Purple Poop

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My poop was purple. I’m not talking specks, I’m talking “Did I just poop kool-aid?!”-purple. Many of you know that I just had surgery for thyroid cancer see my post, so of course that was my first thought, that it had something to do with the surgery. At first it almost looked like blood, then the next day it was kool-aid purple.

Hearing that you have cancer, even one that is highly treatable like thyroid cancer, freaked me out like very few other things could. I can think of a handful of absurd examples that may have freaked me out more, but I fear speaking them into existence since it seems the universe is watching me rather closely right now.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my first instinct was not to research the hell out of it. This is very different than many things in life. When I wanted to build my own websites, I did it. I learned, studied, flipped in bed until my wife kicked me out because I was obsessively thinking about it, and then I launched my websites. When I go after things, I often go full tilt, often to the brink of burnout.

Cancer was different. I was emotionally tired already from other family events. I couldn’t remember the last time that I felt the weight of family illness not sitting on my shoulders. As the oldest, I often felt I had to be the one to keep it together, but that was probably a fallacy.

Instead of research, I was an ostrich. I put my head in the sand and tried not to think about it. Yes, I talked to friends about emotions and fears, but I didn’t explore what surgery would be like or what to expect. I did research the surgeon, because if done incorrectly, one can lose their ability to speak.

Then something switched. It was about a week before we were due to leave for the surgery. My wife wanted one last relaxing weekend away from our town before things got rolling. She had just bought Dr. David Servan-Schreiber’s book “Anticancer: A new way of life”.

She was out shopping while my daughter napped and I had finished my book on business planning. I picked up the book she had been toiling through, little did I know that the journey to purple poop was not far off.

Through the book, Dr. Servan-Schreiber discusses his own brain cancer, his MD in brain research, and how he discovered his own brain cancer using his technology. Dr. Servan-Schreiber is a researcher with a heart of skepticism. Through his book, he systematically discussed the changes in our eating and lifestyle habits over the past 50 years.

There are some folks that take issue with some of his concepts, but overall, the lifestyle changes and decisions are ones supported by the medical community, including MD Anderson, the #1 cancer institute in the United States.

Here is my short-list of things that I hope to change that I learned from the book. As with any change, I find that going slow with things I can stick with compared to a lifestyle overhaul, helps me stay focused on the change.

Overall, we need to increase our balance of Omega-3, ate more anti-cancer food, and live a life of balance that supports the reduction of inflammation. Here’s what I gleaned, Dr. Servan-Schreiber goes through the research behind each of these recommendations, I just wrote the actions/questions I am considering taking:

Yoga assists with mind/body connection. p. 165

I want to paint more

Praying the rosary can assist with balancing breath and heart rate p. 167

What are my PSA levels? Is this used with thyroids?

How do I become more present in the moment?

How do I love here and now more?

Read the Buddha and Yalam.

Make break with oatmeal, rye, flax seeds or sourdough

Do low glycemic foods

Red wine with meals, Pinot Noir is best p. 70

No more potatoes

Agave is 3-4x sweeter than sugar or use xylitol

Cinnamon daily

More omega-3, have Omega-3 and Omega-6 balance

More linseed bread or “Greek bread”

More legumes p. 80

Stress/helplessness = cancer

Only grass-fed meat

Keep cell phones away from pregnant people, especially on the night stand.

Good Summary on p. 96-99

2-5 cups of green tea per day, steep at least 5 minutes 8-10 is ideal, do not store more than 2 hours.

Oils should be extra virgin olive oil, canola, or flaxseed

How can I be less intense, driven, and angry? How do I find more peace?

More EVOO, soy, turmeric (always have the turmeric with ginger or black pepper)

More Japanese mushrooms

Oatmeal for breakfast more often

More stone fruits like peaches

Mix tomato and broccoli 2-3x per week

Eat more ginger root

Cabbage = cancer suicide. Steam don’t boil.

More soy, but not as a pill.

Create inner calm

D3 increase? Ask doctor

Exercise more often


So that’s my list from the book and from learning through treatment. So what about the purple poop? Well, when I got home, my in-laws brought over a bunch of beets. In an effort to eat more veggies and less meat, I kept indulging in beet after beet. For some people this changes urine and/or poop purple.


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Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LPC, LPC, NCC is a counselor and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, MI. He also is finally in the recovery stage of cancer. He looks forward to the next chapter of his life, while still trying to be present. He also consults with counselors in private practice to help them be more awesome.