Tuesday, December 21, 2010
It wasn't until after the third dose that my skin rash even showed up. It took a month longer and another dose for it to get to its current annoying state. From all that I can gather, this is certainly a good sign that the drug is actually reacting -- but it also shows that it is going to take it's sweet time.
From the gate, Dr Spira has been preparing us not to expect much after the first scan, so as disappointing as it is, I still feel good about my treatment choice.
The treatment is now over and so now we wait. I will go back for blood work and a basic checkup at the end of January, and it looks like we'll have more scans sometime around my 33rd birthday on March 10th. I sure hope that Dr Spira is working on the greatest gift of all for my birthday.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
So now it's time to celebrate! Actually, the celebratory blue cupcake was at my daughters third birthday party. But it also seemed fitting for this post. My labs are still good, and at my last check up -- The doctor was again "unimpressed" with my very mild side effects. Since the third dose, I've gotten sick one time and I've got a slightly itchy-rashy spot on my back. But otherwise am in great condition, mind and spirit. Dr Spira basically congratulated me and told me that I would have seen any major side effects by now, and that I've simply sailed through the protocol.
The next step will be to wait a few weeks and then have another whole body PET/CT, which is scheduled for the 10th of December. I will meet with him a few days after and determine the next step. The protocol has changed and it looks like they will mostly likely hold off on the second course of treatment. Everything depends on the outcome of my scan, but the drug company wants to also measure success after the first course of four treatments. I am prepared with my argument should we reach that point, but it all hinges on the result of the scan.
I've got all the drug in me now, so now is the time to wish me luck. We need all those monoclonal antibodies to do their work and wipe out this cancer for good.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I have finally started feeling some effects from the drug. Tuesday morning was rough for me. I woke up feeling warm all over and quite a bit nauseous. Not long after I had to rush to the bathroom where I did get sick. After speaking with my research nurse, the doctor wanted to me to take compazine which interestingly enough treats both nausea and schizophrenia.
Since then I've continued to feel only a little queazy, but nothing like Tuesday morning. I've not yet taken any of the pills.
My leg continues to bother me with that dull and annoying pain. I was scheduled to receive Zometa, which is a bone hardening agent. They want to shore up my bones which would both alleviate pain as well as provide at least some level of protection from a bone fracture. Turns out that my recent dental work was still too recent for this treatment. Having the tooth extraction created two areas where bone needs to be regenerated which take on average three months to complete. Zometa can cause a condition called Osteonecrosis which would essentially cause necrotic bone tissue to form in my jaw. I definitely don't want that, so we'll go ahead and wait the additional month.
I currently manage the pain with 800mg of Ibuprofen once or sometimes twice per day. If the pain worsens, I could opt for focal radiation to the leg, but I will do my best to avoid that for now.
I've continued showing up for work a few times per week now, which seems to be working out well. I've been able to find organic food options at both of my commuting destinations which include DC and Reston. All in all -- I'm happy, generally healthy and continue to focus on growing old with my friends and family. That's all any of us can really do.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Over the past three weeks I've changed things up quite a bit. I'm now eating a wider range of fruits and vegetables and I've introduced some bread and a little cheese into my diet. It has been an exciting time around the house recently as we are once again planning and preparing meals for the week ahead. Now that I am getting a wider variety of foods I have noticed that the joint pain in my wrist has gone away. I'm also up about 10 pounds and holding steady at around 150.
One interesting thing to note from yesterdays appointment was from my blood work results. As I've been reporting for sometime my LDH has been on a slow and steady rise. That momentum has finally changed and for the first time it has actually dropped. It was down about a 100 points from where we were just three weeks prior. Though Dr Spira suggests that this is nothing to get too excited about because it could be a chemo-reactive response. We both agreed that a down response is much better than up.
In the next few weeks I'll be working with my doctors to get on the list to receive Zometa to shore up my leg while I await my durable complete response from ipilimumab. This will be another infusion that will be administered every month while I need it.
I am now working outside of the house twice per week. I've truly been lucky to have such great business partners and an understanding customer while spending the last year dealing with this crap. We are only a few months away and I should be good as new. Like a fine wine, I'll return aged and sport that vintage look with my white hair.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I've moved away from the strict Gerson regimen and have began working on a new menu and diet plan. I will be following the many guidelines from other "cancer diets" and will continue to maintain a low-fat, low-sodium vegetarian diet. I plan to add in legumes, berries and some of the "super foods" that are widely talked about today. I will continue to steer clear from highly processed and other chemically enhanced foods.
This change puts a rather large hole in my schedule. After all, I'm only doing one coffee enema per day and my juicing schedule is much more relaxed. I've managed to get to work a few times last week, and I plan on making a continued appearance. I was able to go out and spend the day with my son, and am currently trying to plan a weekend camping trip -- a trip that should be much more relaxing than the last.
My mouth is now clear of dental issues or mistakes. The lymph node that was once under my jaw has now cleared. As expected, it was due to the infection which triggered the initial extraction. I've since also had my root canal removed. This clears the last bit of mercury amalgam as well as the possible breeding ground for bacteria. Now I hope, my body's immune system can focus on bigger issues.
I was able to get a prescription of Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) have been taking it nightly for a couple weeks. I did experience the as-advertised vivid dreams for the first night or two, so I know that my body was able to accept the medicine. I think it is important to include as an adjuvant and based on there being no negative impacts, my doctor agrees.
It was a bit of a run around, but I finally got in touch with Dr Spira from Virginia Cancer Specialists. Apparently they have expanded even further the access for receiving Ipilimumab. I will be included in the first group of those being treated at this facility with the drug, a fact that turns out to be a moot issue since all facilities must strictly follow the same protocol setup for the clinical trial.
Amy and I had a good conversation with the doctor. We both liked him and not simply because of his impromptu impersonation of Dr Sharfman. It was friendly, but it was funny and dead on accurate. Dr Spira did indicate that clinical trials are different and is one case where it is less about my "interviewing" him and more about him seeing if I am am a fit for the trial. Even still, I decided to tell all and hide nothing. He told me that I could continue with my reduced "Gerson schedule" as well as LDN during my treatment. He warned only that I should not have any vaccines, recently or for a period of time beyond the treatment.
A few of you reached out after my previous post and offered your help in finding the Melacine vaccine. I really appreciated that. After a few phone calls and a chat with "a lady in Canana who's job it is to assist Americans receive Canadian health care", we found out that Melacine is in fact no longer commercially available. I could once again look around for the black market variety, but after my talks with Dr Spira, I suppose this should probably fall out of my current plan.
In preparation for the trial I had to have more bloodwork, an EKG and a head CT. All of which came back clean. I am able to use my recent PET scan as a baseline, but since it was a few weeks ago it puts me on a short time table. If I wanted or needed more time, I would have to get another scan. Since I am ready to go, they booked me for Tuesday, September 28.
Amy and I will go to the clinic in the morning. I will receive a 90 minute infusion into a vein in my arm. They want to monitor me for an hour or more at this first appointment, but then I'll be sent home. There are a number of things I'll need to monitor on my own, but it "should" be nothing like IL2 or chemo. I'll return every three weeks for another infusion for 4 weeks total. After a few weeks, we will scan and check for status. Initially seeing slight progression is apparently common for this drug. It's my understanding that unless things are clearly not working, I would be eligible for another round of 4 treatments.
From all that I have read, the common and early indication of remission and long durability is that my hair will turn white. My son made reference to wizardry, perhaps Merlin or Dumbledore. Another as offered by my friend Patty, while keeping it long I would look like a Tai Chi Grand Master. I guess I had better stop missing class.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The Gerson Therapy will remain a critical component of my life. This new healing plan will introduce treatments that will interfere and force me to slow the detoxification process. In preparation of this, I have already started to follow a reduced schedule. Though it would never stand up to critical comments like those from Jon, to someone who is not familiar with the extreme schedule, it will continue to seem like a therapy. This change allows me to stay proactive and for once, I can be relieved knowing that there will be days where the schedule is not perfect.
I will remain on the Gerson diet. I've grown fond of it over the past year, and it is super easy to plan for and prepare. I also still believe that the food we eat is critical to our health and after doing it for a year, I want to ensure that I am as prepared as I can be as I move closer to receiving conventional treatments. I have yet to cheat on the diet but, I intend to enjoy a "blue cupcake" at Ella's third birthday party in November.
I blogged recently about the removal of my mercury amalgams and tooth extraction. My one remaining dental issue is a dead tooth that has had a root canal. This is the next item on "My Healing Plan" as it already scheduled to come out on Tuesday, September 14 by Dr Sambataro.
It may seem that I've rushed into the tooth extraction, but with good reason. With the recent news of bone metastases, I am now running against a new clock. I've only felt dull and very minor discomfort in my leg from the cancer. As time goes on, it will surely spread and grow increasingly painful. The spread could also weaken my leg bone. Dr Jang recommends Zometa to harden the bone and prevent a break. The combination of dental work and Zometa is dangerous as it causes Osteonecrosis. If things speed up, radiation to the leg becomes another choice. Since having the root canal removed is critical in "My Healing Plan", there is no time like now.
I have also decided to begin taking Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as an adjuvant therapy. Naltrexone is a commercially available drug that is used to treat and reduce the effects of certain drug addiction. If taken at night and at a low dose, it tricks the brain and causes a flood of endorphins to be released into the blood stream. With virtually zero side effects, it has been used to successfully manage symptoms from multiple sclerosis and other auto immune disorders. Because it is an immune system stimulator, it has been linked to and there are studies occurring now in cases with cancer that are believed to respond to the immune system like Melanoma.
I've also come across some information about a vaccine that was, at one time, studied in the United States for early stage melanoma called Melacine. It is a disease specific vaccine that contains actual melanoma lysates obtained from human cancer cells. When combined with other proprietary components that make up their vaccine, it is believed to train the human immune system to recognize and fight melanoma. In combination with other immune boosting efforts, this might help provide a wallop might overcome my disease. The problem is that though it is commercially available in Canada as an approved treatment for Stage IV Melanoma, it was never submitted to the FDA. It is quite possible that I get the opportunity to entertain some hockey lessons in my search and travels to obtain this vaccine.
The final step in "My Healing Plan" is to receive the immunotherapy drug Ipilimumab. This drug has been all the rage and accounts of success are stacking. What I've read most recently is that long term durable remission has been linked with a particular side effect. The drug is supposed to activate the immune system and with any luck it will attack the melanocytes. Thats when depigmentation begins. Starting with the eye brows, Ipilimumab treated survivors lose the coloring of their hair.
This is "My Healing Plan". It can also be found as a list, that I plan to update as we move forward. My plan focuses on living and boosting my immune system. What it allows me to do is live a healthy life and entertain real treatment options that have become available since starting this journey nearly two years ago. I know that my change of treatment might offend some readers, but given where things are the change was inevitable. I am now more confident than ever that I will one day realize full health. I hope that you will continue to fight by my side.
Friday, September 3, 2010
One option is to stay the course and continue on the Gerson Therapy for at least another year. I would have to, without a doubt, change things up and somehow more heavily focus on it as a therapy versus a way of life. I'd have to hire someone full time to simply take over and do everything for me. I'd have to even more so, alienate my friends, family and those that I work with. The issue here relates to the fact that I now have bone metastases. If the tumor grows and begins to fracture or break my leg bone, I'll have to resort to pain medications, which will drastically reduce or nullify the therapy. This will force me to look for alternatives, but because of damage my options will be even fewer.
There is now an option for those suffering from Stage IV Malignant Melanoma. An option that is neither chemotherapy, nor requires a long term hospital stay for treatment. Of course, I am talking about Ipilimumab and it does not come without it's own side effects and possible long term effects. There is seemingly sound logic and science behind it and it coincides with the same genre of healing the body versus traditional approaches that aim to kill the cancer and accept the collateral damage.
It has been been recommended by several people, and most recently my Gerson doctor agrees. Looking at all the facts, considering where we are after a year on the therapy. Knowing that tumor growth can sometimes be accepted, but spread means something totally different. I need to make a change.
Though it appears the evidence has become overwhelming, that doesn't allow me to suddenly change anything. As you might expect, there is a waiting list to receive this drug. Many of you have sent me recommendations for other treatments, doctors and other helpful resources. It is my intention to look through them over the next few days and begin to build a list. I'll be calling doctors and asking questions to see if there are other options that I should consider. I'll also see if I can get on a shorter waiting list to receive the treatment.
Besides the now obvious reminder that something is there, I am still very healthy and once again in good spirits. I will slowly ease off the Gerson Therapy and possibly even broaden my menu to something a little less restrictive, which is on my list of things to research. I will attempt to post more frequent updates as things occur, things could get quite interesting.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I still have several small tumors throughout. The target lesion on my liver has increased in size. The large tumor on my spleen has continued to grow. I once again have a growth on my left adrenal gland. I now have bone involvement in my right leg, which explains some recent dull irritation. Though not confirmed, I additionally have concerns about some pain that I feel in my right arm.
All things considered, and to the credit of the Gerson Therapy, I have now lived for 15 months with Stage IV Malignant Melanoma without, or with very mild symptoms. My doctor says that this is a result of my IL2 treatment. Regardless, seeing as how the average life expectancy is 6 to 9 months while mostly sick, I guess I really should not complain.
I have been looking closely at the new headlining drugs PLX4032 and Ipilimumab as possible avenues but they both come with their own criticisms. After speaking with a few people, I've also gained some interest in looking at possible vaccine options, though not any of the ones that are currently being offered in the US seem promising.
The third option would be to stay the course. Figure out some way to even more aggressively isolate myself from the world and rely solely on the words and wisdom of Dr Max Gerson. The fact that I still feel good, to me, gives credit to his madness. I just know that if I am to jump ship and try a radical treatment as only the western medical practice can offer, now is the time.
I am scared like hell to stop this therapy.
I am scared like hell to stay the course.
I am scared like hell to try anything else.
I am scared like hell to not try.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I had a follow up appointment with Dr Venna at Washington Hospital Center today regarding my recent PET scan and the outcome was rather unexpected. By the end of our discussion both he and I agreed that we do not have enough information to make an objective determination as to the over status of my disease. On one hand, we have a PET scan that shows a body that has active malignancies. On the other we know that for someone like me to have malignant melanoma for more than a year and I'm still alive is strange. He admitted to me that there is a disconnect in knowing my history and seeing how alive and well I am actually doing. "You really did look great, Mr Brockey!", he said in an excited but totally professional tone.
As I've been reporting on the blog, my LDH has been slowly climbing. The last blood work now has me at a level of 440 where the upper level should be at about 250. By no means is the 440 figure alone all that worrisome, but the rising pattern indicates something going on. Now we just have to figure out what that something is. As Dr Cervantes indicated and Dr Venna confirmed, if we have tumors breaking down they too would release the same enzymes and cause the LDH marker to increase. So a rising LDH could be good, or a rising LDH could be bad. So how do we find out which it is? I'm gonna have to go back in for the diagnostic CT, it is the only way to know for sure.
I also asked Dr Venna to help me think clearly about cancer, the immune system and my current approach. All the voodoo this and green tea that aside, I asked him to consider that my simple approach at basically providing my body everything that it needs and giving it nothing that it doesn't, would it be possible for the human body to eventually correctly identify and rid itself of this cancer. I was satisfied by his answer in that he didn't discount it and further agreed that the human body does in fact have the mechanisms required for the job.
He wants me to meet with Dr Jang, who is new to Washington Hospital Center and from what I understand is another young face in this field. Dr Venna believes that I should work with him so that we can better track my progress and consider all options. I'm not totally against the meet and greet and will do so on Tuesday.
When you live with cancer, it makes you think about things a little bit differently. No longer are the meals that I eat, or the people than I share my time with taken for granted. I am fully aware of all of the environmental toxins around us. It even forces one to look back and consider all the toxins that over time, we have placed in our own body. It's not quite common but did you know that the silver fillings in your teeth actually contain mercury? As you should already know mercury is both extremely toxic and bad for your health!
It is called an Amalgam filling and practitioners on the Gerson Therapy are commonly recommended to visit a biological dentist after being on the therapy to have them removed. Over the past few years, I've had my amalgams removed from the normal dentist who claimed that they do it because the silver fillings look bad and they can sometimes crack and create areas for bacteria to grow. The problem with a standard removal is that the mercury vapors that are inhaled or swallowed lead to heavy metal poisoning and can burden the immune system leading to such detrimental health issues and diseases such as cancer.
Root canals are another problematic subject that if done incorrectly will lead to bacterial infections in small pores inside the dead tooth. Since removing the roots and you are leaving a foreign object that is completely disconnected from the blood flow and immune system leaving any infection to go unnoticed. If left to sit and muster, it will also lead to disease and chronic illness.
It was the next step in healing for me and I decided to visit Dr Sambataro at Healing with Dentistry in Columbia, Maryland. The first appointment was unlike any other dental experience that I've ever had. To be honest it was a little odd even for me, but as you talk with Dr Sambataro and learn about his passion for his work, it all starts to makes sense.
After a couple initial diagnostics appointments we built my plan. Turns out that even after my silver filling removals in the past, I still had one on the back side of one of my upper front teeth. Thats #10 for my readers who are dentally inclined. It was small, but charged up with electrostatic. After some imaging, we also found an abscess under of my lower right molars, or #31. We determined after some additional triage and testing, the only way to heal this abscess and remove any infection was for the tooth to come out.
Having a mercury removal and tooth extraction while trying to stay consistent with the Gerson Therapy was interesting. Dr Sambataro and his staff already used only distilled water (no fluoride), and they understood my limitations of sodium and a heightened sensitivity to local anesthesia. They offer laughing gas and your normal agents, but I decided to steer clear if I could.
How does someone go about having a tooth pulled with only local? I meditated. Seriously! I had just learned my first complete set in Tai Chi at Body Balance with Master Pat Hancock, and so I just sat there and visualized myself moving through set 1 of Yang Style long form. I was lost in my thoughts and found myself in a place where I had actually stopped thinking about my surroundings. Certainly I was brought back from time to time, but I would start from the beginning and try again. As it turns out, the procedure took quite a bit longer than it was originally scheduled -- I was lucid through most of it.
The dental appointment ended with an acupressure session with Wendy. This was a first for me, but it was a great way to relax and I would recommend it be something you experience for yourself. Like acupuncture, it is based on energy and the body's meridians. The main difference is that it mainly involves touch versus needles.
Since the extraction I've been home and taking it easy. I've taken a couple of Tylenol to help manage the acute pain, but generally feel pretty good. The important thing is that now that I've removed what turns out to have been an active infection and the mercury amalgam, the path to healing has now been opened up further. I do still have one tooth that has had a root canal. It will also need to come out in the coming weeks, after I fully recover from the first.
I hope that you take a minute to consider your own dental history. It is just as important to your overall health as the food that you eat to nourish your body. Don't just accept what your doctor, dentist or anyone else will tell you. You should read about it yourself. Knowledge is power!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
After being on the Gerson Therapy for within two weeks of a full year, the results from a recent PET scan are quite a bit discouraging. I continue to have "hypermetabolic activity" on my liver, spleen and left adrenal gland. The report also indicated activity in the area of my right hip which has not been previously diagnosed. This is the first PET that I've had since receiving a stage IV diagnosis, so there are no facts to indicate progression, over what could be considered stable. I decided not to have the CT portion of the test complete, so we lose the factor of overall tumor changes. My bad.
Since I've not been working with an oncologist, I have only talked with my general doctor about these results. The day I got my scan, I also met with Dr Venna for a *regular* dermatology appointment. Overall it went well, he found nothing new on my exterior and was even willing to discuss further options for treatment. He agreed to review the results from my PET scan and call me this afternoon with his interpretation.
Recent blood work shows that my elevated LDH continues to rise at a slow but steady pace. We have now topped 440 which is nearly double the level of when this all started. LDH is such a subjective marker, and the number itself means nothing. The steady rise of LDH would seem to indicate that the cancer is spreading.
I owe a phone call to Mexico and have Dr Cervantes weight in with his thoughts. I've already sent all my recent results, I hope to speak with him this evening.
This has given me an opportunity to once again come out of my hole and see what the western world has to offer as far a treatment options. Once again, it doesn't look good. The PLX4032 drug which has been leading the headlines as a medical breakthrough, seems to have all been smoke. I've followed several cases where not long after astonishing shrinkage, melanoma soon returned with a vengeance. When it returned, the melanoma has mutated and grew along another pathway rendering all other treatments useless. In every case that I know, the patients have already died.
Ipilimumab is also back in the news as the FDA just accepted it for fast track review. After having what some are considering great success in clinical trials for late stage melanoma, it appears it will get FDA approved as a second line treatment. Similar to IL-2, it is an immunotherapy. Much like IL-2, Ipilimumab can really kick your ass. One possible, known and documented side effect is death. At least it isn't known to cause cancer.
I give full credit to the Gerson Therapy in that it has given me something to focus on and has kept me from the typical clinical trial shuffle that goes along with today's cancer treatments. My biggest fear is being a position where I am forced to take this chemo drug, or that chemo drug or maybe some radiation while I am waiting for something else to open up. If nothing else, Gerson has given me the opportunity to wait for something better to come along.
So to answer the question of where are my results after being on the Gerson Therapy for an entire year. Here I am. I am still alive, well and full of life, and that's got to amount to something.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I have got a really great family! I had been keeping this to myself, but after some pressure I decided to post it for you to enjoy as well. For Father's Day, Amy's uncle Monte Oberlee, authored and recorded a song for me. Amy and Kaige then conspired together and gathered some family photos to create this video. I hope that you enjoy it.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I decided to visit a biological dentist. What separates a biological dentist from your ordinary dentist is that they too believe that the mercury in the silver fillings along with the use of fluoride is toxic to the body. They also believe that root canals and other such dental work actually create pores and channels in the tooth that allow bacteria to grow which impair the immune system and ultimately lead to disease.
I had some imaging done on the pain points in my mouth and sure enough we found what could be an infection at the base of a tooth. An infection would absolutely lead to an immune response which would involve nearby lymph nodes. Bottom line is that I will likely need to have more dental work and some antibiotics. The hope is that by clearing up this infection, the body can focus on other more important areas of healing.
I am also feeling sensitivity in a tooth that has had a root canal. This fact really bothers me. It is the last tooth in the back of my mouth since having my wisdom teeth removed and at the time had a bunch of decay. It was given a root canal and then crowned, providing optimal conditions for bacteria to grow and spread. If I had a better understanding of these things, I would have simply had it removed as well. Of course this was not offered to me at the time as even being an option.
So here I am, in the fight of my life which happens to also be a fight for my life. I've been lied to, cut open, poisoned and billed for it. If I've learned anything at all, it is that in this world, it truly is every man for himself. I hope that you find and take away lessons from my story. It is important to educate yourself and stand up and fight before the system steam rolls over you too.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It has been only on rare occasions that I fall back and feel the walls of "therapy life" caving in. I focus on living life, I don't think much about cancer anymore. This is the main reason why I haven't blogged.
My friend Steven has got me back riding the motorcycle, and I have really been feeling good about my tai chi practice. You include those with the fact that I have a great family on my side who brighten each and every day, it's no wonder that my mind has been lifted from the fog.
While my LDH has remained slightly elevated, the rest of my blood work is as stable as it has always been. I feel great, and I continue to have full energy.
I plan on taking the Gerson show on the road as Steven and I attempt a guys weekend out in the RV. An earlier attempt with the family, though successful was certainly a learning experience. The hope is that it can be perfected so that my "leash" can be extended.
I'll commit to providing updates, especially as the road opens up on my journey to a full and natural recovery from this "incurable" disease.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
It's been a nervous few weeks for me as we approached this "expiration date." I started to feel and see different things going on in my body, for example there were bumps that seemed to occur in my veins or on the back my legs. I recently also felt a slightly enlarged lymph node in my neck. Was my doctor right? Much like how things will suddenly come to end in 2012, was my body on it's way to giving out so abruptly?
It was a good day to have a doctor's appointment with a man who I feel is interested in my case and in my method of treatment. I asked him about each of the little things that had been adding to my stress. He observed, prodded and inspected each of them. After his examination he sat down and told me that each of things that I am feeling are quite normal and suggested that I spend too much time feeling for things.
It was also time to have more blood drawn today. If you can recall that the past two lab results indicated a slightly higher than normal LDH. An interesting fact noted by my Gerson doctor was that though slightly, elevated it was the first time ever that the number wasn't higher than the time before. I'll keep a close eye on it this time around, and i also requested the iso enzyme test that will provide more details from where specifically the LDH enzymes are being released. I'll post the results when they come in.
The last year of my life was given to me by my oncologist. With the help of Dr Gerson, countless friends and family members and all my readers, the next 60 years will be all mine!
Location:Inwood Dr,Adamstown,United States
Friday, April 30, 2010
Some of you might remember that before my diagnosis, Kaige and I had been learning the martial art of Kung Fu. I found a great little school nestled in the trees in nearby Clarksburg, Maryland. After a long day at the office and the typical several hour commute, it was a perfect way to let loose and also get some exercise. All of that ended when my doctor called me in to his office and told me that my disease had spread to my liver and recommended that I discontinue the sport. I was at my lowest when I went to visit my Shifu to tell him that I would no longer be able to participate.
Over the past year, we've tried to stay in contact and have spent a few afternoons walking through my Shifu's garden talking about life, energy and nature. I am inspired by my teacher as he and his wife are on a quest of becoming totally sustainable and living off their permaculture design and edible landscape. It nice to see their progress with every visit.
This week I have reached a new milestone in my therapy. I am once again back at the school, but this time I am learning the healing art of Tai Chi. I have been missing a spiritual and meditative element that I hope to find here. I'll start by taking one class every week but also incorporate a small window of time in my daily life for practice.
Maybe you're interested in joining me?
Body Balance Healing Arts
15211 Comus Rd.
Clarksburg Maryland, 20871
By incorporating meditation along with my nutritional therapy, I intend to outlive my cancer. The body has an amazing natural ability to heal. It is a slow process that requires the proper healing conditions. Thank you for joining me in my journey.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The heating element in my water distiller recently stopped working, forcing me to come up with a way to eliminate my dependence on a single water purification device and a corporate water supply company as a backup for my roughly 12 gallons per day water requirement. The grand plan consists of harvesting the rain water, running it through some type of water purification system and ultimately storing it for later consumption.
I decided to start this project on smaller scale and build a simple water irrigation system to water the recent landscaping around my backyard shed. Along with irrigating the water from falling on my firewood which sits directly under the roof on the back side of my shed, this project should also remove my need from hand carrying buckets of water to provide this essential element to my new leafy green friends.
The most time consuming part of this project turns out to be the installation of a gutter on the shed. I found and purchased a reasonably priced DIY vinyl gutter kit that was pretty much screw and snap into place. As long as my angle is correct, I can now control the flow of my newly harvested rain water.
After considering the numerous rain barrel options, I decided to go with one that offered a small, unsightly footprint. It's a big hallow plastic rock, and I decided to tie it in to the landscape. As the water is harvested and provides life to the single legged critters that it will feed, the hope is that the rock and shed will be hidden/ covered in green and other colorful plant life.
The threat of rain was there for the entire weekend, but besides a drop or two here or there, I managed to install the gutter in 30 minute intervals across a single weekend. As soon as I completed the installation and put all my tools away, the rain let loose. I was a little nervous that my gutter might crumble as the storm pounded down, but at the same time happy to see all that water gushing down the gutter and filling the 40 gallon reservoir.
The next morning I went out to check on things and was thrilled to see that my rock was completely full and my gutters were still *properly* hanging from the shed. I also noticed that there was water flowing through a soaker hose that I installed to the base of the rock. It was a success!
With step one complete, I've been able to play with and figure out how some of this rain water collection and stuff works. Now I need to go back and draw up some plans for a slightly larger system to try to collect even more rain from the roof of my house.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The entire purpose of my IL2 treatment was to put the body into immune response. It is simply amazing how drinking a few glasses of carrot juice a day has been more effective.
I anticipate my fever will return again this evening. I'll continue posting updates as we determine where my path of healing leads us.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
I will closely monitor my fever and report any changes that I feel over the next few days. My disease progression followed by my stages of healing have all been textbook cases. This gives me great hope moving forward.
I am deeply saddened to report the loss of not one but two fellow melanoma soldiers. Clint Slatton and Marcus Stanley will forever remain in Amy's and my hearts and minds as we started our journeys at just about the same time.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Hey' Mike ,got back from BNC 2weeks ago. I saw you have a distiller hooked up. Any help I am tired of 2 gallon showers with a bucket. What size distiller would you install if you could.
I have an 8 gallon distiller with a 40 gallon reserve. The distiller will produce about 1 gallon every 3 hours. I find that a) my distiller is working all the time b) still have to be extremely conservative. With the help of some friends, I am considering a rain water harvesting system for the shower. More on that soon.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In other news ... In an attempt to provide better insight into my therapy, I wanted to provide some question and answer functionality. In this first attempt, we'll try FormSpring. Asking a question is easy. I've provided a form on the right just below my quick references. If you have a question, send it my way and I'll do my best to respond. I currently have it setup to blast responses to my Twitter account as well as this blog, so please forgive any unwanted spam this might cause. I will adjust settings accordingly moving forward.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
It is time once again for more blood work and lab testing. In preparation for this morning's fast, I filled up on apples and bananas leading up to bed last night. When you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables all day, you can get really frigg'n hungry.
I pretty much weigh myself every morning, afternoon, evening and again before bedtime. Not that I think I'm losing any weight, but with all that I eat it is quite interesting how stable my weight actually is. So it was of no surprise to me when the nurse said to me, "You're exactly the same weight as last time!"
After checking my vitals, the nurse was again quite pleased to announce that my blood pressure and resting heart rate were both just fine. She told me that I was doing great and that the doctor would be right in. My nurse, (I have no idea what her name is) is no stranger to cancer as she too is a survivor.
After chatting with Dr Lee a few moments, it was clear that he was happy with my recent blood work especially after the updated labs that showed normal LDH ranges. He checked my heart and lungs. He then spent a good amount of time tapping on his laptop. I presume he was either playing solitaire, updating his FaceBook status or he was updating my file.
In the weeks that have passed since the ultrasound, I had a few related thoughts brewing in my mind. I wanted to get his opinion before sharing them. Although he is not a specialist, he did agree with me on principle.
In May of 2009 my condition worsened as melanoma decided to show up again, this time on my liver and spleen. After a couple months and a few rounds of IL2, a couple CT scans and finally a finding of disease progression, it was made very clear to me that my options we're extremely limited. I quickly found out that my treatment options were actually quite vast. The problem was that nobody was offering a cure. After some careful consideration, I decided to follow the Gerson Therapy. What Dr Gerson was offering was something different. There was no magic pill, elixir or special formula. It was just a demanding, enlightening and against-the-grain shift in lifestyle. Most important to me, was that it wasn't toxic and didn't offer nasty side effects.
It has been 6 months since I started on this therapy and closer to 7 months since my last CT scan. Admittedly, there is no good comparison when comparing a CT and an ultrasound. Slight changes in either direction are meaningless because of fundamental differences in the technology being used. What does hold merit, in my book, is that there was no *remarkable* change within my target lesions. That is, they primarily use the largest few masses to determine disease status. Seeing as the largest mass was nearly the same as was measured in my previous scan, it could lead you into thinking that the disease is stable.
I'd like to hear your thoughts about it.
I know that this is a simple layman's perspective and could be completely wrong, but mentally it helps. I know that if nothing more, my therapy is offering me more time at home with my health and with my family. It makes me happy to say that I feel good and truly believe that I'll be hanging around for a while.
Monday, March 1, 2010
I just got the results from the ultrasound. Not unexpectedly, the little fuckers on my liver and spleen are still there. Even though it was expected, it still hurts to hear. You can bet that he gave me the whole spiel on palliative care options and hospice, though I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel.
I do plan to get the images, but as was mentioned before there is no baseline for comparison. Lesions appearing smaller or larger can be misleading when compared to previous CT scans. All I can do is compare how I feel, and I can only say that I do feel better than I did 6 months ago when I started my treatment.
A few blog posts back a comment was made bringing to my attention to the fact that I also missing a critical component of the therapy. Recent online discussions within the Gerson Therapy user group at the same time highlighted the fact that the effectiveness of the therapy is much increased with the consumption of real organic veal liver juice. I then learned that it was stopped being offered at the Mexican clinic nearly 20 year ago now because of the possibility of a bacteria infection from the cattle. I have started on some local research to see if I can get my hands on it as it could only help me out.
It is also worth a mention that the experimental drug code named Plx4032 is making another appearance in the news, this time as a narrative published in the New York Times. It is a remarkable story showing how many that suffer from melanoma are seeing some really positive benefits from this so called "targeted therapy". It is a chemo agent that targets a so-called B-RAF mutation which is present in nearly 50% of melanoma patients. The problem with this drug and other targeted therapy of times past is that they stop working. As you will find out in this story, cancer doesn't fight fair. It can mutate and find other pathways to proliferate, often times at a more aggressive pace.
This story is a bit dated as it doesn't mention other fighters like Clint Slatton, who had remarkable results and tumor regression, the drug suddenly stopped working after only six and one half months. Also not reported is that this drug has been shown to break the blood brain barrier making Andy Caress a pioneer. Not only seeing much of his tumor mass simply dissolving, multiple tumors in his brain are also shrinking while receiving this new drug.
There is now a phase III clinical study in progress that will compare its effectiveness against the chemotherapy alternative dacarbazine. This trial is scheduled to compare the results across a field of 680 stage III and stage IV melanoma patients. It is estimated to end in June of 2013.
Soo ... what does one do? I will simply continue down my path and hope that Dr Gerson either cures me or provides me with enough time to make a better informed decision.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I had my LDH levels retested and am happy to report that the total and the isoenzyme breakouts all reported back normal levels. I guess my snow shoveling theory was accurate.
My meeting with the new MD was pleasant. He understands that I have organically arrived at where I am along the treatment path and is willing to monitor me. We discussed and he has since ordered a sonogram of my abdomen and pelvis so that we can get an update on tumor burden. The images won't be quite as clear as a CT but then again this is a safe method that doesn't emit radiation. The trade off is simply worth it.
The next update should include some interesting imagery of hopefully, a cancer free liver. Stay tuned ...
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I just completed another round of blood work and this time the results are little more in the gray area. My lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels are just outside the normal range on the high side. At first glance, I'm not too concerned about it simply because blood markers can vary from the time to time. In order to find a problem you need take a step back and look to identify a pattern. It is the pattern in my case which is causing me some concern. I have a report from August of 2009 where my levels were at the low side of the spectrum. As I look at each of the results ever since, this number has been on a steady increase. This is indeed a pattern that we don't want to see. Let's have a quick look to see what this is telling us.
LDH is an enzyme found in several body tissue cells, including the heart, liver, kidneys, skeletal muscles, brain, red blood cells and lungs. When a disease or injury affects the body tissue, LDH is released into the blood stream. This test is used to screen for the degree of metastases to other organs at melanoma stage IV. A high LDH score means that melanoma cancer cells have spread to the liver, but because several organs produce LDH the results can be deceiving. In my case, I had a fairly heavy tumor load even when my LDH was still at a very low point. The fact that it has since been steadily on the increase should still raise some concern.
I am being referred to another local MD to see if we can get further clarification. There are additional blood tests that can detect isoenzymes that would indicate the source of the increased LDH. My Gerson doctor thinks that since my other blood levels, particularly my liver enzymes are still in normal range, increased LDH could indicate that my tumor burden is breaking up. I'm not really sure what to think at this point.
Until I recognized the pattern, I was working under the knowledge that lactate acid is formed and levels are increased when muscles are at work. The build up of this chemical is what causes soreness and muscle pain. Did anybody see that it snowed recently? Though I wouldn't say that I over exerted myself, certainly clearing the driveway a few times was no simple task. Though it doesn't account for the increase over the past several months, it may have been a contributing factor which put me over the top.
I just did another Google search to verify and since nobody has yet to find the miracle pill or claim to cure melanoma, my plan remains unchanged. I will go meet with this new doctor and hopefully get further blood work to help isolate the source. Though I'm sure he is a good doctor, he is a general practitioner so I'm not expecting to be too heavily enlightened about my situation after leaving his office.
Monday, January 25, 2010
It is almost time for another round of blood work. Since last time I've been on a twice per week castor schedule, which has yet to cause any noticeable differences. My lymph node remains and from all that I can tell has not changed in size or shape. Besides the small skin irritations and the occasional mouth sores, the past few weeks have been pretty uneventful. In my story, no news is most certainly good news.
At this point it is wait and see. I don't really consider myself as being sick. I no longer dread the fact that I have a cancer diagnosis. Sure we all have our moments, but on a daily basis we are all getting along just fine. What I am doing is reading and following the stories of others that also share a cancer diagnosis. I am intrigued at how all the stories seem to follow a similar path. It is interesting to read what others are thinking, or at least willing to share about their thoughts as to how they've come to make their treatment decisions.
What I find most interesting is that even though I've chosen to take an alternative path, I don't consider it a good option for many. The American way of life simply doesn't permit it. Many of us have large homes and large mortgages to go with them. We also have fancy cars, send our kids to private schools and a lust for the absolute latest in technology. Most of us wouldn't be able to survive without a supermarket, shopping mall or the ever growing and changing options provided by nearby chain restaurants.
In order to afford these things, we have to work. Usually we have to drive our fancy cars in rush hour traffic to get there, and then again to get home. We want to get a jump on traffic so skip our healthy breakfast and instead quickly use the drive thru to pick up a coffee and donut. Better yet, make that two donuts. We still arrive to work late which puts us on edge for the rest of the morning.
Lunch time rolls around and you've been good. You know you live in this fast paced world so you've planned for it. You either make a sandwich from the store bought processed what we think started out as turkey the night before, or better yet we simply grab one of those highly salted prepackaged frozen meals that you'll just throw in the microwave, quick. Not today though ... You stayed up way too late watching last night's ball game. So today we're gonna pick up something quick at the food court. Not to worry, all the salted frozen food will last for weeks!
We're usually stressed from work or simply late getting home so we pick up some food on our way. Studies show that even though many of us have memberships to the gym, we don't use them so why would tonight be any different? Instead lets just stay up late watching television and learn about more stuff that we can lust after or munch on in the days and weeks ahead. We go to bed late, wake up early to beat traffic and do it all over again.
The human body can take a lot of abuse. We should know, we put it to the test every chance that we get. It's human nature. When we do this to ourselves for years on end, we start to develop issues like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Then when we get sick we head to the doctor, who shares in the same health problems and American lifestyle as we do and then ask them for for help. They reach into their grab bag of *medical knowledge* sold to them by those selling the same medicine that they are now so proudly prescribing. They either say that there is a pill for that or that there is not a pill for that.
Here is what boggles my mind the most from all of this. This post is full of stuff that each and every one of us already know. The problem is that we don't know how to fix it. We can't even trust the information that is given to us since it is either published by or largely persuaded by the lobbies and large corporations that want to sell us more goods.
Besides selling everything, quitting your job, moving to the mountains and starting your own organic farm to feed your own family, I don't have an answer either. This is the world we live in and we've done it to ourselves. What is sad is that there was so much money in it that we decided to spread our American way of life across the entire globe. Now we all share in the steadily increasing risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Maybe this is what December 21, 2012 is all about. Just maybe things will be made very clear so that on the 22nd of December, we all know the correct path. Or quite possibly the only ones who survive the apocalypse will be those who sold everything and moved to the mountains with the foresight of a sustainable food and clean water supply. Or clearly, it is a bad thing to have time on ones hands (and no fluoride in ones water) to think about stuff like this.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I made it through the holiday season without a single cookie. The family was pretty good about not having these things around. It was a nice and quiet holiday season this year. We had family at our home and we managed to get out a few evenings to hang out as well. It was a welcome change to center the holidays around spending time with the family and not around food.
With another round of blood work securely under our belt, we are once again pleased with the results. My local doctor wanted to add an additional test this time which indicates that along with liver and kidney function, my pancreas is also in fine working order.
My Gerson practitioner, Dr Cervantes was also very pleased. When comparing my blood work with previous results, he is happy that I am showing a strong immune response and other markers that indicate stability.
We are now going to increase my castor oil intake from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp orally, twice per week on castor days. Because I was pretreated with Interleukin-2, a type of chemo therapy, we were easing into the full castor dosage. This now brings me to 1/2 the full dose.
I also had my vitamin d3 levels tested. Keeping your d3 levels in check is all the rage these days as it is has been clinically linked to our overall health condition. I have been taking 5,000 UI every day for the past 4 months. My levels are currently at a perfectly healthy level. Not knowing what they were in the beginning, we will never know if there is any link between my d3 levels and my disease.
With the recent arrival of Baby Addison, we are starting to find our new norm. One thing that is really helping out so far is that Addison is a good sleeper. She has been going 4 hours without feeding which has allowed Amy to get her rest, which in turn has put a minimum demand on me during the night. Resting and sleeping is a crucial ingredient in the healing equation. Since her older sister Ella was not what we would call a sleeper, we initially had some concerns.
It has now been a month since I first noticed the swollen lymph node in my groin. It has neither gone away or increased in size. I have noticed that on occasion I can feel a slight burning sensation around the node. As I mentioned in a previous post, it could indicate that my disease is spreading or that I am experiencing an immune response. The timing of it's arrival has allowed me to mentally accept this as being a good thing. Yes, a lymph node biopsy could be performed to check for the existence of Melanoma in that node, but what would be the point? I already know that I have Melanoma. For all I know, this is how my body is getting rid of it. Isn't removing disease and dead and cancerous cells what the lymphatic system is for?
The skin rash, or skin eruptions that I also previously indicated has all but cleared. They are a well documented reaction in a period of healing. Both my naturopath and Gerson doctor are excited about this particular reaction. The skin is the body's largest organ and is used in the detoxification process. This is a good thing.
Unlike modern expectations in life, the Gerson Therapy does not provide instant gratification or an immediate remedy. This is probably the most troublesome fact of the therapy that will prevent many from even attempting it. The Gerson Therapy is not a cure for cancer or other degenerative diseases. It is a way to live a healthy life. A healthy way of life that also allows the body to heal.