In his own words, Ron Telpner, my dad, shares his story and experience with prostate cancer. His series, The Four Unwanted Words chronicles his experience from diagnosis to the best health of his life.
Read Part 1: Four Unwanted Words
You are what you eat.
When I was told "You have prostate cancer," I thought my business career might be over. It was only after doing my homework that I realized that prostate cancer, when caught in its early stages, is not a death sentence. It is more of a condition. Just the same, I was scared.
I grew up in the '50s and '60s in the north end of Winnipeg.
Family and food went hand in hand. A family outing for dinner to the White House on Selkirk Avenue for barbequed ribs and fries was pretty exhilarating! Or a mid-week dinner at Kelekis; for a hot dog and chips with gravy, and a large fountain coke. Or maybe a double cheese burger from the Pony Corral on Pembina. Or Champs Chicken, as KFC was then called in Winnipeg. Or we might pile into the car and head to Van Burens for a hot dog, or Cal's for take-out or the Pizza Place, and on Sundays, the Nanking or Shanghai for Chinese food.
Steak, lobster, veal parmagian, deep fried shrimps and a fair number of baked potatoes smothered in sour cream, chives and bacon bits, all passed through this one body over the last 61 years.
Amazingly, not one of the foods I listed above, are part of my consumption habits now. Not one. No burgers, no fries, no milk shakes, no dairy, no wheat, no coffee, no red meat, in short, no foods that will feed my cancer!
Beyond our mix of fried foods, canned vegetables, take out and meat and potato dinners, there were sweets. And I am not just talking about desserts.
I think you get the picture.
At the time, I considered myself fortunate that we ate out a lot and ordered in a lot, too. TV dinners were something we looked forward to, although "hot dog and chips" was truly our rallying cry!
And did I mention condiments? Yes, drown everything in ketchup and it will taste great. Take a grilled hamburger patty, add the mustard, relish, mayonnaise, and pickles, to an enriched white-flour hamburger bun and away you go!
Growing up on Smithfield Avenue, we actually had a room in the basement called the "Fruit" room. It was a room lined with shelves and stocked with canned goods. We still talk about the time my sister Terri Lee removed the labels from all of the cans, thereby creating a surprise every time a can was opened.
These days my mother Fritzi Telpner lives in assisted living residence in Winnipeg called The Shaftsbury, and she complains constantly about the food. This was the same woman who served us something called "cream tuna on toast". It consisted of warming up a can of peas, a can of tuna, and a can of Campbell's mushroom soup and pouring the whole beige affair over squares of toast. My father referred to it as "shit on shingle" and wisely avoided this dish. Her favourite meal at The Shaftsbury is a grilled cheese sandwich.
My early years in advertising were certainly no better. Drinking alcohol at lunch was a common practice. Of course, this was after a few cups of coffee and perhaps a "sticky bun" from the agency kitchen for breakfast.
Dinners were rich and meaty and always accompanied by wine and dessert.
I lived a life that some might say was a life of excess. I worked hard, played hard, ate and drank like there was no tomorrow. But guess what?
Tomorrow came on Sept. 7, 2010 when my doctor informed me that I had the dreaded result, prostate cancer!
That's when I began to realize that my lifestyle was a huge contributor to the disease. Cancer feeds on certain foods. That is why the first things my nutritionist, Josh Gitalis told me to cut out were flour, sugar, wheat, dairy, and coffee immediately. Avoid fried foods like the plague and drink at least eight glasses of water daily. I now take that advice to heart, no pun intended.
Stay tuned as we'll be bringing a few more posts in the series along with a new interview, an update 1 year after my first interview with my dad about his cancer.