It’s Been One Week

A week ago we met with the Oncologist to discuss options.  We left the hospital that day with the picc line removed and the knowledge that there would be no more chemotherapy treatments for two months.

First – the removal of the picc line.  When the picc line was inserted back in July, it was done behind a screen.  My husband’s arm was extended and two individuals (not sure whether this was a nurse and technician or doctor) worked behind the screen to prep and insert the picc line.  It was inserted using local freezing and consequently pretty painless.  The first couple of weeks he was really aware of having the line in, but things became pretty routine afterwards.  Showering was no issue as we would wrap his arm in a press and seal type of cling wrap which made the whole area waterproof.  He found it a bit uncomfortable to sleep on that side (left) and so he tended to sleep more on his back.  For appointments where they needed easy access to the picc line he wore short sleeved, button up shirts.  The nurse routinely flushed the line once a week and it was not problematic in any way.  Last week they removed the line.  It surprised my husband to see how long it actually was, right up his arm into his chest.  It was a little uncomfortable coming out as it was removed without any sort of freezing – not painful, just uncomfortable.  The incision point was remarkably small.  He came away with a fairly dense area bandage which we were to remove the next day.  The incision has since healed completely with no issues.  He’s back to a full range of sleeping positions without needing to be mindful of the external hardware that had been taped to his arm.  All is good on that front.

Second – No chemotherapy for two months.  We have had a week to assimilate this information and what it can mean.  It doesn’t mean that we have lost our resources.  Certainly we can contact Oncology at any point to get some assistance.  It does mean that we can take a strong run at diet modification.  During chemo the intake of high protein meals is essential to rebuild and repair blood cells, consequently it was easy to include a lot of meat in our daily diet.  While researching an alkaline diet the focus is on reducing the amount of acidic foods in the diet and meat falls in this category.  So with the luxury of a little time we are now looking at a diet that ticks all the nourishment needs for health and wellbeing but not through reliance on meat.  It’s a learning process which we have just started.  One of the most helpful sites I have found in this regard is which provides lots of information supported by a wealth of research.  We’ve also found a cookbook that has some pretty decent recipes, Eating the Alkaline Way (Corrett and Edgson).  We made the mini pizzas last night, mine was artichoke and basil with mozzarella, my husband’s was fennel, sweet potato and goat’s cheese.  We did cheat and use premade shells – it is still baby steps for us. They turned out awesome. There is so much more to learn and try.  There are so many articles written on real life experiences of people who have successfully beaten the odds using an alkaline diet.  As my hubby says – he has no choice but to try this.

Interestingly, I spoke to the pharmacist and obtained a litmus paper sample which measures pH (acidity or alkalinity) and when he tested, my husband was at 7.0  which is a good reading since anything above 7.0 is considered alkaline.  This reading is not overly surprising; since he was diagnosed with cancer my husband has started every day with a warm glass of lemon water, and throughout the day drank a homeopathic remedy of ginger/lemon/maple syrup as well as a nice Kefir/kale smoothie, and just generally added more fruit and veg to his diet.  When he was suffering from chemo effects meat had no appeal for him – it was too heavy and dense – makes you wonder.  This journey really impresses on me how forgiving the human body is.  We cut ourselves – we heal, we break a bone – it mends, we nourish our bodies appropriately – we can send some diseases packing.  There’s everything to be gained in feeding ourselves properly.

#11 – Traditional Chinese Medicine

I believe that Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is something well worth exploring. There are centuries of knowledge and research that have contributed to the remedies that have been developed.  It would be a disservice on my part to even try and summarize the premise, philosophies or practices that support TCM.  I won’t even try to scratch the surface in this area, but rather use this blog entry to acknowledge the scope and range of herbal remedies that have been in use by practitioners of TCM.  In future posts I hope to cover a couple of very specific TCM remedies or herbal supports since they have been proposed for use by my husband.  There is a multitude of information available online that considers the TCM approach to immune system issues and disorders as well as specific diseases.  There are also a number of TCM dispensaries scattered around the country and likely one in your area.

If the TCM approach interests you, you may benefit greatly from locating a licenced practitioner and speaking directly with them.  Gather your information (things such as: qualifications of the practitioner, licences held, ingredients, source of the ingredients, dosage, preparation, cost, duration of treatment, anticipated outcome, studies, testimonials, etc.) before you commit to any purchases. The practitioner will ask you questions to identify all your symptoms and particular health concerns and develop a remedy tailored to your needs.  They may likely and understandably expect you to purchase the proposed remedy from them.  That’s why it is so important to know who you are dealing with and what they are selling (especially if you have any allergies or sensitivities).  Use your own good judgement to determine if this is the right course of action for you.   Again, should you determine that you wish to use TCM then this is something that you should discuss with your oncologist, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation – a well informed team is in your best interests.

#5 – Essiac

This is a “traditional herbal medicine” that has been around since 1922.  Although I was not familiar with it, as soon as we had the diagnosis of cancer at least four different individuals told me to check this out.  One couple that we know routinely drinks the tea as a preventive measure.  The tea, which is quite a process to make, tastes a bit like fenugreek (if you are familiar with that taste).  It is also available in a tincture and in capsule form.  The main ingredients are Burdock RootSlippery Elm Inner BarkSheep Sorrel and Indian Rhubarb Root.

This herbal medicine has quite a storied past and is worth reading about. The medicine itself is based on an Ojibway herbal concoction.   When I went on line to see what was available I discovered that there are many different suppliers of Essiac, and apparently some are better than others.  Since I am Canadian I went with the original manufacturer – the price was comparable to any of the others, but the Canadian manufacturer claims to have the original tried and true preparation.

The purpose of these blog posts is not to promote a particular product, but rather to let people know about the options and products that others are using to battle their cancer.  I have no intention of endorsing a particular product, however, in this case, the brand name is the only way to locate this product on line.

With respect to my husband, yes, he is taking the tincture daily.  I’ve informed both the hospital (oncology) as well as the visiting nurse.  The only thing that the hospital asked me to monitor for was was diarrhea – which has not occurred since he started taking this three weeks ago.   So far, so good.


The Miracle Cures

Since this journey has commenced we have had so many friends and family members suggest different and alternative ways to tackle cancer.  We have tried some, others we have considered and decided are not for us.  I try to do a little background research on the supplement, product or therapy just to see what potential side effects can be.  There is so much out there that is touted to cure cancer that it is surprising that cancer still exists.

Over the next couple of weeks I will go over some of the stuff that we have considered.  I am not a medical person, I am a woman desperate to find a way to cure or stabilize my husband’s disease.  The things I write about will be based on personal experience and opinion and that’s all.  If you know of something that may be useful or has worked for you please share.  As I say to my friends and family – nothing is off the table at this point.