Feb 05, 2013 - 4:29 pm
Just wanted to throw this out there for any who might be interested. Went to see my naturopath today to see if she could help with some serious joint pain I've been having. I developed joint/muscle pain a couple of years ago while on my 2nd round of chemo, but it got really bad back in August, especially in my hands and feet. I had to start taking Vicodin again after getting off of it for many months (Hi Abrub! I think you helped me with that, so thanks!), which hasn't even been helping that much. Saw a rheumatologist, as my GP thought I may have developed some kind of autoimmune disorder, tried three different NSAIDs (including celebrex, just FYI), all of which gave me horrible digestive side effects. So I got tested for food allergies, which showed I was having an off-the-charts reaction to whey (which means I have to cut out lactose...crushing, as I basically live on cheese). Anyway, this is what I found interesting, as it applies to us cancer folk...
She said that chemo breaks down the lining of our digestive system (I can hear you all saying "duh" out there).
Normally, a healthy gut is impermeable, nothing can leak out. But a chemo-damaged gut can leak proteins from the food we eat into the rest of the body, which then reacts to these perceived "invaders" by creating antibiodies (which is what is expressed in the high levels of my food allergy test). The antibodies remove the proteins from the critical core of your body out to the less important extremities...which would explain all the pain in my hands and feet. And you don't tend to develop these problems with something you only eat once in a while. It's the daily foods (like my morning english muffin with cheese) that tend to be the biggest issue, because your body is getting a lot of practice at producing those specific antibodies, over and over again.
This may all be old news to many of you, but it was a new way of looking at things for me. Kind of frustrating to learn yet another aspect of how chemo is the "gift that keeps on giving" (not to put down chemo, as it's keeping many of us alive for years!), but it did give me hope too. My naturopath said "we can fix this", and I was glad to hear that. I would love to be able to hike this summer, and at the moment, I can barely take a 15 minute walk. So all lactose is going out the door (don't know what I'm going to eat for breakfast), as well as gluten. More food may follow. I love to eat, so it's going to be an interesting process. AA