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Shouldn't we give everyone a break?

pamness
Posts: 513
Joined: Nov 2007

I saw the Patrick Swayze interview and have been posting actively for quite some time.

One of the things I have not seen on this site very often is - we are all human. I don't think that I am perfect (I know I am not). I doubt that anone else is.

Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Unless he experiences a miracle (yes, they do happen) it is terminal.

I was orignally surprised that he still smokes, then I thought, in all reality, what difference does it make?

He admitted, if there was a cure in his future, he would stop.

I was diagnosed stage IIIA, in January 2007. I am currently about 18 months ned, with odd CEA results - higher than normal with clear scans.

I had a horrible time with treatment, etc. Currently, I do drink some wine and eat some foods that are not great. I pretty much watch what I drink and eat, but don't we all deserve a little slack.

We are still alive and need to feel that we can still "live." I don't want to become a total "cancer victim." I want to enjoy some things I may have taken for granted before diagnoses and change some things that are a wake up call and I didn't care about that much.

I think everyone has different choices to make.

I know that this is not a popular point of view on this site, but I am not a vegan, not a health food follower - I do think about what I eat and keep fat down etc. eat more veggies and fruit - I do drink wine and sometimes eat dessert. Things I don't feel I can talk about here.

Patrick Swayze is a great example - stage 4 - progressive pancreatic cancer - every person who has ever smoked - it might have helped cause it and may have not.

Can we not be less judgemental and more informative and supportive?

I know my posts are not popular.

Most of us are just human and want to connect and figure out what to do.

Pam

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Pam, I'll have to read back through the comments when I posted about Patrick Swayze, but I'm pretty sure I said something to the effect that I was surprised he was still smoking, not that I condemned him for it. I thought everybody else said things like they hoped Barbara Walters wasn't rude to him about that, etc.

Like you, I eat dessert and once in a great while, I drink wine (that's not a change, just the way I've been for a long time before cancer). I think it's good to be as healthy as you can be in all aspects of daily living, but I'm not a fanatic about it. I haven't eaten red meat for many years (yet STILL got colon cancer), but I'm far from vegan.

There are some health professionals on this board, but most of us are innocent bystanders hit by a truck, and our medical knowledge is picked up by hook or by crook, so I doubt if any of us has the definitive answer on any of this. So, yes, I do think we should give each other a break.

*hugs*
Gail

pamness
Posts: 513
Joined: Nov 2007

I found you comments very practical and compassionat.

ADKer's picture
ADKer
Posts: 150
Joined: Aug 2008

Hello - I have been lurking on this site for 6+ months and posting a little here and there. You ask a thought provoking question. When I was diagnosed, the disease was quite advanced. Fortunately, I was blissfully unaware of how dire my circumstances were and I was fortunate to have a very good response to chemo, such that mets to my liver became operable after about 30 weeks of chemo. My very knowledgeable onc treated me aggressively despite the odds against me and has sufficient confidence that she did not feel the need to cover her backside by telling me how steep the odds were against me. When my liver tumors became resectable, I met with a surgeon. When I first met with the surgeon, my CEA had fallen from a high of 6,955 to less than 50 and my liver mets had shrunk accordingly. I thought I was doing pretty well. However, the surgeon felt compelled to tell me that our goal was to manage my liver mets by resection and then monitor carefully so that recurrences will be caught early. When I regained my equilibrium several days later, I decided that my surgeon cannot say with certainty that my liver mets will return and I will interpret his comments as meaning that I have no margin for error. I did have liver resection and am recovering well although there are tiny suspicious spots on my lungs. My CEA is around 2. I am a very motivated patient - I eat my fruits and vegetables (which is easy for me), attend a spinning class 3X per week and try to stay positive and constructively busy. However, I am not perfect - I love popcorn with butter, chips with salsa and I need to lose 30 pounds. The stress of trying to be perfect however as well as trying to lose weight while on chemo would probably cause more harm than good. I don't believe that I am just rationalizing but it is possible that is what I am doing. I certainly agree that things are way too complicated to be judgmental about how others cope and try to get through this ordeal. Beyond that though, you ask an interesting and thought provoking question.

MoonDragon's picture
MoonDragon
Posts: 194
Joined: Jun 2005

I'm probably worse than the two of you put together!! It's been really, really hard to ditch my poor eating habits and my intense dislike of healthy foods and exercise. Cancer isn't picky. I've seen folks who've eaten right, exercised till they were blue in the face, watched their fat, sugar, salt, etc and still had head on collisions with the beast. I've seen folks like myself who grew up with poor eating habits and never worried too much about it who also ran into the beast. I think that Patrick Swayze made an admirable and realistic statement in saying that if he knew there was a cure, he'd probably stop. It's his vice, plain and simple. He's been doing it for years and he probably figures why stop now, he's going to die anyway, may as well be comfortable in his habits during the time he has left. That he was realistic made me admire him!

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

I think you pose a good question too, Pam, if it is a question, or is it an observation of something that has been happening? I haven't noticed anyone being judgmental, depending on the definition of "judgmental". Throughout different topics, there has been advice/opinions on diet, of course smoking, stress, lifestyle habits, etc. But I took this as advice or opinions, just as all our posts are our opinions unless someone has qualified that they are a certified/registered professional that can give out medical advice (I haven't seen any of these posts and don't know folk well enough to know what their professions are).

I guess some of it goes right over my head... I have not read (or interpreted) any posts to be judgmental of anyone here, so it is possible that because all we have is the written word and not the body language that goes with it, it's easy to misinterpret what someone is saying.

I know a lot of people (and medical professionals) believe that diet plays a big role in cancer/illness... I'm not sure I believe that, myself. Like someone else has said, there are those who eat vegetarian, vegan, or a diet that makes them role models of the American/Canadian Food Guides. There are those that go on macrobiotic diets and swear by them. There are those that have religious rituals and swear by them. There are those of us who are firm believers in positive attitudes and positive thinking. Oh, and let's not forget the dreaded "E" word -- Exercise. But do any of the above, or the lack of the above have anything to do with why we have cancer and others don't? I know a LOT of people who eat way healthier than I do and are certainly way more active physically than I am... and they have cancer. I know those who eat way worse than I do and, believe it or not, are less active than I am, and they DON'T have cancer. Go figure?

As for what is considered a healthy diet? The popular view seems to be lots of veggies and fruit and some will say no red meat, or no meat at all. I, personally, feel that's not a healthy diet at all... but that's just my opinion. A vegetarian would think that is a perfect diet. A low carb/high protein person would shudder at a diet where there is no protein, or very little. For every person who swears by Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig for losing those unwanted pounds, you'll find someone who swears those are the worst diets in the world and they don't work. So, the bottom line is, we can only really talk about diets/lifestyles that work for us... and what works for us personally, does not mean it will work for someone else.

Ok, so that's just diet and I guess if I had to really search, I'd say that that is the one topic I have a problem with... when others give me advice on what my diet should be (this includes professional advice). I know what works for me and so far the traditional "healthy diet" has done nothing but make me gain weight, so I really do pooh-pooh the low fat/veggies/fruit recommendation. I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with eating meat and having fat in one's diet, assuming it is the good fat. Low fat products are all "frankenfoods", made of chemicals instead of natural products and I avoid them like the plague. So is that me being judgmental when I say I will never go on a "low fat" diet and use "low fat" products (margarine instead of butter, skim milk instead of 1% or 2%, etc)?

As for the smoking topic (which I believe is the Patric Swayze topic)... having been a smoker for 32 years before I quit... I feel I can honestly understand the enjoyment of smoking and I would have thought that smoking for 32 years would qualify me as having had an addiction... on the other hand, I did quit and no longer crave a ciggie. So I'm not addicted now, but does that mean if I could quit that means I never was addicted (I had an ex-friend actually accuse me of that. She said if I could quit, then I never was addicted). I have no idea... I just know I don't smoke now. To tell you the truth, I don't really care if I was addicted or not... I'm just glad I don't smoke now, nor am I suffering through wanting a ciggie but forcing myself not to have it. Does that make me judgmental? I also won't stand around someone who is smoking because we have been told (and they say there is proof, but I haven't seen it myself) that secondhand smoke can be just as, if not more, dangerous as smoking yourself.. and I don't need to add more danger to my lungs that already have mets to them. Does that make me judgmental of smokers because I once was a smoker, now I won't stand outside with them while they smoke?

Again... it's all in the interpretation, I guess. But, as you say, we are all human, want to connect, and figure out what to do about our cancer condition. We want to be able to ask questions, but if we do, then we have to realize we are going to get answers that are either experiences that someone else has experienced or answers that they believe to be the truth. So if someone believes that smoking will make the cancer worse, or believes that it's all diet related and you have to change your diet to what they believe will work.. well, it's all just an opinion of what people feel is helpful. That goes for alcohol, as well. I can no more advise and alcoholic on what to do because I have never, ever acquired a taste for alcohol. I have nothing against it (except for drinking and driving and yet, I will be very judgmental if someone says they see nothing wrong with drinking and driving), but I just don't like the taste of it... ok, except for a drink I've just recently tried.. a Belini. But I can't taste the alcohol in that so as long as I can't taste alcohol, then I guess I could have a drink. I'm trying to acquire a taste for wine... but I haven't been quite won over on that yet either ;) But just because I don't drink, and I'll be the first to admit that... it doesn't mean that I am being judgmental towards someone who does drink.

Now... I have to admit, this line upset me a little (and no, I don't think you are being judgmental, you are just stating a fact as you see it):

"Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Unless he experiences a miracle (yes, they do happen) it is terminal."

When I read that, I interpret it to mean that unless a religious miracle happens (or some other form of miracle), then he is going to die. Period.

If that's the case, then all of us who have been diagnosed as Stage IV cancer have a death sentence, unless some religious miracle happens. What does that mean to those of us who don't have a religion or believe in one (no, no, don't anyone jump on this and tell me to turn to God or put my faith in his hands... one has to believe in that otherwise one is just being hypocritical and that's one thing I am not).

Now, I'm not saying by that one sentence, that is what you meant... I'm just saying that reading that one line by itself, that is definitely how it comes across to me. So it is a good example of how something can be taken and misunderstood.

Until I'm literally on my deathbed, I am not going to believe that this cancer is going to kill me in the near future. If I live for the next 20 years, does that mean a miracle has happened? Or does that mean my way of thinking has gotten me through? Heaven forbid if it means my diet has kept me going.. if that's the case, then everyone has to change their diet to eating meat, fats, veggies, fruits... but lay off the "whites" :)

Ok... I really did mean to get to bed at a decent time tonight... but alas, it is already 12:30am. Off to la la land I go ;)

Huggggs,

Cheryl

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I have to agree with Cheryl in that I have never noticed a snobbishness (is that a word?!) about diet, exercise, treatment options, etc on this board! Of course, I tend to ignore people's attempts to make me believe that what they are doing is right and what I am doing is wrong in all aspects of my life! I am a very good example of someone who ate the right things and exercised obsessively and still got the beast (the one that is SUPPOSED to be avoidable through such activity) as many more on this board are. If anything, I believe the long-believed assumptions about how to prevent colon cancer are proving through it's survivors to be WRONG! I have to admit that I did do the macrobiotic whole foods juicing thing and my cancer recurred anyhow! Just like some who get surgery never have chemo and never see the beast return again, and some have recurrences despite doing both! We are all different, which makes this beast particularly hard to battle! We all make our decisions and hopefully we are good with that; I know I am! I am far from a saint, and I don't feel like I have been unjustly singled out by this beast; nor do I feel I have been JUSTLY singled out by it! It is what it is. I get up each day and I battle. I have recently started a new diet, because my cholesterol readings are too high, not because I believe my diet change will affect my ability or the lack thereof to fight this beast! As far as smoking is concerned, it's a beast. I smoked when I was young, quit when I was pregnant with my first child. It's a tough addiction to leave behind. When you add the stress of cancer, it has to be particularly hard to fight. A personal decision to leave it or continue it and NOBODY has the right to judge another. IMO
mary

neon356
Posts: 137
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Pam,

There certainly are people on this forum with many opinions on diet and health, but for the most part I've not really seen them as being judgmental. Most often they're trying to share what they hope is working for them in order to evict the Beast. I do agree that I was often made to feel terrible when well wishing friends and relatives were always seeming to tell me that it was my fault when I had a blockage, or I was feeling the way I was because of something I did or didn't eat. They really had no idea what we're going through. Looking back I think that it was their own denial or inability to deal with the situation that made them react that way. I'm sure that you appreciate their concern but you may have to educate them a bit and tell them that they're not really helping you. Most of the time it wasn't the Big Mac that made you sick, it was the blockage, or kink in the intestine or adhesion or chemo, radiation, etc that did it. My Doctors were always of the opinion that while I was fighting my illness it was best to eat whatever I could eat and to concentrate on getting well and not on top of that to have to deal with the stress of major diet change or trying to stop smoking. You've got plenty of time after you're back on the road to recovery to eat better than you have in the past, or to stop subjecting you body to the harmful effects of smoking or whatever other 'vices' you may have. My advice- have that glass of wine, eat that burger. You're wise enough to know what you can and can't eat. ...Carl

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Hey, I couldn't 'cast the first stone' on anyone else, my glass house is so fragile...lol!

I think it's just about living a life that makes you happy. And realizing that we are all just trying to do the same. I make my choices, some of them good, some of them, well, I call them 'sinning' (like eating fried stuff in Holland...mmmmm...). I enjoy every minute, and don't get down on myself.

My mom is a 2-time cancer survivor...breast and endometrial. She is 85 years young, and still smokes. The only time I get on her is when she complains that her granddaughter (my daughter) doesn't come and visit enough. And then, I say, "Well, mom, you know Kristy is allergic to smoke. After less than an hour, she can hardly breathe, and it takes 3 days to recover."

A friend of mine was dx'd with lung cancer ( non small cell...from smoking). A week later, I asked if it was hard not smoking anymore. She said "Well, it's tough, but I'm down to 8 cigarettes a day." (!!!!!!!!!). I took a breath, thought a second about me eating things (like french fries) that aren't good for MY cancer, and said "Well, you know, it is hard for me to change my diet, so I understand what you are going thru to an extent. Just let me know what I can do to help, because, you know, you really should stop, at least during your treatment." She ended up coming to me a week later, all smiles, and saying "I QUIT!".

Hugs, Kathi

polarprincess
Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

Hi, since i am a dietitian, i just had to chime in on this one. Of course i believe that nutrition can be extremely helpful in helping someone to avoid cancer in the first place, and also to prevent recurrences,and i think there is a pretty significant amount of research with things such as antioxidants and cruciferous veggies etc.. but I am not of the belief that it is the answer in all cases. Like many of you, i know people who have eaten right their entire life and still got cancer, and my own grandparents grew up on dairy farms and dined on heavy cream and red meats their entire life and are still alive and cancer free in their 90's, and here i am the dietitian with stage IIIa colon cancer. Scientifically i understand the immune system and how it works, and how eating the right foods can keep your immune system functioning properly, and i am positive that is where my cancer came from--a time of very high stress when i wasn't taking care of myself like i should have been. I think all foods are ok in moderation..but there are things besides the foods themselves that can trigger cancer such as a big belly... big bellies are more metabolically active which GREATLY increases our chance at getting cancer, and then if you add stress to that you have cortisol constantly running through your body which makes the big belly even more dangerous... also eating too many carbs as you know raises your blood glucose which also increases inflammation in your body which can lead to cancer..so just some things that maybe not all people are aware of, that i may sometimes point out if someone is asking for advice, and that I always make sure to keep in mind when i make my own food choices... but i certainly hope i haven't judged anyone in any of my posts, and if i have at any point, i do apologize..

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Hey PP... you raise some interesting points here. Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I have some of the issues that you have raised. I am one of the ones who has a big belly ::hanging head in shame:: It's one of the bains of my existence... I have, even as a child, been on the rotund size. Lucky for me, as a child/teen/young adult/etc. did not get the evil teasing that we hear so many go through when they have a weight problem, hence I guess I never took my weight seriously or thought I had a problem. So, yes, weight may have played a role in my being susceptible to cancer. Stress? Hmmm... I think everyone goes through stress on a day-to-day basis and we all go through various periods of heavy stress... so I don't think I was any different in that department than anyone else. Exercise... definitely not one of my strong points... although I've always been very active (I'm always out and about doing things, even now when I'm suppose to be sick and more lethargic... you rarely catch me at home because there's so much to do, so many friends to see, etc.). So, I guess in a way, I'm the poster child for the "See what happens if you don't watch your weight, eat healthy and get plenty of exercise?" But then I look around at a whole bunch of the posters on this board alone, and if we go by the pictures they use... the majority do not have a weight problem, or even if they feel they do, it's not a serious one... and some don't have one at all. So they are doing something right to keep their weight down... which I'm assuming diet comes into play here. Also, a lot of you have said how you love hiking, swimming, golf, etc., so you are also getting exercise. So, heck... it looks like those of us who are overweight are definitely not the only ones susceptible to this beast (as we all know)... and I bet if we had a show of hands, the majority are of average weight for their height and age.

But, just like there are those who are survivors and there's no scientific data to explain why they are when according to the stats and surveys they should be dead... there are those who, like your grandparents, have a diet of dairy/red meat (which today is so taboo) and yet have lived into their 90s, are still alive and are cancer free. I'm not sure, as a nutritionist, how firmly you believe in a low cal diet, or if you personally lean towards a low carb/high protein... or if you fall somewhere inbetween. I think we could take a survey of 100 people and we would come up with 10 different diets or "WOE - Way of Eating" and people would swear that they are the only healthy way to eat... and have reasons and examples of why they feel that way. So, if someone were to try and find the most efficient, healthy way to eat, their heads would be spinning depending on who or how many they talked to. ;)

One of the things you said -- "that can trigger cancer such as a big belly... big bellies are more metabolically active, which GREATLY increases our chance at getting cancer," what do you mean by metabolically active? I may be confusing two words here (metabolic and metabulism" but I thought that was a good thing if it was active? Something tells me I don't know what metabolically active means.

Tanks for the interesting post!

Hugggggs,

Cheryl

polarprincess
Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

Although i have seen alot of good research on the low calorie diet, i don't think it is something most people could do, i just simply believe in a good balanced diet, good fats instead of bad, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, white foods in moderation, etc...watch the processed foods.. i am not a huge believer in dairy being good for us, i do think it was not meant for the human body, and in fact most cultures in the world do not use dairy....but the truth is most people do not eat in moderation, the majority of the people i meet eat a diet of extremely low fiber, high fast foods, beef 5-7 times a week, 5 cans of soda a day, etc.. and i am not saying the people on here who got colon cancer ate that way, but the people i work with..that is what i am seeing......and to answer your question... by metabolically active i mean it releases more inflammatory hormones, molecules and fatty acids than other fat. visceral fat is specifically considered potent and because its blood drains directly to the liver.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I am going to make an assumption you are referring to the fat contained in the omentum, which is what gives most of us that 10 months pregnant look although we haven't had the plumbing ever, or in a long time! I didn't even know we HAD an omentum until I was told it was removed during my last surgery due to metastases. Then, of course, being anal retentive, I searched the internet for information and found that the omentum not only serves as a "buffer" to your abdominal organs by laying across them like a blanket, the fat stored in it is the primary source of energy for the surrounding organs. This is also why we tend to store the fat in that place when we overeat; our bodies are storing for emergencies in the place it most readily grabs it in need. Then, of course, my question was what does my body do now that I no longer have an omentum? Needless to say, after a short reeducation process, it has learned to store fat elsewhere very efficiently, and seems to be very happy with it's new stores! I am wondering how this affects my metabolism. I have been watching my food intake, not necessarily limiting it, just watching it, over the past year, wondering why I am having such a hard time getting the extra weight off, with no luck and I wonder if it has something to do with the loss of my omentum. I haven't been able to find ANY information regarding this subject matter however. I recently have had to embark on a low-fat diet in an attempt to lower my triglycerides and LDL and increasing my thyroid replacement hormone due to high levels of the TSH, so I am hoping I will finally be able to get at least SOME of this excess weight off, but just wondering if you have any info to offer on this.
mary

polarprincess
Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

yes,! am referring to the omentum when i talk about belly fat. Some surgeons are removing the omentum now as part of weight loss surgeries, but it is still quite controversial. The benefit is supposed to be that diabetics or insulin resistant people will have better control of blood sugars and triglycerides etc so it is interesting that even with yours removed you are having issues.. I don't have a lot of info for you on what happens after it is removed, but i know DR OZ from Oprah talks about this quite a bit in his books and that would maybe be a good thing for you to email him at her website and ask hiim about it..

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I think I will consider posting to Dr. Oz. I find it interesting that they are now removing the omentum as part of weight loss surgery ... I suppose they are the guinea pigs for the future!
mary

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I may be way off base but to me its my life and my decision. It took me 54 years to develop this cancer and it is now being taken care of hopefully. I don't feel any different in any way except for a few things I do differently now physically. I am not going to start eating pure soy milk or fresh veggie sprouts because I have cancer. I never ate them before so I don't intend on starting now. Why am I going through all of this ? The answer, so I can get myself back to doing the things I normally did before. Not things I never did, like eat Tofu or drink carrot juice. They all have their place and to whomever likes and believes in these I say go for it. I don't condemn anything, and Im certainly not saying that they would probably be better for me than the other stuff I eat. But, when I want a greasy country rib then Im gonna have one, and not feel the slightest bad feeling about it. I take this cancer journey to become the person I was, not to be turned into a scared rabbit. I eat red meat, I eat fish, I eat seafood, I eat southern style cooking and I have all my life. My life may be shorted because of it, but im gonna enjoy every minute of it because thats the way I am...Hopefully everyone understands and no one takes this personally. thats not my intention at all.......God Bless you all...........and pass the mash potatoes.!!!

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

on the floor laughing after this post! You go! I agree with the "...not to be turned into a scared rabbit". We SHOULD live our lives so that we enjoy them!
mary

PamPam2's picture
PamPam2
Posts: 376
Joined: Jan 2009

Yes! Me too. The only thing I could keep down and that tasted good when I was on chemo was donuts and sweets, so that is what I had. My surgeon (who has since retired) was very angry about my continuing to smoke. But I tell you, that is the only thing that got me up out of that hospital bed to sneak outside to have a puff. As far as I know, colon cancer has been linked to gene defects, perhaps smoking triggered it earlier. I eat what I please, am slightly overwieght, started taking cholesterol medication this year and other medication is keeping my extremely high blood pressure down, (which got high when on chemo and never went away) (another subject in itself). I don't live on a diet of deep fried foods and icecream, but I eat home-cooked meals like I have all my life, meat and vegetables. I think life is too short to make yourself eat stuff that you don't like and doesn't satisfy you, on the hope that it is going to keep cancer away once you've already got it. Kudos to you Buzzard, and you made me laugh too!

Moesimo's picture
Moesimo
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

Pam,

I have always enjoyed your posts.

I don't agree with the whole diet and cancer thing. I am probably the worlds worse junk food junkie. I have tried to be better since my cancer diagnosis and I do try to walk sometimes as exersize. I do not think my bad eating habits gave me cancer. The genetic testing I had done at Dana Farbor showed a fluke im my DNA.

If anything cancer has taught me how fragile life is and I live each day to the fullest.

If Patrick S. wants to smoke he should. I don't think his life will be shortened because of it. He has a horrible type of cancer.

Pam, have you had enough of snow and winter yet? I know I sure have.

Maureen

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