Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Letting Go Again

Lately it has become increasingly difficult to get to the bathroom on time. I am getting there on time, but now you get the theme for this entry. Daniela just called a friend who is giving me a ride to my radiation treatment tomorrow and asked if she would pick up some Depends adult undergarments. Oh yeah, I said it. I suppose if it were a permanent thing, I might be less inclined to share this with you. But then again, I probably would have told you anyway.

Chemotherapy can cause this problem. The radiation I am receiving can also cause this problem. Combine the two I am - wondering if I will return these things unused or if they will become a temporary part of my life.

The odd thing is that for many years in the back of my mind, I have had a fear of such a problem. And now, the strong possibility of the problem has arrived. I could go a lot of directions with this one. Instead, I'll just wait and see. And I'll laugh at the idea that I may actually be wearing these things - even if it is only for a couple of weeks. Man. The letting go of it all just continues and continues.

And with all I have to deal with lately, I am so glad I am up here and not in Philadelphia at the Cancer Treatments Center.

Gratitude & Kindness

In the Western Medical/Oncological world, I have found some anti-Gerson sentiment. In the Gerson world, I found some anti-Western Medical/Oncological sentiment. And as I said in a recent posting, when I first went to the hospital to begin chemotherapy and radiation, I truly was like a "deer in the headlights" swinging a baseball bat. Now that some time has passed, I have let go of all the judgment I developed about chemo & radio therapies and instead, I have opened my heart to the staff. And what I have found is a group of nurses and technicians that have enormous hearts and the desire to provide each patient as much ease, comfort and support as they can.

And as I open up more & more to the different staff, they do the same with me. Now we all know that this is basic human relationship development, s0 it ain't rocket science (as my friend, Ann, the rocket scientist often says). So, what I am pointing to is the context for the relationship. The nurses & technicians know that their patients are dealing with possibly the most difficult thing they have ever had to confront in life. And the staff must find a proper balance and pace as they relate to their patients, who themselves are developing what ever level of acceptance they can with their diagnosis.

One of the chemotherpy nurses said that for the patients, their department is the hardest to walk into and the hardest to walk out of. Because, when we walk in we are taking our first steps into an often very scary world and the staff do their best to make it easy for us. Yet at the end of the treatment, the patients do their final treatment and leave a group of nurses and fellow patients with whom they have developed strong relationships. It's quite moving and I can already feel the bond that I am developing with the staff. My gratitude for their kindness and support is growing - to tell you the truth, quite rapidly. And, I have always been this way. I just love getting to know people.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Radiation Department

Today I acknowledged two of the staff at the radiation department. I had a different conversation with each one. The first - a nurse - I acknowledged for working in the department. And she thanked me. I told her I didn't know if I could do it. Naturally she said, "Sure you could" to which I replied, "Yeah. If I was working with you."

The second - a Nurse Practitioner- I acknowledged for being great with me when I first got there because when it all started I was less like a patient and more like a "deer in the head lights" swinging a baseball bat. I was stunned and I was not happy to be there. All the staff have been wonderful as I have slowly loosened up. So now, I trust them and I can laugh with them and open my heart to them. Hopefully, I won't have a tear-filled goodbye when I leave. But then again, when I'm in an incredibly grateful state of mind, I've been known to share a few tears with a gas station attendant.

The only issue I have with radiation is the red & dry skin I've got you know where. And if you're still wondering where I'm talking about, remind yourself that I have rectal cancer. And the fastest way to the rectum is through the...exactly. It's not as bad as the burn from oral Castor Oil, but it's enough to make me quite anticipatory as each day I hope it gets no worse. Although, I keep reminding myself - as of today, only 13 treatments to go. Less than 3 weeks.

Oh and the last thing - I gained a couple of pounds and for me that's very good news. Had I lost anymore, I would likely appear invisible when standing sideways.

Finally Comfort in a Chair

Saturday I had a great day. No radiation so I wasn't tired. I went to our ten year old's first baseball game and loved it. What amazed me was that I was able to sit in a chair for two hours without pain. That's been unheard of for me. Most of my time is spent either laying down on the couch or bed or resting full stretch on a recliner.

However, my folks came to see the game and brought a chair down for me to try out. It was a perfect fit. The design of this outdoor chair (see below) allowed for comfort along with use of my cushion. It was a great. Then I got to watch the game and watch Beau follow my folks all over the field.

It was such a treat. I can't wait to get one. I've been using the one my folks lent me at my kitchen table. I can finally eat at the table without being in pain. What a treat!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Side Effects

Today is a side effect day for sure. After breakfast, I took a nap until 3 pm. I've since been awake dealing with side effects: a nose that gets dry and bleeds in both sides; dry lips with a cut on my lip that won't heal (I cut my lip in an attempt to kiss Beau on the head - he stood up while I was doing it); tenderness and redness around the radiation treatment area; and aching legs, knees & elbows.

Another side effect is in the emotional realm. Emotional upset is the number one side effect. I'm a little down about things right now. It's likely I'm just experiencing side effects and it's a tough one because it feels real. Maybe it is...

I also was a little angry yesterday about having to go through all this. Then as I was heading down the road, I saw a guy jogging. His right arm stopped at his elbow. I asked myself, "What would you rather have? What you've got or only one hand like him?" I couldn't play guitar like I do and have so many other freedoms. I wonder what he would give to have his arm back. Then I realized I didn't care for that moment. Because yesterday and today, I can say without hesitation, I am tired of being strong.

I don't want to be strong right now. I want this to end. I am so tired of experiencing the Gerson detox flare-ups and now side effects from chemo & radio therapy. Yesterday I got so mad because I can't leave the house without food, pain medication, a special seat and I have to wear long sleeves because one of my pain medications requires I stay out of the sun.

I don't mean to complain. We all have problems. Every one of us. But if you're reading this blog, it's because you asked. So, I'm telling you what I feel. I feel lousy and I would love a break.

And I know Daniela has been working non-stop for the last year and she is tired. Beau's now 18-months old and she has to constantly follow him all over the house to keep him from falling off of anything he can climb, in addition to taking care of all of us. Fortunately, my in-laws were up here for the week and not only was it a joy to spend the time with them, but they were incredibly helpful with both kids (and me!) which really made the week wonderful.

It's just three more weeks of radiation (14 treatments) and maybe the tumor will shrink and along with it so will my pain. And then I can follow Beau around the house or yard. Or maybe cook while Daniela spends time with the kids. I'll give her what ever she wants. And not just while the pain is gone. But for a long, long time. And right now, time feels real, real long.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Suagr Effects

As the side effects of the treatments have increased, my appetite has seriously decreased. In order to keep myself eating, I allowed for more sugar in my food. It's much easier to eat when I have no appetite. However, I believe I am feeling an increase in side effects due to my increased sugar intake. I will lay off the sugar and only eat low levels of it following a decent meal, i.e., dessert, and see how that goes. Having such minimal side effects to this point has been far too pleasant for me to interfere with. And it just crossed my mind that I have been 99% free of sugar for at least a year now.

However, I am happy to say that I have been eating healthy breakfasts and lunches. Dinner is the toughest, but that's tolerable. It's good to be steadily eating.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going Through the E-Motions

These five days, following Dr. Cagir's mention of cancer in one of my lymph nodes, has not been easy. Even though he told me I needn't worry and even though he only saw it in one lymph node, and not multiple, it was still quite impactful. Any time the words "lymph node" are mentioned in talk about cancer, it stops the idle chatter.

So, even with my trust of the good doctor, I still woke up Saturday morning with the words "lymph node" in my head. It took me a couple rounds of some good hard tears to shake off the fear of a Stage III diagnosis. And just to clarify - NO. I do not have Stage III Rectal Cancer. It is still Stage II. The cancer would have to have spread into multiple lymph nodes to become Stage III and it has not. Yet those words brought up fears I have not felt in a long time.

It's pretty simple for me. I want to see Beau graduate from high school. And to even hear about one lymph node brought my love for my family to the forefront of my mind. That's what Sunday's anxiety was about.

I believe if I want to truly be free, I must express what ever emotions come up for me (although this does not include responding to the unknown, since that simply opens the gates for infinite misery which is obviously quite pointless). And I will gladly admit I did not want to open myself up to the thoughts and emotions that accompanied the fear of a metastasized cancer. It wasn't an easy task. It scared the hell out of me because for me to truly look at the possibility of things being much worse than they are...well, I think the easiest way to put is that once I had actually presenced myself to to the terrifying possibility, I didn't know how long it would take before the fear and pain subsided. I had never been there before. And it ended up being only one incredibly scary hour. After it, I fell asleep and when I woke up, the fear was gone and I was back to experiencing the now and nothing else.

As I type this, I do have fears about being this honest with you. But again, it's all about the freedom it provides. And that is another gift this cancer diagnosis has provided me - a taste of real freedom. Once I was diagnosed and I began the blog, I had no idea where it was going. Now I am clear one of the benefits is the space it provides for me to let go of all that I have culturally been taught and to just freely express myself regardless of how it looks. To share my experience with friends and family as well as anyone else who might care to take a peek inside my head. Amazing. I would have never guessed this is where I would be right now. And I'm quite glad my diagnosis is still only Stage II.

"Junk Food"

Last night Daniela came home with a whole bunch of organic treats from Greenstar (our local health food store) for me to add to the cupboards. If I'm going to eat "junk food," I still believe organic is the way to go.

I have learned so much about the impact food has on the process of healing from cancer and I am clear that organic "junk food" calories are better than no calories at all. Now considering my Gerson Therapy background, one might be a bit stumped (by what I wrote yesterday and what I am writing today) and ask how I can make such a drastic change. So, I will clarify if it's you I am talking to.

Naturally, I will lose weight if I don't eat and weight loss is something I cannot afford. And until you experience the lack of appetite or should I say until you experience the non-existence of appetite that I am experiencing from my treatment, I doubt you would understand. It's the strangest feeling. Absolutely NO desire to eat - really weird. And it can be really dangerous if I don't keep the calories coming.

So, no I have not gone off the deep end and turned my back to my health. However, I am clear I am better off with a few of weeks of a less than perfect - but still organic - diet if it means keeping some meat on my bones!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Fellow Patients

The woman I spoke to this morning - while we were both waiting for our chemotherapy - said she wasn't willing to do another round of treatment no matter what it meant for her. It hit me that I am on a far less debilitating chemotherapy treatment than many of my fellow patients.

My heart goes out to all of you who are suffering through intensive and debilitating chemotherapy.

Has Anyone Seen My Appetite?

I was told one of the side effects of the treatments would be a loss of appetite. Well those who say so are not kidding. I have little to no desire to eat even the foods I enjoy. I lost three pounds over the weekend and for my skinny frame, that's three pounds I need. So, I am going to continue to eat a healthy diet, but I am also going to keep some junk food around the house so I will eat when I have no appetite.

Now each one of us has different "junk foods" in our diets. So to best explain it, I'm talking about the foods you can barely resist even after you have eaten to your satisfaction. Those treats that you always have room for. I need to have some of those around for the days I have no desire to eat. Because it’s not just that I have no appetite, but I actually feel full and could go all day without eating. And anyone whose known me for any length of time knows I cannot go long with out grabbing a sandwich [Right, Steigerwald???]

So, I will stock up on these foods so I will still eat. Because I am clear that without those foods I will likely eat nothing and that would dangerous for a fella like myself whose already lighter than I believe I was born to be.

Feeling A Little More Myself

I'm happy to report I'm feeling a little more myself this afternoon. I believe my body is moving the anesthesia out of my system. What a relief it is to feel relatively human again. It was in the car ride back from Guthrie today that I suddenly felt the fog lift and I found a huge smile on my face. I felt lighter and clearer than I have in days.

And I'm quite pleased it’s right now during the coming of Spring. It is certainly adding to my feeling well. It is such a beautiful change. Coming back to feeling myself again was like dreaming about having to go to a tough day at work only to wake up and realize its Saturday and you have the day off.

* * * * * * * * * *
I have been referring to the cancer center waiting room as the dungeon because it’s so grey and has no windows. And I was calling the chemotherapy room the livestock room because the chemotherapy room is where all the patients sit in one room together and either receive a couple hours of chemotherapy or come in and get a refill for the week, like me.

I was in the cancer center waiting room today listening to a fellow patient who really wanted to be heard. She was tired of her treatment was complaining about how long she was waiting. I gave her a little "nudge" and shifted the conversation away from complaining about the staff to just acknowledging how hard this is. That's when she looked at me and said. They know a little what its like, but they don't really know what we're going through. This woman who I was almost quick to ignore, felt heard and it felt great giving her the space to do so. And then they called her name and in she went.

I realized there was nothing empowering about these creative put-downs I had come up with. It's just another way to complain and it creates a negative environment. And to make matters worse, this is an environment I will be a part of once a week for another seven weeks. I've been complaining about it since I was first a patient there. It finally hit me that if I'm going to be a part of this environment, I'm going to do my best to brighten it up a little.

So, a little while later, I was in the chemotherapy room and I found myself burying my head in my book and avoiding other patients in there. And then it hit me that I was doing the same thing in there that I was doing in the cancer center waiting room. So...I pried my head up from between the pages of my book and had a look around. I chatted with the woman next to me then when she left I took her comfortable seat and said goodbye to her. Ya know, it's easier being friendly and supportive than it is to be a grump. But it sure doesn't feel like it when I'm given the option.

And the reality is that inside the chemotherapy room, the staff are incredibly supportive and happy to smile and encourage you. And there is a lot of comradery among the patients. I don't know if I could do the staff’s job. I feel like I would put my heart into it a little too much and I'd come home from work crying my eyes out. I suppose they must have to find a balance and maintain it to succeed in that field. I'll ask a few of the staff how they do it because I have really come to appreciate the cancer center staff. I will do my best to acknowledge them for what they do. And I'm definitely done with the criticisms.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still Feeling Positive

I still feel like I'm getting over the ultrasound and the anesthesia I had on Friday. The pain is slowly lessening and I'm still pretty spacey and low energy. Sunday afternoon, I found myself a little anxious about everything. As I was letting my emotions flow, I wondered if my positive attitude was masking this anxiety. Well, an hour later I woke up from a short nap to find out it was just some anxiety. I felt good after I woke up. My attitude is still strong. I still feel very positive. It was just something that needed to move through me.

I will admit that taking Oxycodone around the clock isn't exactly filling me with positive energy. It actually makes me kind of flat in personality as well as attitude. I am so hoping the pain will reduce so I can take less of the stuff. I really can't stand feeling like this all the time. Daniela keeps reminding me it's only temporary. I'm hoping the tumor shrinks sooner than later and requires less pain killers so its real temporary.

Last week, my pain was definitely less and I had a lot more energy. Today I slept from 1 to 3:30 and didn't have too much appetite when I woke up. I wanted yogurt...??? I don't even like yogurt!!! But I wanted it, so I ate it and I shared it with Beau - my favorite way to eat.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Afternoon By the Falls

This afternoon, we went to the waterfall and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Today was a gorgeous day. And fortunately the waterfall is at the edge of the property so it's basically in our backyard. Listening to the water and watching the kids play & swim was a real treat.

After we got back, my neighbor called to say hello and offered to make another macrobiotic meal for us. I told her that we just got back from the waterfall. I told her about how free I felt for the first time in so long. She had some difficulty understanding me and asked me to repeat myself. I told her I was trying not to cry. But the tears just started flowing because as I spoke to her, I realized that while we were at the water, I had forgotten about having cancer. I was actually just sitting at the base of a beautiful waterfall with my family, temporarily oblivious to cancer and chemotherapy and radiation and everything else that has led me to live such a very different life than the one I lived not so long ago.

The tears are still flowing down my cheeks as I write this. It just keeps hitting me - for a few hours this afternoon, I didn't have cancer. We were just a normal family enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon by the falls.

Friday, April 18, 2008

This Morning's Ultrasound

This morning my surgeon performed the ultrasound. I'm amazed by the anticipation I experienced on Thursday and then, especially, this morning on the way into the hospital. Part of it is that I'm a bit tired of being doped up for these procedures. The other part is the thought of the pain that always seems to follow. Granted its for my own benefit, but I still don't enjoy it.

I remember being sedated this morning before I was wheeled into the operating room. The nurse asked me if I wanted something to calm my nerves - he could tell I was a bit anxious. I thought it was a good idea. Well, I got about two paragraphs into an article in Field & Stream Magazine and then the next thing I knew, I "came to" and I was in the operating room babbling to someone about who knows what. I remember I saw Dr. Cagir, my surgeon, and said hello and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room nodding off every few minutes and feeling a little nauseous. Not a lot of fun.

I came home and went in and out of sleep all day. When I woke up, I took a quick look at my email and saw a message from a friend. He mentioned that I always have a positive attitude and asked if I ever get mad or sad or feel helpless. I fell back asleep and woke up to the sound of my family talking. I found myself really annoyed with them, although I kept it to myself. Then I thought about my friends email and realized that I was pretty mad.

I felt angry about having to go through this morning's procedure with all the resulting pain and drowsiness & nausea I feel from the anesthesia. I was angry about having to go through surgery this August, once the chemo & radio therapy are over. I was angry about having to be cut open and have parts of my body, specifically some large intestine, removed from my body for good. To tell you the truth, I have always been fascinated by surgery and wondered what it would be like to go through it. Well, now that I have had some very minor procedures, I don't find it so interesting. My experience of it has been to wake up from the procedure with a clouded mind, wobbly legs and soreness where the procedure was done. Its not exactly what I call fun.

In Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, there's a part in the book where Dan sees a friend intensely crying because his house burned down. Then the man stopped crying, stood up and greeted Dan. Dan asked him how he could go from one extreme to another and his friend explained that he expressed everything that was there for him and then went on his way. I found that to be very powerful and over time I took it on myself.

So, this evening as I spoke to Daniela about how angry I felt, I realized the anger was a mask for my fear. Fear of what could be. So, I do have anger and I do have fear, but I don't let them have me. This evening I got scared of the possibility of the cancer returning. I shared how I was feeling with Daniela - shed a few tears when I noticed they were welling up - and then I was peaceful again. I find if I look in the eyes of whatever has me, I express the emotions that show up and then its gone and I'm free. Other times it takes a little longer, but overall, its the same process. I don't always mention it in my entries because they are often just fleeting moments and they are common enough that I almost don't even notice them. However, I will do a better job of sharing my entire experience with you. I don't want to appear like I feel empowered all the time. I feel empowered most of the time, but not all of the time.

I almost forgot about the reults of the exam. Dr. Cagir said the tumor has grown a little since he last saw it. In fact, it has grown through the muscle and some fat tissue and a tiny bit into a nearby lymph node. When I heard lymph node, I freaked. But Dr. Cagir reassured us that the growth into the lymph node was not a big deal. I will admit I had to hear this a few times, but he made it clear that the amount of cellular growth is so minute that the chemotherapy will kill those very small cancer cells before they grow any further. Then it dawned on me that the lymph node is going to be removed in August anyway.

If you are still thinking about the lymph node - like I was when I first heard it - you should also know that Dr. Cagir has never sugar-coated anything regarding the status of the cancer in my body. He is a colo-rectal physician. This is his specialty and he assured us that we need not be concerned about the cancer presence in the lymph node. If he were concerned about it, he would say exactly that and he did not. So, what did I do? I got a little scared, shared it with Daniela and then put my trust in Dr. Cagir. Trust, I might add, that he has earned.

Oh, one more thing. As far feeling helpless goes [Remember the email my friend sent?], I only feel helpless when I think about not being able be with the children as they grow up. And, I believe that whatever the outcome, this cancer diagnosis is a gift. Each breath that I take is a gift and therefore so is all that follows - cancer included - whether I understand it or not. And my hope is that I have also received the gift of a long, long life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Complete Healing

I just realized today is Wednesday and I haven't posted anything. So what I have to report is that I feel excellent - really excellent. I feel healthy and strong - so much that I am going stir crazy. This is all such a treat and I attribute it to doing Gerson Therapy and the current supplement regimen I am on. Outside of the unhealthy tumor in me, my body is incredibly healthy and quite detoxified. In addition, the supplements are designed to reduce the side effects of oncological therapy. And with that in mind, I expect some great results.

In addition, I have really chosen to do the oncological treatment. And by "chosen," I mean I have not just accepted that I must do it - like "oh well, too bad" - but I am clear its what I need to heal my body and I do it with the confidence that the end result will be my complete healing.

Today, one of the techs who has been there for 40 years, asked me how I was doing. I replied, "Emotionally?" She hesitated and then said, "Yeah. Emotionally. When you first arrived here you seemed a little nervous." I explained to her what it meant to me to be doing Gerson Therapy and what the initial change in experience meant to me. I told her that I have since become quite excited to see what kind of results I will have from the oncological treatment. When I shared with her about the Gerson Therapy and my belief that a healthier body would respond better, she said it made complete sense to her because my body is so healthy now. So, between the detoxing and the many supplements, I think I'm in for so great results.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Our Little Secret

So now that I have this port installed and the chemotherapy "drip" is attached to me, it takes a little something to take a shower. See, in case you haven't had a port attached to your body before, let me explain. Although the port is under my skin, the chemo "drip" mechanism that I carry with me everywhere I go has a line that runs from it to a needle that goes through my skin and into the port. And the port, I will remind you, has a line that runs into an artery. So, by having a port, I have a doorway for potential infection at the needles point of entry.

The point of entry is therefore covered with a clear piece of adhesive about 4" x 4". However, that is not enough when one wants to shower. It is apparently necessary to cover the area with...well...we were advised to use Glad Cling Wrap.

Now it may seem like it's not a very big deal. However...

...Friday morning, Daniela and I were in the process of wrapping me with Glad Cling Wrap, when I noticed the blinds were open. So to get straight to the point, I didn't get a good look at the neighbor who walked by and "happened" to glance in at just the right time. So, if you "happened" to be that neighbor who just "happened" to glance in the window and saw my wife wrapping me in Glad Cling Wrap, what do you say we consider it our little secret and just keep that little incident between the three of us.

Pain Management

I have been sleeping throughout the night for many, many nights and it is such a relief! It pays to be on an effective pain management program.

Today has been a BLAH kind of day. I didn't have any food in my stomach when I took the morphine this morning, so the stuff went right to my head and I haven't felt so great since. Not where I want to be first thing in the morning. I won't do that again.

Yesterday was better. I spent the late afternoon to early evening with two dear friends. We recorded a three-part harmony part for a new tune. Even though it cost me a little pain and discomfort (standing at the microphone), it felt good to be singing again and to be among good friends.

Tuesday I will meet with my surgeon, Dr. Cagir, in preparation for an ultrasound on Friday. He wants to get a closer look at the tumor tissue and see exactly where it is and how far it reaches. He intends to sedate me for the process since the area has become so sensitive. Even though the sedation will make the process potentially pain free, I am - at least at this particular moment- all done with being pharmaceutically influenced. I've been on and off pharmaceuticals (mostly on!) since October and I so look forward to be drug-free. Yet, being pain free ain't so bad either.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Some of you have noticed frequent type-os as of late. I believe this is a result of the pain medication I am taking. Thanks for understanding!!!

Supplement List Corrections

I just corrected/updated my supplement list. If it is of interest to you, please click here: My Supplements (from April 11th) to review the updated list.

Changes made because:
Some studies have shown that Vit. A decreases the effectiveness of radiation and high doses of COQ10 may also interfere with radiation.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Beautiful Country

Yesterday I slept from 1 pm until 3:30 pm and then again from 6 pm until 8 am this morning. I hope I don't make a habit of that. Anyway, I have just completed my first four radiation treatments. They only happen Monday thru Friday, so once again, weekends mean something to me.

My neighbor spoke to some friends who teach in a school district that I must pass through to get to Guthrie Hospital and with their help, he provided me with a route that saves 10 minutes and is absolutely beautiful. The roads follow creeks and streams in the valleys south of Ithaca and are well paved to boot. It makes for quite a pleasant ride - watching everything turn green while Spring blossoms. Upstate New York is some beautiful country.

My Supplements

In case you are interested, I thought I share the supplements I am taking. I had the privilege of having my supplement list reviewed by the Chief Naturopath at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. And with his recommendations, I have a number of supplements I take each day that will not only promote a healthy body during chemo & radio therapy, but will also raise the effectiveness of those treatments.

Those with links are recommended distributors (recommended to me not by me). I have no opinion on the subject. I am only passing it along:

Whey Pure Protein, at least 1 tablespoon 2-3 times a day
Probiotics, 1/2 tsp 3x/day
Multivitamin, 2 caps daily
Mineral supplement 2 caps daily
COQ10, 60 mg capsules, 1 cap, 3x/day = 360mg daily
Milk Thistle, 175 mg, 2 capsules, 3x/day = 1000mg daily
Vit C, 500 mg, 2 tablets, 3x/day = 3000mg daily
Wobenzyme, 3 tabs, 3x/day: on empty stomach
Miatake, 2 capsules: at bedtime
Melatonin, 20mg: at bedtime
Curcurmin, 500 mg, 4-6 capsules/day
IP6, 2 tabs, 3x/day: on empty stomach w/ wobenzymes
Vitamin A - 25,000 IU per cap, 1 cap 2X/day
Vitamin D3 – 2000 IU per cap, 1 cap per day
L-Glutamine powder – 1 Tbsp (10,000 mg) in water or juice 2x day

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Warning to all who are currently on Gerson Therpy:

Once I stopped the Gerson Therapy, I chose to continue to maintain the commitment to an alkaline diet (like that of Gerson Therapy) since an alkaline body is the least favorable environment for cancer. Cancer thrives in an acidic body. By eating alkaline foods, I am keeping the pH of my body as close to 7 as possible and I am creating a hostile environment for the cancer. But guess what??? A LOT can be done with just alkaline ingredients! If anybody knows of a good website with alkaline food information, please post it as a comment so others have access to it. Thanks!

I eat a mostly vegan diet - "mostly" because I drink a whey supplement and occasionally have a little ghee [ghee - clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water] - and I am even gaining weight which is an intention of mine since holding weight can be difficult for people being treated with chemotherapy & radiation. Dr. Cagir requested I put on the weight I lost while on Gerson Therapy and I am happy to!

So, I'm eating a ton of avocado - Daniela makes me guacamole. Lots of raw almond butter - absolutely delicious. And a friend of mine made me carrot cake, oatmeal rasin cookies, and peanut butter cookies with almost all alkaline ingredients. Granted these are not ideal alkaline food recipes, but they are a whole lot more alkaline than the refined non-alkaline foods out there.

I'm eating hummus which I love and different types of noodles and so many foods that likely won't even phase you - that for me, coming from Gerson - are absolutely delicious! I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg as far as the foods I can now eat. So let me just say, it is so nice to be eating delicious food again !!!

Tip Top Shape

Today is day three of my chemo & radio therapies. Each day I have come home and napped for about two hours. This must be the tiredness I was told would be caused by the radiation. I am certainly willing to set aside a couple of afternoon hours for a nap. Heck, I've always been a fan of afternoon naps!

During each radiation treatment I visualize the cancer cells dying from the treatment. Then at various times throughout the day, I imagine the 5-FU (chemo) enveloping my body and killing those cancer cells that were weakened but not killed from the radiation. It feels good to be on the path I am on and I believe this treatment will be very effective. I have more than adequately prepared for it and with the supplements I am taking (which I will share with you soon) I am keeping myself in tip top shape and complimenting the chemo & radio therapies.

It is my understanding that should my skin react to the radiation, it will likely be after a few weeks. I have Boiron Calendula gel which I believe will work wonders if I need it. And I believe the Aloe Vera gel I have will also be a great compliment and one heck of a sitz bath if needed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Treatment Plan

My treatment plan is as follows:

I will receive five to five-and-a-half weeks of radiation coinciding with 5-FU chemotherapy. Upon completion of the radiation, I will receive four additional weeks of chemotherapy. From there I will be given six to eight weeks for my body to heal at which point the cancerous tissue will be surgically removed. After I have recovered from the surgery, I will have an additional three to six month regiment of chemotherapy.

An Conversation Worth Mentioning

I forgot to mention an experience we had with the hematologist aka my chemotherapy doctor.

When we first met with him, he asked what I had been doing for treatment since I was diagnosed one year ago. I told him I was doing the Gerson Therapy and he replied saying he believes that alternative therapies are going to start showing up more and more. Then he asked how to spell Gerson and said, "it's nothing short of miraculous that the cancer did not metastasize, so what ever you were doing must have been doing something." Following that meeting, I met with a nurse and Daniela had another opportunity to speak with him some more. She later told me he repeated numerous times how amazed he was that the Gerson Therapy had kept the cancer from metastasizing.

It was pretty sweet to hear these words from an oncologist because the last time I met with an oncologist, he and his intern looked at us like we had three heads when ever the Gerson Therapy was mentioned. Or they did what they hoped would be perceived as polite head nodding, all the while their faces fighting to hold back expressions of terror. Yeah. So, it was nice to receive such a positive response from him.

However, at my last meeting with him, he asked if I plan on sticking around and doing the treatment - as if at this point, I'm going to jump ship. I'm thinking to myself, "I just had a port surgically implanted in my chest. Do you really think I'm going to just skip off to Mexico again?" Mind you, that was what I thought, not what I said. I told him I plan on sticking around and from there he determined the appropriate chemotherapy treatment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A New Chapter

This morning I had my first radiation treatment. All went well. However, wouldn't you know I will have to drop my pants every time I have radiation? Today they even took a couple pictures of my behind. Of course that was to confirm the settings were correct. It couldn't have been elbow cancer, huh? Had to be rectal. In all honesty, dropping my pants is the least of my worries. However, it is fun to joke about. I had the radiation staff laughing with me this morning.

This afternoon, in preparation for the chemotherapy, the skin covering my Port-A-Cath was sprayed with "skin freezing" liquid so I wouldn't feel the pain when it was pierced with a pretty heavy gauge needle. And it worked perfectly. All I felt was some pressure. Then a line from a little electronic box was connected and the chemotherapy began to be slowly pumped into my system. Pretty cool, knowing this stuff doesn't have anything good to say to any cancer cells it runs into. I felt slightly "off" once the stuff was in me, but nothing I could really put a finger on.

It was about two hours later when I felt some nausea. I took a dose of Compazine which was provided to me this afternoon to take in case of nausea. It took the nausea away and it knocked me out for about 5 hours, minus a few minutes in the midst of it all where I was awake enough to eat my dinner. Next time I'll try some ginger tea first and see if that works. Sleeping the next nine weeks away is not what I had in mind.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Last night was an odd nights sleep. I swear I woke up every 45 minutes to an hour. And then I would slowly fall back asleep only to do it all again. I think it may have been a result of the morphine in my system without enough water. The stuff dehydrates me. And in the midst of last nights sleeplessness, I felt a very slight dehydration headache - the kind I used to get when I first started taking morphine. I already have a humidifier. So, I'll drink more water this evening and see how it goes.

My dreams have been a bit...well, violent lately. I'm the kind of person that has epic dreams. I dream for what seems like hours with the story constantly changing and growing. In my dreams of the last few nights, I have been doing my best to stay out of the way of some real tough cats - often with blades or razors in their hands. These are some real serious hoodlums and they mean business. I've steered clear of them each night, but I must say I'm getting a bit tired of running. Tonight, if I remember to, I'm going to let them know whose dream this is and it's going my way whether they like it or not. I learned that technique from my brother Kiff when I was a kid. But I only ever remember to use it after a series of these types of dreams.

I imagine it also has a lot to do with the new direction I am taking and any concerns I have about my own health & wellness, not to mention the surgery which will happen in the late summer. I noticed I have felt a bit cornered or forced to do this conventional treatment. I haven't chosen it yet. I learned a handful of years ago that until I "choose" the path I am on, whether or not I feel like I have a choice, that path will occur like a burden. And the reality is, I do have a choice and I have chosen this path. So, I'll do some work on that tomorrow and get myself in a healthy frame of mind. And then "choose" this new direction.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

One More Thing

Thank you for all of your wonderful comments you have posted. It means a great deal to me to receive them. I love knowing I have your support!

The Missing Piece

As I lurk around this oncological world and try to find a comfortable space inside of it all, I oddly find myself looking forward to the radiation and chemotherapy. The intention of these treatments are to shrink the tumor and tumor shrinkage will hopefully equal less pain. It's a strange thing to be looking forward to something I spent so many months so opposed to. I suppose for many people with cancer it must be an odd love-hate relationship.

Well, I am still edging my way into this steps. I feel good about how my body will respond to the treatment and I am always looking for ways to make it easier. When I decided to be treated at Guthrie instead of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, I was clear there was a piece missing for me that needed to be fulfilled and that is the Naturopathic approach. Fortunately, a friend brought over a copy of a book entitled How To Prevent and Treat Cancer With Natural Medicine written by four authors, one of which is Timothy Birdsall who is the head Naturopath for all of the Cancer Treatment Centers of American throughout the country.

That same day Daniela happened to find our own copy of the same book. What Daniela found in this book are a list of the supplements necessary to prepare the body before, during and after chemotherapy & radiation. We were so excited. Then our friend (and neighbor) researched the most favorable forms of each supplement and which retailers have it available. That was a lot of legwork and we are quite grateful for all she has provided. And, we have a friend who is related to Timothy Birdsall and we hope to get Mr. Birdsall's input regarding any updates or supplement changes that are relevant to my diagnosis. Keep your fingers crossed!

So, now that I am no longer taking the many Gerson Therapy supplements I took daily for 10 months, I am on another whole slew of supplements. As funny as that is, I am glad and grateful to have these supplements available to me. As I am sure you can imagine, I am very much looking forward to as easy a ride as possible over these next 5 1/2 weeks of chemo and radio therapy. And what ever can be done to make it easier for me, I will do diligently. Now I just hope this Port-A-Cath heals up in time - Tuesday is not that far away!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Port-A-Cath Time!

How's that for a photo???

It was a cell phone photo taken by one the gals prepping me moments before I was put under to have the the Port-A-Cath installed .

So yeah, I had the Port-A-Cath installed yesterday afternoon. The surgeon told me I would not remember the process because they give me drugs that have an amnesia effect. And then he began to explain what the surgery would entail and what my experience would be. Well, that kind of threw me. If I'm not going to remember it, then why are you telling me? Then it dawned on me that I wouldn't forget the experience until after it happened and therefore it's best to know what to expect as it's happening. That conversation kind of looped my brain around itself - at least for a second or two!

Between the surgeon and his staff, I must have asked them at least 25 times to tell me I was not going to remember anything. All I kept thinking is this man is about to cut holes in me. And I have never had any kind of surgery before, so it was some what of a big deal to me, even if it was a simple out-patient process.

Following the procedure, the nurse asked if I was taking anything for pain, since she expected I may need something once all the surgery drugs wear off. I told her I was taking morphine to which she replied, "Okay. I was thinking something along the lines of Tylenol. I'm sure you'll be just fine." We both laughed. And the morphine definitely helped.

It wasn't until late in the evening that I really started to feel some pain. I took my scheduled dose of pain meds and quickly fell asleep. First thing this morning, the pain wasn't too bad and now it seems to be less and less painful as the morning progresses.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Guthrie Hospital

On Monday March 31st, we went to Guthrie Hospital in Sayre, PA and met with Dr. Cagir as planned. He said that if he had his choice, he would have me receive my chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Guthrie Hospital so he could have complete control over everything. He had a concern about practitioners out of his reach not complying with his recommendation and reducing the possibility of the procedure going less than perfect.

Dr. Cagir made it clear he would oversee all treatment that I received at Guthrie Hospital should I choose to work with him. It was that type of colleague-t0-colleague relationship that had me so impressed with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. So, after a short conversation with Daniela, I decided I will work locally (or at least relatively locally) with Dr. Cagir at Guthrie Hospital. I was very happy to hear the confidence in the voices of Dr. Cagir and Dr. Allerton (my chemotherapy doctor), when both told me they believe my chemotherapy and radiation treatments will shrink the tumor significantly and make the surgery a much easier process.

Today Daniela & I met with Dr. Ho, my radiation doctor, and he presented his recommended treatment of five to five and a half weeks of radio therapy. I was then CT scanned and tattooed for the radiation treatment. The radiation and chemotherapy are both scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

As far as my chemotherapy treatment is concerned, I opted to go with 5-FU which is an intravenous application. The pill form is available to me, however the pill form includes a small risk of red, irritated and/or peeling, blistered skin on my palms and soles of my feet. Apparently, the odds of such a reaction are low, but considering my system is sensitive and I tend to experience the less common side effects, I opted, as stated. for the intravenous method.

In order to keep my veins from looking like overly used pin cushions, I will have a port attached to my body - beneath the skin and just under the collar bone - on Thursday. This port is about the size of a quarter, only thicker, and will allow me to receive chemotherapy treatment 24/7, so I don't have to have an intravenous hook up taped to my hand which would 1) require me to receive continual chemotherapy treatments 5 days a week and 2) require me to have the intravenous hookup changed every week or so.

It still feels a bit strange to be typing an entry about my chemo and radiation treatments. Not for long I suppose!