Marifran Korb


by on Jan.13, 2011, under Random Writings on Relationship

Many layers of emotions were happening at the same time. Some things were getting very serious – grocery shopping, preparing food, cooking food, cleaning up. They were never fun for me in the past. Now on a limited diet, my eating choices looked bleak. I didn’t like the taste of the things I could eat and I did miss the things I could not eat.

To make things worse, I had agreed to blood tests to determine food allergies. As it turns out, I am allergic to thirty healthful foods that I like. So at that point, I was deep into deprivation.

Dr. P’s philosophy was that any allergy indicates inflammation. If my body is fighting inflammation, it is not able to fight cancer. So I gave them up, along with all dairy, all grains (bread, pasta, rice, crackers), and all sugar with only a little fruit allowed under certain conditions.

At first, I did not look forward to meals. My only snacks were vegetables, or a few almonds. Many times a day I had to monitor myself to avoid getting cranky.

Ilona began visiting more often, coming to my rescue. With her support of me and her love of cooking, I realized that I could do this. Without Ilona I think I might have starved to death, or wanted to. Forever I am grateful to her. Ilona bought new recipe books, and obtained healthful recipes on Grocery shopping and cooking together, we had fun searching for the best selections of organic foods. Both of us ate new, wholesome foods and tried innovative, interesting recipes. It was no longer just my diet. Ilona began eating the same way. Mostly Ed ate it too, though we left off the spices in his meals since he likes plain food.

Added to my food choices are dozens of delicious healthy foods that I did not appreciate before. For that I am grateful. The scale kept going down and weight was sliding off me.

Also, I use many substitutions. Instead of noodles, I use either spaghetti squash or shaved zucchini. Instead of potato chips, I make kale chips. Instead of cows’ milk, I use unsweetend almond milk.

One downside was that the range, the oven, and the floor would need cleaning when Ilona and I would get done. All that extra preparation and clean up consumes a great deal of time. It reminded me why I had cut corners on cooking. After all, I am an entrepreneur preparing and delivering my relationship coaching business. I didn’t have time for all this.

It would make sense for me to slow down. Yet, with this background of uncertainty about my health, with the ambiguity about different doctors’ perspectives, and with upsets around loss of free time, all this sent me into overdrive. I took on even more. This wasn’t the first time this pattern occurred.

Before the cancer diagnosis, my plan was to launch my second book Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents. So in the summer of transforming my food choices, I increased my workload by creating and marketing a Blog Talk Radio Program called The Spiritual Journey of Mental Illness. That required finding, enrolling, scheduling, researching, reminding, interviewing, and completing with experts. For each program, I educated myself on the particular topic within the mental illness field that each expert wanted to discuss. That was not all I needed to learn. I taught myself how to interview people, and how to use the technology.

The Blog Talk Radio Program was an effort to get a more compassionate understanding about mental illness out to the world before publishing my upcoming book. While the first interview went quite well, my friend Sheila told me that I didn’t even mention my book. We laughed together. It was fine. My book was not the main message I wanted people to get.

8 Comments for this entry

  • Rosemary Molloy

    Another absorbing chaper in your enthralling life. Marifran, I’m not clear on why certain foods–usually deemed “healthy”–are believed to be dangerous for cancer patients. Do they take more–well, energy–to digest or do they foster growth in cancer or what? Do certain studies support these beliefs? What are they? Please clarify.
    Love, Your Cuzt

  • David Schwartz

    I think Rosemary is asking good questions. What is the connection between the diet you are on and cancer. I don’t get it.

    I also don’t get the “ambiguity about different doctors’ perspectives.” Are these cancer doctors? How many oncologists have you consulted?

    My understanding is that for stage 1 renal cancer, surgery is very effective and nothing else works. Chemo and radiation don’t usually help much and I don’t see any scientific studies that show diet works to cure any type of cancer ever.

    You know I love you. I think you are just a wonderful human being. I want you to get well. Please take care of you.

  • Ruth Ridolfo

    you are amazing. when other people would shut down and come to a screeching halt, you gear up and do more. Crazy lady. wishing you well.

  • marifran

    Hi Rosemary,
    The food restrictions for me were not due to cancer directly. They were due to allergies. The metabolic doctor thinks that if my body is fighting allergies, it is less able to fight cancer. The foods I went off are not foods any other cancer patient should go off, unless they have the same allergies.

  • marifran

    Hi David,
    Thanks for your acknowledgment. I know you are concerned.

    Just now I wrote about the diet approach to Rosemary’s inquiry. I went to the metabolic doctor to get myself in good shape in case I decided to go for surgery. My commitment is that if the tumor gets larger, I’ll go under the knife.

    Surgery if effective for many people with stage 1 renal cancer. It is not true that surgery is the only thing that works. In only 70 – 85% of cases does renal surgery work. I’d like better odds than that unless I am more sure it is my best choice. While nothing is 100% effective, I am trying several other possible solutions for now. The last CT scan showed no growth so I am not in imminent danger.

    The two doctors with different views are both urologists and one of the two is an oncologist, as well. The urologist insisted I have surgery immediately. The urologist-oncologist, Dr B. is the head of UC’s Urology Department and he actually disadvised surgery. I have to write about that in my future post.

  • marifran

    Thanks, Ruth. It’s just a coping mechanism. :)

  • Sheila Finkelstein

    Beautifully written, Marifran. Thank you for sharing your courage and the beauty and love of your daughter. Your foods sound tempting also.


  • Marifran

    Thank you so much, Sheila. I’m happy to share any recipes.

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