Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What it all means

I am psyched!

Exploring at the beach
It has been 69 days since my last chemotherapy treatment.  I think I have had roughly 40 infusions in the 20 months since I was diagnosed with cancer.  I stopped chemo at the end of November.  I can say that I honestly can't tell a difference from how I felt yesterday, but I can tell that I feel better than I did a month ago and a lot better than I did 2 months ago.  I think that I am still only operating at about 40% capacity both mentally and physically with emotionally being slightly better (more around 50%) because I just do not feel like myself yet.  The small things fluster me, any sort of thing that I need to concentrate on becomes a gigantic undertaking but when I finally do accomplish them it feels really good.  I've been spending a lot of time in my apartment, organizing, manifesting, sending out mindful intentions of what I need to be healthy and happy.  I had a wonderful 2 hour Skype conversation with a beautiful friend of mine.  I have been doing really well with my two alternative treatments, remembering to take them every day and not hating it when I do.  It is easy to not hate them, they have had absolutely no side effects at all for me (HURRAY!) and if anything I think I am sleeping much better.  I actually have been getting up at my usual time of 6am as opposed to the "anywhere between 11am-1pm" routine I adopted while undergoing chemotherapy.  The side effects of chemotherapy and all of the drugs I ingested to combat those side effects really have done a number on my body and mind, but it feels so good to have some kind of normal sleeping routine again (even though it might be the only thing that is normal).

I've been wondering exactly how long it takes to get over the majority of the chemo side effects.  I am pretty sure that it has most likely done some irreparable damage to my body and have heard many stories about people who have had chemo over 10 years ago who still fight with it's effects.  Of course doctors of modern medicine will not tell you this.  They tell you that when you stop getting chemo the side effects (nausea, ringing in ears, neuropathy, chemo brain, etc.) will all go away, just like that.  Poof!

They LIE!

They also lie when they tell you that it is ok for you to eat an entire pint of ice cream, a bunch of meat (even though you can get iron and protein from plants and legumes), ginger ale for nausea, etc.  Yes, I was actually told these things, which brings me to the point of today's blog.

The reason I quit chemotherapy was not because the regime was finished and it was my last session.  My oncologist told me that I would be receiving chemotherapy until the day I died.  That was not ok with me.  I have been really confused since last August when my oncologist sent me in to see a surgical oncologist to see if I could have my tumors surgically removed.  She ordered a PET scan, looked it over and said that she couldn't remove them because it left me with virtually no liver left and many of them were in places that they couldn't remove.  I was still not an option for a donor, living or deceased. So she referred me to a radiological oncologist who reviewed my PET scan and arranged an appointment with me.  He had a miracle treatment for people who have cholangiocarcinoma that was very promising.  The treatment was called Y-90 (Yttrium-90) and it consisted of injecting radioactive beads the size of a grain of sand directly into the tumors via a catheter inserted into a vein in the groin.  It was supposed to have minimal side effects and be pretty painless.  I was the perfect candidate, young, no other health problems, otherwise healthy etc. and I was very excited about it.  He walked through the door to the exam room, introduced himself and then said that he would love to help me and that he was excited to do the procedure on me but upon review of my PET scan he couldn't.  He said the reason that he couldn't do the procedure was because the PET scan showed NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE.  He then proceeded to say how honored he felt to meet me, how in the world did I do it!?  He said that no one has ever had such extensive CC and in 17 months had a scan that showed no living cancer.  He couldn't do the procedure because he could find no living cancer to target.
Pumpkin and honey moisturizing
and firming mask makes your
skin feel oh so good!

I was excited to see my oncologist and tell him the news.   I thought he would be excited, thinking that he might give himself a pat on the back for prescribing the right treatment for me.  He was less than enthused.  He said that CC is so slow growing that there are most likely still cancer cells there that the PET scan didn't pick up.  The thought of stopping chemotherapy did not even present itself.  Even the radiological oncologist thought it would be a good idea for me to do at least one more chemo regime just to make sure.  I stuck it out for 6 more treatments.  I really feel that chemotherapy was the best choice for my predicament.  My cancer was so extensive that I think I made the right choice, knock it back some so that I can let my body do the rest was my plan.  Then I got to where I was feeling worse, day by day.  I was losing a LOT of weight, at one point down to 111 pounds, which for me is pretty thin.  My brain was turning into mush, literally.  I was in complete emotional distress (although events that were happening then would not have been easy to deal with regardless of chemo) and had severe mood swings.  I couldn't think.  I would get lost trying to keep up with a sitcom.  I had come to the point that I knew I needed to stop.  It was an emotional decision, the uncertainty of making the right choice hung heavy over me.  So what does this all mean now?
Steel cut oats with blueberries
cranberries, cinnamon,
walnuts, honey,
and almond milk.

What it means is that even though I am not being pumped full of toxins I still have to be vigilant about my choices, especially what I eat.

During the latter part of my chemo treatments, when I was losing all the weight, I abandoned my mostly vegetarian diet and started eating meat and dairy again, things I highly avoided (along with sugar) previously in an attempt to gain weight.  When I quit chemo I was still eating meat and dairy and my sugar intake had gone up from the sweet tooth cravings I got when I ate meat.  Luckily I caught myself.  This realization came when my jeans would not button one morning.  I have been super vigilant about what I eat, more like the diet I adopted after I learned I had cancer.  I eat a LOT of vegetables and legumes.  I make a green juice nearly every day, sometimes two.  I eat things high in phytoflavinoids such as blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate juice, strawberries, cherries but I do not eat a lot of other types of fruits as they have a lot of sugar in them which anyone with cancer does not need as it actually excels it's growth hint, hint.....

Being mindful about what we eat is how we can take control of our health.  Ironically it is also how we can take control of a lot of problems our world is now facing.  It takes so many more resources to produce one pound of meat as it does to produce one pound of produce or grain.  On top of all of that our meat is coming from sick animals that have not been fed a proper diet and injected with all kinds of toxins to prevent them from spreading disease.  Don't get me wrong.  I grew up eating meat.  My dad was a butcher for many years and we depended on it for our family's survival.  I have always liked a medium rare steak, rib eye was always my favorite.  If it didn't make me sick and our world sick and result in the mistreatment of so many animals then I would eat it.  It has actually been proven that a diet high in animal protein (20% of your diet is high, this includes dairy) actually highly contributes to the growth of cancer, especially in the liver and that a diet high in plant and legume protein (less than 5% animal protein, this includes dairy) has been proven to halt cancer growth!

So again, what does it mean?
Shiitakes smell and taste delicious!

It means that no matter how much you love that steak, ice cream, milk, chicken, fast food, or whatever that is animal derived you are actually willingly, consciously, and intentionally creating an environment in your body where cancer can thrive.  Not to mention that your cholesterol will most likely also go up. This applies to organic meats as well.  Meat is meat, some have added toxins, but all have the ability to enhance cancer growth.  This is why I eat a lot of vegetables.  I don't want to die.  I assume that neither do you.

It means that I have to be vigilant about my diet, which isn't hard.  I walk by the meat case occasionally just to see if anything can tempt me but nothing ever does.  It actually kind of grosses me out.  Meat didn't look like that when I was a kid.  Meat didn't taste like that when I was a kid.  I know how it is going to make me feel if I do eat it (bloated, indigestion, lethargic, constipation/diarrhea, all those wonderful things) so that is enough for me.  I walk away and find the tempeh instead.  I never eat processed foods.  Well, ok, I am pretty sure that the almond milk I buy is processed.  There are a lot of unneeded ingredients on that label and the box it comes in is neither healthy for me or for the environment.  This is why I am going to start making my own almond milk and rice milk (horchata's baby!).
Honey roasted spaghetti squash with
green beans, tempeh, and shiitakes

What it means is that now, more than ever, I need to take control over my health using food as my medicine as we all should.  Even and especially if you are going through cancer treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy.  It is so important to fuel our bodies with nutritious foods rather than empty calories.  Use those ovens or purchase a toaster oven (you can find awesome ones at the Goodwill by the way) and take your microwave to haz mat where it belongs.  Microwaves literally kill your food sucking every single nutrient right out of them leaving you with a useless meal that you will only be hungry from a short time later, leading to more eating...get the picture?  I have not used a microwave in over 3 years and I do not miss it one bit.  I am ashamed to say that at first I actually had forgotten how to heat up food on the stove or in the oven, but it quickly came back.  It is nice to sit in the living room and smell the aroma of a baking sweet potato knowing that I will soon be eating it.  It actually makes the experience better for me and the beauty is that for about an hour I can just read or watch tv or do a load of laundry and I don't have to stand there and cook.  Microwaves are the ultimate "instant gratification" machine.  We just can't wait, or we are too busy.  With just a little planning ahead you can pop your meal into the oven and by the time you have relaxed a bit from your day you will be eating your healthy and delicious meal that you got to enjoy the smell of while it was cooking.  What could be better than that?

Make juice not war
I am not meaning to be preachy or condescending at all.  I just know that I want you all to be healthy and sharing the things that have been making me healthy in spite of extensive, aggressive cancer and  20 months of chemotherapy is one way I can share the resources and knowledge that I have spent so much time committed to gathering since D-day.  This stuff has been proven time and time again, but our society has its interests so mixed up that the higher powers will never tell you these things, the simple things that can lead to a long and healthy life.  They want to keep you sick so that they can keep making drugs to treat you with.  Pharmaceuticals are big, big money.  We all know that.  I also feel that they can have an appropriate time and place.  I certainly think that the chemotherapy in combination with the other natural therapies I have been getting have paid off for me.  The time did come though that I felt that it (the chemo) was doing more harm than good.  For me, if I don't feel good about something there is no point in doing it because I will only focus on the bad and if you are only focused on the bad what good can come?

Please eat more plants.


  1. On that note..good bye to these acrylamide crisps I was munching while reading your blog.I am extremely mindful of cancer because a friend of mine is waiting for a diagnostic test to rule out colon cancer-it seems very likely she has it...I don't eat dairy or meat but my downfall are crisps.Thanks for being my wake up call.Prevention is better than cure.And thank you for being brutally honest.And thank you for putting it online where people like me-all the way in South Africa-can also figure stuff out.

  2. Thandi,
    I am so hopeful that your friend does not have cancer. I am also very honored that you are enjoying my blog. It means so much to me to be able to reach people and share what I have learned along my journey. Many healthy blessings to you!

  3. I i decided to share this because i am so glad today and happy that i am alive to see another new day and not just that but also to share the goodnews of how i survived a deadly stage 4 cholangiocarsinoma (bile duct cancer). I was told by my oncologist that i had just 6 months left to live and i was so scared to lose my wife. I was lucky to contact Dr Mrs Aleta who i told all about it and she is the nicest person i have spoken to. She recommended a herbal medicine for her which she took that cured her in less than a month. Well for more info about the medicine and cancer treatment simply reach her on aletedwin@gmail.com she can help you too. Contact her for any form of cancer too.