They say we all have cancer inside us.

Something growing, just waiting for something to feed on. Sometimes it’s cancer, sometimes it’s a thirst. What it comes down to is that it’s something eating away at you.

14 months ago I was in a very dark place. I had been on a 10 year bender and despite having built a remarkably good looking life, it, and I, were crumbling from the inside out. I was in a whirlpool that was pulling me down deep to the center – faster and darker every day.

I was physically sick (not surprising after pickling myself daily) but that constant cycle of drunk and withdrawal was masking other serious health problems that were just below the surface. It’s easy to ignore when you are numbed by wine.

I was 39.

2 months later I checked myself into rehab, and luckily managed 3 months sober, and never felt better.

Until I started feeling worse again.

I had done a great deal of work on myself – unloading years of self sabotage and regret, delving into Buddhism and mindfulness, and miraculously managing to detach myself from the incessant sadness I once carried around like a Siamese twin.

However, I had done a lot of damage, too.

So off to the doctor I went. Then a specialist. And another specialist. And another. Then a series of cold bright rooms filled with beds and needles and disgusting procedures where they insert large items into small spaces.

It was terrifying and awful.

Having recently watched my father go through the same process with a premature unhappy ending, it eventually got the best of me and my false belief that wine would make me feel better landed me back in the cycle of drinking on the daily.

A lot.

It did, for a little while. It worked like an anaesthetic for my fears. But anaesthetics wear off, and fears grow when you feed them, just like the cancer growing inside me.

It’s said that cancer can’t grow in an Alkaline environment. Of course, wine is among the most highly acidic of things you can put in your body. And cancer loves acid (just like me back in high school). So, here I’ve been feeding what I was already genetically predisposed to having for a good 20 years or more.

Now, my point here is not to tell my story, but to make you think about yours.

Cancer is anything growing inside you that you’re feeding with bad habits.

Your worries, your fears, your self destructive false truths that you aren’t good enough, you’re fat, you aren’t worthy or worse.

I’m learning to acknowledge my false truths as they trigger me throughout the day, and have started asking myself “is it true?”

Nearly 100% of the time, they aren’t.

Things like “If I have a drink I can stop worrying about the results of the biopsy” or “If I have a drink I can finally relax”, or maybe “If I have a drink I can escape this nightmare.”

So, that’s what I’ve been doing – having drink after drink, bottle after bottle, without realizing that none of those false truths were helping me.

In fact, they’ve been doing the exact opposite.

I was just feeding the cancer, and creating more illness and concern – which I needed never ending new false truths to keep me in denial.

It had to stop.

The more I was learning about cancer, the more I realized I instead needed to learn about health.

I promised myself and everyone around me that I would, and I quote, “Give all the fucks” in trying to combat this and take responsibility for my own well-being. Enter massive diet change on December 28, 2017 (about 5 or 6 weeks ago) – I went vegan! Don’t worry, I won’t try and convince you, but I will recommend you watch the documentaries “What The Health” and “The C Word“.

They are life changing.

I knew I had to stop feeding the cancer and instead start to starve it. So far, it’s going well. And here I am on Day 3 of being sober again (I also won’t talk about how I couldn’t sleep at all last night and tossed and turn and sweat like a disgusting beast. Detox is a bitch).

My gut is telling me this is the big Domino that everything else is lined up behind.

Becoming Alkaline.

Creating a life where I am no longer feeding the things that are eating away at me.

And that’s why we drink, right?

To numb those false truths so we don’t feel them gnawing away at us from the inside out.

And by ‘feeding’ I don’t mean specifically what we put into our body. It’s our thoughts, our actions and our words as well.

Truth is, it feels incredibly empowering to be taking responsibility for my own health – physical, mental and spiritual – instead of relying and waiting on something outside of myself.

A doctor. A pill. A bottle or three.

So, that hunger and thirst is still there inside me – but this time I don’t own it. I’ve given it back to whom it belongs.

And I’m going to starve those little bastards.

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. It’s always good to go to AA and check it out. You might be surprised by what you find. I like to go occasionally to remember that we really are all the same.

    I also have always had a sadness. At around 2months sober it became somewhat unbearable. I decided to try an antidepressant, because I was afraid I would go back to drinking…or worse.
    I needed it. Maybe I always have. It gets me to a level field when my deep belief in Yoga allows me to grow and flourish and do the hard work.
    I know you don’t want pills, but keep that as a consideration if you are struggling. Sometimes alcohol abuse is the result of years of self medication for things we can’t readily fix.
    Welcome back. This is a great place to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Anne!! ❤ So happy to hear you're doing well. AA didn't click for me, but "Refuge Recovery" – a weekly buddhist inspired recovery group does. Since then though I recently found the "Alcohol Experiment" online, as well as the Facebook Group (which is super active) – it's like being at a 24-7 AA meeting and is really helping this time around! Writing again is proving to be the best therapy as well, and being surrounded by people like you! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We are on the same path, in some ways. I gave up meat when I gave up alcohol, and I’ve been looking into this alkaline thing to make the final step. Most importantly, I began to watch my thoughts around alcohol so that I could analyze them and take their power away. Now I am applying that thinking to sugar and bad carbs. ; )

    Like Anne, I function better on a very low dose of an antidepressant. There’s a good book about repairing your brain and body from alcohol abuse: Seven Weeks to Sobriety. I’ve done their vitamin repair before and it seemed to help quite a bit.

    Once again, so glad you’re here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 And happy and proud of you! Going plant-based was step one of a big overhaul I’ve known I needed since I started drinking again last spring (and not stopping). I was finding meditation and mindfulness was helping me the most…but it’s hard to be either when you’re drunk all the time! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can relate. ; ) I recently wrote a blog called “A Mindful Relapse,” where I am actually trying to use the tools of mindfulness to walk myself through a relapse, hoping to learn from it. I knew I was going to drink, and I was just trying to make it useful. The logic we use!

        Liked by 1 person

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