Thursday, 14 April 2016

16 months on....progress.

Medical testing time is always scary. For the week or so before getting the results, my imagination goes wild with pictures of what it will be like to slowly (or quickly) die. Results this year have been almost all good, but with experience of nasty results in the past, I still dare not hope too much.

I passed the " has it gone to my bones?" test a few months ago, and I passed the ultra sound one too. But, a couple of weeks ago were the big Melbourne blood tests. First I got the results of the Live Blood Analysis and that did not look too good - inflammation up, adrenal stress up, immunity down - not good signs. A week later (Tuesday) I visited Professor Sali and received the results of the "Circulating Tumour Cells" test.

With great delight and relief, I can tell you that the result was very good. Just so you can get an idea, after the radiation treatment, the result of this test was 1 tumour cell in 10 ml. Last September, it was 19, with clusters of tumour cells. This time it was back to 1 only. One very small concern was some varieties of bacteria in my blood, which is indicative of "leaky gut". I had read a book that explained all this during the year and had already adjusted my diet, so the Prof was pleased with that. Actually, he was really pleased about my progress overall.

We talked about the poor Live Blood Analysis and how I can improve that - mainly stress management and less work. "Unload more, spend more time in the garden, grow more veggies, spend time with friends" he suggested. Also, increase some of the supplements and eat sauerkraut.
I was so relieved and felt again that I had my life back. Maybe that sounds like being over-dramatic, but honestly, that is how I felt. As my favourite Welsh song says "Diolch i'Lor". (and you can guess what that means or listen to it!)
Explanation
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that have shed into the vasculature from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. CTCs thus constitute seeds for subsequent growth of additional tumors (metastasis) in vital distant organs, triggering a mechanism that is responsible for the vast majority of cancer-related deaths.[1]

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Blood Test and Support Group Gathering

First, I threatened to write about the blood tests I am having to monitor my cancer. So, here is one:-

Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) Test

Wikipedia describes CTC's as;
 ...cells that have shed into the vasculature from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. CTCs thus constitute seeds for subsequent growth of additional tumors (metastasis) in vital distant organs, triggering a mechanism that is responsible for the vast majority of cancer-related deaths.
I was being over-optimistic when I wrote about my CTC test result. Prof Avni was trying to keep me positive. My count had gone UP considerable. The good thing is that my body can "kill" these cells.

The Mayo Clinic says this:
The CellSearch Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) test is a simple blood test that helps oncologists in assessing the prognosis of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer. The CellSearch test is the only FDA-approved test for CTC assessment. 
The good news is that we all have Natural Killer Cells:
Natural killer cells or NK cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte critical to the innate immune system (Wikipedia).
So, how to boost our Natural Killer cells?
  Eat mushrooms, probiotics (fermented foods and yoghurt) etc. According to an American Integrative Oncologist, we need to do more than eat particular food. Again, it is the holistic thing, so in addition to my diet and exercise, it is that stress management again.

This blood test is not known to all doctors in Australia, but is accepted and covered by insurance in some other countries. The purpose is to monitor the number of tumour cells floating around in one's blood and then to do something about it if it is getting worse.

Another comforting thought for me is this. I was told that an eminent doctor in Sydney who has cancer himself said that natural medicine is slower than drugs. It is normal for results in the first 6 months to be worse, to begin to improve in the next 6 months and thereafter to be back to normal. I am clinging to this idea.

Support Group

Yesterday, I attended a "Cancer Pamper Day" at Mt Beauty. It is usually a day of sharing and being pampered. It was spoilt somewhat yesterday as one of the ladies has been told that her breast cancer has spread to her bones. She had the initial breast cancer 2 years ago. We were all very upset for her, but it is also a sobering reminder of the character of this disease. Need I say more.


Examples of nutrient compounds with anticancer activity on the regulatory proteins/receptors above:
  • Inhibition of NF-kB: (resveratrol, curcumin, EGCG, isoflavones, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, pomegranate extract, ashwagandha, gingerol, milk thistle, lycopene)
  • Reduction in 5-LOX: (omega-3 fatty acids, boswellia extract/AKBA, curcumin, lycopene)
  • Inhibition of Ras: (curcumin, limonene, vitamin E, garlic extract/diallyl sulfide)
  • Reduction in COX-2: (omega-3 fatty acids, berberine, feverfew, gingerol, EGCG, curcumin, resveratrol, milk thistle, gamma tocopherol)
  • Inhibition of Caspases: (cucumin)
  • Inhibition of PARP: (curcumin)
  • Inhibition of AMPK: (curcumin)
  • Inhibition of Galectin-3: (modified citrus pectin)
  • Inhibition of E-selectin: (alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids)Inhibition of NF-kB: (resveratrol, curcumin, EGCG, isoflavones, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, pomegranate extract, ashwagandha, gingerol, milk thistle, lycopene) Reduction in 5-LOX: (omega-3 fatty acids, boswellia extract/AKBA, curcumin, lycopene) Inhibition of Ras: (curcumin, limonene, vitamin E, garlic extract/diallyl sulfide) Reduction in COX-2: (omega-3 fatty acids, berberine, feverfew, gingerol, EGCG, curcumin, resveratrol, milk thistle, gamma tocopherol) Inhibition of Caspases: (cucumin) Inhibition of PARP: (curcumin) Inhibition of AMPK: (curcumin) Inhibition of Galectin-3: (modified citrus pectin) Inhibition of E-selectin: (alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids - See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/08/food-as-chemo/#sthash.G556uqEc.dpuf

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Tests: Mammogram versus Thermogram

So here is the first of the promised blogs on tests.

All tests are stressful. So which ones are useful for me?

Types offered: mammogram, x-ray, ultrasound, various blood tests

Things to be considered are their effectiveness, their possible side effects, their accuracy, what they tell us. Information is hard to get and often biased or unreliable. It's possible that the bias comes from who is promoting what, such as big rich companies.
       There are relatively new tests, so research is still coming, although I was surprised to read that one so-called new test was being used in the 1950's.

I have decided to rely on Thermography, Circulating Tumour Cells blood tests and Live Blood tests. I am refusing mammograms, ultrasounds and x-rays. Now this is a bit alternative, but I have not made this decision lightly.

Thermography

This is from one thing I have read. It is a quotation from Kennedy  & Sealy.

There is no one screening tool currently available that
provides 100% predictability of the presence of a cancer-
ous tumor. The only definitive diagnostic tool is a biopsy.
In the past 30 years there have been numerous studies
that have demonstrated thermography to have the ability
to detect breast abnormalities that other screening meth-
ods may not have identified 
(Kennedy & Seely, 2009) .

Apparently, there are good machines (Russian) and other less effective ones. Here is a link to more information   Again, knowing what is promoted mainly in order to make money is a difficult skill. However, thermography has no known bad affects on our body.

Mammograms

There is as much information against mammograms as there is for them. Australia seems to be the biggest promoter of them. I am told there is a great amount of Government investment in the machines. I am not going to give you links to the promoters as you can find these easily. Here are a few that are critical of mammograms.




 And here are some academic resources:
 Gotzsche, Peter C. (2012). Mammography screening: Truth, lies and controversy, London: Radcliffe Publishing.

Gotzsche, Peter C, & Olsen, O. (2000). is screening for breast cancer with mammography justifiable? The Lancet, 355(January 8, 2000), 129-134. 

All of our Australian Cancer organisations promote mammograms so it is scary to go against them. However, I do know a lady whose three episodes of breast cancer were not detected by mammogram and another whose one episode was not detected. So.....


Choices and Decisions

I hope I am not going to be criticised for writing about this choice. I realise that some of my Breast Cancer Support friends will be reading this. It is up to everybody to make their own decisions, but these decisions should be informed ones. I found the decision difficult and scary but then this whole breast cancer thing is scary. I am going to use other blood tests to go with this choice of thermography and I will explain that in the next blog. Stay tuned.


 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Professor Savni Appointment and My Anti-StressProject

It was good news at my appointment. The results of my "Circulating Tumour Cells" test were that I do not have any cancer cells in my blood. However, I do have quite a few clusters of "potentiallly malignant cells". This means, according to Avni, that I need to be learning better stress management skills. He gave us a few ideas like attending weekends by the experts such as Ian Gawler, going to the movies (concerts?) more often, learning to identify stressors and how to manage them. So, we are going to work on that.

I get the big tick for my dietary efforts, but was told very strongly that no diet would keep me safe if I was anxious or depressed. I can hear you wondering why am I so stressed. Well sometimes I don't even know I am, but Keith feels it pretty accurately so we will keep working on the ANTS.

I can recognise when  student is stressing me so I am working on dealing with that in a better way. For example, one student is very angry about only getting a pass in a recent assignment, and although I am not her tutor, I am the coordinator and must deal with it in a way that will not come back to bite me later. Another student is asking questions I would expect from someone who was not capable of doing a university degree. Answering her questions  many times in a way, that maybe she might understand, is difficult when I feel like saying that maybe she should give up.

I am learning to say no to some activities that come my way, spacing my events out so that I have more time to just "be" at home.

I am not watching any more graphic news of poor wretched refugees or victims of earth quakes etc. I tried last night but was surprised how quickly my tears flowed.

Avni suggested that insensitive people who do not care or think might not be as susceptible to cancer as more sensitive people. He gave examples of a few politicians but I won't mention their names.

I am relieved to have this result and also to know more definitely what I need to work on. I am also glad to be guided on which doctors and professionals I need to be visiting and what tests I need to have in the future. In my next blog I will talk about these tests. For now, I can just live until February.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Waiting for Test Results

From what I have read, it is not uncommon for cancer "survivors" to dread the time between tests and  getting results. For one thing, the memory of getting the results that initially said "it is cancer" are very raw. I think I have lost confidence that results will be positive.

Two things go continuously through my mind.  I know that I am in good hands and that I am doing almost everything possible for a good outcome. But, I am aware that I have not yet learned how to cope with life's stresses, the big ones, I mean.
Thursday is the big day when I should get the results of the recent blood test from Professor Sali.

Dealing with stress and anxiety is a subject that upsets me because I seem to be so bad at it. Everything I read tells me that this could put me at risk. So, more anxiety because I am putting myself at risk!

Daily yoga and meditation I can and do, but when things happen, I find it difficult. Here's what I found  on the "Anti-Cancerize Me" web site:

Studies have shown that the majority of people who have been diagnosed with cancer live with the fear that it could grow, spread or come back after treatment. These emotional feelings can become a chronic source of stress on the mind and body (leading to adrenal exhaustion). - See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2013/09/adrenal-exhaustion-and-cancer-is-this-real/#sthash.s2I4acvR.dpuf 
and
Substantial evidence suggests that exposure to long periods of stress increases rates of cancer development and growth. - See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2012/04/anticancer-lifestyle-stress-reduction-101/#sthash.Yr4XPK8O.dpuf 
My blood tests in March showed that I had some adrenal stress, so I know I have to work on it. One way of learning that we read about is to identify and change the feelings and worries, when I am stressed. This system is called ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts).  Keith is helping me isolate and examine mine. Stay tuned.....

Exercise Duration & Intensity Matter:

A new study indicates that if you want to see even better results longer duration and higher intensity exercise matters. Breast cancer survivors who did about 1 mile per day of brisk-paced walking reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 24%. If they stepped it up a notch and ran for 2/3 of a mile each day they reduced their risk by 40%…and the superstars who ran 2.3 miles per day dropped their risk of recurrence by a whopping 95%!

- See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2014/01/exercise-duration-intensity-matters/#sthash.SFt1JSxp.dpufExercise Duration & Intensity Matter:

A new study indicates that if you want to see even better results longer duration and higher intensity exercise matters. Breast cancer survivors who did about 1 mile per day of brisk-paced walking reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 24%. If they stepped it up a notch and ran for 2/3 of a mile each day they reduced their risk by 40%…and the superstars who ran 2.3 miles per day dropped their risk of recurrence by a whopping 95%!
- See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2014/01/exercise-duration-intensity-matters/#sthash.SFt1JSxp.dpuf

Exercise Duration & Intensity Matter:

A new study indicates that if you want to see even better results longer duration and higher intensity exercise matters. Breast cancer survivors who did about 1 mile per day of brisk-paced walking reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 24%. If they stepped it up a notch and ran for 2/3 of a mile each day they reduced their risk by 40%…and the superstars who ran 2.3 miles per day dropped their risk of recurrence by a whopping 95%!
- See more at: http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2014/01/exercise-duration-intensity-matters/#sthash.SFt1JSxp.dpuf

Sunday, 23 August 2015

More anti-cancer tactics.

Last time I wrote about this, I began to talk about what I am eating, and I began with the marvellous mushrooms. Today, I want to talk about two things, one, on the emotional side and the other on the food side.

Stress
I have read several books and a lots of research papers and they all seem to bear out what Professor Sali said - that stress is the main cause of illness.  There is evidence that stress causes changes in the physical body, that chronic stress "floods the body" with "immune-suppressing biochemicals". This is bad news if there is a cancer cell or two about to attack and spread.

I didn't think that I was so stressed, but I am learning that although I thought that I usually appear to be cool calm and collected, inside, I am not.

Part of that is probably my upbringing. As the eldest child, I was expected to be responsible and indeed, was praised for being so. As a Girl Guide, I won awards and badges. Here I am as a Girl Guide about 1957 (sister Robyn on left and Mum in the centre). As a GG, I learnt to be responsible for myself and others, and that included, at 15, taking 6 younger girls camping. No matter what, to get that badge, I must be always in control and I must keep my charges safe. I did that, and got what was in those days, a reasonable reward - the Queen's Guide.

Now that all sounds very patriotic and funny now, but I took it very seriously. In fact I took just about everything seriously - religion, my school studies, my music practice. I think this dedication, while it brought me considerable success, it took its toll.

It was, and is, hard for me to relax. There is always something more to be done, if one is responsible!

I am continuing my yoga practice, have resumed daily meditation and am trying to recognise and deal with the stressful moments. Some of the guided meditation has really helped and the new Dederang (over the river and only 8kms away) yoga teacher is wonderful. I play my recorder in a different way - as a meditation. I have cut the number of students I tutor so that means less marking.  I am trying to relax more.

The worst food.
I will make this short seeing that I wrote so much about stress. I don't think it is news to anyone that sugar is bad for us. However, according to all the books I have read, all types of sugar are BAD for cancer.
Cancer cells consume between ten and fifty times more glucose as normal cells.........glucose allows the cancers to grow with reckless abandon............ So, avoid refined carbohydrates: white sugar, honey, corn syrup, cookies, white bread, commercial breakfast foods...........
Although we consumed very few white things, preferring wholemeal flour, brown rice etc., it still meant a lot of changes for me. I am being a lot more careful, especially, when I go out - in the past, an excuse for me to indulge a bit. Honey is even out for me. I am using a tiny bit of xylitol when a sweetener is absolutely necessary, such as in bread making.

Reference: Block, K.L.(2009) Life over cancer. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

What drives me?

Overnight I thought I should write about the purpose of all my efforts. Our efforts I should say, because Keith is right there with me in this.

Firstly, I have always believed in preventative and natural medicine. I remember working industriously making bread, growing vegetables, raising chickens, and drinking lots of camomile  and dandelion tea when the children were little at Billywillinga (1975-1990).

 Here are a few photos of our family (David not born yet) in our Log Cabin in 1978 & 1979.

I always thought that if you didn't look after your body and soul, you got sick. So, I did what I thought I should for many years. When the word "cancer" was pronounced just before Christmas I was absolutely shocked. I didn't think I fitted any of the criteria for being a likely candidate for this disease.

I listened to the specialist doctors and did what I was told until I realised that each of them, expert in what they did (surgery, medication and radiation), did not have an interest in me, the whole me. They were all kind but unlike many GP's, they were, for want of a better word, narrow-minded. They didn't see what lifestyle had to do with my disease. Of these specialists, one, the radiation oncologist, was interested in and approved of my supplementary treatments.  The GP's, as caring and dedicated as they are, are often too busy with emergencies, testing and diagnosis to look further. And preventative medicine doesn't fit in with the emphasis on curing. Nor do they have time to read the loads of research out there. I began to read and have less faith in the medical people than I previously had. I was responsible for my own well-being.

I found an American radiation oncologist online who has a website called "Integrative Oncology" and given my special teaching subject at Charles Sturt University is "Wellness and Wellbeing", I was interested. I was hooked, actually. Holistic health, holistic medicine - this is it for me.

Take a look

Enough for now.