Monthly Archives: July 2013

Riding the sometimes terrifying cancer roller coaster

Riding the sometimes terrifying cancer roller coaster

Above photo: My wife at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois during our two week visit there this last April 10 to 23 for testing.

Dealing with cancer is sometimes like being on a roller coaster.

As some of you know my wife was slipping into cachexia last year (fast weight loss, growing weakness, loss of appetite plus chronic coughing due to the illness moving to her lungs). I started integrating some of the dietary and lifestyle ideas of Dr. Keith Block and integrative cancer treatment as recommended in his book, Life Over Cancer. The symptoms started receding and went away.

In Dec. ’12 and March ’13 my wife had two high resolution CT scans that showed increasing shrinkage of the lesions on her lungs. The March scan was especially extremely encouraging with many of the lesions being “almost completely resolved” according to the report.

So much so that April of this year we travelled to The Block Center for testing to clarify what exact biochemical conditions we were dealing with in her body to further customize her diet and supplements.

After we returned she had another quarterly CT scan done in June which unfortunately showed some minor signs that her cancer (a particularly aggressive strain designated ER PR neg. HER 2 pos. if you want to Google it) might have adapted to her chemo and diet changes and was making a comeback.

I was disappointed but hadn’t lost any confidence in the integrative cancer treatment dietary changes we’d done. To me if we had not made those changes it’s likely my wife would either be dead or extremely sickly. As it is many people see her and comment that she doesn’t look like she has stage 4 cancer. I look much sicker than her (due to the stress of battling her illness).

To compound this disappointing news my wife started complaining of blurry vision. Her complaints continued so I contacted her oncologist who recommended that she immediately have a CT scan done of her head. She did and the results confirmed my fears. The radiologist’s report said that the CT scan showed that the cancer had moved to her brain.

What is complicated about brain cancer is that the body has a built in blood filter for blood going to the brain. Unfortunately it filters out any chemo drugs. So the only options are surgery or radiation.

We met with a medical oncologist and she gave us the options. The mass was small enough that radiation was the best form of treatment. She recommended whole brain radiation over fifteen sessions (instead of the normal ten sessions in order to lessen dosage per session).

She also ordered an MRI to catch any microtumors that the CT scan might have missed; she wanted to be aware of all growths for comparison in future images of my wife’s brain.

My wife had the MRI done yesterday, reviewed and sent to the radiation oncologist. Her office called me this morning and gave me unbelievable news. It went something like this:

“Hello, Mr. Nelson, this is __________________ from _________________________. The doctor reviewed the MRI results and it appears that the growth in your wife’s brain is not cancer.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I broke down and started crying in disbelief.

“Wait, wait, wait. Am I hearing right? Are you telling me that she doesn’t have cancer in her brain?”

She confirmed. I apologized for my reaction, thanked her profusely and walked down the hallway to the living room still crying and faced my wife. She saw me crying and panicked.

“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

I could barely get the words out. “I just got a call from the radiation oncologist’s office. It’s not cancer in your brain.”

“Why are crying then?”

“Because I’m so happy!!”

We immediately went to see Dr. Kim and she confirmed that the MRI did not find any cancer in my wife’s brain. They don’t know what it is. From the oncologist’s experience she said she could have an MRI done of my brain and she might see some unknown small mass in it that isn’t cancer. Maybe a clump of blood vessels or something else.

All I care about is that it’s not cancer.

It’s been a very tense, depressing few days since the CT scan of her head. This new news was like a big rock getting taken off of my shoulders.

Well we still have the other questionable growths to deal with. Hopefully the September CT scan will hold some positive news for us.

Regardless, I wouldn’t change a thing as far as our nutritional approach to her diet. I feel indebted to Dr. Block and his life saving work on integrative cancer treatment and his book, Life Over Cancer. His work has been instrumental in giving us many additional good days with my wife. Each new day is a small victory and gift for which we’re greatful to God.

We’re far from in the clear. That may never happen.

Dr. Kim said that lung cancer is more notorious for migrating to the brain. Breast cancer more often migrates to the bones. This is not good because bone cancer is probably the most painful cancer to die of.

Anyway, that’s one less challenge for the moment. I have a feeling there are going to be many more ups and downs on this roller coaster ride.

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July 19, 2013 · 3:17 pm