Apr 09, 2012 - 5:54 pm
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
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 ac***ulation 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.