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“Is the Immune System Really the Answer to Fighting Cancer?”

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

I know that is the current theory that we fervently believe holds the promise for our futures – but how much of that is right, and how much is an illusion?

For the past eighteen-months, I have grappled with this subject and have read and listened intently to everyone’s opinion on what they were taking to “boost” their immune system to aid in their fight against cancer.

Personally, I’ve always questioned the supplemental approach with regards to its role in policing our cancers. If it was that easy, we’d all be doing it. But, we’re not all doing it, are we?

On the surface, it may appear that many are doing it. We hear of success stories of folks that are in that two or three years clear barrier – that stretch of time where it looks like they will stay clear, but that stretch of time where things could turn back the other way.

It’s just enough to give you hope – but not enough time to give you assurance. Will there be recurrences? Or will they just continue on clear for the remainder of their lives?

The only telling factor will be TIME itself – that’s the chapter that will write everyone’s stories. This is the only tried and true theory that matters. Cancer operates under many guises – the biggest weapon that he holds and utilizes against us is Time and Patience – and he has both of those in ample abundance.

The way our minds work with our cancer fights, is that whatever we are doing at the time that we got clean scans and good results, is what we “Think and Believe” worked and did the trick.

I believe it was Phil, who recently alluded to this point in an earlier post – and it resonated with me as I nodded my head in complete agreements with his assessment. How much of that assumption is fact – and how much of it is fiction?

If we are supplementing and we get clear scans – we link our success to the fact that we supplemented, or changed our lifestyle, or made dietary changes and whatnot. That’s what did the trick, right?

Could it have been the surgery, radiation, and chemo in and of itself, that drastically altered the tides of your cancer battle? More than likely – yes it did. It played a tremendous role in getting you to where you are at.

The fact remains that no protocol of any kind is successful without surgery as the primary element of whatever modality is being followed. The rest of the protocol treatments is just the best insurance that modern medicine has to give us – or wants to give us. We know that regardless, there are no guarantees or absolute assurances with anything that we will be healed – or stay healed for the long run.

But, for the sake of discussion - what if you were clear of the disease and you weren’t supplementing at all – what would this represent to you? What conclusions could we draw from this evidence?

This is where the topic gets very interesting – let’s look at two sample cases.

Subject A – did surgery and traditional treatment and got clear and currently uses supplements to boost their immune system to prevent cancer from returning – and is currently getting clear scans (to date). Their lifestyle and dietary requirements have been altered – all blood work indicates good immune system function.

Subject B – did surgery and traditional treatment and currently does not use supplements of any kind – and is getting clear scans (to date). Their lifestyle changes are mostly static and dietary changes were upgraded to include organic products and healthier choices when available, but not perfect by any means – all blood work indicates good immune system function.

“Where does this leave us?”

Test subjects A & B represent a microcosm of this community as a whole and as such, are the epitome of two of the approaches that we employ in fighting our cancers. The difference between the two approaches lies in the assertion that the supplemental approach to boosting the immune system makes cancer go away – and keeps it away.

“How can we prove this – can we even do that?”

There are two ways to draw a conclusion that I can think of right off.

First, you stop supplementing and monitored your CEA and scans and see what happens. Now, I can already see several of you throwing your hands up at this one. The minute something looked wrong, you would automatically link that back to the fact that you stopped supplements and as such, your CEA rose and you now have cancer again.

Simple mathematics you would say – cause and effect others might say – I didn’t do this and now it resulted in that.

I saw this in a recent post from a member who stated they had stopped their supplements and now things were on the rise. On the surface, this would be an easy assumption. But, would it be the correct one?

The other way to test this theory would be to continue on with your supplementation and just “wait it out.” If you experience a recurrence despite your methodology, this is going to put a big hole in your theory and approach to your cancer – or at least it should be a real attention-getter.

Because, if you are supplementing and “boosting your immune system” to all it can be – and you still get a recurrence – then what does that tell you? It should tell you plenty – it certainly does to me.

Don’t think it’s a one-off deal and happened by chance – the solution won’t be to “Up the Intake” of supplements or start taking hoards more of them to make up the deficiency. That would be a knee-jerk response to a problem that goes a little bit deeper as I just recently found out with my onc and will discuss this further down the post.

And if you stayed supplementing but did not get the recurrence, you draw the logical conclusion that it was the supplemental and lifestyle changes that made all the difference.

“But, is that what really happened?”

Perhaps, regardless of whether you supplemented or chose not to, once you got clear – you just remained clear DESPITE what you thought was working in your after-care approach?

Think about that for a minute….then go back to Test Subjects A & B. The only difference in their approach was that one supplemented and the other didn’t – yet they both remain clear at their current times.

There’s no arguing that supplements can make you feel better – that healthier eating and exercise can’t do you any harm – all of that is good and good for us. What might be an important fact for some would be the reason “why” you are taking them and what your expectation levels are for taking them.

Are you taking them for general overall health? Or are you taking them because you think that this approach holds the key to the cancer cure?

The issue boils down to the belief that supplements “Cure Cancer” and “Keep Cancer Away” by “boosting” our immune system to its maximum potential and thus putting us into the proper condition to eradicate those systemic cancer cells that traverse through the vast network that comprises the make-up our bodies.

This illustration presents Test Subjects A & B as both ‘healthy’ and getting clean scans for the indefinite future, so where is the evidence and the proof that supplementation is the answer to our cancer?

Test Subjects A & B show us examples of how this theory can be nothing more than a fallacy. It’s what we want to believe – and what we are so desperate to believe - but is it the truth - or just the truth in the way that we want to see it?

In 1968, Simon and Garfunkel wrote a poignant song, titled “The Boxer.” Some of the most relevant lyrics in that song are…”A man hears what he wants to hear – and disregards the rest.”

This topic is one where we feel ‘changes’ have to be made – and some of us want to make a change for the sake of changing, as a reaction to the perceived problem that confronts them, so that we feel we have taken a proactive role and did everything possible to fight our cancers.

I can understand that. It does make sense. None of us wants to say “IF” when we get to the end of the line and things did not turn out like we planned. We are looking for some sort of assurance that we gave it all. This would erase the guilt and free up our conscience accordingly.

Personally, I have tried some supplementation in the past (not as extreme as some) and I exercised more and ate better etc.etc. I’ve always recurred despite anything that I’ve tried.

It used to make me feel like such a failure. When I came to the board and started hearing other’s stories, I began to listen and I weighed the evidence as I looked at the real life statistics – which would be you.

I had to keep an open mind I thought – maybe these folks know something that I don’t know. They are going NED after a few rounds of chemo (though they recurred) and some folks are 2 to 3 years clear and still going – and I’m still watching them to see how things turn out for them…and there were a few long-term survivor stories to consider as well.

So, for three years up here on the board, I’ve watched and listened and examined those stories. But, with as many deaths as I’ve personally witnessed during my tenure on the board, I was convinced that there was more to it than supplementing the immune system to defeat cancer. Something else must be at work that makes up the deciding factor.

After all, it is possible to be clear without taking any supplements or “mop-up” treatments of any kind - I’m living proof of that.

Currently, I’m not on any maintenance follow-up or juicing plan. I’m taking zero supplements and not exercising nearly enough and we are still in the watch and wait mode, nothing definitive at this point. I’ve had cancer 3x whether I supplemented, ate good or bad, or exercised a lot or none at all.

I’ve also come clear all 3x. That still stands as a very notable achievement in this community. Should I get confirmation of another recurrence, it won’t be because of lack of supplementation, an inadequate immune system, or inadequate diet.

Should you recur using supplementation to boost your immune system, it will lend credence to the theory that the immune system is not the answer to cancer, as so many think is the case.

The other thing is that even if you weren’t supplementing, you could just as easily stay clear – just the same as if you were to recur. The difference would be that you stay on supplementation and therefore cannot draw the conclusion that non-supplementation could also have allowed you to reach the clear destination and/or stay there as well. And that’s an important factor to consider and keep in mind.

And here’s why…

This past week I had my off-scan cycle consult with my onc and finally had the opportunity to be able to sit down and talk with him about this heavy and controversial topic that has been weighing me down the past 18-months.

It was an enlightening discussion and he treated me with respect and listened patiently to my questions and responded in an informative and professional manner. I’ve built a good relationship and rapport with him the past three-years since switching my care over to the hospital and their NCI cancer facility.

Before, I get into our discussion; I wanted to talk for a minute about my onc. I did a background check on him (free public information) to provide credentials on his expertise in his field of study and practice.

My onc is a surgical oncologist. He has 29 years of experience. His clinical expertise is in Colorectal Cancer – Gastric Cancer – Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Pancreatic Cancer. He is also an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine. He is “Board Certified” in Internal Medicine/ Oncology / Hematology.

“Why is Board Certification so important?”

Board certification requires extensive training and a rigorous review of a doctor’s knowledge, experience and skill in a medical specialty.

Board certification also means that a doctor is actively improving his or her practice of medicine through continuing education.

A board-certified doctor is more likely than a non-board-certified doctor to have the most current skills and knowledge about how to treat your medical condition.

A doctor who is board certified has taken an important step beyond getting a required state medical license to practice.

Last, but certainly not least…No malpractice history found / No sanctions history found / No board actions found.

And he is also a “HealthGrades Recognized Doctor”, who has a 100% rating with patients of his who have completed a survey about him. HealthGrades is a national organization that is the leading independent health care ratings company.

So, now that we’ve established that he’s a competent and credible doctor in the field of oncology, let’s talk about what I asked him and the answers that he gave me.

The conversation started by me telling him what the trending belief on the board has become that the assumption of “any type of supplementation” would “boost the immune system” to it’s maximum potential to such a degree that it would eliminate cancer from the body – and prevent cancer from returning to the body.

I explained that upon further examination of my blood work over the last couple of years, I could see where blood levels were tanked during treatment, but mostly rebounded in time to a normal level.

In fact, outside of slightly low WBC’s (3.7) and low Platelets (72K – 76K), that the majority of my blood work was pegging nicely in the normal ranges up and down the chart through all the various tests.

So, this begged the question – and I asked him point blank, the following:

Q: Do I have an immune system level that is “capable” of fighting cancer?

Q: If the new spots we’re watching on the lung and liver are confirmed as cancer, does
this mean that my immune system isn’t good enough or maximized enough to fight

He went on to say that there is not really a way to “supercharge or maximize” the immune system in order to make it more efficient in getting rid of cancer cells or preventing cancer cells from returning.

He just said that the immune system does not operate under that principle. If you have good blood counts then you have a good immune system and you can’t squeeze more blood out of a turnip.

He said this contrasted differently with other bodily deficiencies like low white blood counts – where we can inject Neulasta or Neupogen and temporarily “boost” those types of levels.

He said it’s just not the same premise with the immune system.

I explained that the crowd I hang out with was just wild about Juicing, Cimetidine, Turmeric, Modified Citrus Pectin, Apricot Kernels, Pomegranate Seeds and the like. I also explained that there was a contingent of folks who adhered to Vitamin C infusions and Iscador treatments.

I asked him if any of this was beneficial in fighting cancer. He went on to say, that there is not enough clinical evidence to support this theory and reaffirmed again that you can’t boost the immune system to do what it normally does if your blood work is healthy.

He did say that if it did not interfere with treatment, then he was not opposed to it, per say. He just did not feel that these methods offered the clinical benefit of boosting the immune system and said that cancer and its regulation comes from an entirely different place. (We’ll talk about that below).

I said, “But the folks believe so passionately on this subject that this is the difference maker in their cancer fights – they are pinning all of their hopes on this one belief.”

And he said, “If folks believe that then it can’t hurt them – but the immune system is not where the problem lies.”

But, I said, “But, the supplemental boosting won’t cure or prevent their cancers from returning, will it?”

He shook his head no and said if this is what people believe and want to do and it doesn’t interfere, then…

So, I found that enlightening…and then we talked about where cancer is conceived and where the root of the problem really lies. It comes down to the basic primal.function of the human organism - “Cell Replication.”

The way that he explained it to me, went a little something like this…

When a living cell is reproduced, it must replicate itself from the original to be an “exact copy.” If the copying of the genetic data from the Parent-to-Daughter cell in the replication process is incomplete, flawed or inaccurate, then this is where the breakdown occurs and cancer is formed – it occurs “At the Genetic Level.”

He went on to say that it is most prevalent in any organ where cells divide at a high rate. What I especially found interesting was how he said that the “copies” of the divided cells contain the library of our entire existence.

I mean, that if we’re 50-years old (or whatever age) that the copy is made from all of the years of accumulation and cellular changes for that part of the body into the next cell. It’s new, but it contains the ‘life imprint’ of what you were when you were born through to where you are now – and he said that is a huge file transfer where many breakdowns often occur. Sometimes the body can correct itself – and other times not.

It’s like an extremely “long download” when you’re loading software. With that much data to transfer from one cell to another and dividing so quickly, things can get out of sync – and when they do cancer cells are what we are left with.

And the immune system does not play a role in cellular division and replication – it’s an entire different process with its own rules with the role that it plays.

This was Enlightenment x 2 for me. I immediately felt unburdened and relieved from what he had told me. I had suspected as much from personally witnessing the cases we find before us here on the board on both sides of this equation.

For me, Lisa42’s passing “Sealed the Deal” on whether the supplemental approach really worked or had any bearing whatsoever on how cancer was dealt with.

I’ve seen other supplemental strategies fall by the wayside as well and some of those folks have recurred, despite the things they have taken to thwart the cancer.

And I’ve seen the other side as well…there is a gentlemen here, who is 19-years clear of cancer – by his own admission, he says that he made “Little to No Dietary Changes.” And yet, he’s clear – and remains clear…he would be an example of Test Subject B.

We’ve got another member, who is two years clear, but also professes to no real changes in diet or lifestyle….occasional glass of wine, drinks sugary sodas, smokes, some sweets and some red meat….currently clear.

We’ve got another member (8 yrs) who also says no major changes really, other than trying to eat healthier etc. etc.

As for myself, I’ve tried some variations of each approach and netted a recurrence despite my best known efforts to date. I believe that once we recur – we are more prone to recurrence – and it comes at a faster rate, despite our best efforts – at least for some of us. But, apparently our ills don’t come from the lack of an immune system.

Hearing my onc’s opinion has freed me of the guilt now that I could have done something “more” to fight my cancer. Knowing that the cancer is really at the genetic level and cannot be altered or boosted by supplemental means, gives me a sense of comfort that I haven’t overlooked anything – and even if I had, that it won’t make the difference on whether I continue to get cancer back or not.

I can now die peacefully without having that albatross hanging around my neck.

Genetics, hereditary, and environment play such a huge role in determining cancer. I believe we overlook its relevance in the fight many times. We are so eager to write it all off as a dietary deficiency, that we don’t really see that it could be much deeper than that. We’ve had examples of plenty of folks to look at on both sides.

If juicing, or an MCP shake, or a tablespoon of turmeric, or a handful of pomegranate seeds, were the real solution – then colorectal cancer would not poised above the charts and sitting firmly in the # 2 slot as the second leading killer of cancers among men and women equally, not only in the U.S. but in the world as well.

We’re all searching for the answers – but time and time again, I come back to the same spot – there is no panacea for cancer. There is still no cure for cancer and despite advances in surgery and some targeted treatments, we still abide by the same rules that our predecessors used when all of this got started…

We CUT – We BURN– We POISON…despite the fanciest window dressing or smokescreen that the industry is using to tell us differently.

Over the Easter weekend, I thought a lot about what my onc said – about how it all comes to the cell replication – and when the machine breaks down – we break down. And if the immune system boost is not the answer to fighting cancer or preventing its recurrence, then I saw chemo’s role of what it actually may be doing.

With the immune system not in control or having any internal influence on cell reproduction and replication, then what turns the cancer maker on and off? If the “copying machine” suddenly goes haywire and starts producing bad copies, how do we prevent or stop that?

Obviously, if the medical community knew the answer to that one, we’d all have better strategies to operate with.

Right now, in re-evaluating the role of chemo in our fights, it seems that its harsh, barbaric approach is to lay waste to any cell in the body – malignant or benign.

By “wiping the slate clean”, the tables are then reset and the cell division either corrects itself or does not. Again, the medical community does not know why this is.

I’m thinking that the traditional role of chemo might help explain the reason why some of us get clear permanently, while the rest of us stay dormant for a period of time and then ultimately recur.

Chemo killed the bad cancer copies and allowed the body to regain control and start producing healthy ones once more – and then it either stayed that way – or stayed that way for a time, until the bad patterns began appearing again – thus recurrence.

At the heart of the cancer issue is…”What Turns the Cell Replicator from producing bad copies to producing good ones again – and what does it take for it to continue doing that?

Nobody can have a perfect immune system – folks get sick with the flu or other viral and bacterial entities all the time – sometimes they are quelled by the body and sometimes they proliferate. Nobody’s pegging out at 100% immune system capacity.

You could go next door to your neighbor or pull one of you friends or work colleagues out and have them do blood work and find that they would be eerily similar to your readings (out of treatment) and yet they don’t have cancer – and you do.

And you could have a good immune system and still be susceptible to the flu or common cold. Doesn’t mean your immune system is no good – it’s probably working just fine –it just means that you came into contact with the bug and contracted it – the body then fights it off. And if it was 100% (if you could get it there) would have netted you the same.

If you didn’t get the flu, you could claim that your immune system is strong enough to prevent it…but is that the truth? Perhaps, you just didn’t come into contact with it. Sometimes in life, things just happen – we are the sum product of our genetic code.

The body is a living organism and is therefore not immune to many things in this life – if it weren’t we’d never get sick – and never die.

One other thing of interest that I read a few years ago. Someone said, that in a person’s lifetime, there are approximately 4-6 events in a person’s life where things can get out of sync and allow cancer the window of opportunity to strike.

In thinking about this analogy, I also read that for every 10-15 years of our lives, there is a “Seismic Shifting” and realignment in our bodies as we age and go to the next decade of our lives….like from 30-40-50-60-70.

During these time, the body is undergoing many radical changes inside us that are unseen and it could be possible that these underpinnings are at work with why we ‘genetically’ get cancer – or remain clear - or get sick and get clear – or get sick and stay sick.

When I see folks desperately searching for the answer to the cancer quiz, I’m reminded of what it is like when we pull a fish from the waters…by hand or by hook.

The ‘catching’ of the fish is the cancer diagnosis that we receive. The ‘struggling and flailing’ of the fish against the catch are our attempts to fight the catch and escape its clutches, through whatever methods we employ or think will work.

Over time, the fish wiggles and squirms a little bit less and eventually comes to the conclusion that it is caught and resigns itself to its fate. I think that is where I find myself at this point in my cancer journey. I’m beginning to see that for some of us (despite everything) we are going down a different path than the person who gets clear and stays clear.

But, the resignation that I’m referring to above, comes in the form of “Understanding” what it is exactly that I’m going up against and what I’ve seen work and not work for myself and others.

The last year has found me on the “Path of Acceptance” on the subject of cancer. Now, standing at the precipice of the EIGHT-YEAR mark, I am nothing more than a culmination of everything that I’ve learned – and all that I’ve personally witnessed with that of my own story and that of so many others too – I am no more – and I am no less.

And make no mistake, these eyes “have seen” during that amount of time – on too many occasions – and far more than they wanted to.

Al Pacino said it best in his role as Tony Montana, in the cult-classic “Scarface” circa 1983…“The eyes, Chico – they never lie.”

Now, take a close look out over the horizon – what do your eyes see – what do they tell you?

Time and Patience for each one of us will ultimately write our story. The real gain will be for those of us that continue to tell our stories, so that we can all use those for comparison’s sake….in Time, everyone will formulate their own conclusions, at least about themselves.

Through this shared process, we can learn from one another – and we learn from one another by telling the truth about what we’ve learned. I will continue to do so and want to thank everyone else who has posted and shared their journeys with the group. I can tell you that it has made an enormous impact on the way that my perspectives and attitudes have been changed.

Sometimes I don’t like the change in myself, but I remind myself it is all part of the journey – all part of the process – and when you get to 8-years, you don’t see things from a one or two year perspective anymore – and you shouldn’t – if you do, then you’re not growing….you can only see and understand your own journey from exactly where you are at in the exact moment of your own battle.

Oh, you can get an inkling of what it is like for the other guy, but until you’ve undergone all the things and witnessed all the personal tragedies, and taking years of relentless pounding on your mind and body – then you think you understand – but you don’t truly understand – not yet.

“Does that make any sense to you?”

My last thought on this topic, comes back around to something I’ve said before and it continues to bear repeating…the bottom line to cancer it seems to me to be...

”Some of us are going to make it – and some of us are not – despite whatever it is that we ARE doing – or AREN’T doing as to what will be the deciding factor in our fights.”

Anyway, I found it to be an interesting discussion with my onc and I thought it was relevant in so many of our fights – and my onc said that it pertained to ALL cancers, not just ours.

The consult cost me $500 and I thought I would share this information with you free of charge from his medical point of view. I always like to share with you the things we discussed on the various topics of cancer. I’ve learned quite a bit from talking with him.

As always – each of us have to run their own race and nothing I’ve mentioned in this thread will bear any effect on that. It’s just food or fodder, depending on your point of view.

So now, I’ll close this post with the immortal words from Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues…”You Decide Which Is Right – and Which is an Illusion.”

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank anyone in advance that reads and/or responds to this post. Continued best of luck out there and wishing you well.


geotina's picture
Posts: 2103
Joined: Oct 2009

Yep, I read the whole post. My take on all this is - luck of the draw. Some are lucky and some are not. I have felt this way for a very long time and that is why I stay out of most discussions. The comment made a while back by someone in the clear, "I'll have the last laugh" really did it for me and that is generally why I don't post much. She is no longer posting so I guess it is relatively safe to re-enter the room so to speak. She made very mean comments although I don't think that was her intent. I just didn't like the "do as I do or I'll have the last laugh" implications.

My George was diagnosed advanced Stage IV on 3/30/09. He is still here and kicking and driving me nuts. Surgery and chemo and board certified docs that worked so hard for us.

Lisa did it all and that is why I say - Luck of the Draw. Roger - same thing and he died at age 38.

Hugs - Tina

tommycat's picture
Posts: 790
Joined: Aug 2011

I know what you mean Tina. For some of us here, cancer is (very) active. For others, is it gone, or is it just sleeping?
Maybe you can do things that help or at least make you feel like you have some control, but I suspect it is just the Luck of the Draw.
At the very least, glad to have you all here as part of this communal experience~

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

I'm glad you are here and a part of this as well....

Thank you for joining this post:)


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

Thank you for posting. Even after all of these years I've been fighting, it seems like the more I think I know - I find out I know "Less and Less - About More and More."


I'm glad that George is still with us - he's done very well with his plan. I'm glad that he got to retire and spend good quality time with you. That's the thing that's on my mind now and sort of what I want....to retire or be retired by cancer.

More of my days could then be spent pursuing life - I've missed so much of it already - I just blinked and it's all gone by....the last 12-years for me and Kim have just been a blur with time speeding around us like it's the Daytona 500 or something....

I just can't slow it down...

We all reach our own conclusions - and since we're all different, there will be many outcomes, good and bad. Where we each line up is "luck of the draw" sometimes, it sure seems.

What works for one - doesn't work for another...and it's the same analogy regardless of the topic.

I'm glad to see you:) Give George my best!


danker's picture
Posts: 888
Joined: Apr 2012

Love your comment about 12 years slipping away. Before he died at age 87, my father said" It seems like Christmas comes every month." As survivors we should relish evry day no matter what it"s like. I tell my children they wouldn"t recognize the good days if they didn"t have the not-so-good to compare them to. I wish you many more good days

steveandnat's picture
Posts: 887
Joined: Sep 2011

I really enjoyed your thoughts on the subject of cancer and what works. I'm so glad you can put thoughts into words and capture what I'm thinking sometimes. Genetics is a real key or else the majority of the unhealthy habit people would be in my shoes. Why am I still around 3 years with stage 4 and the majority of my buddies who started treatment the same time are no longer around. Pray we stay well. Jeff

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

Hey, man...glad you liked the piece. As people, we just have to be able to label something so that we can wrap our minds around it.

Cancer is more than cause and effect....some obese people never get cancer, while thin folks can....some people smoke and never get lung cancer....and some don't smoke and end up with lung cancer...etc. etc.

With colorectal cancer, the instinct is to label it as a dietary deficiency and by adjusting and compensating, we solve the problem, or so the rationale goes. It's just not the case as I alluded to some of the cases in my post, myself included. If diet were it, I'd be dead right now.

Wondering why you are still here why others perish around you? You're in a good spot now, Jeff...I can see the gears turning in your mind...this is what all of us at some point ask ourselves and try to come to grips with at some point along the way.

The answers are baffling and not forthcoming at the present time.

Just keep your head down and keep moving...I remember when I was at 3-years, seems like several lifetimes ago now....just about set to hit the 8-year mark in June 2012. I hope you'll be here to mark the occasion.

Thank you for responding.


Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3175
Joined: Jan 2010

Dear Craig,
Thank you for sharing your in-depth conversation with your doc about this subject.

I understand the mechanics described about cells not being copied or “downloading” correctly, but what causes that to happen?

After all science seems to indicate that exposure to asbestos, smoking, exposure to toxic waste, and over exposure to the sun (to mention only 4) cause cancer, yet not everyone with those same or greater exposures gets cancer. The zillion dollar question remains what makes the copier go wonkie?

Until we know that answer, those of us who have had a diagnosis of cancer will continue to try to “fix the copier” with whatever we think might work.

But as we all know, there is no guarantee that what seems to work for one will work for all.

So I guess I agree with others here, it is the luck of the draw until science finds the answer.


Marie who loves kitties

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

As you said, that's the $64,000 question - "what causes it?"

He couldn't really provide me with that answer...he just said that sometimes the body can police it - and other times the system gets out of sync and runs amok...and the result is the proliferation of cancer cells.

If science can solve this - we'll have at least some kind of an answer for cancer.

I'm not holding my breath, can't hold it that long....but I do hope we see continued improvement in surgical techniques and targeted, less invasive therapies that have the potential for result on many, but may or may not work for all.

"We're all different."

It's strange that what makes us "unique" can also put a stranglehold on how any substance can have a varied effect from individual.....from alcohol to aspirin...to surgery recovery time...to the effects of treatments....etc.etc.

Sometimes, I wish we were like a machine with interchangable parts, where one part fit another and it worked like the original did.

But, we're organic - we're human organisms, and as such, subject to all of the fallabilities that can confront us in a lifetime.

Thank you for posting - I appreciate you more than you can imagine.


John23's picture
Posts: 1883
Joined: Jan 2007

A $500 opinion is still an opinion, although more costly than
the "street variety".

"Immunotherapy" is not frowned upon or denounced by any of the
finest of the physicians, regarding cancer. In fact, Immunotherapy
is being considered as the only possible way to cure cancer, if
the concept can be perfected.

Your $500 oncologist's opinion that the immune system has
little (if any) control over cancer should warrant you a refund in
total! They would not cease the administration of chemotherapy
when a patient's immune system has been compromised, if the
immune system did not matter in the producing of "second cancers"
related to the chemotherapy drugs.

I would not have expected much more of an "opinion" from
any oncologist......

For the record.... I do not subscribe any of the many "alternatives"
being sold and used by health conscious individuals. They all seem
to be revenue harvesting products and practices, and most without
serious merit biologically or historically.

I do advocate the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the
herbal treatments therein. It is bolstered by several thousand years
of practice, is not costly, and is not something that's taken for
one's lifetime.

The fact that many of the leading institutions are utilizing TCM
in their treatment plans, should at least give some realization
to the benefits that can be afforded from TCM.

Dietary changes from a worse-case scenario to something more
substantial health-wise, is never a "bad thing", but doubtful that
it can do anything for the control of cancer.

When cancer patients allow the fear of cancer and death to
lead them, it all too often leads to the expenditure of their funds
and a useless loss of time.

Unfortunately, it also too often leads to the arbitrary and prejudiced
discounting of what can do good.

You can't find a cure for the incurable, if you only look where
you've been looking.

There is another way!

Best of health to you!


(Edited/added on 4-10-12)

As an addendum....?

I think your oncologist's $500 opinion should be tempered
with some opinions of other respected oncologists. Even a
simple "Google" for:
The role of the immune system and cancer
can produce enough documentation to provide some balance!

Best wishes to all !!


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

A few simple questions to you if I may. Obviously you can choose to answer or not answer:
Q: Has TCM benefitted you personally in your fight with cancer?

Q: If so, how?

Q: Are you healthier now and in a better condition because of using TCM to treat your cancer?

I certainly know your are a strong advocate of TCM (which is great! We need to hear from all fronts) yet there are rarely (never?) any personal accounts of how it's helped you. I know it's been around for thousands of years and has had much success in the treatment of many conditions. Yet is seems to remain this elusive concept whenever it's mentioned on here by anyone. I don't mean to sound like I'm asking for proof that something works because I know there's no proof of anything other than that we are born, we live, and we die and maybe even that's just an illusion!

The facts/stories about the dangers of western medicine are quick to be posted yet when it comes to TCM and how it's the road to follow, it's just talked about like this vague conceptual entity that has a following yet any specifics about it are rare. I am NOT discounting it's benefits, I'm sure there are many. This probably isn't the type of site where that information will be posted any time soon.
It's become sort of Myth-like on here. I know it exists and I know it's helped people.
I just haven't met anyone yet, I just hear stories...

John23's picture
Posts: 1883
Joined: Jan 2007

"A few simple questions to you if I may. Obviously you can choose to answer or not answer:

Q: Has TCM benefitted you personally in your fight with cancer? "

"Q: If so, how?"
I am still here after DX in 2006, with never having chemo or radiation treatments,
or suffering the side-effects of either.

"Q: Are you healthier now and in a better condition because of using TCM to treat your cancer? "
Obviously I am.

My suffering comes from the surgical procedures, the absence of
most of my digestive tract due to those faulty procedures, and the
inability of my body to absorb what is needed to sustain life.

Although TCM can't fix the mess left from faulty surgical procedures,
it has provided me with tools to remove blood clots, disintegrate
kidney stones, and help maintain a healthy liver; there are no (0)
pharmaceuticals in western medicine to accomplish the aforementioned
as safely as the herbal treatments.

I really have trouble understanding the prejudiced thinking regarding
Traditional Chinese Medicine. I suppose those that worry about making
"wrong choices" will recite the industry's mantra about "tests" and
"trials", and totally disregard the few thousand years of fairly successful
treatment records.

No modality is perfect; no one modality may fit all.... But given
the choice of highly toxic carcinogenic chemicals, or safe natural herbal
prescriptions, why would one be afraid of what does no harm and
opt to take chemicals that may kill them?

I wish more individuals would at least take the time to learn about
Traditional Chinese Medicine before writing it off as just so much
"snake oil sales talk". TCM is a science that has been around
thousands of years longer than any western medicine approach to
the health sciences.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish"

Be well,


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

I'm not a fan of "prejudiced thinking" either.
That's why I don't put down/discount any treatment options, especially those I haven't tried.

"A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier"

John23's picture
Posts: 1883
Joined: Jan 2007

I appreciate you pointing out my prejudices..... (?)

"That's why I don't put down/discount any treatment options,
especially those I haven't tried. -p"

You are right, Phil. I never tried chemotherapy! Which ones
are you suggesting I start with?

But please allow me to remind you:

One needn't stick their hands into red-hot burning coals to
understand the pain and damage that can occur.

While chemical therapy and radiation may be of great benefit
to quickly stop a cancerous tumor from killing the patient, its
arbitrary use to kill single rogue cancer cells is more damaging
than it is worth.

I am not at odds with the entire system, Phil. I am at odds
with the arbitrary overuse of therapies that were not intended
to be used in the manner they presently are being used.

And to that extent Phil, there -are- much better choices to fight
cancer with.

When individuals refuse to explore and learn about any modality
that may actually save their life, it frustrates me.

Most of us simply do not have the time to continue stubborn
prejudices. There is an abundance of information available
regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine; it takes so little
to learn about it's merits.

And Phil..... Even if an individual does not use TCM for their
attempt to stifle cancer, TCM is still able to be of great merit
for remaining healthy during the rigorous treatments of chemo
and radiation.

It is for that reason that TCM is presently being used along with
conventional western medicine cancer treatments.

What more proof and validity is required, than it's use by the
leading institutions?

I can't speak for the other "alternatives", but I do know what
TCM is capable of, and it is extraordinary!

Stay well my friend,


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

But I am surprised at myself. After years of this I still think that you just might say something positive about western medicine/chemo but alas, you can't. I am sorry you got hosed by your surgeons, I can (almost) understand your distain for it all.

Your comment "And Phil..... Even if an individual does not use TCM for their attempt to stifle cancer, TCM is still able to be of great merit for remaining healthy during the rigorous treatments of chemo and radiation."
I've never doubted the benefits of TCM, I very often if not always include that in my responses to people seeking advice on what to do. There's no one size fits all.

But this classic "Overall, cancer (all types of cancer combined), has a 25% survival rate. That statistic has not changed in nearly 40 years. Stage four colon cancer is usually considered to provide us with a 2% survival rate. Diagnosis is being made earlier thanks to modern technology, but medical treatment (chemo, etc) has not advanced enough to be of serious value." is priceless!

Your opinions and "facts" apparently spring from the same place...thin air.
(Many people who are here thanks to chemo might disagree with your opinion on the advancement of modern technology and chemo.)

I know you can't speak for other "alternatives" but you certainly do speak volumes on chemo.

Don't ever change my friend...
"A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier"

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

"The 5-Bones" is retail....after all of the negotiated rates and discounts, my bill should be considerably less than that, fortunately.

I was in there for a routine off-scan consult to check bloodwork, physical exam and general what's up.

I decided to at least take the opportunity to discuss this topic and get his official input. Which is what it was - I did not go seek and setup a consult for the sole purpose of asking this question.

"For the record.... I do not subscribe any of the many "alternatives"
being sold and used by health conscious individuals. They all seem
to be revenue harvesting products and practices, and most without
serious merit biologically or historically."

This was pretty much the gist of the message - the merit was something he mentioned. If it couldn't hurt, one could do it - but he did not ascribe to doing it - and does not want to put me on any of it.

We ran out of time as he was already late for hospital rounds when we sat down, so I did not get the opportunity to discuss TCM, but he said he might email with his opinion...if he does not, I'll catch him in a couple of months when we scan again and do another follow-up consult. I'd be curious as to what he has to say.

I'm rapidly becoming one of those people where "fear about death" from cancer does not have a hold of me like many others, at this point in my journey. I'm getting close to a mindset where I would actually "Welcome" death.

So, I'm not driven by fear to try this and try that...and I'm not out throwing money around chasing after and fighting windmills....I leave that for others.

What I have done is, I have fought a convential WM fight - through skilled surgeons and their staff, I have achieved more years than I should have gotten. The results have extended my life and kept the ball in play.

Chemo, while I rail about it, has undoubtedly had some effect on keeping my cancer in check and in short periods of remission. Radiation has been the heavy hammer of insurance that supposedly seals the deal.

I will read the link that you provided...my oncologist is not a stupid man and is highly respected at our NCI Cancer Institute. He may not be as vaunted or well-known as some other national oncologists, but so far, we have kep all four of my wheels on the road.

I celebrate 8-years of survival in June 2012 - and it's hard to argue with that.

Good health to you as well:)


John23's picture
Posts: 1883
Joined: Jan 2007

I still have trouble understanding why your Oncologist feels
that the immune system has little (if anything) to do with the
occurrence of cancer, or with the fight against cancer.

On any medication designed to stifle one's immune system
(methotrexate; all arthritis prescriptions) carry a warning
that it is an immunosuppressant and can open the door to
infections and cancer.

It's almost a "no-brainer" to assume that a weakened
immune system will compromise one's overall health and
leave one vulnerable to the most serious of ailments,
including cancer.

Incidentally, in TCM, western medicine's blood tests -do not-
tell the whole story; the immune system is a bit more complicated
than just having enough white and red cells. An individual can
have a compromised immune system while having great sounding
blood tests. The diagnostics used by the TCM physician is unlike
the diagnostics used in western medicine, and goes much deeper
into one's entire health situation.

There is a growing belief that cancer starts in everyone's body
at one time or another, but the immune system usually removes
that defective cell before it becomes a serious problem.

Some of us have an immune system that ignored the errant
cell (for whatever reason) and that cell began using the fermentation
process for it's life support. The fermentation process is the very
basic reason for a cancer cell's existence; it is the very basic
beginning of the transformation from a good cell, to a rogue cell.

The damaged cell has no brain, no intelligence; it can't out-think
your body or drugs, and it can no longer take orders from your
brain or body.

What it can do (and without thought or preamble), is automatically
begin survival by using fermentation. That basic process takes
no choices, it simply happens; it part of nature.

The cancer cell may or may not uptake more glucose for it's
survival than surrounding normal cells, so using present-day
diagnostics or treatments do not see single cells. The immune
system however, is perfectly capable of isolating and removing
single, defective cells!

So here we are today, reading about the newest "nano-technology"
that is attempting to do what the immune system is best at doing,
yet very little "donations" are used for the advancement for
the betterment of our own natural defense of cancer.

You don't suppose that the profit margin; the proverbial "bottom line"
of corporate revenue, is what sends the billions invested in fancy
"new technology" rather than a natural and free solution?

(I'm too cynical, right?) (where IS Blake??)

In my opinion (along with some oncologists and biologists),
the immune system is where the attention should be directed
if we desire to make cancer a thing of the past.

A healthy immune system may not prevent a damaged cell from
beginning the fermentation process (cancer), but once the
system becomes sensitized to the chemicals of a cancer cell,
a healthy system will be able to do what it was originally
intended to do = remove the defective cell(s).

My bottom line, Craig, is that the immune system is the key
to survival and should be made as healthy as possible. And not
simply "healthy" by blood-test standards.

TCM seeks to accomplish that, while western medicine does not.

There -are- better ways to be healthy, than taking chemically
produced pills.

Please stay well, we need you here!


Posts: 296
Joined: Jan 2010

The oncologist logic to me is sound. If cancer is a problem at the molecular DNA level, where the DNA itself is damaged, the immune system does not 'kick-in'. The immune system is not designed to attack it's own cells, and when it does it's not good (auto-immune diseases).
I agree though, that while a strong healthy immune system might not help the fight against cancer (at least not yet), at least you won't die from some normally benign infection.
As a trekkie, I often wondered if the transporter could, in the process of re-assembly, clean the reconstructed body of unhealthy cells. Hmmm ... you heard it here first !


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

Your opinion is always welcome on this thread:) I'm enjoying the conversation and opinions shared among the community...it's good stuff.

I found his opinion interesting and he's a big researcher and has published many medical papers...I read a couple of them...it will make your eyes glaze over, deep stuff. His conclusion was that we can't supercharge the immune system to do anymore than it could originally do in the first place.

And he placed the cancer with the division of cells when they replicate...the thing there that really fascinated me was that our cells carry our life history. So, at whatever age we are, that age is carried forth to the next cell...it's a brand new cell but carries your entire life history with it. That was really something I had never considered...I figured new is new...but it's "New With Our Life History."

And what we could all use right now is a "Bones McCoy" to wave his Tri-corder over and help us..."Physician - heal thyself."

In one of the movies, Star Trek IV, there is a woman in the hospital suffering kidney damage. He stops to talk with her in the hall and asks here what's wrong - she say she needed dialysis. He muttered, "Dialysis...$#@!"....and gave her a pill.

A few minutes later, the doctors had run scans and were in amazement - she had grown a new kidney from the pill!!!

Now, that's the kind of medical technology from the 23rd century that we could all use in the 21st...where is our modern-day "Bones" when we need him?

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!" ~Leonard "Bones" McCoy

I was watching this TV show as a 5-year old in 1966...I was going where few little boys "had gone before..." Pretty heady stuff for that age...and I understood what was happening. I didn't spend my time with Barney and SpongeBob:)

Thanks for your post - my onc's opinion is cancer is right there at the division process but what polices and sweeps clean bad cells and what allows them to proliferate will no doubt be at debate for some time.

The key is there - but how do we unlock the mystery?


Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

It is interesting about what you said about "having a comprimised immune system", while pegging cleanly on bloodwork...no doubt, this is where I'm at right now. My immune system has been hammered, no question about that. WBC's and Platelets are not normal, though the white count is just off about .3 or .4 from the low end of normal.

Platelets are 75,000 down from the low end...they are a casualty of the war...I saw some old bloodwork when I got started and it was like in the 220's before I started Folfox....that platinum mess did a number on me.

So, I'm compromised, but still able to fight off most infections and my system is still capable of fighting cancer...it's one of cancer's interesting dichotomies and I agree with you, that there is certainly more to learn and understand here.

Why my onc feels like that I don't know...he didn't discount the immune system - he just said we can't supercharge it to be anymore than what it is. He does say that the body can sometimes control it - and sometimes can't. I'm sure he was referring to the immune system's role there.

But, he firmly believes the issue at hand is in the "copying machine" and having to transfer a lifetime of data down to each new cell everywhere in the body - a monumental task to be sure...you know how long it takes to login to this site sometimes...and we get "Server Down With Too Much Load."

I imagine it is something along those lines...certainly seems plausible. But anyway, whatever causes that copier to get out of sync and begin producing bad or rogue cells is where the answer lies - in whatever form or modality will correct that process.

I found your post and insight very interesting and I appreciate you joining and contributing on this thread - it's great to be able to sit down with one another and talk about all of this in a conversational manner...I was hoping we would get some hits and discussion - and I have not been disappointed.

Thank you for your last line..."Please be well. We need you here!"

I had to do a double-take, LOL! That's quite the compliment and it does mean alot. I dig it here and want everyone of us to be here - just talking and being together - and learning and sharing. I need you guys here too - the room would be a little more lonely without you and the others here too.

Thanks again, John!

BTW, I hope to see Blake on this post at some point as well - then the circle will be complete:)


son of hal
Posts: 117
Joined: Mar 2011

Hey Craig, great post as usual. Good topic so I thought I'd throw in a couple cents. First I really respect your position and thinking but you have made a few assumptions that aren't quite correct. Many of the supplements you mentioned are not intended to boost the immune system but are chosen because of limited research showing an effect on tumor cells themselves. I understand your post is concerning the immune function but you threw all supplements into the same barrell. Several studies have shown benefit from mega vit. C but it is not related to the immune system. The same goes for Cimitidine. I also believe the primary purpous of juicing is to cleanse and relieve the overall body systems from toxins that we encounter daily and that may cause free radicalls that our body must deal with as a kind of distraction that also hinders the natural process of eliminating bad cells. Secondly, there are facts in life that cannot be disputed. We introduce substances into our bodies that are not good for us. Some people, more than others and some substances are worse than others. These are variables that NO ONE can possibly know. We don't know what we put into our systems through everday living and which of these substances will have an adverse effect on an internal bodily system. So it is impossible to use someone elses experiences as a guide for ourselves. Have you looked at the ingredients in your toothpaste or shampoo or deodorant? Not to mention the amount of chemicals in food we eat and things we drink. There are so many chemicals we ingest and absorb everyday that the body simply can't process them all and sometimes these things build up, interfere with normal bodily functions and can cause illness. That is a fact that no doctor will dispute. This is one purpous of cleansing and juicing, to relieve the body of the assault from chemicals and additives, not exactly to build the immune system.
Also Craig, you mentioned Lisa. I read her posts for two years and was crushed when she turned for the worse. But I remember her trying everything she could only after conventional medicine failed to work for her. I believe for some people with those resilient cancer cells that chemo doesn't work for, the alternative methods usually start to late to do anything as well. Heck, cancer as a chronic illness, is not much different than many other diseases. People die from diabetes, but can also live full lives with it.(but they don't do it by smoking and drinking alcohol) According to the CDC, heart disease, stroke, and cancer are accountable for 70% of all deaths in the US and they state that lack of physical exercise, smoking, improper diet, and consuming too much alcohol are the contributing factors. The medical community is in agreement that, with the exception of genetic risk factors, those diseases are preventable. No proffessional worth their degree will tell you luck is the deciding factor on who lives or dies. I believe probably 90% of health is pure cause and effect and logic would indicate that if something is preventable then it must be curable and furthermore that the cure should be associated with the prevention. Lastly, logic and common sense have to be addressed in any health concern. I personally know dozens of people who smoke and have smoked for decades but I only know one person who got lung cancer. Does that mean doctors and the government are wrong by saying tobacco use causes cancer? We all know it does but that doesn't gaurantee you will get it from smoking. Do you really think luck determines who gets cancer? What about speeding(driving) or drunk driving? I know people that have done both hundreds, (maybe thousands) of times and never got a ticket or had an accident. Does that make it any less dangerous? Is that luck? NO, in every case there are contributing factors we are just not aware of so you can't draw any conclusions without knowing ALL the facts.
Bottom line is, everyone has to do what they feel is right for themselves and should be leary of anyone that claims "their way is the right way" OR someone else's way is the wrong way.
Anyway, that's enough rambling, I'm going to bed.
Take care, CJ
PS. For the record, my oncologist shares all the same qualifications as yours and the same beliefs as well. He also was at least fifty pounds overweight and chronically sick everytime I saw him over a two year period.
Food for thought...

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

"Bottom line is, everyone has to do what they feel is right for themselves and should be leary of anyone that claims "their way is the right way" OR someone else's way is the wrong way"

Some people on here post about what they believe is "the answer" yet they themselves have not benefited from what they constantly preach. Cancer is as complex as we are (and as stubborn).
One person's poison* is another persons cure.

Good post Craig and good reply

*people can and do die from overdosing on "natural" (even ancient) remedies.

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

"One person's poison* is another persons cure"

I like that analogy, Phil...reminds me of Paul Simon's lyrics..."One man's ceiling - is another man's floor."


We all know that there is only "A Way" - not one way. One-way is for street signs.

Thanks for stopping out and replying on this post.


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

It's been said many times and many ways. Also, there is no "One Size Fits All" except Frank Zappa's album
There's probably as many ways to beat cancer as there are ways to get cancer...

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

Thanks so much for taking the time to post and share your opinion...I enjoyed reading it.

I agree - everyone has got to run their own race - I wouldn't have it any other way. I've run mine now - perhaps one more lap around the track and I'm headed back to the stalls. A few more months should tell me.

Of course, I want to make it clear that I'm not 'against' anything that anyone does. I gave my onc that list, because those are the buzzwords I could rememeber - I suppose I lumped them all in, because that is how I saw them.

And my onc did not slam the door on them - from his position, I guess that he and other doctors (like yours) did not feel that he wanted me to do those. I'm sure if I pursued other doctors I could find someone who would want me to do them. Whether the benefit vs my wallet would make the difference, who knows, as you say?

I never prescribe to my way is the only way - I've said from the beginning that there is no single answer to cancer.

One of my docs told me one time - "We are living in a world of cancer that we weren't 30-years ago."

I read an article yesterday about "Arsenic in chicken." It was called 'organic arsenic', which differs from the poison arsenic...at any rate, it went on to say that organic arsenic is in everything that we breathe, eat, or drink.

So, you're right, there are way too many variables to get a control test on this thing....the only thing I know to do would be that we could all crawl inside a plastic bubble - but then the BHP levels would probably be a known carcinogen that could cause cancer.

Go figure:)

I was trying to be as accurate as I could possibly be....took close to 8-hours to write that post. If I made any mistakes or was inaccurate, please accept my apologies as I intend to be as accurate as I can when I post something like this.

I appreciate you taking the time to put together such a thoughtful post - and always good to hear from you, C.J.

Take care until we talk again.


ron50's picture
Posts: 1424
Joined: Nov 2001

I use that word a lot. I find cancer is a bit like a dream,just when you get to the part where you get the answer,,,,,you wake up. I think that many people who die of cancer in fact die of frustration. They try everything that medicine and that guy next door can think of and when it doesn't work and cancer comes back again and again people get frustrated and just give up. The truth is that some of us probably didn't stand much of a chance anyway. Not any thing that we did but remember when great grandad Fred worked in that uranium mine. It was better in those days ,you didn't need protective clothing ,,,,even when you were mixing the ddt to spray on the vegies. Of course he died at 45 now that we are living till we are eighty it just makes sense that more things that are going to go belly up. I am not a member of a family noted for it's longevity genes, as a matter of fact on my fathers side 70 is extreme old age. I fare a little better on my mothers side. My grand mother survived 50 years after surgery for breast ca at 45.
I am in agreement with craig i don't think that immune system helps much against ca. During my 14yrs of survival after ca I have been taking powerful immuno-suppressants for half of that time. I guess the one thing about ca that I have come to terms with is that I have had it. I accept that it is part of my make up. I got ca at 48 which is fairly young but there is nothing I can do to undo the genetic traits that caused it. So I accept it and all the subsequent problems caused by it. Sure I have a whine from time to time but s... happens. I feel for the families that have to cope with ca . It isn't fun but neither is getting hit by a bus ,which seems the most probable fate for those that dsicuss ca with us.
Untill some absolute genius comes along and can find a store of pure unaged dna somewhere in our systems I think we will remain the victims of our internal code,Cheers Craig it would be nice to sit down with a bunch of you and have a brain storming session. We could invite a few oncologists to watch and listen,Ron

Posts: 1906
Joined: Oct 2009

ability to evade the immune system...Since a small number,3-5%,are genetically inclined toward CRC, I think for the rest of us its a combination of environmental factors(external)and what we eat and drink (internal) and since the onset of industrialization humanity has impacted both in a positive way as far as promoting cancer is concerned.Just look at what we;ve done to our food supply, let alone to the planet--(don't believe in global warming?---makes no difference but if you're alive ten years from now you'll feel it, no doubt in my mind).Why else is it predicted that one in two men and one in three women will ultimately get cancer? You may say its because we're living longer; I'll say its because our food supply and environment have been forever tainted, to put it mildly

I do not see our immune system as either the problem or the solution.Seems like most of us started paying attention to our blood cells and platelets only once we began treatment.
If these and other considerations (liver,kidney indicators,etc)were all right, chemo continued. So, I think my immune system was functioning as it should while my tumor was growing and growing.

The answer I think is in identifying the drivers, the oncogenes and proteins involved and the pathways that are activated allowing the defective cells to mutate and grow and take over.Not too smart on the part of the cancer as its success means death to its host and thus death to itself. But allowing cancer to kill me to defeat the cancer IS NOT an acceptable conclusion for me.....

Luck in having survived might very well be the reality of the matter.How advanced the cancer is at time of Dx is of the utmost import and does anyone really know what cancerous cells are floating around,trying to secure a foothold somewhere for further advancement anytime in the future?

Whether anything we do or don't do to forestall death and continue a life worth living will never be "Proven" so where we go from here is each individual's decision. What else can I say?I never was into sciences or biology,etc when getting my formal education.I regret that now as this disease is so complicated but i can't stop attempting to learn about it..... Know thy enemy......

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

"Know thy enemy - understand thy enemy - fight thy enemy."

Thanks for posting...we agree "the drivers"...the on/off switch is the key, but how do we unlock the mystery?

I hope I live long enough to see some of the discovery...


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

I think you're first paragraph is a great summation of the complexity of cancer. We do live in a toxic world, people are destined to get cancer no matter what they try to do to avoid it.

While I'm sure there's plenty to back up the Immune System theories (or facts) about cancer, I can look at my personal situation and see that since I started getting chemo back in March, 2004 and basically non-stop since then with the exception of one or two 6 months breaks, I have NEVER had chemo halted due to any low blood counts at all. Not even close. The nurses remark how good my counts are. I also rarely get sick while family members catch colds. Yet, other people have to wear face protection from germs.

I think that Science has gotten smarter with how they treat cancer. They used to bombarde the entire body with toxic drugs to kill the cancer while killing many healthy cells. Now they are able to target therapies to attack cancer. A major step for science/medicine.

I am a firm believer in choosing wisely when you're first diagnosed and also in luck.
I have little doubt that if I followed my first oncologist's "suggestions" I'd be dead. Can't prove it, can't disprove it. All I know is that I've seen others with a similar situation take the different route and they are not here and I am but that really proves nothing.

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But!!! But...but...my last onc. visit I brought him photocopy of clinical trial I was interested in....it's not in my area but in Halifax....Immunovaccine (of course it's just in the early phase of clinical trial). The DPX-Survivac vaccine is thought to work by eliciting a cytotoxic T-cell immune response against cells presenting survivin peptides on HLA class 1 molecules. This targeted therapy attempts to use the immune system to actively and specifically search for and destroy tumor cells. Survivin specific T-cells have been shown to target and kill survivin-expressing cancer cells while sparing normal cells. (okay they use words like "thought to work", and "attempts to use the immune system") But, they're trying this with an immune response. I seriously hope they have much success with this....this "survivin expressing" thing applies to ovarian breast,colon and lung cancers...this particular trial is trying it on ovarian cancer patients after surgery and chemo. Just my two cents Craig....if this had been available clinical trial in my area for colon cancer me thinks I would have pushed to get into this one.

Sundanceh's picture
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I'm glad you commented, L....I'm for targeted therapies as they hold the promise of our future, or the immediate future. Whatever the cause, the body is overwhelmed and needs help...surgery is the front line to clear a wide swath of real estate so that the ground troops can get in there and do their thing.

This vaccine you speak of does sound promising - and like so many others, I do hope they can come to our aid and help us extend out further and have some quality of life in doing so.

Thanks for posting.


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those with mCRC,at:fiercebiotech.com/print/node/297085

which provides some additional info on " tumor-associated peptides"

(This should be in a footnote,as its abit off topic)

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repeating myself again

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Interesting.....in the "exclusion criteria" I always find those interesting...but they have this one
•CT/MRI scans taken more than 9 weeks before start of first-line oxaliplatin-based standard chemotherapy

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Ron what I find interesting with you is that you were given methotrexate?? I can't really remember why, arthritis?? But, they use methotrexate for some cancers....I wonder if you being on methotrexate for another condtion worked to kill your cancer. Mind wandering....sorry Ron...

Sundanceh's picture
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Ron, that discussion would be great.

The odds have always been in cancer's favor - he holds most of the cards - we are always in a react mode and it's hard to get ahead, much less stay ahead.

I've done some things right - and some things wrong - if supplementation, exercise and perfect diet were the only keys, I'd already be underground - instead, I mark 8-yrs in June 2012.

Not bad, eh mate?

Keep an eye out for me - I'll always be in your rearview mirror - about 6-years behind you:)

Good to see you again - and you nailed it, we're the product of our genetic code and we play the hand that we are dealt.


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Great post Craig. Thank you so much again for your time and thoughts. I do not take supplements but eat a mostly organic vegetable based diet. Most of what I eat and juice is based on foods that are believed to fight cancer such as tumeric. Many of these foods are being researched by the big cancer centers. It also gives me piece of mind that I am doing all that I can. I am not saying that my way is right or wrong but it gives me a positive attitude and helps me sleep a little better at night.

Also I agree with you about surgery. I think without surgery non of us have a fighting chance no matter what we or the oncologist do. I would rather go through 10 surgeries than one round of chemo but somehow it seems to be just the opposite.

Chemo just seems so barbaric but yet I keep agreeing to do it although last time (4 years ago) I got to my 10th treatment and told the oncologist I had enough. I might do the same this time once my scan comes back clean.

Dealing with this damn disease seams like a big guessing game not just for us survivors but for the whole medical industry.

Sundanceh's picture
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I was hoping to see you in the neighborhood:)

Yes, I'm a big surgery or surgical procedure guy myself..."slice and dice" me, but I fare better going that direction than having to endure more chemo and radiation.

Alot of our cancer fights are determined by attrition - eventually, we just give in when our bodies have had enough. I know when I finished up the last fight (11mos) that I was on the ropes - I posted about it twice....a radiation post - and the chemo wars post that you just read.

I honestly think that another dose of either those at just the right time, and it would have been "Timber." It just gets to the point where the treatment is worse than the disease itself.

And while I may have endured and made it, the product of what would be left of me, was the most paramount thing on my mind - not if I was going to die - but just if I felt like or even could get up the next morning.

Possibly faced with #4, my thoughts drift to which way to go now...surgery or something along the lines would need to be an option, or things would begin to turn the other way.

I don't think I have what's left to pick up another long-term chemo battle...that folfiri beat me down like nothing else in my life, short of radiation - those are just both krytonite to me.

I had you in the back of my mind when I was writing this post....know I read where you did salads 3x a day and mostly a vegan lifestyle....and I then I thought of you and your 3 liver resections and now with a recurrence after all of these years...and you're a healthy guy.

Believe me when I tell you, that your story has spoken volumes to me - I'm glad to have another long-timer around me like you to talk with. Yours is yet another example of how dietary can make you healthier, but not necessarily quell the cancer.

And that's important to keep in mind...I think it helps tremendously with decisions that folks that reach our stage have to contend with.

With our minds and bodies beaten and ravaged from years of surgeries and cruel treatments, we can no longer just throw strength and muscle at the problem - we've got to fight smarter, not harder.

And while surgery and treatment loom as possibilites, there will come a point where that is no longer a real-option for the old-timer...and then some heavier decisions will have to be made.

But, you and I both will have some time to mull that all over. Thanks for posting, Jeff - continued luck in finishing up your treatments - you're almost there - and then you can rest with me:)


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I am looking forward to resting with you. The irrinotecan is really beating the HELL out of me. I hate it but is hard to know when to stp since it is all such a big guessing game.

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
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Our way is to share and care.
I am a vegan, beach bum hippie living on organic raw foods, juicing, meditating and still setting up my beach front campsite, with cyclonic winds.

I have had well over 20 different treatment opinions from West, east and in between and some yes from outer space. All well meaning and different.

Was a contender for the guineas book of records on supplements, but am easing up in my in myw age approach to, during my vegan experiment.
I love the post , all the great replies and everyone here who cares and shares.
Ps diet is my focus at present, the windmills turning as fast as ever. The fun is in the Chase.
Life is just to fantastic for me to trust one doctor's opinion especially when those opinions steal one's hope. Is life without hope worth living?

Sundanceh's picture
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I get the "HE Double Hockey Sticks", Jeff...

In fact, as bad as it was for me, "Hell wouldn't have been a bad place to be", as AC/DC used to sing.

Looking forward to your chemo retirement party:)

Your pal just up the road...


toyfox's picture
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My husband and I are also eating a whole food plant based diet. Our
lifestyle changes might not stop cancer from returning but feel we are
trying everything possible that might make a difference.

I have to wonder about the time my husband was on chemo, when we
met a lady who also was on chemo for colon cancer. At the time I thought
she had a much better chance than my husband for becoming ned.
She is about 20 years younger and had one lymph node positive.
My husband had 7 nodes positive. Cancer came back on her soon after
she finished chemo. It hurt to see her getting chemo again.
You get very close to people going through the same as you.
Did our diet make a difference? No answer for that.
My husband is still ned.

PhillieG's picture
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I don't believe that a good, healthy, organic diet can harm anyone who can eat food. Does it help keep cancer away?
Possibly. Can one prove it? Probably not. No more than anyone can prove anything. I would bet it helps more than cheeseburgers and fries do but I'm sure someone knows someone who has a cousin whose friend's brother-in-law ate Fritos and drank Jack Daniels while chain-smoking cigars and he lived to be 100.
He might have made it to 110 if he didn't eat the Fritos...

hippiechicks's picture
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Joined: Sep 2012

This certainly has been an interesting read! I seem to fall here...

I think our hospitals are made up of teams because the years of research have shown there is no one clear answer.  This is why we have surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, nutritionalists, mental health, exercise groups and access to alternative medicines.  I know I am very lucky to have all of them offered at my hospital, and utilize each and every one of them.  (well, exercise needs improvement...and I do like cannoli's)

I also agree that DNA is a factor as we have 3 positive at exactly the same age and 2 of those the same cancer and stagen in my family. I also agree that environmental or even how we as individuals respond both physically and mentally to that environment plays a role in our fate of diagnosis and also survival.

Best to all who are posting and reading ... supporting each other and respecting decisions is the most important thing we can do for each other. Keep on educating!!

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Joined: Jan 2010


A conumdrum indeed. My wife and I were discussing this yesterday. To me, this disease forces you to make choices which have a serious penalty for failure and unknown success. Do you put yourself in the hands of doctors, seek alternatives, or strike a balance between the two? And in the end, can you live with your choice? It is life sped-up.

Best to you.

Posts: 1428
Joined: Feb 2011

I know with me, most of the supplements I'm trying they have tried on mice in the lab and for whatever reason it has interfered with the cancer growth or spread....I'm of course trying to boost my immune system with good things...but my approach is mostly to somehow try and interfere with mets.....like the cimitidine along with herbals I'm trying. Whether they work or not on me, who knows.....I know I'd rather be doing this than sitting in a chemo. chair...so far so good, for how long, who knows. Livin scan to scan sucks!! Tomorrow I have surgeon appt., only if this last scan was good would he consider a colonoscopy....so I suppose that's probably a go now. If colonscopy finds something what then?? Does turmeric turn your insides orange??? Or I may be died green from the veggie greens....guess I'll know if I hear someone go "WTF"!!!

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Joined: Oct 2011

Smokey Joe. My approach is similar to yours. My diet is based on herbs and vegetables that can fight cancer. I take tumeric as well. I also juice carrots ginger kale and vrow my own wheat grass which i juice as well. I make tea from phellenus lingus mushrooms (not sure about spelling). I have found studies on all of these from cancer centers that indicate they can fight colon cancer. Some such as the mushrooms can cause apoptosis (cell suicide). Tumeric has also been shown to enhance 5FU. Doing all of this along with exercise. Helps my state of mind whichcan also be effective.

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4747
Joined: May 2005

Very well put... It does come down to being comfortable with your choice. Hopefully one makes good choices.

Posts: 124
Joined: Jan 2008

I don't come here often and rarely post or comment at all. But I have to thank you for this post. It was so well written and communicated. I truly appreciate your taking the time to communicate all of this information to the group.

Thank you.

tanstaafl's picture
Posts: 1110
Joined: Oct 2010

Lisa42 started her naturopathic program after over 3 years of chemo and radiation. Her immune system was already highly compromised for years. The best time for supplements may be day 1 for several reasons. First your immune system is less damaged, for various common deficiencies like vitamin D3 "sooner should be better", the tumor cells less evolved or disturbed, and for colon cancer, there is no neoadjuvant (presurgery chemo) planned as well for several weeks after surgery.

My wife was physically debilitated and nutrient deficient from 3-4 weeks illness and wasting, pre diagnosis. For my wife, she got a 4 week, pre-surgery "trial period" that yielded visible results that we liked immensely, with one major area of tumor necrosis from massive granulocytic attack (wiped out, all the surgeons consulted expect peritoneal carcinomatosis or unspecified pessimism) as well as shrinkage of the primary. And rapid wound healing with minimal opiates for pain (morphine thrown out early on).

What did Lisa42 get so late in the game? Looked to me like she was able to extend her Xeloda-gemcitabine treatments by 4-5-6 months and also improved her quality of life even longer.

I am a little critical of most naturopathic treatment levels because they are often about 1/10 to 1/4 of doses that I see in the original scientific or medical papers on supplements and off label treatments observed with improvement, "full bore". Of course there are reasons, to back off a little, to varying degrees. I suspect that Lisa's supplemental program was likely "low dose" by such measures in the original papers, and less complete than some. However, Lisa wasn't able to identify its composition to us.

Requiescat in pace, Lisa. We miss you so much.

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