Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Monitoring

Monitoring cancer after diagnosis is a hot topic. My oncology and breast team are bewildered that I refuse to have regular mammograms. Why? Because mammograms contain harmful radiation which can spark breast cancer, particularly if you have the BRCA gene. Compressing the breast in this unnatural way can also spread tumour cells if cancer is present. Mammograms have been largely credited with reducing breast cancer rates over the past 20 years by early detection, but the sad truth is that many of these cancers are non-invasive (like Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) and would never evolve into aggressive, life-threatening disease. In allopathic terms survival rates are measured by being alive 5 years after diagnosis. The earlier cancer is found, the higher the 'survival' rates are, purely because of the length of time it takes for cancer to metastasise and overwhelm the body. 

I choose instead to have thermal imaging with Dr. Nyjon Eccles. This type of monitoring has a lower incidence of false positives, and is better able to find cancer cells in their infancy, so malignancies can be detected earlier. It's non-invasive and is radiation free. It works on the premise that cancerous tissues hold heat, taking longer to cool down than normal tissue. Ideally one breast is monitored against the other to look for 'hot-spots' and abnormalities, but as I only have one breast, my 6 monthly scans are compared against each other.


Another conventional form of monitoring is scanning. When it comes to CT scans, tumours can generally only be picked up once they are at least 5mm in size. Consider that many cancers have doubling times of 80 days. This means that metastasised cancer is often picked up relatively late. CT scans certainly have their place when monitoring tumours in stable disease, but to their detriment they also emit large doses of targeted radiation (about 100 times the equivalent of a chest X-ray).

Blood testing is the final allopathic means of monitoring. However, cancer would have to be well established for metastasised disease to show in such a test. Some cancers (like that of the breast) are not reliably monitored this way as only a small percentage display the antibodies being looked for. My oncologist is monitoring my CA-153 levels every 6 months. The results so far have been stable, but are meaningless if my cancer doesn't produce this marker. Instead of relying solely on this information I opt for minimal residual disease testing with Nicola Hembry. This test is very sophisticated and measures the level of circulating tumour cells in my blood. If the level rises, or the characteristics of the cells change, something is happening which needs to be addressed. This test shows cancer cell activity, and risk of recurrence earlier than a conventional blood test, and as we all know, the earlier we act, the better our chances of survival are. 

Conventional medicine has certain monitoring modalities at it's disposal: mammograms, scans and blood tests, but these are not necessarily at the cutting edge of cancer treatment. No external screening is 100% effective, and with that in mind I will continue to reject dangerous or dated monitoring in favour of up-to-the-minute technology to keep an eye on my residual cancer.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Supplementation

Fifty years ago we would almost certainly have got all of the nutrients we needed from our food. Sadly this is no longer true. Most fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with harmful pesticides and herbicides and many are genetically modified. Picked before it is ripe, fruit is irradiated and flown half way around the world before it reaches our shops. Even locally sourced, organic produce, which is by far the best option, is often low in nutrients compared with it's predecessors as our soil is now heavily depleted. If the earth that our food grows in is lacking in minerals and trace elements, guess what? So is the produce which grows in it. Unprecedented levels of environmental pollution, and toxic fallout from chem trails have further negatively impacted the crops which we are eating. 

In addition, the quality of our meat is compromised by poor farming standards. Non-organic livestock are vaccinated, fed inappropriate fodder and dosed with hormones and antibiotics. They're stressed from lack of space, and rarely have access to their natural environment. We literally are what we eat. When we consume meat from these animals, we also ingest their toxicity.


















Supplementing is never an alternative to eating well, but for those of us with chronic conditions, it is a valuable way to obtain the volume of nutrients that we need to boost our bodies back to full health. Even through juicing (which is an easy way for the body to assimilate large quantities of vegetables and fruit) it's not always possible to get pharmaceutical doses of nutrients from food. For example, I take a broccoli supplement. One pill is equivalent to eating 20 heads of broccoli!

Here's an outline of what I take daily. This list changes according to my needs. Part of my current regimen is aimed at chelating heavy metals from my system following the removal of mercury fillings.


Multi-B 
Magnesium
Probiotics
Co-enzyme Q10 
Krill oil 
Bee pollen
Vitamin D3
Liposomal vitamin C 
Quercetin 
Angioblock 
Artemix
Broccomax
Calcium D Glucarate
Zeolite
Chlorella
Cilantro
Lugol's iodine
Candissolve
Flower remedies

These pills boost my immune system, regulate my hormones, strengthen my gut, and specifically target any remaining cancer cells. Some work best together, like krill oil and bee pollen. Others need to be taken separately, like chlorella and vitamin C. Some should be taken on an empty stomach, others with food. And of course, taking too much of something can be just as damaging as being deficient. 

Over the past 3 years I've taken many other natural supplements, from medicinal mushrooms to digestive enzymes. Each is as wonderful as the next, and each has a place in aiding healing. We can't take them all, and we don't need to - the key is in learning what we, as individuals, specifically need. I have a great functional doctor who regularly monitors me through blood and urine testing to determine and tweak my regime. He has established where I am deficient, and where toxicity lies. Supplementing is expensive and creates work for the liver, so it makes sense to get it right. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Positive focus

In life we often have our heads down. We're so busy Doing that we're not conscious about where we're going, or what we want.

Happiness lies in being present, and a great way of reminding ourselves of this is by saying affirmations. By vocalising our ideals, we can actually manifest the good stuff and create personal harmony. 

I say affirmations to myself daily, usually during a coffee enema. They sound something like this:

I am healthy, I am totally well.
I love and approve of myself. 
I am listening to my body and I give it what it what it needs to return it to a state of homeostasis.
I am hydrated, alkaline and oxygenated.
I am relaxed.
I am contented.
I am positive.
I have great energy.
I love and am loved.
I am prosperous.
I live in a great space.

It's important to really imagine yourself where you want to be, and to believe it to be true in this moment. Sometimes I feel resistance when I say one of the above affirmations, which is great because it shows me which areas need my attention.

I also use visualisation techniques to imagine removing any residual cancer cells. This was elusive to me until I read some of Carl Stonier's work. He says that for many people the task of 'hunting and destroying' is difficult, but a kinder approach is more manageable. This has worked incredibly well for me. I lay quietly in a meditative state and imagine any remaining cancer cells in my body. I invite them to come to me, to be re-absorbed. And how they come. Prior to this technique I struggled even to visualise cells, and so found the experience stressful. However this more gentle approach is such a joyful, positive experience that I've made real progress.



































Another great way to achieve goals is to make a vision board. This works well because it challenges us to think about what we want to manifest in our lives, and to channel our energies in that direction. Here's mine from last year. Keep your vision board where you can see it, so that your goals are at the forefront of your mind.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Metastasis

I personally really dislike the phrases "a long battle" or "bravely fighting" with regard to cancer. For me cancer is not a war. I've made a conscious decision to work with my body, not against it. I did that for long enough prior to diagnosis. 

By the time a tumour is approx 2mm it will have it's own blood supply. This process of developing new blood vessels is called angiogenesis. From this point tumour cells can migrate into the blood system. When diagnosed, many people will already have circulating tumour cells (CTC's) in their blood, particularly if cancer has been found in the lymph nodes, as it was in my case. I have regular, specific testing done with Nicola Hembry to measure and monitor this 'residual disease'. I have low levels of CTC's and circulating cancer stem cells, which were most likely shed from my primary tumour prior to surgery. When the body remains acidic, it becomes viable for these cells to take hold in distant organs or bones. This is called metastasis. This was something that I didn't understand at diagnosis. I couldn't even say the word metastasis. I had to learn a whole new language, and quickly. 

Cancer cells are sneaky. They can 'hide' from our body's immune system, evading macrophages (the Pac-men of the immune system) and Natural Killer cells whilst continuing to grow undetected. They produce lactic acid as a by-product of metabolism, which adds to the body's acidic load. And they are constantly evolving and mutating, meaning that residual disease in the body may have different characteristics from the primary tumour. My original diagnosis was of oestrogen positive cancer, but my circulating cells are no longer hormone positive. If you think about this information in relation to conventional drugs, residual cancer is not necessarily well targeted, and chemotherapy is not great at destroying stem cells

Many people think that their cancer 'came back' or that they were unlucky to 'get it again', whereas in fact it was probably always there. Perhaps it was laying dormant until conditions were right to continue growing, or maybe it had been slowly advancing, undetected over time. But it's important to know that a large number of people have kept metastasised cancer at bay for years by making long-term lifestyle changes. Juicing, eating an alkalising, organic, mostly plant-based diet, taking personalised supplementation, healing emotionally and using visualisation techniques are all important ways to maintain health.

My level of cancer is stable and at the mid-range of 'safe' (3.8 cells per 7.5 ml of blood). In allopathic terms I would be deemed as having No Evidence of Disease, as this amount of cancer is too microscopic to be picked up on scans. However these cells can become active at any time, depending on my internal environment. That's why I continue to work hard at staying alkaline, hydrated and oxygenated. I want to keep my internal terrain as hostile as possible for those sneaky cells.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Choices

With cancer came the full and final understanding that at some point I will die. That's a sobering lesson to learn. It has certainly pulled my focus. There's no more luxuriating in the ignorance of blissful belief that I'm immortal! 

It seems that there are two distinct periods of my life. Before Cancer, and After Cancer. BC I was carefree and careless, fear-driven and disconnected. AC I am contented and present, motivated by love and constantly learning. But it can be lonely here. It takes a lot of effort to maintain health this way, and it's relentless. There's no ready-made network to tap into for support. There are no pink crowds running for me. However, it's important to understand that in everything we have choices. This is my choice, and one that I would make again and again. When I'm on top of it all: cooking each meal from scratch, juicing, meditating, supplementing and exercising, I feel amazing and invincible. But I'm not superwoman, and of course there are times when I feel overwhelmed, and tired, when carrying this load feels like a heavy burden.

I can never go back to life BC, and I wouldn't choose to. I've learned far too much over the past 3 years to want to go back to being unconscious. In this new life there is more breathing, more laughing, more loving, more feeling. I am living with cancer, not dying of it, and I intend to carry on this way for many many years to come.



Sunday, 11 November 2012

Detoxification

Cancerous cells have essentially mutated to survive a hostile environment. This could be due to inflammation from parasitic, viral, bacterial or candida overload, a poor diet, unresolved emotional conflict, chronic stress, or simply from exposure to environmental toxins. We also know that the herpes virus, hepatitis and HPV are potential pre-cursers to certain cancers.

In our busy, modern lives, we are bombarded daily with thousands of toxins which disrupt the delicate systemic balance of our bodies. Food dyes and additives, aspartame, hormones in factory farmed meat, heavy metals, exhaust fumes, industrial toxins, radiation, pesticides, chemicals in our water (fluoride, chlorine, oestrogen and Prozac), tobacco, carcinogens in cosmetics, paint chemicals, medications, phlalates (plastic chemicals which are hormone disruptors) and electro magnetic fields from WiFi are some of the worst offenders. Imagine the cumulative build up. Our bodies haven't evolved fast enough to deal with this onslaught.


The list is long but our bodies are programmed to heal, and there are many things that we can do to reduce our toxic burden. For example, eating a mostly plant based organic diet, with limited organic, free range (ideally grass-fed) meat, removing mercury fillings, drinking filtered water, avoiding antibiotics (which destroy the delicate eco-system within our guts, allowing fungus and parasites to take hold, putting our immune systems under pressure) and reducing our exposure to plastics are some of the ways which we can be proactive.

Cancer patients are incredibly toxic and acidic. It's imperative for anyone with cancer to not only reduce further toxic exposure, but to actively detoxify. The body's main organ of elimination is the liver. It processes and neutralises all toxic chemicals, whether they come from the body or the environment. As healing begins, and tumours are broken down, the already compromised liver can become overworked. Coffee enemas help the liver to eliminate toxins more efficiently. 

I've been doing enemas for almost 3 years now. They bring an incredible feeling of clarity, and provide fantastic pain relief. They're my go-to pain-killer for a headache. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, angry or negative, I find that an enema brings me back to a place of calm, as these feelings can be great indicators of toxic build-up within the body. The procedure is very simple, and surprisingly relaxing. Coffee is inserted into the rectum through an enema kit (consisting of a bucket, or bag, and a tube). Situated in the lower bowel is the portal vein, which supplies the liver with 75% of it's blood. This vein absorbs nutraceuticals in the coffee (like palmitic acid and caffeine), and delivers them directly to the liver. This stimulates production of certain enzymes and bile, necessary for the elimination of free radicals and toxins. The coffee (about 32oz) should ideally be held for 15 minutes, allowing all of the blood in the body to circulate approximately 5 times through the liver, vastly speeding up the cleansing process. Some protocols, like The Gerson Therapy, recommend up to 5 enemas a day, but it's important to remember that coffee enemas can deplete the body of potassium, magnesium and electrolytes, so for each enema, three green juices must be consumed.

Cancer is a complicated disease with many points of origin, and that's why a good healing protocol will involve a multi-faceted approach. To ensure that we don't maintain the internal terrain that lead to cancer in the first place, detoxification is key.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Telling

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband and I were advised not to tell our children immediately. However, kids have an innate ability to sense when something is wrong, and in the absence of information, they came up with scenarios scarier than reality.

Overnight, our house was filled with people; visitors crying and talking in whispers. It quickly became clear that our children were feeling excluded and confused. We had always been open and honest with them, so telling them wasn't difficult. Maintaining a poker face was more challenging. We used child-friendly language, and kept it simple. We told them that I had found a lump and that it was called cancer. The doctor was going to take it out, and to do that he had to remove my breast. From that point on the conversations became child led. Our eldest son was six years old, and told me that I mustn't be cross with the lump - I would make it angry, and it would grow (so wise!). Our youngest was just three. I have no idea how you assimilate information like that at the age of three, but she gave it a good go. Lots of questions followed. Did it hurt? Was I scared? Would there be a big hole left in my chest after the operation? But they never asked me if I would die. The word 'cancer' holds no fear for children, because they have no negative associations attached to it.

I'd never been separated from my children prior to the operation. Being away from them for 6 days was tough, and they couldn't visit me in hospital because there had been a Norovirus outbreak. I was impressed at how quickly they jumped ship from Mummy to Daddy. Daddy was calm, nurturing and upbeat in my absence, and remained so on my return.

In the 3 years since that operation, our diets and lifestyle have changed beyond recognition. My children have never stopped asking questions. We talk about the importance of free-range meat and eggs, organic fruit and vegetables. They know why they have minuscule sweet rations (usually in the form of dark chocolate or liquorice). They understand their bodies and I'm so proud of them. They are growing up, and it's an honour to witness it. 

Recently I was talking to a friend who also has two young children, and breast cancer. We discussed the love that we have for our children - an intense love that's in danger of being suffocative, as it's born of the desire to survive and see them grow. In the midst of the uncertainty that cancer brings, it's important to remember that it offers a gift. It can teach us to be present, to enjoy the beauty of every moment, whilst understanding how precious life is.