Fight Cancer from every angle
After www.cancerispants.co.uk went live I was contacted by many people either with an advanced cancer or who knew someone who has wanting to learn more about the approaches I was using to manage my own cancer, and to send some of their own strategies also. This particular blog is going to focus entirely on the approaches I am using which I hope will be helpful in some way for others in my situation.
What my research to date suggests is the importance of fighting cancer using a combination of approaches. Cancer is clever, it learns to recognise its foe and mutates and creates resistance – a bit like HIV. Single therapy approaches are therefore not good for cancer. My approach (please do watch Surviving Terminal Cancer if you have not already http://www.survivingterminalcancer.com/) is therefore to throw as much at it as possible, as long as what I am throwing at it has some credible evidence base and is not harmful to me. I intend to change the regime I use now in a few months to confuse it a bit in case it gets used to the current barrage and then change back again a bit later.
This is messy for science. If you want to work out definitively what exactly works and why, if it is taken in combination with other things then how can you tell what makes the difference? Perhaps on its own it would not have the same impact as in combination with other products. How then, if you don’t know exactly what works in what combination, can you advise people what is the optimum combination to take?
This is where you need to make sensible judgements for yourself. I am not really sure what of the below is likely to be the most effective or in what exact combination, but I have made a sensible judgement in light of the evidence and confirmed from the research that none of what I am doing will do me harm, indeed has good evidence it will help - reducing inflammation, stimulating cell death, supporting the immune system etc.
An Ordinary Day
- Diet – Vegan, no alcohol, no refined sugar, reduced carbohydrates, no coffee/black tea.
- Organic produce where possible.
- Clean water – reverse osmosis system
- Green tea
- Aloe vera
- Mix of Superfoods from this list: bee pollen, hemp powder, chia seeds, goji berries, flax seeds, nuts, seeds and more nuts, organic blueberries and raspberries and raw dark chocolate
- Flax oil (still to start this)
- Tapping/ lymphatic brushing
First thing in the morning
- A glass of water mixed with lemon and a small plate of sauerkraut (!)
2-3 times a day
- Juices – vegetables only (carrots to sweeten)
Before getting up and last thing at night
- 6 IP6 Gold capsules and insolitol
- 2 super artimisinin (3 times a week only)
After breakfast and after supper
2-3 times a week
- Bath with Epsom salts
Should be 5 times week
- Exercise – not walking dog exercise – glowing/sweating type exercise
At least once daily
- Meditation/relaxation/mindfulness practice
- Oncology massage
- 2 fish oil capsules
- 6 chlorella
- 6 spirulina
- 2 milk thistle
- 2 curcumin
- 2 kelp
- 2 selenium
- 1 zinc
Mid morning and mid afternoon
- 4 avemar pills
When I can stomach it
Shortly before chemotherapy
2 days (chemo day and day before)
Am considering post immunotherapy and post chemo
- Cannabis Oil / Intravenous Vitamin C infusions/ BIOBRAN/ INDOLE 3 CARBINOL / UVB BLOOD IRRADIATION ALONGSIDE INTRAVENOUS OZONE TRANSFUSION/ GcMAF / Castor Oil Packs/ Coffee enemas/ salvestrol/ Rosen therapy/ Low dose Naltroxate/ Rosen Therapy
Therapy and Treatment (more detail!)
Diet – Vegan, no alcohol, no refined sugar, reduced carbohydrates
My diet was the very first thing I changed. Even cursory research indicated that changing to a plant based diet was a sensible first step to make. I found it incredibly confusing at the beginning to decide which diet I should follow. Some people swear by raw diets for example. In the end I read the books by Professor Jane Plant and she makes a credible case for people with ovarian, breast and prostate cancer to exclude diary (www.janeplant.com/books.asp). I know this is controversial but the case sounds reasonable and excluding dairy is not actually very difficult.
I was slave to my morning black tea with milk and a daily latte but I stopped these overnight. I did not find this hard given the size of the stakes. The hardest part of changing my diet has been having to learn about vegan cooking, restocking my cupboards so I actually have ingredients to make some of the delicious vegan recipes around and finding ‘treats’, foods I really look forward to, to replace my old favourites. Food is very ritualistic, you love certain things not just because they taste nice but for the ritual. I needed to create new rituals. Small Batch Coffee near where I live in Brighton was my favourite place for a daily latte. I now go for an organic green tea (can’t say it quite matches up but it is good enough) www.smallbatchcoffee.co.uk.
There is a book written in the mid 1990s called Remarkable Recovery by Caryle Hirshberg and Marc Ian Barasch, they investigated cases through history (since early 1900s) of cases of unexplained recoveries to determine what factors might have contributed to them. This is a quote from the book ‘Researcher Harold Foster, who reviewed 200 cases of remarkable recovery, found that nearly 88% reported making substantial dietary changes ‘usually of a strict vegetarian nature’ prior to their healing’.
We have had enormous support from friends and neighbours who came in to fill the initial vacuum. We were totally lost and I had 3 miserable weeks with Ella and I trying to work out what on earth to make. Friends have bought round delicious vegan creations, expertise, ideas, I have been sent and recommended vegan cook books and recipes and weekly two amazing friends come round and spend at least 3 hours in my kitchen cooking 4-5 dishes for both myself and for the family (thank you Jeff and Diane!). Changing your diet so dramatically has an immediate knock on for the family and family meals with two dishes being served up. We are working on finding recipes that the boys will like so we can reduce the cooking effort and keep eating as a family.
Among the most useful we have found to date are: Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward; the Able and Cole Vegetable Box Companion and we are looking forward to using Hemsley and Hemsley which we have not bought yet but have been recommended this by many people.
Sourcing organic produce is relatively easy living in Brighton. If you are going to go vegan I am not sure there is a better place in the UK to be. Ella and I live in Infinity Foods www.infinityfoods.co.uk and a friend told us if we order in bulk we can get a discount. It’s a bit tricky as it is right in the middle of town so we generally have to get a taxi home as we are so overloaded we cannot get up the hill after a weekly shop. We also get an organic box delivered weekly and I increased this to an additional juicing box to make sure we had enough fresh organic vegetables to keep up with our daily juicing regime.
In terms of eating out – this also has also been made much easier living in Brighton and I will write about some of the best places we have found in a later blog – but sometimes thinking up and cooking vegan recipes is a bit of a trial (Ella does most of them!) – I would like to use the excuse of chemotherapy but really I could probably cook more myself if I put my mind to it – however hard I try cooking has never excited me and I am not very good at it at the best of times – so eating out and trying new recipes that someone else has cooked is a luxury especially when my taste is all over the place and I am starving but don’t know what I want to eat. Before fasting and after fasting I treat myself to a meal out somewhere and eat every single bit of it up – as we try and fatten me up a bit. Coconut oil is now a staple for helping with this. Mixed in porridge, rice, soup, smoothies. Avocados are also good for this.
When I am stable I will consider eating small wild fish (large ones can have heavy metals) and organic fresh water fish occasionally
I may have the odd egg and if we can find a really nice organic red wine I may have a small glass very occasionally. The odd cup of organic coffee is also something I will introduce once I am stable/in remission.
Just one thing to add to the above – and that is the list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 – this is a list of 12 products which have higher levels of pesticides etc and therefore we absolutely avoid unless organic. The Clean 15 are those which have the lowest levels recorded and when we have no choice we are happy to buy non organic. This year the Dirty Dozen are as follows
Apples, Peaches, Nectarines, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Spinach, Sweet bell peppers, Cucumbers, Cherry tomatoes, Snap peas (imported), Potatoes
The "Dirty Dozen Plus" includes: Hot peppers, Kale / Collard greens
The Clean 15 are Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapples, Cabbage, Sweet peas (frozen) ,Onions, Asparagus, Mangos, Papayas, Kiwi, Aubergine, Grapefruit, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Sweet potatoes
Lemon water and sauerkraut
Every morning I have a glass of water with lemon juice in it to alkalise my body and then a plate of sauerkraut – fermented foods are very good for the good bacteria in your digestive system. There is no good if you eat very good food but barely absorb any of the nutrients and vitamins.
Clean water – reverse osmosis system
I never drink water from a plastic bottle if I can help it or unfiltered tap water. I have a BPA free water bottle and we use a Brita filter at home but I have been advised that this does not get all the toxins and oestrogens out and with an oestrogen receptive breast cancer I need to do this, so we have just bought a reverse osmosis system which is sitting on my kitchen floor and needs to be installed. It will give us an extra tap on our main sink in the kitchen for drinking water and for water we will use for cooking.
Juices – vegetables only
We took a while to work out exactly what sort of juicer we needed. We now have a Matstone Juicer – this is a masticating juicer (life started getting very expensive once we started building the list of supplements and modifications and buying a piece of kit like this starts to hurt but it is an absolute must). Masticating juicers don’t produce heat when they process the vegetables – non masticating ones do and this destroys the enzymes and nutrients in the vegetables.
We stick to only organic mainly green raw vegetables with a small organic carrot to sweeten. This usually involves Kale, cabbage, cucumber, celery, fennel, spinach, some wheatgrass sometimes, beetroot and ginger. Ella makes me at least 2 a day and if we have time 3, but it is pretty hard to keep up and actually get anything else done so we use the bottled juice Beet It, organic beetroot juice, and sometimes we go to 42 Juice (www.42juice.com) in the Lanes in Brighton where you can buy a ready-made cold pressed organic green juices and superfood smoothies.
However hard I try I simply cannot like these juices, in fact if I am honest I hate them. I am sure this is not good for digestion and I try to like them but really they are not nice. Ella literally stands over me to make sure I drink them all down. But they are liquid nutrition and central to my diet and we are finding combinations which are less bad.
You can add spirulina or turmeric and black pepper (helps with absorption of turmeric). Turmeric contains curcumin and it is best to take the purified extract…..’curcumin can block cancer causing enzymes and interfere with the development of new blood supplies; in other words it is anti-angiogenetic. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps maintain the health of the liver’ (Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer – Burton Goldberg et al.)
Green Tea – ‘a number of studies have shown that green tea helps protect against a variety of cancers…it is now suspected that EGCG a powerful antioxidant may be the reason for its effectiveness. EGCG binds to a protein found on tumour cells and dramatically slows their growth..’ Cancer Survivors Bible. The goodness is in the green tea leaf and we use Matcha green tea which is a finely ground powder made up of green tea leaves. I also love Clearspring Organic Genmaicha tea which is a Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice.
Aloe vera – ‘helps the body fight infections and malignant cells. It is also a detoxifier….it has demonstrated a strong ability to enhance the immune systems response to cancer…’ Cancer Survivors Bible
Mix of Superfoods from this list: bee pollen, hemp powder, chia seeds, goji berries, flax seeds, nuts, seeds and more nuts, organic blueberries and raspberries and raw dark chocolate
Superfoods – we bought a small booklet from Neals Yard which focuses on a range superfoods and describes in good detail what their various properties and benefits. We bought the ones listed so that we have them to hand and Ella finds creative ways to include them in everything she prepares.
Flax oil (still to start this)
Flax oil – about 60% of the composition of flaxseed oil is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) one of the omega 3 essential fatty acids our bodies need for good health. Needs to cold pressed (not used in cooking). I find it pretty disgusting and difficult to find ways to incorporate in my diet.
6 IP6 Gold
I spoke about IP6 Gold last week.
2 super artimisinin (3 times a week only twice daily)
Artimisinin, this product needs a bit more attention than what I am going to give it here now, but I will come back to it in a subsequent blog. It is basically wormwood extract, a herb which has been used by the chinese for thousands of years to treat malaria. It was ‘rediscovered in 1970 and has slowly returned to clinical use, especially for drug resistant falciparum malaria, but also for treatment of most cancers.
Artemisinin contains two oxygen atoms hooked together that break down in the presence of iron, by creating very reactive free radicals that kill malaria parasites and cancer cells. Both cancer cells and malaria parasites sequester iron, accumulating as much as 1000 times what normal cells store.
Giving artemisinin to people with malaria or cancer results in destruction of these abnormal cells and leaves normal cells unaffected. Artemisinin is a cancer bomb!’ http://www.naturalnews.com/033182_artemisinin_cancer.html
I take 2 capsules of super artimisinin in the morning and in the evening with the IP6 Gold on an empty stomach. But I only take this 3 days a week following advice from the Professor of Oncology I visited when researching Dendritic Cell Therapy.
2 fish oil capsules, 6 chlorella, 6 spirulina, 2 milk thistle, 2 curcumin, 2 kelp , 1 selenium, 1 zinc (twice daily)
There is a brilliant book called The Cancer Survivor’s Bible by Jonathan Chamberlain which we bought at Neal’s Yard (referred to above). His wife died of cancer and after her death, following only standard treatment – surgery, radiation and chemotherapy at that time, he began to investigate what else they might have done. This is a very balanced book in which he brings together evidence on many, many products and approaches and summarises it. We used this to initially to decide which supplements I should take. Milk thistle is important for the liver, which in my situation is critical and I take these morning and evening. The only supplement my oncologist advised was fish oil, I take 4 or these (2 in the morning and 2 in the evening). I also take 'super curcumin', the the active ingredient in turmeric. The supplement is very expensive (about £17 for 30) so Ella and I decided we would make our own. We set up our own Breaking Bad factory at the kitchen table. We bought a big bag of organic turmeric, mixed some of it with black pepper, bought some vegan tablet capsules and filled them.
This involved lots of powder, tablet capsules, chop sticks to pack the capsules and a small spoon. We were pretty proud of ourselves and for the first few weeks I took our home made version, until someone pointed out that it is the curcumin in the turmeric which is the active ingredient and that is what we really needed.
4 Avemar tablets (twice daily)
We were recommended Avemar by a friend who lost their young to a glioma . In the course of their battle they came across this from colleagues in the USA who swore by it for many reasons but mainly as a means of supporting the body through chemotherapy. I started it just before my 5th chemotherapy, my white cell count and neutrophils had been very low for the previous 4 chemotherapies and I had felt incredibly tired. After one week of this product I felt like a new person and my blood count after the 5th chemotherapy was higher than it had been since I started. This may have been the result of my changed diet kicking in but I am convinced it is contributing to reducing side effects.
This is a description of it by Johnathan Chamberlin (Cancer Survivors Bible) ‘ it works in a number of ways. Firstly it radically reduces the ability of cancer cells to utilise glucose…it also helps the immune system to identify cancer cells…all the indications are that it would be a valuable support to any anti cancer regime’.
You can source avemar only directly from the producer http://www.avemar.co.uk/ . It comes in either tablets or a powder form. I tried the starter pack which gave you a sample of both so you can decide which suits you best. The tablets are quite big and for my size I need 8 a day, but I find swallowing tablets thankfully quite easy. I tried the powder form and thought it was utterly disgusting. I have recommended this to my father for his anti cancer regime after colon cancer last year and he prefers the powder as he cannot swallow that many tablets. It is quite expensive about £100 for 6 weeks supply (more expensive if you are bigger and need more a day).
This is often recommended to prevent/protect against neuropathy, a common side effect of the chemotherapy I am on (placitaxel) which can result of loss of sensation in finger tips and toes.
Glutamine has been shown to up-regulate nerve growth factor in animal models and it is thought to have similar effects in humans.
L-glutamine is recommended in a Guide for Integrative Oncology for Clinicians for the prevention and co-management of chemotherapy-related neuropathy in oncology patients. It has been shown to be safe at oral doses of 10 g daily in oncology patients.
I have read testimonies of women on this chemotherapy swearing by this supplement. I have no loss of sensation at this point, three quarters of the way through. I take about 4 grams a day (a heaped teaspoon of the powder version). I prefer the pill version but have run out. When I restock I will order the pills.
This was recommended to me by my acupuncturist. I am going to have to cut and paste a description of it as I am not sure how to describe better. Ella or Rupert spend up to 30 minutes a night burning a Moxa stick (you can buy these on-line easily) on points on my back and one on my leg which the acupuncturist marked on for us.
When they wash off they both try and guesstimate where these marks are using a burn mark from a Moxa accident, when the ash fell off directly onto my back leaving a relatively big burn mark. This has been quite useful in the end as they can work out the other points using the burn mark as their navigation point. We used it to help improve my white cell count and neutrophils which were so low at the start. We started this the same week we started Avemar and after a week my bloods had significantly improved – so I am not sure which of the two had most impact on the bloods – but as I felt so much better and my bloods were improved I am simply continuing both. We were rather slack with Moxa over the past 2 weeks since my last chemo and yesterday my bloods came back lower than they have been for a while. So we have now more of an experimental situation – we will do it every night religiously and see if there is a change in the bloods next week. If there is it will give me more confidence in the specific role this has played. Here is more about how it works. The downside is that it is time consuming and you need someone who has the time and dedication to do it every night.
Moxibustion or Moxa for short, is an ancient form of heat therapy that originated in China. Moxa uses the ground up leaves of the medicinal plant Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). These are either rolled into sticks (indirect Moxa: as practiced by Green Alchemy) or the powdery substance is made into tiny cones and burned on ointment or a ginger slice(direct Moxa) During Moxa treatment, the smoldering Moxa stick is held a few centimeters away from the skin, above the acupuncture point.
Burning Moxa has a distinct aroma which many people find very relaxing. The essential oils in Mugwort have a significant effect as a form of aromatherapy or medicinal incense.
Moxa in general has more or less the same efficacy as acupuncture. However, medical experiments have shown that Moxibustion exerts much wider and stronger effect on overall biochemical changes in the body than acupuncture. For example: it increases the production of white blood cells. The white blood cell count begins to increase immediately after direct Moxibustion treatment
Moxa increases the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin. Clinical research validates that subjects who had an average haemoglobin ratio of 78% just before direct Moxibustion show a steady increase in haemoglobin production reaching a peak of 90% in eight weeks
Moxa improves the overall blood and lymph circulations and the capacity to produce antibodies. Due to rather intense heat of burning Moxa over acu-points, impulses from nerve endings of the skin cause the dilation of capillaries (small vessels) to increase the blood and lymph circulations in the entire body.
Bath with Epsom salts
Epsom salts are full of magnesium. Epsom salt baths (20 minutes, three times per week) are a simple, inexpensive way to get magnesium into your body.
It helps release toxins from the body and it ‘helps ease stresses and strains’ so is generally relaxing. You can buy bags of it from most pharmacies and it is not expensive, but you need quite a lot per bath
Tapping/ lymphatic brushing
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is responsible for much of the body’s daily detoxification. Tapping/ brushing the skin is a way of helping the lymph system to eliminate toxins. It is meant to strengthen the immune system, stimulate the glands and improve digestion. It is also very therapeutic. I am not sure if brushing and tapping is the same thing, but reckon they achieve the same. I mainly use tapping starting from my scalp, tapping behind my ears, my chest and sternum, up my arms, down my sides and up and down legs. I do morning or evening and sometimes both.
I am relatively new to yoga but have learned enough poses that I can do a routine on my own. This helps me calm my mind, sort out my breathing, support my digestion and detoxification, stimulate my lymph system and generally energise me. I was much better at getting up around 6.30 to do this (when the birds are singing and night meets day) but have been less good at this early get up recently – it is hard on school days but at weekends I try to. I aim for 3 times a week.
I should really be doing more vigorous exercise more often. I do try and walk and as a family we try and walk on the Downs or seafront regularly but in reality I do not often get my heart rate up. Partly I think I have not quite the energy from chemotherapy but actually I know it would make me feel better if I did. So the task is to build this in and make sure it really is a part of my weekly routine.
Exercise like this is good for lots of reasons – including that it moves the lymph around, helps get lots of oxygen into me via the lungs and gets me breathing out lots of toxins through my lungs as well as through getting rid of toxins through sweat, it naturally releases endorphins which boost the immune system and it generally makes you feel pretty good
Meditation / Relaxation / Mindfulness practice
I try at least once a day to either listen to a relaxation tape I have or to meditate (I am not very good at this yet) or to use some of the mindfulness strategies I have been taught.
I have had acupuncture before every chemotherapy so far. Research suggests that it is helpful in relieving some symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatment.
The main areas of research into acupuncture for cancer are chemotherapy related sickness, tiredness and cancer pain. I cannot tell if/how this is working to support side effects but I started this very early on as it has been recommended to me by so many people including the oncology nurses.
Honestly I am not sure I can distinguish between what is making the most difference but as I feel so strong these days I am unwilling to give any of it up as whatever the combination it seems to be working. After chemo I will cut back as it is quite expensive.
Occasionally I have had a massage from an amazing woman who specialises in oncology massages. She helps stimulate my lymph system and help with detoxification as well as to simply relax me. I found this really helpful, especially in the early weeks when I was most distressed and coping least.
I wrote about this in an earlier blog. I have just had my 10th chemo and fasted the day before and the day after and have to say I do not enjoy it one bit. It is for starters very boring not eating and it makes me feel rather weak. I have 4 drugs as pre meds before the chemo including piriton and steroids and having fasted I think they hit me even harder so I basically just spent the rest of the day in bed not really being able to focus on much. But today I can eat and I feel pretty good. The best thing about a voluntary fast is the day after!
Other therapies I am considering for the future
I will leave it to another blog to look at each of the following: Low dose Naltroxate /Cannabis Oil / Vitamin C infusions/ BIOBRAN/ INDOLE 3 CARBINOL / UVB BLOOD IRRADIATION ALONGSIDE INTRAVENOUS OZONE TRANSFUSION/ GcMAF / Castor Oil Packs/ Coffee enemas / salvestrol
Phew !! – this has been quite an information overload – and I’m not finished yet. I will be using other treatments alongside my hormone treatment and dendritic cell. These include hyperthermia treatment to the liver. I will also have a chemo sensitivity test (known as the Greek test) – more on this later. Other treatments I will consider in the future include IPT (Fractionated Metronomic low dose targeted chemotherapy with Insulin) where 10% of chemo dose is given to you alongside Insulin. These are made possible because of the amazing generosity of people who have donated as these are not available in the UK.
The total steadily rises and is now around £34,000. WOW! I am booking my flights for Germany today. I have heard, through a number of channels, of people who have themselves had this treatment in Germany all with very positive stories, so I am hopeful. There is an option to go to Mexico but this is something I will look at if/when I relapse and hope that if we surpass this target for Germany I can build up a war chests – as if I relapse I will need to act fast. At least this time I had a window to fundraise.
The cancerispants campaign has really taken off and I want to send my love and thanks to everyone. Juice FM, Heart radio and today the Argus have covered the story. My face and those of my gorgeous children are peaking out on the front page. This has been amazing coverage. The Argus article is great and is good balanced and informative coverage. The Daily Mirror on-line also interviewed us and covered it. I do hope that through this page I can help raise the profile of advance cancer and this coverage does help others as well as attracting funds for my own campaign.