Monday, December 28, 2009

A Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Diet

What to eat to reduce your risk of recurrence of triple-negative and other forms of hormone-negative breast cancer.
So, the doc has scared the wind (or whatever) out of you, told you that your cancer—triple-negative, or some form of hormone-negative—is highly aggressive yet has fewer treatment options than hormone-positive. Been there, done that. Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors offer no benefit. What now?
After researching this disease for the three and a half years since my diagnosis, I have learned a great deal about how diet reacts to hormone-negative forms of cancer. Below is the diet that I follow. So far, so good. I am past the magic three-year mark and I feel darn good. Elsewhere in this blog are specific posts that offer research details on each of these dietary choices.
Fruits and vegetables. This is a huge key. Aim for five servings a day. My approach:
• A breakfast smoothie with blueberries (antioxidants), flaxseeds (cancer-fighting fighting fiber)), bananas, black cherry (more antioxidant) juice, and yogurt (bone-building and cancer-fighting calcium). I figure this gives me 2.5 servings of fruits and one serving of calcium.
• Juiced veggies every evening. This includes 3-4 carrots, 1-2 leaves of kale, 1/8 cabbage, 1 bunch parsley, 1 stalk celery, ¼ apple, ¼ lemon. My super-juicing husband uses a Champion juicer, which takes the pulp out and leaves only the juice. This gives me 2- 3 servings of veggies and is heavy on cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables—kale and cabbage. The lemon, apple, and celery really help the taste.
• Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, romaine and other dark greens throughout the day as side dishes. I have found that it is true that the more you eat something, the more you will like it. I used to only tolerate broccoli if it came smothered in cheese. Now I eat it raw and unadorned.
Low fat
I avoid fried foods, use healthy fats such as olive oil instead of butter and cream, and go mainly vegetarian. I use oil and vinegar on my salad, lemon oil on veggies, and olive or flax oil on my whole grain bread. For treats, I have nuts, air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers, and low-fat cheese.
I limit my processed carbohydrates—sugar, white bread and pasta—and eat 1-2 servings of whole grains a day. Look for the word “whole” on the label. Multigrain breads are not whole grain unless they include whole wheat, rice, oats, or other grains, so watch out for trick labels. A good serving of whole grains will have 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
I try to get as many of my goodies in my diet, but I find I need some supplements to assure I get everything I need. I take:
• 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D. It would be great to get this through the sun, but I live in Iowa, so that’s not going to happen for a good portion of the year.
• Folic acid—800 mg daily. This is especially important if I have alcohol.
• Calcium—1200 mg. I figure I get at least half of this with yogurt and cheese during the day, so I take 600 mg daily in supplement form. Make sure you take a calcium supplement with magnesium, as this helps calcium enter the system and keeps calcium from causing constipation.
• Omega 3 fatty acids. I take this in the form of fish oil, 450-500 mg per day of combined EPA/DHA.
• A multi-vitamin, to assure I get enough vitamin A, B, C, and E, plus minerals.
I buy organic milk and cheese to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics in conventional dairy products even though my disease was hormone-negative. Why mess with unnatural additives?I buy organic versions of the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen —a list of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides, when I can. I seldom eat meat.
Calorie limits
I am 5’9”, so I can have 1500-1800 or so calories a day. I also exercise at least 30 minutes six days a week, so I can occasionally afford a few more calories without gaining weight.
Even though research shows that alcohol is most dangerous for hormone-positive disease, I choose not to take a chance. I have my beloved martini once or twice a week. I have wine, perhaps, on a third day.
I drink decaf tea and coffee, and keep the coffee to a cup a day, as even decaf has caffeine.
Choose your partner well
My husband is a great cook and he has his eye out for my health. He makes my juice every day, finds yummy low-fat recipes, and keeps the fridge full of healthy foods. I am a lucky woman.

For more information on a cancer-fighting diet, check out my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.  You can get a free signed copy just by donating $25 to this site.  Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal.   You'll then get an email from me asking how you want your book signed and where you want it sent.  Thanks!  And hugs.


Kim said...

Thank you so much for putting it all together. I am one year out from dx and now that I am starting to feel better from treatment, I have been searching for dietary tips/lifestyle tips. Your blog has helped me a lot through this journey....thanks for all you do!

Patricia Prijatel said...

Kim: I am so glad you're feeling better! As you look to the future, exercise is also essential, so try to get that 30 minutes a day in. Take care. Pat

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat

Praise to Allah, for your blog.

Since being diagnosed with Triple Neg Cancer last week, I have been trying to educate myself abt it and hav been equally alarmed at its grim prognosis and encouraged by people like you who generate such positivity.

I found your blog today and will start the diet you practice tomorrow. Thank you for all your articles and insight. They will definitely help me get through my treatment these next three months.


Patricia Prijatel said...

Welcome, Rai, and good luck and good health. Let me know if I can ever do anything for you. Pat

Unknown said...

Patricia, Thank you for this site. I was dx with TNBC stage IIB or III, no nodes they left 10 yrs before with ER+ cancer. I have been trying to eat right, although I eat red meat once a week, and chicken or tuna steaks most other nights, (All organic meats, veggies and fruits). I take a number of supplements, because I don't eat mushrooms, and don't like the taste of tumeric... How do you feel about taking supplements in pill forms ?

I eat my fruits and veggies... watch fat, eat all multi grain pastas and bread, (will now check that they say whole grain), lots of deep colored foods, carrots, celery, scallions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach.. etc... I eat a lot of berries, cantaloupe, pineapple, pears, nectarines, grapes,

I am exercising 4 times a week, cardio, 60 - 80 minutes.

I take a multi vit, plus 4K extra D3 (my level was 12), vit A, and a B complex... but I also take :

Alfalfa Leaf (in b complex)
Beet Root capsules
Cayenne Pepper caplets
Cinnamon capsules
Garlic caplets
Ginger Root capsules
Green Tea Extract capsules
Pomergranite capsule
Raspberry leaves capsule
Shiitake Maitake capsule
Spirulina Organic - in b complex
Wheat Grass Pills/Capsules

Do you think taking the pills, caplets, capsules actually help ? or should I stop taking them ?

Thanks for your thoughts,, Jill

Patricia Prijatel said...

Autumn: As I read the research, you are doing what you need to do. As for taking too many supplements, I wonder about that myself. There is one study that demonstrates that five servings of fruits and vegetables a day helps fight TNBC, but more than that has little additional effect. So I make sure I get my five servings, and usually end up with more, as more does no damage. For supplements, I make sure I take vitamin D, as I live in a northern climate, plus folic acid. Plus, I take a multivitamin and omega 3 tablets. My stomach protests if I take too many supplements, so I have simplified to this. Still, you need to do what makes sense for you and your own lifestyle and your own body. Researchers tell us that our cancers are as unique as our DNA, so what works for one does not necessarily work for another. So keep it up, and try not to let the disease get you down. And write anytime. Take care. Pat

OklahomaSpike said...

DX with Stage II TNBC on 11-3-09 and am currently in a neoadjuvant treatment plan with carboplatin and abraxene which has already dramatically reduced my tumor. Thank you so much for your site - its the most positive info I have been able to find to date, as I was beginning to think there was little hope. Surely we can survive this!! THANK YOU!

Patricia Prijatel said...

OK: Absolutely we can survive!!!!!!!! Just watch us. Best of luck on that tumor continuing to shrink. That is great news. Let's plan on it continuing. Pat

Anonymous said...

I was dx with TNBC 12/08 (stage III). Although I had gone in for mammos every year they could not see the 2 , yes 2, tummors until I developed pain in the right axillary. Chemo 1/09, rt mast 5/09 radiation 7/09 and 2/10 prophy mast on left breast with reconstruction....low and behold cancer was back in the right axillary. This recurrance shattered our lives as we thought we had beat this monster.

But we are looking at hitting it head on again with another round of chemo starting this Friday.

With eyes wide open this time I am happy to find a positive website, rather than the doom and gloom that most project. To heck with that there is much to much life to live....and I'm not done yet. :)

you are now on my favorites list!

Patricia Prijatel said...

Absolutely! There is much, much to live for--and let's plan on that. Nobody knows how long they have to live, so we should all cherish what we have and not live our lives in fear. I am so glad the site helps. Keep in touch. Pat

AAM22 said...

Patricia, So glad to find you!

Me: TNBC diagnosis in January, 2010; Lumpectomy in February, 1.6cm, nodes clean. Just started first round of AC chemo plus participation in Avastin trial. It has been five days and I am just now back to normal. Not horrible but pretty bad. Was already a believer in the diet but cannot imagine maintaining it during treatment.

Would love your thoughts.

Anita in Dallas

Patricia Prijatel said...

Anita: I just posted research about the importance of quality of life issues on chemo effectiveness. So try to keep your healthy diet and do whatever you can to keep your mood upbeat. I did acupuncture and meditation during treatment and they helped. I did have nausea the first day or two, but kept exercising--although I went a little slower than usual. And your tumor was small and you had no affected nodes, so your prognosis is good. Take good care of your whole self. And keep in touch.

AnnaO said...

I'm on a vegan diet with so many supplements I am struggling to keep it going. I was vegetarian so going without cheese and other dairy products is hardand I don't know ifI've made the right choice really. But I have Stage 4 breat cancer (in right lung now)and I am petrified and don't know what really to do. I am seeing a nutritionist - all that she says sounds perfectly plausible, even reasonable, until I come to cook, eat or eat out and then it makes me wonder will this diet give me more time with my family? I don't know.
I was pleased to find this triple neg blog because so many of the treatments and research are for hormone positive women. I've done so much research into what might be right for me and I'm going to start a new blog called Healing Anna because I know I must be positive to survive. Everyone says I must be so.
I'm going to look through your blog more now that I've found it. Thank you.

Helen from Trinidad and Tobago said...

Pat and other TNBC ladies:
I was diagnosed August 09 and have two more days to go of radiation. I have been feeling very depressed about what after all this aggressive treatment. Stage 2, No nodes affected, no spread to area outside of lump in right breast.
You give me hope!

Patricia Prijatel said...


My brother lived in Trinidad for a few years and I always intended to visit him there. He said the people were wonderful.

And you have plenty of reason for hope. Having no affected nodes is excellent, and stage 2 means they got it relatively early. So your odds are great. Most women do survive this disease, and those with a prognosis such as yours do quite well.

The treatment is depressing, but don't let it get to you. Go out in nature, get some exercise, try yoga and meditation, prayer, anything that can boost your spirit.

I will add you to my prayers. But think positive--you have reason to.


Helen from Trinidad and Tobago said...

Thanks for the encouraging response. Your site has been quite a find for me while I try to find more TNBC women to talk to.
Thank you!

Ryan and Maegan said...

Im so happy I found you're blog and this diet! I am 25 and was diagnosed at 24 with TNBC. I have undergone chemo, double mass with immediate reconstruction, and now in 3 weeks radiation. I actually just now began researching into TNBC and was told I had a 50 50 chance of re occurrence. I was diagnosed with stage 2 grade 3, 4 cm tumor Aug 13,2010. I am soooooo beyond words scared it will come back. My pathology report after the double mass was great and there was no cancer found anywhere else. It did not spread to my nodes and I had 4 taken out. I can't get over that I have a 50 50 chance. Any words of encouragement?


Patricia Prijatel said...


Did you have chemo before surgery? If so, and they said it went well, did they by any chance say you had a pathologically complete response? That means that they cannot see signs of cancer--that the chemo got it. Pathologically complete response comes with a very good outcome.

But this is only true for chemo before surgery. The reason for that is that they can measure how the cancer has been reduced because you still have the tumor-- they measure how much it decreases with each chemo treatment. Same way with lymph nodes. In chemo after surgery, however, the tumor is already gone, and they just have to assume that it has not spread in micromets--small metastases--elsewhere.

In chemo after surgery, you have a good response if you had clear margins.

Where did you get the 50/50 figure? People like to throw out statistics, but every case is unique--doctors now say our cancer is as unique as our DNA. So, those are just numbers--do not let them rule you.

If you cannot get over the numbers, focus on the fact that you have a 50 percent chance of beating this.

Please, though, do check to see about the pathologically complete response, as that could be really reassuring.

I will add you to my prayers. And I am sending you a virtual hug: ((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))


Ryan and Maegan said...

Thank you so much for responding!!
I did have chemo before surgery. I had 4 cm tumor starting chemo and after my regimen AC and Taxol- the tumor was under 1 cm. When I had the mastectomy (double) my breast surgeon said everything was wonderful and I had a great pathology report. There was no cnacer anywhere else and it did not spread to any nodes. I had 4 taken out and there was no cancer in any of the 4. I did have a pathologically complete response. Thank you for explaining everything to me. I have been such a trooper up till now. I got the 50/50 from a website that was not credited. Then I talked to a nurse and she said yes I was right. But I did not speak to my oncologist yet. So I do not have enough info to back that info. I am following your diet!! I have been physically fit my whole life and still will exercise 5x a week. Oh, I did have clear margins too. Thanks for the hug … I am giving you a GIANT one too! Thank you so much for all the info!!

Patricia Prijatel said...

Maegen: Yea, you! Thanks for the update--I was worried about you, but now I am smiling. As for the site that gave you the 50/50 stat, a pox on their house.
I understand how the gloom just hits you sometimes--it is a natural part of dealing with diagnosis. I am sorry you had to go through all of this and pleased that the treatment was so successful. Take care. ((((((((())))))))) Pat

pattiminter said...

I have had triple negative, stage 3breast cancer. I had a trial drug at Stanford, didn't work, had a lumpectomy, started ACT, got a new tumor 2 weeks after treatment was done. Had mastectomy. Just finished 7 weeks of radiation.
Read Suzanne Somers book KNOCKOUT, wished I would have know all this last year. I would not have had chemo or radiation. I would have gone to alternative methods. Please everyone, read her book then decide for yourself what to do.

annette said...

I am so glad to have found your site- June this year will be a 1 year mark of finishing treatment. I was stage 1 but still you see so much neagtive about this type. I was getting very depressed. But seeing what you have written I feel I can do this. I still get scared but it is what it is. Thank you again

Patricia Prijatel said...

Annette: Celebrate that anniversary and plan for many more to come. With early stage, your prognosis is excellent, so try to ignore all the negative language. Keep taking care of yourself and go on with your life. Pat

Melanie said...

Finally a positive place about triple negative. I was diagnosed in October of last year. I had no idea what triple negative was and the more I researched the more I cried. I am in a clinical study at Emory and so far things are going well. I am receiving neoadjunvant chemo which consists of a daily chemo pill (sorafenib), 4 rounds of cisplatin and then the butt kicking taxol for 3 rounds. My surgery is scheduled for May 3, 2011. Radiation to follow since I have been advised to do a lumpectomy. My turmor started at 2.8 or 2.9. Just with the daily sorafenib it shrunk. It's down to 2.0 or a smidge smaller since starting taxol. It's difficult to find my turmor now. My fiance definitely wants to change our diets after this event. He is a vitamin junkie and is turning me into one. Your information is so insightful and makes me hopeful. I hope after all of this is done I will be walking down the aisle to marry Mr. Vitamin Oct 29, 2011! Thanks Pat for posting!

Patricia Prijatel said...

Melanie: I will be curious how Sorafenib goes--sounds like it has been effective so far. Do keep in touch--especially about the wedding to Mr. vitamin!

Linda said...

Patricia - THANK YOU for having an optimistic blog on TNBC. I have been staying away from searching the web after discovering a rather depressing site a few months ago. It put me into quite a funk. Your comments (and other's too) are refreshing.

I was diagnosed (Stage II, grade 3, a cyst that included a 2 1/2 cm, not sure about lymph involvement - maybe 1, BRCA neg) in late January at age 45. I'm in a clinical trial for Avastin and Carboplatin but am in the "business as usual arm" which means I don't receive either of these.

Today I completed my 12 weeks of taxol (yippee!) and next week I start AC (4 double dose infusions over 8 weeks) then surgery and most likely radiation. So far my chemo has gone really well. No significant side effects beyond the expected, my cyst is completely gone and the tumor feels like it's significantly smaller already. I won't have an MRI until after my treatment is done but the palpable exams seem to show a significant reduction.

Now I'm searching for info to help me make the surgery decision. My doctors tell me it's up to me but it seems to me they're leaning toward lumpectomy. My intuition was telling me mastectomy - "just take it all" - but your blog and a few other articles I've read this evening back up what the doctors are saying - there's really no reason for a mastectomy in my case. My surgeon wants me to meet with a plastic surgeon in a few weeks to help understand all aspects of a mastectomy choice.

I'm also following a diet similar to yours - juicing 1 time a day, little meat. I'm also walking a lot (got a dog!), yoga, Reiki, and keeping active with my family... I truly believe it's what's making this chemo go so smoothly for me.

If you have any thoughts or advice re: surgery please feel free to comment. Mostly I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your optimism and attitude. It's inspiring.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Linda: I am so glad the chemo is going well and the lump is getting smaller. Yay! (Boo that you have to go through this in the first place, though.) As for your decision on surgery, it sounds like you have a good grip on the merits of both a mastectomy and a lumpectomy. Have you talked with an oncology nurse? I found those to be extremely helpful when I was weighing my options. One reminded me of the shock that a mastectomy would be to my system, which I had not considered. Still, my overall advice in all things is to go with your gut. You have done your research, so you know the pros and cons of each choice. But you also know your body and you have to live with your decision. So do what feels most right to you. And blessings.

Paul said...

My wife is is currently in the emory trial with sorafenib and is currently taking cisplatin. Her 2.8cm tumor has shrunk as well. We are waiting on the sonagram to determine exactly how it is responding to the treatments.
We are planning to interview surgeons next.
Any comments or thoughts?

Patricia Prijatel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia Prijatel said...

Paul: It sounds like Melanie is in great hands. Both drugs have shown promise for TNBC, and Emory is a good place. You sound like you are on track. Just make sure you are comfortable with the surgeon--that you have the same health philosophy. You want somebody you can totally trust with her life. If it's not a match, keep looking. This is the time to be picky. Pat

Paul said...

We met with the Surgeon and they are suggesting a lumpectomy is a valid option. They feel like a double may be over prescribed. I believe their stats are: You have a 3 % chance the cancer will come back to the breast and 13% chance if radiation is involved. The real concern is the cancer not spreading outside of the breast.

Becca said...

I was diagnosed March 17th IDC borderline triple negative, 1% estrogen positive, I stress about this always. The doctor tells me not to, but I read sites and sit and cry when I read them, I constantly think about the next few years and worry what if. I eat healthy, drink occasionally. My tumor was 2.5 cm grade 3, no nodes involved 7 were removed and now I am in chemo, 4 AC and 4 Taxol, just getting ready for number 5. I am 44 yrs old and your site is the first site to actually make me feel good. I have been positive all along untill I do research on TNBC thats why I stoppedlooking, then I came across your site and I feel so positive again. Thank you for this, us girls need positive to hold on to, I also take the vitamin D but read I shouldnt while on treatments, what is your thoughts on this. Thanks again for this site.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Becca: I am glad the site is helping. And hope that you can keep positive--I understand that much of what your read about TNBC is soooooooooo depressing. There are so many different types of TNBC, though, with significantly different levels of aggressiveness. Having a weakly positive ER and no affected nodes, I would think, would give you an excellent prognosis. As for vitamin D right now, try to do it naturally, by getting 20 minutes or so of sun every day. That will also help you mentally. And keep up the good diet and exercise--both should help you rebuild your health. And take care. Pat

Becca said...

Thanks Pat for your wonderful advice. I plan to frequent your site as you are helping so many of us stay focused on the positive, and that is so important. I do believe my prognosis is great, so why did I let those other sites take that from me, idn, just always searching for more answers I guess. You have helped and I am thankful. I will do the vitamin D through sunshine, it is wonderful for the mind as well. Thanks so much and I will be checking back soon. I hope you are doing wonderful.

Denise K. said...

You are an another of my many angels I've found in recent years. I have a husband with a TBI from bomb blasts in Iraq and to make matters worse, was diagnosed with TNBC on 6/5/2011. I work in public health and hadn't even heard of it before. My tumor was 0.9 cm, but was found in 3/7 lymph nodes. I'm still healing from the lumpectomy and node dissection and hope to start chemo the first week of August. I realize the irony in "hoping" for chemo to start soon. Your site contains so much information - thank you.

I've also started my own blog to chronicle my journey and raise awareness about TNBC!

Carol said...

Such wonderful articles you are providing here. Very informative and I sure do hope you keep it up.Thanks a lot.

Pam said...


The diet you suggest is with fruits, vegetables, etc. I was diagnosed with TN in April and have been trying to follow a good diet with exercise regimen. What do you (or that wonderful husband of yours!) fix for your main meals? I'm finding it hard to come up with a meal plan. For example, do you eat fish or cooked vegetables?

Nicole said...

Thanks for this information. I was diagnosed in February with TN (1.5 cm tumor), had 18 weeks of chemotherapy (TAC) prior to surgery and still ended up with an 8.5cm tumor in my left breast and 10 nodes removed. I found out Monday that it has spread to my back, liver and nodes in my chest. I am seeking any and all information I can to survive this. I am a divorced mother of two with a 92 year old father I am caring for. Thank God for your blog on healthy living. If there is anything else I can do, any other suggestions, please post.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your blog. YOu have helped me deal with how to survive! Thank you so much for putting all this together. Truly a Godsend.

susan said...

Hi Pat,
I just found your site. I was dxed with TN in Sept., had right lumpectomy and re-excision with clean margins in Oct. The tumor was 1.9 cm and there was a 1 mm microscopic amount in 1 node. I am starting dose dense ACT chemo this Wed. and am terrified about going through this and then having a recurrence. The 2 MOs that I saw indicated that with the chemo the recurrence was about 15-18% in the first 4 years and then drops significantly. Are they correct??? Thanks for your good work.


Patricia Prijatel said...

Susan: Your figures are correct--recurrence rates differ from study to study, so an overall generalization is difficult, but the fact is that your risk is quite low after treatment. And the risk drops off significantly after three years with TNBC. Eat healthy and get whatever exercise you can handle--that will make treatment a little easier. Pat

Anonymous said...

Pat, I need a little help understanding. I had ER+, PR+ BC, stage I in 1999, lumpectomy,all nodes removed. Chemo, Rads, tamoxifen, femara. In 2009,(same side)I had a 2.5cm TN. Mastectomy I did DD AC then DD Taxol,opted for mastectomy on the other side, they could not check my nodes as they were gone, and the doc said I have an 70% to 80% chance of recurrence, and it drops off after 5 years.. any opinion ? Thanks Jill

Patricia Prijatel said...

Jill: Are the docs saying you have a 70-80 percent risk of recurrence or 70-80 percent chance of survival? To me, given your stats, I would say the latter, which makes your risk at 20-30 percent. And even that might be high. And TNBC odds drop off significantly at three years, so you might be close to that, if you were dx in 2009. Pat

Anonymous said...

not sure if my last comment went thru, he said I have a 70% - 80% chance of a recurrence, and only a 20% - 30% chance of beating this. my CT scans a few weeks ago were, NED. I was dx in April 2009, but my onc says you use the date of last treatment which was oct 13th 2009, I have heard both, so who knows who to believe.. sorry I have to sign this under anon, but I don't have a google id, just a yahoo id Thank you Jill

Patricia Prijatel said...

Jill: Typically, researchers measure from the date of diagnosis so they can be consistent in their measurement--there are so many different lengths of treatment that measuring from the end of treatment is imprecise. So if you were diagnosed in April 2009, you will be three years past diagnosis in April 2012, four months from now. For TNBC, the first three years are critical, so if you have NED at this point, your odds appear to me to be good. I really wonder if somebody misspoke, because it seems to me, from what you have told me, that your risk would be more like 20-30 percent. I would check with the doctor for clarification. But I would also look at the fact that you have gone past the longest period of risk--32 months past diagnosis--and consider that as a highly positive sign. And remember that TNBC risk reduces after three years, not five. And you are almost there.

arunima said...

Thank GOD that I found your blog.I am 10 months out from my diagnosis,and 5 months 6 days out from my last chemo.I have also been searching for dietary tips for triple neg patient like me.i have started following your guideline,and feeling much much better.Your blog has helped me a lot to fight against triple negative breast cancer

Barbara said...

Pat, I am so happy to have found this site. Thanks to you there is a lot of great info and hope here. Thank you. I would like to know your thoughts on diet for someone like me. I am a TNBC suvior 2 years out. Sortly after my treatment ended I was dx with Hasimotos Thyroiditis. That means I cannot eat curciforus veggies because they have a negative affest on my thyroid. This is a mojor conflict for me as those are the very veggies that protect against recurance. What would you suggest? Thank you. Barbara

Patricia Prijatel said...

Barbara: Can you eat other veggies and fruits? If so, go with what you can. Yes, cruciferous really have great benefits, but all fruits and vegetables can help reduce risk of recurrence. Those that are darkest are often the most healthy. And look at the entire diet--whole grains; beans, seeds, and nuts; fish and seafood; and dairy (I go with organic there). Eat good fats (nuts, avocados, flaxseed oil) and avoid the bad buys (fried anything). And exercise is equally as important as diet--some researchers say more so. So increase your physical activity as you can. You are probably pooped now after all this, but being physically active can actually give you more energy. And it is certainly a cancer fighter.

Anonymous said...

Hi, praise to allah. My mom has 2.5*2*2cm of tumor, right brest. How much cm's it means, and its triple negative, stage 2b, grade 3, her2/neu is at +1 negative, no cancer in lymph nodes 17 removed and infiltarating ductul carcinoma, lumpectomy doctor advised for 8 chemotherapies i.e., 4 moths and radiation too is it curable..? What is the survival rate and is there any reccurence pls help me i am from poor india(small town) but treatment is going on in the capital city of a greater state there is no proper fruits like red berry, black berries. What should i provide vegetables and fruits which make healthy and to tolerate chemo. Pls provide me complete information about it pls and diet and exercise.! What type of exercise should be done like running,yoga or any other..? Pls help me

Patricia Prijatel said...

If all of your lymph odes were negative, that is a good sign. Yes, this is curable. Survival rates differ from study to study, but they are better for cancers at lower stages--such as 2b--and those that have not spread to the nodes. Both diet and exercise are important for long-term health--I had one researcher tell me that exercise is THE most important element, so you can control that. Be as active as you can handle right now, recognizing that treatment can slow you down a bit. And, while berries and dark fruits and veggies are great, eat whatever fruits and vegetables are available, and as much as you can. Avoid fats and try to get whole grains. And I will add you to my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with TNBC too only in my case I had 25+ lymphnodes. I had a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I'm 33yrs old and 2 months out of treatment. I know what my odds are but I can only do my best and leave the rest to God cos truly we are in control of nothing.

Rita said...

Hi there this is the most encouraging site i have come across since searching the net. I have TNBC recurrence and am currently on further treatment of chemo. The biggest problem i have is that a sore has appeared on the old wound on the breast and is very uncomfortable. the breast is also very swollen. have you come across anything like that? if so any advice. thank you.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Rita: What does the doc say? This could be an infection, a reaction to treatment, or any number of other things. It needs to be checked out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,
I love reading your blog and get a lot of encouragement from them. A question about how you use kale. When you juice your veggies, do you use raw kale or does it have to be cooked/steamed?

Patricia Prijatel said...

All veggies in our juice are fresh. If you eat kale as a veggie with a meal, steaming is best, as it keeps it from getting too gooey.

Mandy C said...

I have diagnosed with the Triple Neg Cancer one year ago Stage 2. I think so far so good. But since then I am suffering terrible skin irritation especially on my neck and back. Problem never gone no matter how hard I try to eat organic food, herbs , etc. my breast still feel pain when I touch it but my doctor said that it is quite normal. Sharing the experience with the nurse, they said most of the patient have the same problem. After the Chemo, all my fingers feel quite paralized and not getting any better till now. Recently there are a Dr.Budwig Therapy getting so popular in our place. It seemed a lot of good news heard from the cancer patient. I just look at the diet that you recommend & it is quite similar to the therapy including the flax oil, flax seed, berries,etc. I do not like the smell of the flax oil and the cottage cheese but I think I will still try it for a certain time. May be you all can have a look of the website in germany for reference. I think they have a link too in USA.
I must share with you that I am quite sure that Over-stress is definitely one of my main cause, I have bad habits of sleeping really late, extremely workaholic and I am telling anyone I know to avoid these. Unfortunately I myself still have to work so hard to make a living.
Will share some more information with you if any.

Anonymous said...

o: I am so happy I found your blog. My sister (40 yo) was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with triple negative breast cancer and as as you may imagine we have bee on a reseach frenzy what to eat when being treated with taxol. The doctor advises AGAINST antioxidants and soy based products, she says that recent research has shown that these products can interfere with treatment. I was looking at your diet and see that antioxidants are an improtant part of it. Do you have any insight about a site that would offer a diet low in these products? Thank you so much for your positive blog and may God continue blessing you with health and happiness. Karen

Patricia Prijatel said...

It would be difficult to avoid antioxidants entirely and still have an overall healthy diet. The diet I recommend is pretty broad, with antioxidants plus a wide range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. The doc might be warning your sis especially about taking supplements, and I would wait until after treatment to try any antioxidant supplements--those could be an overload. But eating a healthy plant-based diet should be good for her--if she can handle it. During chemo, we often just have to settle for whatever we can digest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia,

Caring for my partner dx TNBC in July. Neo adjuvant, ACT. Tumor from 5cm to 1cm. Finished A&C 2 weeks ago & now on 2nd Taxol of 12 wkly. I read your diet plan, supplements etc and I wanted to add something for your review. I have been giving her GLA - along with Fish oil and Hemp Oil capsules. I also give her 1ML mega dose B12 injections per week. That tumor (for which we were given an inkling of a chance for minor shrinkage) is now so small the oncologist says he thinks it may just have been reduced to scar tissue at this point. Her cbc's have been consistently "perfect". Will have PET in the next few weeks, and after Tax, bilateral Mast & recon. Just wanted your opinion on the supps I included in her health plan.

Anonymous said...

There was a comment on this site last year October 14, 2011. I do not see any response to her request and am wondering if anyone would know how to contact her. I was sad when I realized she may not have been back because she was not heard. Can anyone help?
Nicole said...
Thanks for this information. I was diagnosed in February with TN (1.5 cm tumor), had 18 weeks of chemotherapy (TAC) prior to surgery and still ended up with an 8.5cm tumor in my left breast and 10 nodes removed. I found out Monday that it has spread to my back, liver and nodes in my chest. I am seeking any and all information I can to survive this. I am a divorced mother of two with a 92 year old father I am caring for. Thank God for your blog on healthy living. If there is anything else I can do, any other suggestions, please post.

Patricia Prijatel said...

One of the most frustrating things for me about this blog is that I cannot always contact the women who write to me through it. I can if they have a Google account and leave that information. And I do try to respond. But I don't always know how things unfold for my beautiful friends out there, so I don't know the progress of the woman who wrote in last year. If you are dealing with a recurrence, I would get to the best cancer center I could--whichever is closest to you, ideally one connected to a university. There might also be clinical trials you can enroll in. I hope that helps. And I hope that we hurry up and get targeted treatment for metastatic TNBC.

Patricia Prijatel said...

I believe strongly in fish oil, but I haven't read enough to convince me of GLA or hemp oil capsules. If anybody has research to share on this, I would greatly appreciate your posting it. Thanks much!

Anonymous said...

I am newly diagnosed with tnbc. I had a lumpectomy where the margins were mostly good except for the posterior where the surgeon said she had gone right up to the chest wall and couldn't go any further - the margin in this area is a mere 0.5mm. I see an oncologist on tuesday and am dreading chemo. I have stage 2, grade 3, IDC tumour size 2.2cm, with DCIS tumour size 2.9cm. 2/3 lymph nodes have isolated tumorr cells and there is lymph vascular invasion present. Is there hope for my situation? I am terrified.

Anonymous said...

I am very encouraged by your site and thank you for all your research into this horrid disease.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Stage II TNBC is quite survivable. Yes, it is ideal to have clear margins, but even without that, the odds are with you. There is great hope for your situation. Does the doc plan to do chemo?

bridgette said...

Hi Pat
I bought your book online this weekend ( for Kindle) and have not been able to put it down, it is filled with great info and such an easy read. Thank you for putting this together for those of us that are TN.
I was dx in May 2012 stage 111, grade 3. I am 52 and was in good health at time of diagnoses, exercising regularly and not carrying any extra weight , had also just had a routine mammagram 3 weeks previously which was clear , so when I found a lump under my arm, and I was susequantly dx, this all came as a big shock.
I have just last week completed 20 sessions of radiation, having had a lumpectomy ( 2.2 cm tumour) and a axillary dissection 6/17 in June 2012, followed by 16 weeks of chemo FEC and docetaxol. I do spend a great deal of the internet searching for some encouragement that there is still hope for someone like me who is TNBC with positive nodes. Whenever I come across longtime survivors who are TN, they dont seem to have had lymph nodes involved. I am really desperate to connect or hear about others with more than 4 positive lymph nodes who have made the 3 year mark. I feel like I am grasping at straws here. I try so hard to be positive, and I am generaly a v positive person but I am finding this very difficult.

I your book you mentioned taking baby Asprim - 3to 5 days a week, do you suggest the coated or uncoated type. And you also talked about Metformin - I have read about this trial, but would rather take this medication independantly, have you heard much about other doing this .
I look forward to hearing from you , and thank you again for your great blog.
Bridgette ( Canada)

bridgette said...

Hi Pat
I bought your book online this weekend ( for Kindle) and have not been able to put it down, it is filled with great info and such an easy read. Thank you for putting this together for those of us that are TN.
I was dx in May 2012 stage 111, grade 3. I am 52 and was in good health at time of diagnoses, exercising regularly and not carrying any extra weight , had also just had a routine mammagram 3 weeks previously which was clear , so when I found a lump under my arm, and I was susequantly dx, this all came as a big shock.
I have just last week completed 20 sessions of radiation, having had a lumpectomy ( 2.2 cm tumour) and a axillary dissection 6/17 in June 2012, followed by 16 weeks of chemo FEC and docetaxol. I do spend a great deal of the internet searching for some encouragement that there is still hope for someone like me who is TNBC with positive nodes. Whenever I come across longtime survivors who are TN, they dont seem to have had lymph nodes involved. I am really desperate to connect or hear about others with more than 4 positive lymph nodes who have made the 3 year mark. I feel like I am grasping at straws here. I try so hard to be positive, and I am generaly a v positive person but I am finding this very difficult.

I your book you mentioned taking baby Asprim - 3to 5 days a week, do you suggest the coated or uncoated type. And you also talked about Metformin - I have read about this trial, but would rather take this medication independantly, have you heard much about other doing this .
I look forward to hearing from you , and thank you again for your great blog.
Bridgette ( Canada)

Patricia Prijatel said...


I am glad you like the book and that it has been helpful. Thanks so much for writing.

Several of the women in the book had affected lymph nodes--especially Rebecca, the first one I profiled, and she is more than 30 years past DX. There is more and more evidence that affected lymph nodes are really not a predictor of serious disease, so I would not make that my focus.

I presented the information from research about aspirin and Metformin but am not really recommending them. I do not take either. I can't take aspirin as it really does a number on my stomach. And Metformin has not been approved as a cancer drug. That could be in the future, but it is not on the table now.

I hope that makes sense.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bridgette

I share your anxiety of having lymph nodes involved. I had 2/12 but one was massively infected, thats their words and i think it said vascular too so im in same position. Im newly married, 39 with a one year old boy and i cant bear to think of anything else but beating this. Patricia's book has been my saving grace and whenever i feel scared i read all the positive information and remind myself we are all different and you can not medicalise the human will to live and win!

My mum had ovarian cancer and after diagnosis the Dr gave her 6 months, she lived 7 years! Its ok to be scared, we all are, but try to channel any negative energy into fighting, as there are lots of people who had positive nodes that live on cancer free but they just dont come to these sites to write about it, they are busy living.

Patricia just want to thank you for your book. Im part of a younger womens network or BC where many young women are TN. Ive posted about your book as i think its the best therapy money can buy for TN. Thank you for taking the time to research and write about it.

An interesting area of research i have recently found is intermittent fasting and cancer, especially the impact on IGF-1 hormone, have you read about it? Also the impact it has during chemo and on side effects. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Im on the path of trying anything to help so my intermittent fasting has begun under the guidance of Dr Michael Mosely who as published a book called 5:2 diet. To me it just makes sense, there is definitely something in it so im giving it a go as ive nothing to lose. I have 4 chemo's left and will keep you posted of my side effects. My last chemo came with horrendous Side effects so im hoping i will see quite a difference.

Once again thank you so much for all the hard work you do for TN... You truly are an angel!
Lyn xx

Patricia Prijatel said...

Thanks so much, Lyn. I am glad the book helps and really appreciate your support in promoting it. Yes, we are all different and researchers are really making that point. I have not read about the fasting diet. I will have to check that out. I am not a big fan of fasting generally, but know of others who swear by it. (As I said, we are all different,) Hugs.

Anonymous said...

just discovered this website as i continued to browse and research info about my situation.I am a 52 year old black nigerian diagnosed of triple negative stage 3c breast cancer in march 2012.i have since done surgery(9 nodes involved),chemo,and about 36 radiation sessions which concluded in nov 2012.I live in Nigeria ,though i received all treatment in the USA under a private cost as i did not have insurance,so this drained me financially.MY Oncologist seems to keep a track on we with the CEA TEST results of which was 7 very recently.The pet/cat scan done in feb 2013 showed no sign of spread to any organs ,but my oncologist is concerned about the CEA at 7 and does not want to call for another pet/cat scan as i have done 3 in the last one year.I have had to change diet and lifestyle for the better. But i am really worried about the CEA results that refuse to go down.Though i feel well,but we all know that a lot goes on even when the decease is not noticed.Can someone out there tell me what is going on and what other tests will help monitor my degree of cure.I have all the info about what to eat and what not to eat.I have been on bigwig protocol/high fruit and veg/essiac tea/pawpaw leaves/lemon rind therapy for about 3 months and i feel good.My major concern is why the CEA remains high.What other test can tell me the progress report.?

Anonymous said...

Hi pat! Ima 26yrs old unmarried asian girl..i was diagnosed with TNBC stage 2a,grade 3..i had lumpectomy with clear margins in june...what do you think i would survive it? And should i have to had mastectomy rather than lumpectomy? And also being living in asian country most of fruits and veggies you have mentioned in your diet plan are not available in my country..what to do then?

Patricia Prijatel said...

Lumpectomies followed by radiation have been shown to be as effective as mastectomies in most women--and I think that would include you, with your stage cancer. And your prognosis should be excellent, with clear margins and no spread. Yay! The asian diet is often good for cancer, even if you can't do the typical fruits and veggies here. The fact that you usually have low-fat diets high in omega 3s is a great thing.

Isabelle said...

Hi Patricia! Just stumbled upon your blog. I was diagnosed with TNBC last September. Lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Finished radiation May 28, 2013 - started having breathing issues 3 weeks later. Was hospitalized for a week; came out on time for my oldest daughter's graduation. Barely 2 weeks later, I experienced major SOB (gotta love that term!! Shortness of breath!! :-) ) just got out of the hospital after one week and guess what, the cancer has spread to my lungs and liver. Not that I want to rain on anybody's parade!!! My medical team is totally under shock and you can imagine so is my family. Everything had gone so well!! I am the exception to the rule. Having 2 teenage daughters made it even harder, but after the tears last week, I got back in the fighting mode. I started chemo again yesterday; we were always into healthy eating, but even more now! Cut out dairy, meat, booze, fats (except olive oil and sesame oil for my tofu!); extra servings of veggies, kale, ginger, turmeric, garlic, chilies or hot sauce, juicing, you name it. Luckily I have the best husband who always was a veggie freak!!! We are also looking at some alternative treatment. Will keep you posted. Ciao for now!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat:

I found your blogger site last year when I was going through chemo. Followed with 33 radiation treatments. I was stage 2 Triple Negative, three lymph node involvement. I had/have clean margins. I was diagnosed at 65, May 24, 2012, I don't have the BRAC gene; tested for 1 & 2. My sister did die of inflammatory carcinoma at the age of 50, 21 years ago.

I was always a healthy eater, but did like my frozen yogurt at night and my red wine. I have tweaked my diet to be healthier. I follow a low fat diet, eat plenty of salads, fruits, grains, chicken, salmon, and take vitamins. I do eat organic foods and wash all foods. I still have my wine, but only when I go out. I treat myself to ice cream on occasion.

I stay as healthy as I can, have a good attitude and am looking forward to a long, cancer free life.

I am a lucky woman, I still have my mom who is 90. She had stomach cancer, and has heart disease. She just had cataract surgery so she can see better.

I have a lot to be thankful for and will not let this bump in the road stop me from living.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,

I've been sitting here in tears after reading all the bad stuff about being triple negative. I just learned yesterday, after meeting with my doctor for post op. I am stage 1, grade 3, all lymph nodes were clear. So I felt pretty good about everything until they told about being triple negative. I meet with the oncologist on fri. to discuss chemo. I know the Lord is with me, I do get fearful at times as I have 4 children. I need to be here for them. God bless you for helping us. Nicole

Anonymous said...

I'm scared Im stage 1 IDC lumpecty removed 7 lymph nodes all clear margins good 2mm tumor. Oncologist felt chemo wasn't need everything ive read no matter the size chemo was used for treatment. Brca 1 negative as well. I'm doing 36 rounds of radiation..

Patricia Prijatel said...

If you are uncomfortable with your doctor's advice, get a second opinion ASAP. You deserve that.

Ally K said...

I am 44 years young and was diagnosed Stage Ib, Grade 3 TNBC in December 2013. Lymph nodes were clean. I had a double mastectomy in January 2014. The post-surgery pathology report indicated that all cancer had been removed in the initial biopsy. In March, I began 4 cycles of chemotherapy - Adriamycin and Cytoxin. This was supposed to be followed by Taxol, but I had an immediate allergic reaction. I have not had any chemotherapy for nearly 6 weeks as I have a horrid yeast infection and the medications have not worked. The MO wants me to start Abraxane. I am struggling with whether to continue the chemo regimen. Fear is a powerful motivator but the chronic, unresolved infection has me very concerned. I also have iron-deficient anemia. I could really use some guidance on dealing with the iron-deficiency, anemia, and infection. Many, many thanks to you for this positive blog and opportunity,

Patricia Prijatel said...

Ally: I strongly believe in listening to your body, and it is telling you to take a break from chemo. Abraxane has shown good results for TNBC, but it also has side effects. Meanwhile, have you tried dietary changes and homeopathic approaches to your infection? Some foods, such as mushrooms, can make yeast infections worse. Some resources to help:

Penny Cuninggim said...

I periodically check into Patricia's blog, did so today and read many of the comments written over the past few years. Thank you Patricia for continuing to support so many survivors. I was diagnosed in '08, 2cm 1 node, 4 chemos and radiation, wall recurrence in '10 in 2 places, right mastectomy--and I have been clean every since and no more treatment. I followed the Keith Block Center diet, exercise plan, alkaline water and blood test/supplement regimens and still do. I have never felt better. I am 70 and still working full time. I believe that Block regimen has made the difference. Never give up and never under estimate the power of nutrition, exercise, supplements and fight. Penny C

Anonymous said...


Recently had left breast mastectomy and tumor size is 2cms. All Lymph nodes are clear and No Metastasis.Diagnised as T1N0M0 and TNBC. Is there any risk if not opted for Chemo? Please suggest whether ot not to go for chemo.


Patricia Prijatel said...

I can't suggest therapy, but you do have a great prognosis, similar to mine. I had chemo, but only AC, and eight years later, I am still here with NED. But all cases are different. Ask for a second opinion if you don't trust the suggestions of your doctor. Do you have my book? You can order it on my blog--it is in the right column. I offer several profiles of women with TNBC and their choices of treatment. A couple did not do chemo--one because of a bad reaction to it, one because her doc did not prescribe it. All the rest of us had it, though. There is no targeted therapy for TNBC, so chemo is all we have--and it works. Again, all cases are different.

baking obsessed said...

Hi Patricia,
I read your book when I was first diagnosed with TNBC a year and a half ago. Now, I have a recurrence and I'm stage IV (liver, lymph nodes behind my sternum and potentially in my lungs). I have been given a year to live. I will be starting chemotherapy (nab-Paclitaxel) and immunotherapy as part of a clinical trial tomorrow. I have been told to limit my intake of anti-oxidant rich foods while on the trial. I understand why that is, but I feel that it is unfair not to let me be as healthy as I can possibly be. I have learned not to tell the clinical trials nurse that I eat things like matcha or goji berries because, as soon as they find out, they tell me to cut it back. I have been taking vitamin D (10000 IU). I was wondering if you could tell me how much you recommend and also if there are diets tailored more to reducing metastases. I guess I am already on a low methionine diet since I was vegetarian and am now vegan - with the exception of a little wild salmon or trout. I love dessert and have completely eliminated that. I have two young daughters and I would like to live for them, so any help you might offer would be much appreciated. Thanks so much for writing your book!

Patricia Prijatel said...

First, so sorry for the slow response. I was traveling and did not take my computer so couldn't get to the blog. Next time, email me, as I always have my blasted phone. Second, so sorry for the diagnosis. Do you have the book Life Over Cancer from the Block Center in Illinois? Their focus in on integrative cancer treatment and the book is full of suggestions for diet. So you might check out the book and, if possible, check out the center itself. The book has suggestions for a treatment support diet and some action steps that might make sense. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get the book ASAP:

And the Block Center is at

They do specifically mention vitamin D, but you can get a lot of that naturally right now. And from what I have read, more is not better, but you might supplement the sun with a normal 2000IU pill. Also, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale are excellent, but are antioxidants, so it might be good to talk to an integrative physician about how to moderate your intake to to interfere with treatment.

Hope this helps. If not, let me know.