#7 – Cryosurgery for Cancer

It is so frustrating having a diagnosis without a solution.  To be told you have a terminal cancer, that the only thing that can be done is to strive for comfort.  These kind of statements push me to the extreme, and result in things like this sundry list of topics I have looked into with respect to battling cancer.  So in my search of different approaches for inoperable tumors or cancers, I stumbled across cryosurgery. This one seems quite viable, in fact, it is practiced in both the United States and the United Kingdom.  Even the World Health Organization has a section dedicated to cryosurgery – it’s not that new.  It has quite a few sites dedicated to it on the internet.  There’s also interesting stuff on cryoablation for inoperable liver cancer.

The initial reading I did suggested that this type of approach was used for pre-cancerous or early cancer, however, as I carried on searching more sites I discovered that this type of surgery has been done on lungs, prostate, breast, liver – a multitude of different types of cancer and at a variety of stages – including stage 4.  The National Cancer institute provides this information:  “Cryosurgery is used to treat external tumors, such as those on the skin. For external tumors, liquid nitrogen is applied directly to the cancer cells with a cotton swab or spraying device.  Cryosurgery is also used to treat tumors inside the body (internal tumors and tumors in the bone). For internal tumors, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is circulated through a hollow instrument called a cryoprobe, which is placed in contact with the tumor.”  (Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/cryosurgery extracted August 5, 2014).  

I found this a week ago and sent it to a friend at the Cancer Care Clinic we go to, asking if this is something that is available in my area, what the criteria is, who does it, etc.  Much like any good business, the CCCs know that they need to offer the most cutting edge products/services to bring in the patients and the funding.  All I want at this point is more information from my local CCC to determine what our future options are.

(I have to include a disclaimer here – I am not a medical professional, I am a caregiver looking for solutions.  The topics and posts that I make are based on my limited research and my own opinions.  I am always looking for other “solutions” people have heard of.  I’m not the best researcher but if you have something that you have heard of – send it my way.  I’ll see what I can dig up too.)

#6 – Reflexology

This is my own thing.  Years ago I trained in reflexology as a personal interest and I have continued to use it through the years.  There are a couple of reasons that I believe in the value of this treatment.  First and foremost, there is no substitute for human touch – it soothes a small child, it offers comfort, it provides a connection between people, and at some point in our lives we all crave it.  The second reason is that I believe in the premise of zones in the body that can be treated using pressure points in the feet.  I have used it for my own headaches, whether it is my mind doing the healing or the release of energy blockages, I don’t know, all I know is what works for me. 

When we received the package of reading materials after my husband was diagnosed with cancer, reflexology was one of the “complementary therapies” identified in the official booklet identified under “massage therapy.”  I had already started reflexology on him so it was validating to see it acknowledged in the booklet. It states:  “Research has shown that massage can help you lower stress, anxiety, nausea, pain, fatigue, and problems sleeping (insomnia).  …  It is important to have massage done by a registered massage therapist (RMT) who has experience working with people with cancer.”  (Source:  Complementary Therapies, A Guide for People with Cancer – Canadian Cancer Society). 

I know that he anticipates his reflexology session every day.  I modify the treatment depending on the stage of his chemo cycle.  For the day of and several days after his treatment it is a very light touch, more soothing, to encourage circulation and provide relaxation and communicate love.

Ready Set Go

A couple of days have passed since my husband started his radiation treatment.  The first bit of news we got was that prior to the radiation making the pain better, it would likely “spike” first – that is get very, very painful.  It did, two days after the initial treatment my husband felt incredible pain, relentless throughout his spine, chest and ribs.  There was a numbness that spread down his leg into his foot on one side.  It made him unstable at walking, and manoeuvering in and out and bed, chairs, etc., exceptionally difficult.  It made getting on the table for the radiation tremendously difficult with pain that limited his mobility. 

Another side effect was vomiting, nausea and vomiting.  Painful to do when you have lung cancer and a fractured sternum. It’s hard to find the positive in what’s going on, but we know it is there.  Without hope there is nothing. 

We have two more radiation sessions for his spine left, and then we move on to the lung cancer.