Dr appts this week and what I'm doing
Just thought I'd share how my dr appts went this week. I met with the naturopathic doctor on Tuesday and with my oncologist on Wednesday. Most of the appt w/ the onc Wed was spent talking about what the naturopathic doctor wants to do, as he himself doesn't have much more to offer me other than his kind words and a hug each time. I still don't seem to qualify for any clinical trials that I'd want to participate in and it is still his opinion (as well as Dr. Lenz's from USC and Dr. Fanta's from UCSD) to keep on what I've been on for over a year now (Gemzar, Avastin, & 5FU- changed recently from Xeloda due to hand/foot major problems). According to the three of them, there are no other procedures that I can get right now either- don't qualify for surgery due to the location and number and size of tumors (innumerable subcentimeter tumors in all areas of the lungs, 4 areas of concern in the already resected liver, and a rectal tumor that is just a 1/2 cm). I actually could qualify for things to be done on the liver, but no one wants to stop chemo long enough to do any of those. Cyberknife could be an option for the liver, but with the lungs so bad off, they don't think they'll do it. I talked about the rectal tumor recurrence a while back and how my doctors were considering surgery (by Dr. Ramamoorthy at UCSD, a very good colorectal surgeon)- radiation there is out since I already had it & cyberknife was considered but decided against since the rectum is so thin the cyberknife could create a whole in the rectum & would need emergency surgery), but we decided not to do anything to the rectal tumor as it's not causing a blockage and my pain and problems are actually stemming from fissures and internal hemorhoids and not the tumor itself (I had a rectal exam and scope a few months back to determine this) I do have major rectal bleeding daily- they believe it could be from the tumor but is probably from the fissures and internal hemorhoids. I take all sorts of suppositories and ointments for those, but it still is a problem- no fun.
With all that said, my oncologist just kind of says to keep on what I'm on- the Gemzar isn't too toxic and I'm doing alright on it. It kind of is acting like a bandaid, but isn't keeping it back as much anymore, and my CEA continues to rise- now up to 295. It's gone up down up down, but has had an upward trend as it's now the highest ever (I never knew what it was at diagnosis, as my then-oncologist never ran a CEA test until I learned about it and asked him to). Onc said we can monitor me fairly well with the CEA and he'll want to scan again mid-June.
So we discussed what my naturopathic doctor is going to have me do...
The week of May 9th, I will be doing intense sauna detox therapy. The idea is that heavy metals and many chemicals/pesticides (which I've been tested and found to have in me) detox the best by major sweating. I am going to be supervised by a nurse who will be checking my vitals and administering IV minerals when needed, giving lymphatic massages, and just helping me out throughout the day. I will be there 5 days that week from 9 to 5 and will have over the course of the day five 20-30 minute sauna sessions. I have to shower and change my clothes each time to not reabsorb any toxins back in through the skin. They provide the cotton clothes for me each time I change and provide a personal shower that has filtered, non chlorinated water (which they strongly advocate putting filters on our house tap water- they say if you don't want to drink tap water, you shouldn't bathe in it either, as our skin absorbs everything it is in contact with- makes me want think twice now about sitting in the jacuzzi in our neighborhood with its strong chlorine smells wafting up in the steam- hmmm). I may end up doing this week long sauna therapies twice- on my "off chemo" weeks- so week of May 9th and maybe again week of May 23rd.
In addition to the sauna therapy, the ND changed my supplements to better address my diarhea and digestive upsets. All that I'm now on from ND was read and approved by my onc, and he was fine with the whole sauna therapy thing once he realized how well supervised I will be- he did write a note to the ND, however, that I should go more slowly with the saunas, maybe only doing 2 or 3 the first day or two and see how I do, given the fact that my cardiovascular system is compromised with being on Avastin and having numerous lung tumors.
When I first started all this "natural stuff" almost 3 months ago now, my CEA went down several points. But then it went back up after that, even though I was continuing on the supplements. It's my ND's belief that whatever I'm doing, natural or traditional, it isn't going to work until I "get all the toxins out of the body". So, feeling quite desperate, I am going to do it.
Oh- another thing- I talked with the ND about taking apricot kernals. He said B-17 (laetrile) is a good thing to fight against the cancer, but the apricot kernals also have arsenic which is not good for me. I said that I read about the pros and cons of it and that several advocates of it claim that it is only harmful against the cancer cells, not the healthy cells. He said well, there are ways to get B-17 without the arsenic & that he does not recommend I continue eating the apricot kernals (as I had started the prior week).
I do note that my ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor and even though it's not probably scrutinized as much as regular medical doctors, he does have a license that he could still lose if he recommended a laetrile treatment- he shared with me he used to work with someone who was brilliant in laetrile treatment, but that man did end up losing his license.
The ND had a "serious" talk with me about my stress levels at home & about needing to sit down with my family and really get them to understand, as I am still trying to function as "supermom" and am really wearing and stressing myself out. He said "you're like a basketball player in the 4th quarter when the score is tied and we don't know how the game is going to turn out. You don't get another chance if things turn bad, so we have got to do everything possible for your health. Stress is HUGE in contributing to cancer and preventing treatments from working- all that we're doing for you could be completely blocked by stress hormones in your system." Wow- scary stuff. Pretty hard to avoid stress in our lives, but I guess i need to put my foot down more in my family. With a husband and three kids all dealing with major cliical depression, it's pretty hard to get them to do or see anything in a rational, nonselfish way. I feel like I have four little toddlers at times- even my husband seems so helpless. But, it would be even worse for them if I died & I need to impress that upon them, that they need to step up and help me out more. I do EVERYTHING around the house and lately I just can't do it, so it doesn't get done & the house is looking like a wreck lately.
I did have a good discussion with everyone separately yesterday (except my son- need to talk to him today) & I think it was productive with my girls. Maybe with my husband, but talking to him about such things depresses him even more & it's a mad cycle. My kids are all on depression meds, but hubby will still not agree to take anything. He did come home yesterday talking about vacation plans, which always perks him up. I think 4th of July week we are going to take our ski boat to Laughlin, Nevada- stay in one of the big hotels there & take the boat out on the lake and/or river there for 4 or 5 days. Also thinking of maybe taking a short cruise out of LA harbor to Catalina Island and then Ensenada. We've never been on a cruise before. Not a very big cruise, but a cruise all the same. We are now looking forward to those events. I already checked on the calendar & found non-chemo weeks that we can do these things in and I won't have to alter any chemo or treatments due to vacation plans, as I have done in the past three years (and my CEA would always go up when I missed a week or two of chemo due to vacation, so now I won't have that worry with shorter trips).
Well, I've rambled on here, but I guess I always do that, lol!
Hugs to all and here's to new and different things hopefully helping me along with the chemo-
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