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Whether a cancer diagnosis has taken you totally unaware or whether you suspected you might one day receive this news, it is a stab in the heart. Your mind races from one question to the next: Has it spread? If so, where? How long do I have to live? What type of treatment do I want to follow--or not to follow? You share the news with your dearest and nearest while you research what is known about your particular type of cancer and how others have dealt with it. If you have done your homework well, you will have come across the A.P. John Institute for Cancer Research on the Internet and stopped to consider what this treatment could do for you. If your tendency is to think "what disease nature has caused, nature can also heal," you will be more open to the use of Controlled Amino Acid Therapy (CAAT) as a partner in your cancer treatment.

The regimen may not be very exciting to contemplate at first: the daily food intake is a far cry from what many 21st-century humans are used to consuming from both qualitative and quantitative standpoints. However, the CAAT diet gives us the opportunity to explore food and drink we may never have had before or to experiment with various herbs and spices. A cookbook and menu plan are also provided to make the therapy easier to follow. The majority of vegetables available can be eaten at any time and in any quantity, and the amino acid formula is available in capsule and powder forms, allowing you to choose which is most convenient. The CAAT diet also resensitizes the palate to what real food, unprocessed food, tastes like. You take the time to savor your food. After a certain amount of time, which varies from person to person, the CAAT lifestyle becomes habit and, then, second nature. Tasting processed foods, even minimally processed ones, after having been on CAAT for a while makes us suddenly realize how much sugar, salt, and fat are in the foods we used to be eating and how unnatural that is.

Engaging a family member or members, a partner, or close friend as a co-conspirator for the good is helpful. This works especially well if they like to prepare food and are interested in learning more about complementary and alternative medicine.

Some people experience weight loss. They may not think they necessarily need to and so may take issue with the quantities of food recommended. Paradoxical as it may seem, the loss of weight that results from following CAAT even in a person of "average" weight brings with it a very noticeable increase in energy--a wonderful feeling for a cancer patient to have and one that leads to a greater sense of well-being and joie de vivre. Life actually feels worth living again.

Following CAAT for a certain amount of time can also lower the readings of protein markers for the particular types of cancer for which these diagnostic tests exist (such as CA-19-9 for pancreatic cancer and CA-125 for ovarian cancer), which in turn also brightens the outlook of the cancer patient.

Adhering to CAAT requires discipline and self-control, particularly when eating out or in social situations. Patients who have already practiced some diet modification for health reasons, such as diabetics, the lactose intolerant, celiac sufferers, and those with food allergies, will find this less of a problem and will probably adapt to CAAT more readily. Some of the recommended foods on the CAAT list may be on an individual's "forbidden" or "avoid" list because of certain health conditions, but a workaround will be devised.

The weight loss that may be associated with the therapy requires no herculean efforts at the gym, coming instead as a natural result of following the program. Physical work and exercise can certainly be continued to the extent you feel capable. The added joy of feeling a new wellspring of energy will make you want to do all the more and make the most of every precious day you have.

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When I was told by my gynecologist that the test results showed I had cancer I kind of shrug my shoulders and said OK. He must have thought I...

- Ingeborg Zielinski-Reni

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