Gentle Readers, the title will be explained near the end of the post.
Some interesting things have been going on since my last post. I have continued to battle fatigue daily, but it is something that I just need to recognize and deal with accordingly. Nonetheless, there are still so many things to do.
I have been able to attend Toastmasters and my Spiritual Experiences Meetup group a few times and the social aspect has helped me a lot. We even had an early Family Thanksgiving yesterday with a lot of my family coming together. It was so very nice!
One of the primary strategies that experts share with cancer patients is not to isolate yourself and continue to fulfil your social life as much as possible. I know that makes sense because when you are engaged in these activities your mind is spared from obsessing on your dilemma. Working around my fatigue can be tricky but it’s worth it.
Another strategy I have been pursing is to research complimentary and integrative approaches to cancer. Most experts in the cancer medical community do not fully or even partially embrace any non-conventional approach. This is a challenge for both the patient and the Doctor. However, there should be some suspicion when the same old techniques of cut, poison, and burn the cancer haven’t changed much in decades.
But the promises of many of the strictly alternative cancer centers and therapies don’t always ring true either. Many of the centers have been called out for using atypical cases in their testimonials where they present themselves as the “magic bullet” choice for cures of very serious cancers. In so many of these cases patients are not “cured” and may in fact, die sooner because they didn’t have other treatments.
I have read and researched so many books and watched many videos and the truth is that a patient with a very serious cancer diagnosis like mine is sort of in the constant state of confusion. I know I am. I desperately want to choose the correct treatment to try to overcome this. But no one really knows what that is.
While I don’t believe conventional medicine, nor alternative medicine offers the failsafe treatment for my cancer, I do believe an integrative approach is the best. The problem is that there are plenty of medical oncologists and a few integrative medical practitioners in my area, there are no actual Integrative Oncologist around here.
For the most part Medical oncologists do not support integrative approaches like whole food plant-based eating, and herbs and supplements, and other therapies like intravenous vitamin C therapies. In some cases, they forbid it. That a problem for me in that there is so much documentation that these alternative therapies and supplements not only can help prevent cancer but also helps your body fight the cancer even while receiving conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy. And they can help you ward off a recurrence of your cancer.
So, I know the only strategy for me is to make the best choices available and to continue to research strategies. And to listen to my gut as I interact with various medical providers. I know that ultimately, I oversee any health care decisions for me and I know I will not always have my providers agree with me and that’s OK.
I had already made an appointment with Dr. Clayton Bell of the University Internal Medicine & Integrative Health where Shelia was referred to when she was battling breast cancer. I really like Dr. Bell since he professes so many things I agree with. He looks at combining conventional treatments with Eastern healing and strategies. He also recommends a whole food plant-based diet where you eat little or no “clean” meat. Unfortunately, I can’t see him until December 18.
As far as an oncologist, I had seen Dr. Park at Sloan Kettering, but it wouldn’t make sense to try to have him be my point man from so far away, so the only thing left to do was to hook up with a local oncologist. I made a few calls and was recommended to make an appointment with Dr. Charles at UT Cancer Specialists. I had researched some reviews and he got some pretty good ones for being compassionate and listening to his patients.
I knew he was a medical oncologist, so I was prepared for him to dismiss many of the alternative approaches that I am considering but I had hope. I prepared a lot of questions beforehand. When my appointment came I found that Dr. Charles and his staff were so very nice. I asked Dr Charles a lot of questions and when I asked about his thoughts about some of the alternative treatments, I could tell he wasn’t thrilled. But he listened and his only pushback to herbs and supplements was that we would have to discuss in the event of systemic chemotherapy treatment if we ever got there. At this point I am ok with that, but I have had read several case studies where cancer patients had to fire their oncologist due to their insistence that they as patients had to have a strict adherence to only the conventional medicine therapies that didn’t seem quite right. We will see.
One thing that happened at my appointment with Dr. Charles was that he recommended a whole-body bone scan because primary liver cancer can spread to the bone and if that would be the case then it might change my treatment since then it would be metastatic. So far that is the one thing I have been trying to avoid hearing. Well shoot! This was something that raises my level of anxiety instead of lowering it. I was not looking forward to this.
The nuclear medicine folks were very prompt in making my appointment for the Wednesday after my Monday appointment with Dr. Charles. I was anxious about it no doubt. When I showed up for my 10 AM appointment I had to receive an injection that would allow my bones to show any evidence of cancer. That’s when I found out that I had to wait 3 hours before the scan could be performed. Fortunately, I had brought a book to read so I chose to wander over to the cafeteria and ate breakfast. After that I hung around in my car, sat in the warm sun, and walked around a bit.
The whole-body bone scan was not long, about 30 minutes in which they scanned all 206 of my bones. I asked the technician when the scan would be read, and a report issued, and he indicated that afternoon. As you can imagine I was anxious when I didn’t hear anything from Dr. Charles’s office that afternoon, so I didn’t sleep too well.
At about 9:30 or so the next morning I received a call from Dr. Charles’s assistant informing me that my scan was NORMAL!!! That really was a huge relief. It does show however, that when dealing with a serious cancer there are so many emotional highs and lows. Much like life in general but with seemingly more at stake.
Now the plan is too complete my 2nd Y 90 treatment next Tuesday and wait until mid-January to get an MRI to see if the treatments were effective. And to also see if a surgery here or in New York is in my future. If it is it would be around mid-March. Surgery is by far the best chance I have in my fight!
So now the goal is to eat healthy, try to get back to exercising, calm my mind, and enjoy life as much as I can. Well that sounds like a good idea for anyone with or without cancer!
Again, I want to thank all my wonderful family and friends who have been praying, sending me good vibrations, and providing a lot of love to surround me. People often tell me that I have made a difference in a lot of peoples lives and I love hearing that. But in a conversation the other night with a couple of friends it became crystal clear that I have had so many people in my life who have made a big difference for me. I will remind myself each day that people influence me in their thoughts and actions and I am certain it is one reason that I am where I am at this point in my life.