I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  EVERYTHING.  As hard as it is sometimes for me to accept the bad things in life, I always remind myself that while I can’t understand why it’s happening right now, it’s meant to be and later on, if I’m lucky, I’ll see why it’s happening.

In 2006, shortly after having my daughter I had a lump removed from my left breast.  Prior to this I had had 2 benign lumps removed and was told that I simply had breasts that produced benign lumps.

A few years after I had the lump removed, I got sick and tired of having no energy and basically feeling ‘yuck’ all day.  I did some research on different diets and came across Clean Eating.  Everything I read about it made sense to me.  Eliminate the artificial crap from your diet and help your body grow stronger.  I loved it!  My family and I went cold turkey into the lifestyle.  We threw out everything processed and pre-made and went grocery shopping the same day.  We’ve never looked back.

In April of this year I went to see my doctor because there seemed to be a lump right under the scar from the 2006 surgery.  She sent me to have an ultrasound done and I was told there was a lump there but it looked perfectly normal and to keep an eye on it.  In August, after sensing something wasn’t right, I made an appointment to go see the doctor.  We had just moved to California and while I wasn’t thrilled with going to a new doctor I knew I needed to be seen.  After seeing the lump my new doctor ordered a mammogram and ultrasound STAT. Literally, I had to go straight from my appointment with her to get it done.  The next day I had an appointment with a general surgeon and he said that while the lump doesn’t look cancerous, that it was large enough that it needed to be removed right away.  A week later I had surgery.  A few days later I was told that I had a Phyllodes tumor.  Little is known about Phyllodes tumors.  Only 3% of the population experiences these types of tumors and they tend to be very fast growing and can quickly turn cancerous.  Unlike breast cancer they do not respond to chemo or radiation and most doctors have little to no experience with them.  I was also told that the outer edges of the tumor showed precancerous cell division and that having a mastectomy on my left breast was the recommended course of treatment.

I can only imagine what might have happened if I hadn’t changed my eating habits when I did.  As it turns out, that 2006 lump I had was a Phyllodes tumor.  What if I hadn’t started eating clean?  Would the tumor have come back quicker and turned cancerous?  I truly believe that eating clean caused the tumor to be slow growing and kept it from turning cancerous.

In a few weeks I’ll be having a mastectomy on my left breast and my doctors have told me that this will eliminate any chance of the tumor coming back.  The events over the last few weeks prompted me to research whether there were any diets that helped to ‘cure’ tumors.  I did a LOT of reading and research.  I also learned so much more about nutrition and the role it plays in our lives.  Most of the research I was finding kept leading me to plant-based diets.  I talked to my husband about this and we both thought it would be good to do a 3 day trial eating only a plant-based diet.  That meant no dairy or meats.  This was no small feat.  My husband only eats 5 vegetables - corn, mushrooms, edamame, potato and onions.  That’s it folks, nothing else.  He’s also a BIG meat eater.  He’s also the most supportive man I’ve ever met and if I was going to go to a plant based diet then he was coming along for the ride.

On our first day eating only plant based food, while I was googling for recipes to try I came across a blog that talked about the movie Forks over Knives.   It said it was available on Netflix so I suggested to my husband that we should watch it that night.  We watched.  We were shocked.

After the movie ended my husband turned to me and said he would never be able to eat meat or dairy again.  I think this probably shocked me the most.  My husband is the last person I thought I would hear those words from.  Not that I blame him.  I also came to the same conclusion.

That night we talked for a long time and decided that the health of our family was more important than the taste of meat and dairy.  When we started eating clean we were overwhelmed.  What would we eat?  What could we eat?  What about all the stuff we would never eat again?!!!  A few months into the clean eating lifestyle and we had more food choices than we knew what to do with.  We figured that eventually the same would happen with a plant based lifestyle.  Right now it’s a little scary.  You don’t realize just how much meat and dairy play into your life until you eliminate it from your diet!  But it’s just the beginning and I’m confident that in a few months we’ll look back and wonder what we were so worried about.

This last week has been one of the toughest when it comes to food that I’ve ever experienced.  Finding things for my kids to eat that they actually like.  Finding things for my meat eating, non plant loving husband to eat has been even harder.  But each day, while I cook, prepare and research recipes, I can’t help but think what this decision means for my future and my family’s future.  Will this spare one of us from getting cancer?  Will any heart disease we have begin to go away?

Everything happens for a reason….

For anyone interested in the plant based lifestyle, please take the time to watch Forks Over Knives.  We are now a week into eating a strictly plant based diet and we’re loving it.  Oddly enough, my kids are loving it!  Of course I’ll be sharing all the recipes I discover with you and I’ll also be blogging about the ups and downs of this journey.  You can follow my adventures here.

Let me end by saying that this was truly a personal decision that my family and I made because it’s what was best for us.  What’s best for my family may not be what is best for yours.  This is why I never judge or criticize those with a different lifestyle.  The Joy Of Clean Eating will continue to be a place that provides support, recipes and information for those that follow a clean eating lifestyle.  Whether you are a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or raw food lover - it doesn’t matter to us.  We welcome everyone along for the journey!




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  1. Grace says:

    I’ve been clean eating for a while but after recently watched Forks Over Knives I realize that I too will have to make some major changes. I applaud you and your husband for taking that step and for encouraging others to do what is right for their family. I’ve enjoyed your recipes and look forward to trying the vegan recipes. Best wishes to you and your family.

  2. Sarah says:

    Oh my goodness! I hope that you are OK emotionally and physically. I am so thankful that you went to the doctor and they figured out the type of lump you had. I am so glad your prognosis sounds good. You are right - everything happens for a reason. Good luck with your surgery.

  3. Jaclyn says:

    just reading your story put a lump in my thraot. on my! i’m so thankful you were able to get seem and have everything taken care of. thank goodness for good nutrirtion and your supportive husband. sending good thoughts your way. also, thankyou for not abandoning your clean eating followers. you have touched so many of our lives!

  4. Anne says:

    Wow! I’m impressed! Good luck with all physical challenges you’re faced with!

  5. Natasha Kay says:

    My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer but couldn’t undergo chemo due to another medical condition they had to treat first. So they surgically removed the tumors and in the six months she waited for her treatment to begin, she started exercising, completely cut out processed food and went to a completely plant-based diet. She lost 100 pounds and when it came time to start the chemo, they couldn’t find any trace of cancer left in her. She’s cancer-free.

    We are super clean eaters and pretty much a vegetarian family but like you, my husband enjoys his meat. But last night, I made black bean burgers and he announced “wow, this is really good. I can’t believe I’m saying this but you may have convinced me that a veggie burger can be as good as beef!”. Success! :)

    Good luck on your journey — definitely check out the Vega line if you haven’t already! It was created by a vegan professional athlete and my entire family loves the stuff. Smoothie Infusion, the Chocolate Whole Food Health Optimizer and the Sport Performance Optimizer are our favorites. :)

  6. I posted on your new vegan blog but just wanted to say that we wish you the best and Forks over Knives just got pushed to the top of my netflix queue! Thanks again for the inspiration!

  7. Sarah says:

    Thank you all for your kind words and support! If nothing else I hope that my journey will help people see what a differences nutrition and diet makes in our lives. We truly are what we eat and now, more than ever, food will be the fuel to help my body heal and grow stronger. :)


  8. Heather says:

    Sara I have recently been through the same as you except mine was Breast cancer. 3 years ago Anthony Robbins challenged us to go vegatarian for one month just to experience it and around the same time I had found a lump which the mammogram came back as negative. Three years,3 negative mammograms,one negative ultra sound later they sent me for a biopsy to find it positive. I believe that eating flexatarian(the odd steak but trying to remain vegan as our way of eating)has saved me from that tumor killing me. I have been doing treatment since January, double mastectomy in April and now I have done 19
    out of 30 radiation treatment and continue to eat clean and learn more about it every day! All the cancer books I read say to stay away from ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS! I choose healthy eating to help me heal and I know it will!

  9. Jess Christensen says:

    Well done transitioning into a plant based diet. I am a huge believer in the belong power of foods. We are actually in the process of reintroducing animal products back into our diet. We’re aiming for about 5% of our calories to be from animals, because after about two years of vegan eating, I began craving meat again, and I really believe in honoring our bodies, when we know they are healthy and capable of giving us good feedback. Not long after we began this transition I stumbled across this blog post http://voraciouseats.com/2010/11/19/a-vegan-no-more/ and was fascinated by her story. I would take the time to read it if you are considering pursuing veganism. I don’t see anything wrong with being vegan, as long as you are vigilant taking b12 and so forth, but, like I said, it just wasn’t right for my body, and there are others out there who have had similar experiences. Best of luck with everything. You are a wonderful example of taking your health into your own hands.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Jess!

      Everyone in my family takes a B12 supplement and we make sure we are eating a nutritious and balanced diet. I’ve heard from others that have eaten a vegan diet and went back to eating some meat. I’ve always said that everyone has to do what is best for their body. We are all different and to think that one type of diet will work for everything isn’t realistic. Thanks for writing in. I appreciate it!


  10. Kim says:

    I just found your website and I’m so grateful! I have a family history riddled with cancer and I am making the shift this year to clean eating/immunity eating. I think your site will be of great help along my way. Congrats and thank you for sharing!

  11. Janet says:

    Sarah, a friend just recommended a couple of recipes from your wonderful website. As I poked around, I came across this post.

    I hope you are recovering from your surgery and treatment, both emotionally and physically. Breast cancer comes as a shock, more so, the younger you are. I’m a quite a bit older (57) and approaching 12 years since a bilateral mastectomy and chemo for breast cancer.

    Today I’m healthy, strong and vigorous which I credit in part to wholesome, clean eating, in part to maintaining a strong meditation practice and in part to active living, outdoors in nature as much as possible. I look back and see that cancer as a wake-up signal to change my unhealthy ways. When I look back at how I abused my body in early adulthood, I’m just plain grateful to be not only surviving but thriving. Living well post breast cancer is totally possible.

    I applaud all of you in your 20′s and 30′s who have discovered the benefits and blessing of clean eating and healthy living early in your life.


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