Firstly, let me reiterate that I’m not here to give medical advice and that what works or has worked for me may not necessarily be appropriate for you. There are so many types of cancer and so many different treatments that it would be unwise for me to say “definitely do this or that”. I can only share my journey and thought processes in the hope that perhaps you can find the courage to do what you know is right for you in relation to all the advice and stuff that’s out there.
First thing I did was to join the local gym, not for the weights and cross trainers but for the steam room, the pool and the spa bath facilities. Even though I had been discharged from hospital and referred to the Pilgrim’s Hospice for pain control, I was still experiencing a lot of back pain and the only relief I could find was in the heat of the steam room, gentle exercise in the pool or with a jet of water directly on the place where the discomfort was.
Sometimes I would fall asleep in the spa bath if it was quiet enough in there and I would at least get to give my poor brain a rest for a couple of hours as the pain would still keep me up at night. This is end of January 2018 and by this time I’ve had no more than an hour or two of sleep at any given time for the last three months. Those couple of hours a day using the spa facilities were not only a good way to start the day but they were the only opportunity for pain reprieve and in turn a bit of rest for the mind.
There’s also some evidence to suggest that time spent in the steam room not only helps to process toxins, but in some way makes the chemotherapy I was receiving more effective .The theory being that a person’s body temperature may be raised as if they had a fever. Studies suggest that this may cause certain immune cells to become more active for the next few hours and raise the levels of cell-killing compounds in the blood, there are no clinics offering this service near us so we thought a steam room was our next best option (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/surgery/hyperthermia-fact-sheet) What it definitely did for me was provide an opportunity to sweat for 10 minutes and raise my body temperature enough for me to brave the pool which was often a bit on the cool side for me at times.
I have always been a bit of a water baby and have often used my time in water as a sort of meditation. The reflection of light on the surface of the water and patterns they make, the ability to move and stretch whilst being supported, or just totally relaxing and floating weightless for a few minutes can make such difference to my mental well being.
Fasting has been recommended to other cancer sufferers as a potential cure, but I have never heard this and if there is anything in it, it has yet to be proven. However, I have found fasting to be incredibly helpful with regards to the alleviation of chemotherapy side effects. When I say fasting it doesn’t mean starving yourself as some might imagine, but reduced calorie intake. 800 calories per day for men and 600 calories for women is the recommended daily intake, no processed sugars or white carbohydrates.
I would have hospital treatment three weeks on a Friday which included herceptin and cisplatin with capecitabine taken orally in tablet form twice a day. I would begin fasting on the Tuesday before the Hospital visit and resume normal eating on the Sunday. The primary thinking behind fasting was that after three days your normal cells become dormant so the chemo therapy mostly effects the rogue (still active) cancer cells whilst leaving the normal cells mostly unaffected. (https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-018-4245-5)
Continuing to fast for 24 hours after treatment gives the body time to process the worst of the toxins before waking the dormant normal cells by eating normally again. I broke the fast early on a Saturday once and regretted it as the side effects and nausea I experienced were so bad it ensured I kept to the routine for the rest of my treatment. I pleasant result of doing this every three weeks also helped me to lose excess fat around my tummy helping me to achieve my ideal weight.
I could do a separate post about Marijuana and there are many claims to its curative and anti-cancer qualities. As someone who has used it recreationally before and trusted it as medicine, I decided to trust it again, primarily for reducing chemo side effects and pain control which I found to be more effective than opiates in some situations. Smoking it in a pipe (without tobacco) would bring instant relief from nausea and although this isn’t recommended, you can use a special vapouriser or take it in oil form. I also took CBD oil in the form of Charlotte’s Web although there is only anecdotal evidence that cannabis oil can reduce cancer. I think more research needs to be done especially as cannabis has so many anecdotal claims about being effective in the treatment other ailments.
Finally I did take turmeric supplements for a couple of months for its supposed anti-inflammatory qualities. I have since stopped taking these as studies have shown that it affects your platelets clotting ability when combined with my chemo drugs. Also I was taking upwards of 30 tablets a day at this time and any way to reduce the number of tablets I needed to take was fine by me.
I just want to mention quickly that during this time I wasn’t particularly strict with my diet other than when I was fasting. This was primarily because when you’re receiving treatment just the idea of some foods can make you feel ill and whatever you can eat to keep your weight up is a bonus.
Ultimately I decided to put my faith in my oncologist and experts who gently guided me through the process of scans and chemotherapy. I felt that these strategies would give me the best chance of survival and I would recommend that you do your own research so you and your oncologist can make the best decisions for you.