A much needed breath of fresh air

I have been blessed, again, with a great doctor.  I decided to get a new oncologist, so my neurologist recommended one at her clinic in Corvallis.  She is amazing.  I told her everything that I have been doing and she was so supportive that she offered to put in an order for me to get a port.  She thought my PICC line must be a huge inconvenience for me, which is quite true, so why not get a port, instead?  A port is a catheter that is surgically placed under the skin, usually around the clavical area.  There is essentially no maintenance and it can get wet, which is lovely.  Trying to keep this PICC line dry in the shower has proven to be quite challenging.  Swimming is definitely not an option, which is a big bummer when going on vacation.  I’ve wanted to get one of these for awhile now, but didn’t have a doctor that would be willing to give the order to have it done.  It is such a relief to have a doctor that supports what I’m doing homeopathically, and it’s amazing that it happens to be the same one that is also monitoring my cancer treatment.

I have scheduled my follow up MRI and PET scan on May 5th.  Based upon the results of those scans, we’ll decide what the next step will be.  If the tumor is still growing, it is recommended by all of my doctors that radiation should be done.  This would be the absolute worst case scenario.  We’ve always wanted this to only be a last resort, rather than play that card so early.  It’s a one time deal and can’t be done, again, later.  But if it’s necessary to get it done, then we’ll do it.  I really don’t anticipate any growth on this scan.  My focal seizures have decreased quite significantly over the past month, which is such a huge relief.  I have done 3 rounds of chemo so far and will be doing a fourth right before my scans.  The first round of chemo was a learning curve.  I learned that the fatigue I experience is significantly reduced if I eat some protein first thing in the morning, followed by small meals throughout the day.  It seems like this drug plays with my blood sugar level, so keeping it balanced helps tremendously.  Part of this issue, I’m sure, is because I have to stop eating early the night before.  I have to take Zofran (anti-nausea med) on an empty stomach and an hour before I take the Temodar.  It really seems to wreak havoc on my GI system, too.  About an hour after I take the Temodar, I experience some fairly significant cramping.  ‘Smooth Move’ tea is a fabulous solution for this.  As soon as I start drinking it, the cramping subsides.  So if you’re on Temodar, buy a case of this stuff here.  It’s significantly cheaper than buying some in a store.   I am so extremely thankful for modern medicine when chemo is necessary.  It’s amazing that I can be on chemo and forget that I’m on it, thanks to things like anti-nausea drugs.

I’m hoping to get my scan results a little faster than I have been getting them.  It’s been taking about a week to get the results, versus a couple of days like what it used to be.  The waiting game is always a stressful time.  It’s hard enough dealing with the anticipation of having the scans done, let alone having to wait to get the results several days later.  I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by caring hands right now.  My surgeon, my naturopath, the MRI tech, the nurses changing my PICC line dressing, my oncologist….all amazing people.  Experiencing cancer is so much easier when you enjoy the people who surround you throughout your journey.  I ame blessed in that way. 

Other than all of that stuff, I’m hoping to have some good news to post on May 6th…

It’s the lack of, not the sun that will kill you

Vitamin D has been monopolizing health headlines for awhile now.  Though technically not a vitamin, but rather a  hormone, Vitamin D has now been linked to a multitude of diseases.  This includes the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.  It hasn’t been until the past several years that this vitamin has gained the respect of doctors and researchers, as to how well our bodies can function with it and how poorly it functions without it.  Its metabolic product, calcitriol targets over 2000 genes in the human body.  That figure puts Vitamin D in a position of having some very profound health implications.

It’s no surprise that Vitamin D deficiency is so common in our nation.  It has been ingrained in our heads by the medical community that the sun is bad.  “Stay out of the sun because it can cause cancer!” While this is true, one only needs to use common sense:  bask, don’t bake.  Moderation is key.  If you are an average American, you live most of your life indoors;  inside the office, inside your car, inside your home while sitting on the computer, watching tv, playing video games.  We are becoming products of our society and it’s taking a tremendous toll on our health.

So what can you do?  To find out if you’re deficient, ask you doctor to order you a blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.  Your doctor should be willing to order this for you based upon all of the research that is being done and published in the medical journals.  If you’re not able to get one from your doctor, then you can order an inexpensive Vitamin D test kit here that you can do at home.  If your blood level is less than 50 ng/ml, you are considered deficient.  The optimal level is between 50 and 65 ng/ml.  If you are going through some serious health issues, though, your levels should be between 65-90 ng/ml. 

If you find that you’re deficient, Vitamin D is easy enough to get.  Spending 20-30 minutes out in the mid-day sun produces approximately 20,000 IU of Vitamin D.  The government recommended daily amount (although probably too low) is only 400IU.  Vitamin D is also available through supplementation.  When supplementing, it’s important to take it in the form of Vitamin D3 (please note that this is not the form in milk, which is D2).  This is the natural occuring form of Vitamin D.  Your local health food store will have this supplement available, or you can order it here.

This is what one prominent researcher has to say about Vitamin D: 

“Because vitamin D is so cheap and so clearly reduces all-cause mortality, I can say this with great certainty: Vitamin D represents the single most cost-effective medical intervention in the United States. ”

So what are you waiting for?  Get off this website and go outside!

Why we should all care about inflammation

If you pay any attention to medical headlines, you’ll see the word ‘inflammation’ come up quite frequently. Inflammation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, essentially all chronic diseases. It seems that so many in the medical establishment are now just waiting for the next drug that can make inflammation *poof* disappear.  Here is a quote that summarizes this perfectly from Time Magazine circa 2004. “As scientists delve deeper into the fundamental causes of those and other illnesses, they are starting to see links to an age-old immunological defense mechanism called inflammation — the same biological process that turns the tissue around a splinter red and causes swelling in an injured toe. If they are right—and the evidence is starting to look pretty good — it could radically change doctors’ concept of what makes us sick. It could also prove a bonanza to pharmaceutical companies looking for new ways to keep us well.”

Wow.  Let’s place the responsibility of ‘keeping us well’ into the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.  When is it ever going to be an individual’s responsibility to take care of their own body?  There is an arsenal of natural ways to reduce inflammation out there which won’t cost you much, unless you place high value on being able to do whatever you want to your body.

The most important and effective way for a person to reduce inflammation in their body is diet.  The implications for an anti-inflammatory diet are enourmous, but it does require a good deal of discipline.  You can google inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods to get a thorough list of each.  Here is a short version of what you will probably find emphasized on these lists.  The following foods promote inflammation:  Sugar, virtually all processed/refined foods, red meat, full fat dairy, caffeine, alcohol.  Foods that fight inflammation:  fruit and vegetables (yes, this will always be a broken record), grass fed meat and dairy, wild fish, raw nuts and seeds.

There are several natural supplements which can be added to your diet that have very potent anti-inflammatory properties, as well.  Most of these are herbs that you can purchase online through places like Iherb.com, or through your local health food store.   Curcumin is one of the most recognized natural anti-inflammatory agents.  There has been a plethora of studies that have proven it to be a very strong fighter of inflammation.  Some other herbs that have these same properties are  Boswelia, Quercetin, Ginger Root, White Willow Bark.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also very strong inflammation blockers which are found abundantly in Fish and Flaxseed oil.

WARNING:  All of the above listed items can cause an increased risk of serious health events, which may include the following: increased energy, weight loss, euphoria, enlightenment, abatement of existing diseases, and a much higher level of wellness. These events can occur at any time during use and without warning symptoms.
Give it a week.  Try it and see if you experience some of these serious health events.  I guarantee that you will be amazed at how much caring for your own health is so much more effective than the ‘healthcare’ system that we have become so dependent upon.