause in the surgery, Dr. Daryl Fourney, a neurosurgeon at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital believed it was important to put Hayden in touch with her husband quickly.
“Someone get my cell phone. This woman should talk with her husband,” Fourney instructed. When Hayden got her husband on the telephone, her spouse was surprised. Only three hours into a four-hour surgery, Hayden told her husband, “The surgeon says to tell you he got it all.”
Several weeks later, when interviewed by CBC, Hayden said, “We were ready to expect some motor deficit. I’ve had nothing. No adverse effects.”
CBC’s reporter asked Hayden if she had any advice for cancer patients thinking about the ketogenic diet.