Above photo: Left to right: Dr. Keith Block, my wife and me (holding our copy of Dr. Block’s book, Life Over Cancer) at The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois April 2013.
If you’re dealing with cancer (as a patient, caregiver or friend) why should you invest your valuable time exploring Stage 4 Living?
If you or a loved one has been informed of advanced cancer, you’re looking for the best ways to complement conventional treatment and have the best possibility of slowing or reversing the illness. You’ll find, as I did, that there’s a mountain of information on the Internet about surviving cancer that you have to search through to find some precious nuggets of science-based nutritional and lifestyle strategies.
When I Googled the term “surviving cancer” I got over 86 million possible links to sift through. If you or a loved one are in a life-and-death struggle with metastatic or late-stage cancer you don’t have time to waste using your body as a laboratory to test each of the countless options available. Just testing one option could take weeks or months.
Fortunately, in many cases science has done the testing for you through the over six thousand nutritional studies done each year around the world. I’m on a mission to find science-based nutritional and lifestyle strategies to help my wife survive and manage her stage 4 breast cancer. Stage 4 Living is the fruit of my search for science based answers that I want to share with as many people as possible.
My wife’s story in brief:
My wife’s aggressive breast cancer metastatic, invasive breast cancer was diagnosed in November 2009 (stage 2b) and recurred (stage 4) in November 2011. Her cancer was classified as ER PR negative HER2 positive. One of her oncologists informed us that there are many types of breast cancer and the only type more aggressive than my wife’s is a type called “triple negative” breast cancer.
Despite the use of some very expensive medicines–one of which cost $11,000 a bottle of a month’s supply of 120 tablets (Tykerb aka Lepatanib)–her cancer adapted and spread from her chest wall to form about thirty lesions on her lungs. She also began to slide downhill in 2012 with symptoms of cachexia; she lost 32 lbs. quickly, lost all appetite, and started experiencing profound and growing weakness. She also had pain in her left arm from lymphedema (due to having two lymph glands taken out in 2010 during her mastectomy) and numbness in her left hand and tingling in the fingers of her left hand (which from reading I believe were symptoms of neuropathy– nerve damage from extended use of toxic chemo drugs). She also coughed every five to ten minutes which was a constant reminder to me that the cancer was now invading her lungs and that I (and she) was running out of time.
What happened when we started to use science based nutritional strategies to complement my wife’s conventional treatment (as of Feb. 2014)
This blog represents the fruit of my search to find answers on science-based nutritional and lifestyle strategies we could use to complement conventional treatment to help manage (as opposed to cure) my wife’s late stage cancer. Through research (especially in the book Life Over Cancer by Keith Block, MD) I started making some recommended changes in our diet and my wife’s lifestyle (regular walking, etc.).
As we started to make the recommended changes in Life Over Cancer and other books and resources in 2012 here’s what started to happen (as of Feb. 2014):
*The pain in her left arm and numbness and tingling in her left hand I described above slowly subsided and completely went away.
*She stopped rapidly losing weight. We now have to deal with the problem of keeping her weight under control again. (Her weight has slowly crept up to 156 lbs. which is not optimal at her height of 5 ft. 2 in..)
*Her energy returned and is still excellent.
*Her coughing stopped and has not come back since then.
*Her appetite returned and is still excellent (despite food sometimes tasting a bit strange due to the effects of her ongoing chemo).
*In her quarterly high resolution CT scan in December 2012 the thirty some lesions on her lungs started to shrink.
*In her high resolution CT scan in March 2013 many of the lesions had almost completely disappeared.
*In her CT scan done the end of October 2013 there was evidence that parts of the remaining tumors were showing signs of necrosis (death) and there were only minor signs of any new growth.
How does my wife look and feel (as of Feb. 2014)?
We’ve regularly hear from from many people that meet us that, other than for some minor thinning hair (she’s lost it all twice to the chemo drug Taxol aka Taxotere) she doesn’t look or act like someone entering her fifth year of battling metastatic invasive (and now stage 4) cancer or someone that’s endured a mastectomy, 33 radiation treatment sessions and countless chemo sessions.
Managing late stage cancer like a chronic illness (such as diabetes)
Unfortunately at stage 4 we’re forced to focus on finding ways to manage (as opposed to cure) her condition; to give my wife the best possible quality and quantity of life (barring a miracle or spontaneous remission). I can make no promises of what will result in anyone else’s situation; cancer is a complex illness (one oncologist told me that there are easily over a hundred types of cancer) and we’re complex organisms. But my wife’s story shows what’s possible with integrative cancer treatment (i.e. complementing conventional cancer treatment with science based anticancer diet and lifestyle strategies) as advocated by Dr. Keith Block and other integrative oncologists.
What Dr. Keith Block says about the possibility of “managing” cancer (including metastatic and late stage cancers):
Dr. Block has treated people with late stage cancer for over 32 years. He is the founder of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and regarded by many as the Father of the integrative cancer treatment movement. He is the author of Life Over Cancer (please see my review below this post), regarded by many as the best guide available to laymen for science-based nutritional and lifestyle strategies for managing advanced and metastatic cancers.
Many of our patients carry on their daily lives as if they were managing a chronic illness such as diabetes. In fact, I encourage you to begin thinking of your cancer as an illness you can live with or, even better, one you can overcome. I have treated many patients with widespread metasteses who were pronounced “incurable” by their doctors but who, with this program, recovered. These survivors testify to what can happen with an integrative approach to treating and managing cancer: no matter what the diagnosis there are patients who prevail over whatever odds they have been given.
Keith I. Block, Life Over Cancer
Disclaimer (see “Disclaimer” link at top of page for complete statement)
From my research and our experience we strongly believe that the integrative approach to cancer treatment (i.e. combining the best conventional treatment we can access on Guam and afford in my wife’s case. combined with science based nutritional and lifestyle strategies) has made a big difference in my wife’s ability to manage her illness. We’ve seen it give her back a better quality of life, reverse many symptoms and give her more quantity of life. In this blog I’ve shared my wife’s story–and how we’ve done our best to manage her cancer. Unfortunately I can’t in guarantee what will happen in anyone else’s case. My wife’s story illustrates what’s possible with an integrative approach. But cancer is a complex disease. One of my wife’s oncologists told me that there are easily over 100 slightly different types of cancer. And, to complicate matters, we are each complex and somewhat unique organisms.
If you or a family member or friend is getting conventional treatment (such as surgery, radiation and chemo) and considering adding supplements or strategies that you’ve read about on this (or any other) website please consult with an oncologist (if possible one who uses or understands the integrative approach to cancer treatment) to avoid any conflict with ongoing conventional treatment.
Our best wishes go out to all who read this blog and share a similar struggle.