Alix Hayden has started a blog called greymadder.net. Trelle Burdeniuk/News Talk Radio
Alix Hayden said she's always been a writer, but now she's taking it to a new level by sharing her personal journey with brain cancer with the world.
"I wanted to get back to being creative in some way," she said.
That mission led her to create greymadder.net, a blog that explores her life with a stage two brain tumour.
"Piece by piece I've written about my journey with this diagnosis and things that I came to in terms of my health," she said.
When Hayden decided to start a blog, she wanted to call it grey matter, but that name was already taken, so she came upon greymadder.net.
"Some of what I felt like I had to say I was a little bit mad in terms of angry ... and some of it I was mad, just a little crazy," she laughed.
In her bright office filled with sunshine at Phenomenome Discoveries in Saskatoon, Hayden explained her career has helped shape her life with cancer and her blog.
"I do work in cancer research and so that was a little bit of an irony for me and it was something that it took me a while to come back to and think about from an intellectual perspective."
She said for 15 years, she's studied the lifestyle and risk side of cancer, combined with less pharmaceutical intervention.
"For me, it wasn't really about alternative therapies, it was coming back to what I already knew which is that diet and lifestyle and your metabolism and your biochemistry really does influence your health," Hayden said.
That has caused Hayden to start a low-sugar, low-carb and high-fat diet known as the ketogenic diet that goes along with research that cancer cells generate energy for growth using sugar.
Her diet involves eating things like bacon, cream and avocados, but limiting her sugar intake. She laughed explaining the funny looks she gets at Starbucks when she orders a sugar free latte prepared with heavy cream.
Hayden gets an MRI every six months and said her tumour hasn't gotten smaller since she started the diet, but it also hasn't gotten bigger. Her tumour has been categorized as slow growing, so she is holding off on chemotherapy and radiation.
As she continues to write on her blog, Hayden has noticed her readership significantly pick up.
"I was contacted very quickly by the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada who have shared quite a few of the posts on my blog," she said.
Hayden has readers from Canada, the United States and as far as South Africa.
"On average right now, it seems to top out at three or four thousand (readers) on a post," she explained. "I was a little bit surprised by the response."
Hayden hopes to expand the readership of her blog and engage more with her current readers by replying to comments and answering some of the questions she's received.
She said this blog is helping her as much or more than any of the people who read it.
"Sometimes that's for me why it's useful because it gets it out of your brain. It's down somewhere physically and you can stop thinking about it a little bit."