Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh no, Avastin is back...

Avastin for ovarian cancer slows tumors but fails to prolong life | Stronger Than Cancer

This is the most discouraging news I've seen today.

I celebrated the FDA removing it's approval of Avastin for Breast Cancer. It is too toxic, reduced quality of life, and did not have any benefit or improved survival. I was amazed at how many people were angry with the FDA for this decision, in a desperate attempt to do something, they'd rather take the physical punishment of a drug with serious side effects, that did not have any benefit. I don't know who these brainwashed masses are, but they are clearly only listening to propaganda from Genentech.

Well, it didn't take long before they decided to find another cancer to market their drug to. Now it's Ovarian Cancer.

What is insane, is that mixed in this story, that shows the results of two studies indicate that it DOES NOT prolong life for Ovarian Cancer, that some people are ... excited??? .. about this. Calling it a 'gift'??

Who on earth did they pay to make that statement???

For all of you cancer survivors who read this blog, PLEASE do not take your doctor's word for anything. Research EVERY drug they recommend. What are the real benefits. What are the risks.

It's your body. Only take a drug if YOU believe there is a real benefit that outweighs the risk, and miserable side-effects of treatment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Idaho teen loses cancer fight after delivering son | Stronger Than Cancer

Idaho teen loses cancer fight after delivering son | Stronger Than Cancer

Wow, this is such a powerful story of sacrifice.

After going through cancer, and facing all the decisions you face about treatment, and your place in the world, I can completely understand her decision.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the sleepless nights were not about my fears of dying, or concern for my life - all of my worries were about my children and how they were coping with my diagnosis, and how they would cope if I didn't survive. At 2am I was mapping out what I might leave for them, what message could I give them that would show them that I loved them even after I was gone... so many thoughts in so many directions - not about my cancer, but about my children.

Five years later, I am happy that I survived and our family is whole again.

My thoughts and prayers and blessings go out to Jenni Lake's little boy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Breast Implant Scare is a Reminder: Buyer Beware

France to pay for implant removals, even as cancer fears subside | Stronger Than Cancer

From the article: "According to a news release from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, PIP is now defunct. It says the company "used non-medical grade silicone believed by the manufacturers to be made for mattresses.""

So, we don't think this poses a cancer risk, but what were they thinking using a silicone made for mattresses in a body - was ANY testing done on humans???

This fall under the category of 'buyer beware' - just because a 'doctor' is in charge of an implant, it doesn't mean it is safe, or healthy!!!

This is just a reminder that we are responsible for our own health - we can't assume something approved by our doctor is right or even safe for us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breast implants have no cancer link, but ALL Implants Should Be Monitored

Breast implants have no cancer link says UK watchdog | Stronger Than Cancer

This may not be linked to cancer (although I'm not convinced), but anything you put in your body that doesn't belong there, can pose a health risk. Watch it closely.

Obviously, there are times doctors need to implant things - many people get rods and other devices implanted for back or knee injuries etc. But this is still relatively new medicine, and we don't necessarily know what the long term risks are.

At the time of surgery, the benefits outweigh the risk - so, it is unrealistic to say NEVER surgically implant anything into the body.

The message is to keep an eye on it. Implants can deteriorate, or shift, or affect surrounding tissue.

Best to set up a routine to check all implants on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

USDA Dietary Guidelines and Cancer Prevention | Stronger Than Cancer

Internal Documents Reveal USDA Dietary Guidelines Panel Dominated by ADA | Stronger Than Cancer

What a sad article, but it goes without saying that much of the regulations and standards support the corporations.

In general, the FDA guidelines fall short of optimum health. They are the bare MINIMUM required, not a goal we should reach for.

A perfect example of this is their standard for Vitamin C. The USDA guideline for vitamin C is the minimum amount to prevent scurvy (a disease that sailors used to get when they didn't have access to fresh foods for long periods). Even lab monkeys are given more Vitamin C than the USDA for humans, because they don't want insufficient nutrition to skew results of their research.

Clearly, relying on the FDA, or USDA guidelines are NOT going to lead to health, but surviving cancer means we need to make sure our body always has what it needs to support the immune system...

As Cancer Survivors, we are going to have to take it upon ourselves to create our own dietary guidelines.

If it helps, you can start with a Cancer Prevention Cookbook - they generally contain excellent sections on the nutritional needs that support the immune system - a good example is The Strang Cancer Prevention Center Cookbook:

Or you can start with a Cancer Fighting diet (like the Mediterranean Diet), then adjust and modify to suit your needs. The important part is to eat plenty of nutrient-dense veggies and other cancer fighting foods.

As you go, your guidelines make more sense. As you survive, the USDA requirements make less sense.

I think this is something all cancer survivors come to at some point of their journey.

Keeping Tumor Cells Alive Can Lead to Individualized Treatment

Scientists are Able to Keep Tumor Cells Alive in the Lab | Stronger Than Cancer

This is such a wonderful breakthrough!

Instead of freezing a patient's biopsied tumor samples, live samples can be preserved and tested in the lab to evaluate treatments and potential risk to healthy cells.

This is SO much better that guessing about treatments, based on statistics and reports from the companies that make the drugs.

It will ABSOLUTELY lead to fewer deaths caused by the treatment itself, will help determine better treatments for older patients, and hopefully check normal cells for toxicity, thereby reducing side effects.

While I am usually the person who says, let's wait and do lots of testing before we make this a standard - in this case, I would love to see this procedure implemented as soon as possible. It is not a new treatment that is untested in humans, it is a new procedure that occurs outside the body, is completely harmless to the patient, will improve their treatment options and outcomes... there are NO down-sides to moving forward with this.

And since it was developed at a University, and not a private drug company, the information is publicly available.


Seems like advances in cancer are moving forward exponentially - we may find a cure in our lifetime :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Promising Cancer Vaccine or Immunotherapy?

Promising Cancer Vaccine Could Shrink Tumors By 80 Percent | Stronger Than Cancer

This appears to be more of an immunotherapy than an actual vaccine as the focus seems to be more on treatment than prevention at this time, and the goal is to stimulate a response 'after' the cancer has started to grow.

I find it interesting that they often will refer to triple-negative breast cancer as a difficult to treat cancer. It does seem that very little conventional treatments are helpful for triple-negative cancer: Tamoxifen or Herceptin are not effective, so the push is for chemotherapy (which isn't really effective) for this aggressive cancer.

I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, but chose not to do chemotherapy. I chose my own sort of immunotherapy with the help of Dr. James Belanger, a Naturopathic Doctor. A large part of the treatment was mushrooms which have a unique effect on the immune system, and over 5 years later I am still cancer free.

So, for them to say that triple-negative breast cancer is hard to treat is only to say that they don't know of any 'drugs' to fight it. I fought it with my own body, my immune system, eating well and reducing stress.

I am looking forward to hearing more about this - but I still think, if I am going to choose immunotherapy to treat my cancer, I will focus on naturally occurring foods and nutrients, rather than something designed in the lab to attack. I always have that option if the cancer comes back.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Memory issues after cancer may not be due to chemo | Stronger Than Cancer

Memory issues after cancer may not be due to chemo | Stronger Than Cancer

A new study shows that memory issues are common in breast cancer patients and survivors regardless of whether they did chemotherapy or not, which throws into question the label "Chemo-Brain" for the fog which comes after treatment - one of the more frustrating side effects.

From personal experience, I did not have chemotherapy, but I did have serious memory issues (working memory, not long term memory) DURING my radiation treatment, and for a few months after this.

A typical example of my memory problem would be trying to shop for groceries. I would look at an item on my list, and by the time I looked up in the aisle, I had already forgotten what I just read.

Some of this could be from the incredible fatigue I experienced from radiation. Your body is doing a lot of work: fighting cancer, dealing with daily doses of therapeutic radiation, trying to stay well with cold and flu germs all around - your body needs a lot more rest during this time. This is not unlike other times in my life, if I was extremely exhausted, or very sick, my memory might fail...

To me, I blamed the radiation, and recovered fully when I recovered from the radiation. I don't have ANY memory issues now.

But it's all about the recovery. Some folks don't recover. To me, that may be a sign that they are still trying to recover from the treatment (chemo or radiation) and the 'shock' of diagnosis.

In my personal experience, the most dramatic improvement in my recovery from the treatment, came a year later when I began drinking Green Smoothies (after reading the book Green for Life - an excellent book that describes how greens affect our health, and provides recipes for getting more of these nutrients in our diet). This brought my energy back to a level better than anything in the years that led up to my cancer diagnosis. In my early 40s, I felt healthier and more energized than I did in my early 30s. And with the energy, came mental clarity, and improved focus. It was a dramatic change that I noticed immediately - within weeks I was back to normal... after a year of fatigue and sluggishness, it felt great to feel energized and healthy again.

I believe that when all the systems of the body are working efficiently, and your body has the nutrients it needs, and you are not burdened with stress, then mental clarity returns - in other words, I don't think the damage is permanent. I believe all cancer survivors can overcome the cancer, and move on to be healthier than they were before.

If nothing else, cancer is a wake-up call from your body saying: take care of me!!

If you have mental fog after treatment, perhaps it is your body saying: give me better nutrients, get out and take walks for fresh air, get enough sleep and above all else: REDUCE STRESS (adjust your priorities, enjoy your life, do things you love, and laugh). Try these things - you may see some memory improvement, and you're sure to feel better and more alert.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Report finds that life choices dwarf pollutants in breast cancer risk | Stronger Than Cancer

Life choices dwarf pollutants in breast cancer risk | Stronger Than Cancer

I'm a bit disappointed in this 'report'. Another one funded by Susan Komen, who seems to enjoy spending everyone else's money: ONE MILLION DOLLARS??? To tell us that women are getting breast cancer because of our lifestyle??? Really??

And every one of these reports makes a point of the increased risk for being obese - when I had an aggressive, triple-negative breast cancer, and NEVER had a weight problem.

This sort of "research" drives me crazy.

It's a huge waste of money.

It didn't discover anything new.

And it blames breast cancer on the patient (like we need guilt on top of struggling to stay alive), and it let's manufacturers of toxic chemicals off the hook. As if it's perfectly fine to expose us to constant exposure to 'safe' levels of toxins, chemicals, radiation....

Honestly - tell me why cancer rates are going up?

Women are not doing things much different now than they have always done - in fact, women are more into 'fitness' today than they were just one generation back. Women are less likely to smoke than they were 30 years ago...

I simply can't believe that 'lifestyle' alone can account for the dramatic increase in cancer rates.

What has changed??

The quality of the foods we're given to nourish our bodies has deteriorated. And we are exposed to more 'environmental' risks. We are encouraged to take more and more drugs for every minor inconvenience: allergies, colds, blood pressure, headache, stomach upset, trouble sleeping... and diet pills.

Hmmm, maybe women who are overweight are more likely to get cancer, because at some point, they all have tried diet pills.

As I said, I never had a weight issue - but I did struggle with allergies as a child. Imagine years of taking a drug designed to 'suppress' your immune system. Then when I really needed my immune system to kick in (to fight the cancer) my body had given up.

Perhaps the report is right.

Life choices are probably a greater factor in cancer risk (and survival). It's the life choice we make to ignore these stupid reports, and take charge of our own health, and stop polluting our bodies with everything we are told is safe.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

U.S. men with low-risk prostate cancer should delay or forgo treatment | StrongerThanCancer

Many U.S. men with low-risk prostate cancer should delay or forgo treatment | StrongerThanCancer

I would love to see this for many diseases. The fear-mongering and push to get ineffective drugs in many cases, is affecting some patient's survival.

Not in all cases. There are many situations where aggressive treatment is necessary - but there are so many different ways to attack cancer now, and some cancers (like prostate, or kidney cancer) seem to resolve themselves - so early screening and treatments can, in fact, cause more problems for the patient.

Luckily, it seems there are more and more panels assessing this information. I am truly hopeful that we see more monitoring of cancers, more targeted therapies, and less toll on the patient.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cancer Causes: The Full List | StrongerThanCancer

Cancer Causes: The Full List | StrongerThanCancer

Not that much new here. Just data presented in another way. We all know the lifestyle factors.

But there's a lot that it doesn't specifically track. For example, it doesn't seem to track the toxins in our environment.

They evidently track what the organization wants to track, and they sift the patients into categories.

But what if your cause was something they weren't tracking? They listed 'meat' as a category, but is it ANY meat, or is the the hormone and antibiotic injected meat? Is it red meat or poultry? Is dairy included here because it contains animal protein, or is it simply 'flesh'.

And fruits and vegetables are listed as a risk?

I think it's very scary when you have people plug random data into spreadsheets. In the end, you have less information than you started with, or rather, mis-leading information.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lung Cancer's Victims... Who Never Smoked

Lung Cancer's Hidden Victims... Who Never Smoked | StrongerThanCancer

This rings true for me. Cancers aren't predictable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, with no family history, and absolutely NO indication that I would be at risk, in fact, they considered me to be at very LOW risk for the disease: I never smoked, never had weight issues, I breast-fed my children...

More and more we are seeing cancers that contradict what we assume is the 'cause' or the 'lifestyle' that brought it on.

I think we need to think of cancers - all cancers - as a global concern. That we are just enduring more and more toxins in our environment, and degradation of our food supply (our diets aren't nourishing us), and cancers can show up in ANY part of the body, regardless of our genetics, or gender (men are getting breast cancer)...

Be ever vigilant. Assume you are at risk for any cancer. Live your life to prevent all cancers.

New Research: cancer protection same as allergies

Cancer protection same as allergies | StrongerThanCancer

This is a really interesting connection.

As someone who had severe allergies as a child, it was interesting to see that most my allergic reactions subside after taking supplements to support my cancer.

There have been other approaches to immunotherapy for cancer, stimulating an immune response in the body in hopes that it will jump-start a immune response against the cancer. Many of those therapies are not proven - as a cancer treatment. Yet, I found the supplementation I took to strengthen my immune system to be very effective - and hopefully, it is keeping the cancer away. (The difference between the two being: 1) attempting to stimulate an already weak immune system, the other 2) strengthening the weak areas of the immune system while going through treatment improves the ability for the body to continue to fight the disease).

This approach is a little different, a slightly different pathway - I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from further research.