Thursday, August 26, 2010

PET Scan follow up with Dr Venna

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.

Healing with Dentistry and without Drugs

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 a Year on the Gerson Therapy, where are the Results?

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 present to you, My Family

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

Dental work, a new chapter in my recovery from Melanoma.

Some recent tooth sensitivity has moved me onto a new level of healing. In the year to two leading up to my melanoma diagnosis, I had some rather major dental work performed which included the removal of a bunch of my silver fillings as well as a root canal. I don't consider this to be the cause of my cancer, but I certainly do believe that it was a contributing factor to my declining health.

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.