Thursday, December 31, 2009

PSA - Benefits of Vitamin C . . . (Part Four)

Vitamin C + Vitamin B3 Increases Cancer Survival 20 Fold

By Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D - Clinical Procedures in Treating Terminally Ill Cancer Patients with Vitamin C [+ Vitamin B3]

I recall that in 1952 when I was working as a resident in psychiatry at the Munroe Wing which was a part of the General Hospital in Regina, a woman who had her breast removed for cancer was admitted to our ward. She was psychotic. This poor lady had developed a huge ulcerated lesion, she wasn't healing, and she was in a toxic delirium. Her psychiatrist decided that he would give her shock treatment, which was the only treatment available at that time. I decided I would like to give her vitamin C instead. As director of research, I had the option of going to the physicians and asking them if I could do this with their patients, A friend of mine was her doctor and he said, "Yes, you can have her." He said, "I'll withold shock treatment for three days."

I had thought that I would give her three grams per day, which was our usual dose at that time, for a period of weeks, but when he told me I could have three days only, I decided that this would not do. Therefore, I decided to give her one gram every hour. I instructed the nurses that she was to be given a gram per hour except when she was sleeping. When she awakened, she would get the vitamin C that she had missed. We started her on a Saturday morning and when her doctor came back on Monday morning to start shock treatment she was mentally normal. I wanted to know, if vitamin C would have any therapeutic effect. To our amazement her lesion on her breast began to heal. She was discharged, mentally well, still having cancer and she died six months later from her cancer. This was an interesting observation which I had made at that time and which I had never forgotten.

There was another root to this interest. In 1959, we found that the majority of schizophrenic patients excreted in their urine a factor that we call the mauve factor, which we have since identified as kryptopyrrole. I was looking for a good source of this urinary factor. We had thought that the majority of schizophrenics had it. We thought that normal people did not have it but I was interested in determining how many people who were stressed also had the factor. Therefore, I ran a study of patients from the University Hospital who were on the physical wards. They had all sorts of physical conditions including cancer, I found to my amazement that half the people with lung cancer also excreted the same factor. By 1960, a very famous gentleman of Saskatchewan, a retired professor, was admitted to the psychiatric department at our hospital. He was psychotic. He had been diagnosed as having a bronchiogenic carcinoma. It had been biopsied and was visualized in the x-ray and it had also been seen in the bronchoscope. While they were deciding what to do, he became psychotic so they concluded that he had secondaries in his brain. Because he became psychotic, he was no longer operable and instead they gave him cobalt radiation. It didn't help the psychosis any. He was admitted to our ward where he stayed for about two months, completely psychotic. He was placed on the terminal list, I discovered that he was on our ward, so I though he may have some mauve factor in his urine. On analysis he revealed huge quantities.

I had discovered by then that if we gave large amounts of B3 along with vitamin C to these patients, regardless of their diagnosis, they tended to do very well. He was started on three grams per day each of nicotinic acid and ascorbic acid on a Friday. On Monday he was found to be normal. A few days later I said to him, "You understand that you have cancer?" He said, "Yes, I know that." He was friendly with me because I had treated his wife for alcoholism some time before. I said to him, "If you will agree to take these two vitamins as long as you live, I will provide them for you at no charge. In 1960, I was the only doctor in Canada that had access to large quantities of vitamin C and niacin. They were distributed through our hospital dispensary. He agreed. That meant he had to come to my office every month in order to pick up two bottles of vitamins. I didn't know that it might help his cancer. I was interested only in his psychological state.

To my amazement he didn't die. After 12 months, I was having lunch with the director of the cancer clinic, a friend of mine, and I said to him, "What do you think about this man?" And he said, "We can't understand it, we can't see the tumor any more." I thought he'd say, "Well, isn't that great." So I asked, "Well, what's your reaction?" He responded, "We are beginning to think we made the wrong diagnosis."

The patient died, 30 months after I first saw him, of a coronary.

Here's another case that is very interesting. A couple of years later, a mother I had treated for depression came back to see me. Once more she was depressed. She said she had a daughter 16, who had just been diagnosed as having an osteogenic sarcoma of the arm. Her surgeon had recommended that the arm be amputated. She was very depressed over this and so I asked her, "Do you think you can persuade your surgeon not to amputate the arm right away? " And I told her the story about the man with the lung cancer. She brought her daughter in and I started her on niacinamide, 3 grams per day, plus vitamin C, three grams per day. She made a complete recovery and is still well, not having had to have surgery. But this time I concluded that maybe B-3 was the therapeutic factor. The reason for that, of course, is very simple. I liked B3 and I didn't have much interest in vitamin C.

When I moved to Victoria, another strange event happened. In 1979, a woman developed jaundice and during surgery a six centimeter in diameter lump in the head of the pancreas was found. They were too frightened to do a biopsy, which apparently is quite standard. They thought that the biopsy might disseminate the tumor. The surgeon closed and told her to write her will. They said she might have three to six months at the most. She was a very tough lady and she had read Norman Cousins' book Anatomy of an Illness. So she said to her doctor, "To hell with that, I'm not going to die." And she began to take vitamin C on her own, 12 grams per day. When her doctor discovered what she was doing, he asked her to come and see me, because by that time I was identified as a doctor who liked to work with vitamins.

I started her on 40 grams of vitamin C per day, to which I added niacin, zinc and a multi-vitamin, multimineral preparation. I had her change her diet by staying away from high protein and fat. I didn't hear from her again for about six months. One Sunday, she called me. Normally when I get a call from a patient on a Sunday, it's bad news. She immediately said, "Dr. Hoffer, good news! I asked, "What's happened?" She said, "They have just done a CT scan and they can't see the tumor," So then she said, "They couldn't believe it. They thought the machine had gone wrong; so they did it all over again. And it was also negative the second time." She had her last CT scan in 1984, no mass, and she is still alive and well today.

By this time, I had learned about Dr. Cameron's and Dr. Pauling's work with vitamin C and I began to realize that the main therapeutic factor might be the vitamin C rather than vitamin B-3. The reason I want to present four cases is that one might say that I have seen four spontaneous recoveries. The question is, how many spontaneous recoveries would one physician see in his lifetime? I don't know. Maybe this is not unusual but I think it is.

The last case I'm going to give details of was born in 1908. His mother died of cancer and his father had a coronary at the age of 80. My patient had had a myocardial infarction in 1969, and again in 1977, followed by a coronary bypass. In March of 1978, he suddenly developed pain in his left groin and down the left leg. In February 1979, he developed a bulge in his left groin, and later, severe pain with movement. In surgery, a large mass infiltrating sarcoma was found, part of which was removed, but a mass the size of a grapefruit was left. The tumor was eroding into a ramus of the pubic bone. They concluded that it was not radiosensitive. In March he had palliative radiation to his left half - 4500 rads. The pain was gone at the end of the radiation. On May 28, he developed a severe staph infection, and in June he was very depressed because his wife was dying of cancer and also he was suffering from drainage of chronic infection. In July he still had a purulent discharge in two areas. Now the mass was visible and palpable in the left iliac area above the inguinial ligaments.

In January of 1980, he saw me for the first time. I started him on 12 grams of vitamin C per day and I recommended to his referring doctor that he give him IV ascorbic acid, 2.5 grams, twice per week, which he agreed to. I gave him niacin, vitamin B6 and zinc to balance it out. In April, the mass began to regress and the ontologist wrote, "This is interesting, it must be something else." In other words, the patient said, the vitamin C is helping and the oncologist said, no it isn't, The oncologist put a note in the file, "He's probably responding to chemotherapy." But he had never had chemotherapy. The infection was gone. In May 1980, his x-ray showed reconstruction of the left superior pubic ramus. In July he wrote to me telling how grateful he was to be so well. In February of 1988, he went back to the cancer clinic for some recurrent facial skin carcinoma. He died in the fall of 1989 of coronary disease when he was 81. This man survived 10 years after having been diagnosed with cancer.

My practice began to grow because the first patient felt it was her duty to tell as many people as possible that I had the cure for cancer. Now I should tell you the nature of my practice. In Canada we have a referral service. I do not take walk-ins. Every patient that comes to my office must be referred by their family doctor or by a specialist, During the early years, patients usually went to their doctor and said, "I have had all this treatment, you have told me I'm not going to do any better, will you please refer me to Dr. Hoffer." So I call these patient-generated referrals. The past four or five years it has swung around and I am now getting a lot more doctor generated referrals. Doctors, themselves are beginning to refer their patients to me.

I would think that 80% of my patients had failed to respond to any of combination of treatment, including surgery, radiation or chemotherpy. Usually the story was that they were told by either the cancer clinic or their doctor that there was nothing more that they could do. Most of them were terminal, but not all. I see three to five new cases of cancer every week. All of them have been treated by their own doctor, their own oncologist, their own surgeon. What I do is advise them with respect to diet and the kind of nutrients they ought to take. I am seeing them much earlier in the stage of illness, which I think is very good because the earlier I can get to them, the better are the results.

Here are the results. Generally, the patients were a lot more cheerful. They had less discomfort and they lived a lot longer, A few years ago I was at a meeting at Woods Hole with Linus Pauling. This was a Festschrift for Dr. Arthur Sackler. I told Linus that I thought I had something, that I was beginning to see the impact of adding vitamin C to their program. Dr. Pauling encouraged me to work it up, to do a really careful survey and write it up for publication, which I did. I examined every cancer patient referred to me between July 1978 and April 1988 and followed them to January 1990. I did not miss a single case. A total of 134 were seen. And I dated the time that they first saw me as day zero. The only thing I wanted to look at was survival. I wanted hard data, something that couldn't be argued with. I wasn't going to say the patients were better or not better because these are subjective terms. These 134 fell into two groups. It wasn't my fault that this happened because I treated every one of them exactly the same way. I did not plan a double blind prospective study. What I planned and what I did was to advise every patient what I thought they ought to do in terms of their cancer. If they were getting radiation, I suggested they stay with it. If they were getting chemotherapy, I suggested they stay with that. I never advised them about their surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. However, out of these 134, there were 33 who did not or could not follow the program. For example, on chemotherapy, they were so nauseated that they couldn't hold anything down and if they couldn't hold the vitamins down they weren't going to do very much good. There were some who didn't believe in the program.

I remember one woman with breast cancer came to see me and I advised her what to take, sending a consultation letter to the referring doctor outlining what I thought she ought to be taking. When she went back to see her doctor, he laughed at her. He made so much fun of her that she became thoroughly ashamed and she wouldn't follow the program. She died two or three months later. Another case was a doctor who had cancer and was given 30 days. He had left his wife and was running around with his girl friend. Since he knew he was going to die, he decided that he would spend the next 30 days living as riotously as he could. He would travel all across the United States and have as much fun in 30 days as he could. His girlfriend brought him to see me because she wanted him to live longer than 30 days. He didn't believe her and he never started the program. He went to the United States and died 30 days later. These are some examples of people who wouldn't or couldn't follow the program, Or they weren't on the vitamin program long enough. I had found that they must be on the program at least two months before it began to work. These were my pseudocontrols. They're not really a double blind control, it's a kind of pseudocontrol which provides an estimate of the kind of patient that I was seeing.

The other 101 did stay on their program at least two months. Some went off in the third or fourth month but they stayed on it for at least two months. I was encouraged by Linus Pauling. I followed them all. First of all, I contacted their doctors. I contacted the patients that were still alive. I contacted their families. I got all their records from the cancer clinics. I had a complete file on every patient I had seen so that I knew within a matter of months exactly what had happened to them. The results were analyzed by Dr. Linus Pauling using a new technique for analyzing cohorts. The data is as follows: 33 controls - they survived an average of 5.7 months, from the first day that I saw them. There were two treatment cohorts: a cohort of 40 females with cancer of the breast, ovary, uterus or cervix. The second cohort of 61 were other types of cancer. The cohorts were divided into two groups. First were the poor responders, those who didn't do well; they survived an average of 10 months, nearly twice as long as the control. The others, the good responders, were divided into two groups. The female group survived an average of 122 months and the other group 72 months. I think this is very significant. There was a tremendous difference in the survival rate. Today, all the controls are dead, 50% of the treated group are still alive. Over the past year, I did another survey and of the remainder only three more have died. It can not be all due to cancer because I'm dealing with a population with ages between 60 and 80. They are going to die of other causes as well. This was published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Volume 5, p. 143, 1990.


First of all, as I pointed out, I did not interfere with the treatment done by the oncologists. These patients were treated by their own doctors and I went along with whatever they did. No one can accuse me of depriving these patients of having had the best of chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. What I tried to do was to improve their general health, to improve their immune system, to the point that they could cope more successfully with their tumors. Many of them were depressed when they came to see me. The first thing I would do would be to create a bit of hope. I don't think many doctors in cancer clinics realize the absolute importance of hope.
Let me give you another case. A woman came to see me with cancer of the breast. She didn't want to have any surgery and so she had taken a huge quantity of nutrients, including vitamin A, 500,000 units per day at one of the clinics in the USA. She wasn't doing well, the mass had opened up, she was ulcerated and in a terrible state. When she came to see me, she said to me, "Dr. Hoffer, (she was very depressed) you are my last hope." I asked, "What do you mean?" She replied, "A week ago, when I went to see my family doctor, I asked when can I see you again. He said he would not give me another appointment, because I would be dead within a week," Now, that's very negative, Hope is very important. She didn't die a week later. We started her on the program. Eventually, I persuaded her to have surgery and chemotherapy. She survived more than 30 months after that first day.

Hope is extremely important. Attitude is very important. Patients must want to live. You may be surprised to know that many people, when they are told they have cancer, are quite relieved, because they now know they don't have to live much longer. They are really quite happy to go. So you have to test the attitude of the patient. Those who came to see me, of course, were preselected, they selected themselves. So they did have the right attitude, they did want to live. They have to be optimistic and I do think it helps if they laugh a lot. I agree with Norman Cousins, that if you combine laughter with vitamins, you do get better results.

Then I advise my patients what kind of nutrition they ought to follow. The first thing I try to do is to cut their fat way down. I try to cut it down below 30 percent of calories, down to 20 or 10, if possible. I find that, in our culture, the easiest way to do that is to totally eliminate all dairy products. If you eliminate all dairy products and cut out all fatty meats, it's pretty hard to get too much fat in the diet. So, I put them all on a dairy free program. I reduce, but I don't eliminate, meat and fish, and I ask them to increase their vegetables, especially raw, as much as they can. I think it's a good, reasonable diet, which most people can follow without too much difficulty. Having spent some time with them going over what they ought to eat, I begin to talk about the nutrients. The first one, of course, is vitamin C. I am convinced today that vitamin C is the most important single nutrient that one can give to any person with cancer. The dose is variable. I find that most patients can take 12 grams per day without much difficulty, that's the crystallin vitamin C sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate. They take one teaspoon three times per day. If they do not develop diarrhea, I ask them to increase it until this occurs and then to cut back below that level. I think in many cases it would be desirable to use intravenous vitamin C and there are doctors now in Canada doing that. The amount that one gives is limited by the skill of the physician, not by the patient.

I also add vitamin B-3, either niacin or niacinamide. I prescribe from 500 mg to 1500 mg per day. Before I did that empirically, now there is a lot of evidence that B3 does have pretty interesting anticancer properties. Two years ago, in Texas at one of the osteopathic colleges, there was an international congress, Vitamin B-3 and Cancer. There is a lot of work being done in this area today. I also add a B complex preparation 50 or 100. I think vitamin E is an extremely important antioxidant and I use that as well, 800 to 1200 I. U. They also get 25,000 to 75,000 units of beta carotene. I sometimes use vitamin A. I like to use folic acid for lung cancer, and for cancer of the uterus because of work that hag been done showing that folic acid might reverse a positive pap smear to negative. I use selenium, 200 mcg, three times per day. I think the toxicity of selenium has been greatly exaggerated. I had a patient from Chile, a refugee, who developed a severe lymphoma. He was operated on but it came back. He had radiation and it recurred. He had been a patient of mine for the treatment of depression when he developed his cancer. He was given three months to live. I had started him on selenium, 600 mcg per day. Like many patients, he thought if 600 is good, more is even better. He came back and said he was taking 2 mg per day, or 2,000 mcg. I became a bit concerned about that and suggested he cut down to 1,000. In any event, he recovered and he has now been alive for seven years. There is no evidence of tumor, and his major problem today is reorienting himself in a foreign culture. So I use selenium and I use a lot of it. I use some zinc, especially for prostatic cancers and I do use calcium-magnesium preparations. So this is the basic nutrient program that they all follow. The cost ranges from $50 to $75 per month. People who are dying from cancer don't mind paying this.

What are this program's advantages? Well, first of all, the increase in longevity. We have increased the longevity from 5.7 months to approximately 100 months, which is very substantial, and half of the patients are still alive. There has been a tremendous decrease in pain and anxiety, even amongst those who were dying. We do not have the final answer, but we have at least a partial answer. The use of nutrients, like vitamin C and B-3 increase the efficacy of chemotherapy by increasing its killing effect on the tumor and decreasing its toxicity on normal tissues. The same has been shown to be true with radiation therapy.
My conclusion is that - oral or intravenous vitamin c iv - must be a vital component of every cancer treatment program. I believe the other nutrients help, adding 20% to 30% to longevity.

TCS Postscript: Please refer back to the December 31, 2009 post regarding the lower efficacy of a regimen of vitamin c after chemo.

PSA - Benefits of Vitamin C . . . (Part Three)


National Institute of Health Confirms Vitamin C Effectiveness

National Institute of Health / National Cancer Institute – “Early clinical [Cameron/Pauling] studies showed that high-dose - oral OR intravenous vitamin c, may improve symptoms and prolong life in patients with terminal cancer. Double-blind placebo-controlled [Mayo Clinic] studies of oral vitamin C therapy showed no benefit. Recent evidence shows that oral administration of the maximum tolerated dose of vitamin C (18 g/d) produces peak plasma concentrations of only 220 µmol/L, whereas intravenous administration of the same dose produces plasma concentrations about 25-fold higher. Larger doses (50–100 g) given intravenously may result in plasma concentrations of about 14 000 µmol/L. At concentrations above 1000 µmol/L, vitamin C is toxic to some cancer cells but not to normal cells in vitro.

We found 3 well-documented cases of advanced cancers, confirmed by histopathologic review, where patients had unexpectedly long survival times after receiving high-dose intravenous vitamin c iv therapy. We examined clinical details of each case in accordance with National Cancer Institute (NCI) Best Case Series guidelines. Tumour pathology was verified by pathologists at the NCI who were unaware of diagnosis or treatment. In light of recent clinical pharmacokinetic findings and in vitro evidence of anti-tumour mechanisms, these case reports indicate that the role of high-dose intravenous vitamin c iv therapy in cancer treatment should be reassessed.”

Dr. Mark Levine of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues note that, in vitro, vitamin C is toxic to some cancer cells but not normal cells at concentrations above 1000 µmol/L. IV doses in the range of 50-100 g result in plasma levels of about 14,000 µmol/L.

The team analyzed clinical and histological data from three patients with advanced cancer who responded to high-dose IV vitamin C.

The first patient was a 51 year-old-women with advanced renal cell carcinoma, treated with nephrectomy, and several small lesions in the lung "consistent with metastatic cancer." She received IV vitamin C 65 g twice a week for 10 months, in combination with other alternative therapies, including thymus protein extract. Repeat chest radiography revealed one small spot, assumed to be a scar. Five years later, new lung masses were detected.

The patient again received intravenous vitamin c, with unsuccessful results. The second patient, a 49-year-old man, had bladder cancer with multiple satellite tumors. He received IV vitamin C 30 g twice a week for three months, followed by 30 g vitamin C once every 1-2 months for four years. . Nine years after diagnosis, the patient is in good health, without signs of disease.

Case three was a 66-year-old woman with B-cell lymphoma invading paraspinal muscle and bone at L4-5. She received IV vitamin C 15 g twice weekly for 7 months, then 15 g every 2-3 months for about one year. Ten years after diagnosis, the patient is in good health.

Dr. Levine and colleagues note that all three patients survived for longer than expected for the types and stages of cancers that they had. At the doses delivered, vitamin C "is a pro-drug for hydrogen peroxide formation in extracellular fluid," they explain. Histology results also showed evidence of tumor hemorrhage, attributable to ascorbate.

The investigators conclude that "the role of high-dose intravenous vitamin c therapy in cancer treatment should be reassessed."

PSA - Benefits of Vitamin C . . . (Part Two)


Vitamin C Not As Effective After Chemotherapy Has Been Used

Vitamin C and cancer: Linus Pauling is considered the pioneer in the use of oral and intravenous vitamin c in the treatment of cancer. His documented studies in extending cancer survival using large doses of Vitamin C are seen as a benchmark by all those who seek to replicate or refute the beneficial claims of Vitamin C.

In 1979, the Mayo Clinic undertook a clinical study to replicate or refute the earlier studies of Linus Pauling. The study participants (with a few exceptions) had all received chemotherapy PRIOR to being given ORAL doses of Vitamin C. The study concluded by the Mayo Clinic reported no evidence that large doses of Vitamin C help in extending cancer survival.

The following is a letter from Linus Pauling to the Editor of The Times Magazine who reported "Vitamin C Fails as a Cancer Cure" as a result of the Mayo Clinic findings.

By Linus Pauling (October 24, 1979)
[ ]

To the Editor: An article in your Sept. 30 Week in Review section, "Vitamin C Fails as a Cancer Cure" (with reference to me in the first sentence), said that a controlled study of 150 Mayo Clinic patients with advanced cancer, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, had shown no evidence that large doses of vitamin C help.

This is indeed what was reported by the Mayo Clinic investigators. They themselves and The Times article do not point out, however, that the population of cancer patients investigated in the Mayo Clinic was so different from that investigated by my associate Dr. Ewan Cameron in Vale of Leven Hospital, Loch Lomondside, Scotland, that the results observed in the Mayo Clinic study cannot be considered to refute the results observed in the study in Scotland.

The chief investigator in the Mayo Clinic study wrote to me last year that he hoped to repeat Dr. Cameron's work as closely as possible. I then wrote to him, pointing out that cyto-toxic chemotherapy damages the body's protective mechanisms to such an extent that subsequent treatment with Vitamin C would not be expected to have much value, because Vitamin C functions largely by potentiating these protective mechanisms.

I recommended strongly that only patients who had not received chemotherapy be used in the Mayo Clinic study. This recommendation, however, was ignored. Nearly all the patients in the Mayo Clinic trial had received courses of chemotherapy, whereas only 4 percent of those studied by Dr. Cameron had receieved chemotherapy.

The Vale of Leven study showed that large doses of Vitamin C have great value for cancer patients who have NOT received chemotherapy. The Mayo Clinic study answers an important question in that it verifies that treatment with Vitamin C is far less effective for patients whose immune systems have been damaged by courses of chemotherapy.

PSA: Scientists find turmeric and black pepper spices may prevent breast cancer

Scientists find turmeric and black pepper spices may prevent breast cancer

(NaturalNews) Seasoning food with turmeric and black pepper can do more than just spice up a meal. Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that the compounds curcumin, which is derived from turmeric, and piperine, derived from black pepper, could play an important role in preventing and even treating breast cancer.

Previous research has already provided evidence that curcumin and piperine may be potential cancer treatments. However, the new U-M study, just published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to suggest exactly how these natural spice compounds could prevent cancer. The research shows curcumin and piperine target stem cells (unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of cell in an organ). This is of major significance because cancer stem cells comprise the small number of cells inside a tumor that fuel the growth of malignancies.

Current chemotherapy agents are useless against these cells -- that's why cancer can recur and spread despite rounds of heavy duty, toxic chemo. But if cancer stem cells could be eliminated and/or their growth shut down, cancer should be controlled.

"If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors," lead author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a statement to the media. And the new study shows curcumin and piperine work along these lines. The spice derivatives are able to do what chemo can't -- they limit the self-renewal of stem cells.
Killing cancer cells with zero toxicity to healthy cells
For the U-M study, the research team applied a solution of curcumin and piperine to cell cultures at the equivalent of about 20 times the potency of what a person would take in through diet. Then a series of tests were performed on the cells to look at markers for breast stem cells and the effect curcumin and piperine had on the levels of stem cells.

The result? Piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin and the compounds interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of stem cells which initiate cancer. More good news: the compounds had no effect on the normal process of cell development known as cell differentiation. That means the spice compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue.

"Women at high risk of breast cancer right now can choose to take the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women won't take these drugs because there is too much toxicity. The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity," Dr. Kakarala stated.

In addition, tamoxifen and raloxifene are designed to target estrogen. But not all breast cancers are estrogen driven. In fact, the most aggressive and deadly forms of breast cancer that are more likely to occur in women with strong family histories of the disease or with a specific genetic susceptibility to breast cancer are typically not affected by estrogen and tend to be difficult to treat. But due to the fact curcumin and piperine limit the self-renewal of stem cells, the spice compounds could impact malignancies whether they are estrogen sensitive or not.

Dr. Kakarala and colleagues are moving forward on an initial Phase 1 clinical trial in people to determine the best tolerated dose of curcumin and piperine. The study is expected to start signing on volunteer research subjects in spring of 2010.

For more information:

TCS Post Script: I first came across the potential benefits of Turmeric (aka curcumin) when reading Suzanne Somers book Knockout (btw, an easy read if you overlook the lack of literary style - and read with a sceptical eye. I am not ready to sign up for vaginal injections or coffee enemas just yet!) I was intrigued by the assertions made regarding turmeric and did a little more investigation. Ingesting is no harm no foul so I have included turmeric into my daily supplement addition to being a little more liberal with it in my cooking. As far as pepper: fresh ground has ALWAYS been a fav spice of mine. Since I ended up on this path, I guess that staple, alone, was not enough to stave off my breast cancer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PSA - Benefits of Vitamin C . . . (First Installment)


High Dose Vitamin C and Cancer - What It Does

High doses of Vitamin C can be taken orally or intravenously. High doses - oral or intravenous vitamin c - have a negative effect on cancer cell growth. Vitamin C also enhances the immune system by increased lymphocyte production, walls off tumors by stimulating collagen formation, prevents metastasis, expedites wound healing after cancer surgery, neutralizes carcinogenic substances and prevents cellular free radical damage. High dose - oral or intravenous vitamin c - also has an ameliorating effect on the side effects of the highly oxidative chemotherapeutic agents. Some of the side effects of chemotherapy are so severe that many patients stop therapy as a result. It has been shown to increase the lifespan of some cancer patients when receiving 10 100 grams 2-7 times per week of vitamin c – more notably when chemotherapy has not already been used.

High Dose - oral or intravenous vitamin C - inhibits hyaluronidase, an enzyme that tumors use to metastasize and invade other organs throughout the body. It induces apoptosis to help program cancer cells into dying early. It corrects the almost universal scurvy in cancer patients. Cancer patients undergoing conventional adjuvant treatments are normally tired, listless, bruise easily and have a poor appetite. They don't sleep well and have a low threshold for pain. This adds up to a very classic picture of scurvy that generally goes unrecognized by conventional physicians.

When cancer patients receive high doses - oral or intravenous vitamin C - they report that their pain level goes down, and that they are better able to tolerate their chemotherapy. They bounce back quicker since the high dose Vitamin C reduces the toxicity of the chemotherapy and radiation without compromising their cancer cell killing effects. High Dose - oral or intravenous vitamin c - is complementary to oncologic care. It is not "either/or" - it's a good "both/and" proposition. High Dose - oral or intravenous vitamin c can help cancer patients withstand the effects of their traditional therapies, heal faster, be more resilient to infection, develop a better appetite, and remain more active overall. These things promote a better response to cancer therapy.

TC Post Script: I have chosen not to do either chemotherapy or radiation. I have, however, been on a regimen of 60 grams of IV Vitamin C weekly since my mastectomy; and I orally ingest 3000 mgs of Vitamin C supplements daily.

Friday, December 18, 2009

PSA - Alcohol & Breast Cancer Recurrence


Alcohol Raises Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Study Shows Drinking More Than 3 Drinks a Week Is Linked to Return of Cancer

Dec. 10, 2009 (San Antonio) -- If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may want to cut down on alcoholic beverages.

That's the suggestion of researchers who found that cancer is 34% more likely to come back in breast cancer survivors who drink more than three drinks a week, compared with those who abstain or drink less.

Drinking more than three drinks a week also raised the risk of dying from breast cancer by 51%, says Marilyn L. Kwan, PhD, a staff scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

"Women with breast cancer who are postmenopausal or overweight seem to be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol." The findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Previous research has linked alcohol to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, but little is known about alcohol's effect on women who have already been diagnosed with the disease.

So Kwan and colleagues followed 1,897 women who had been successfully treated for early-stage breast cancer between 1997 and 2000. About a year after diagnosis, they were asked whether they drank alcohol, how much they drank, and their drink of choice.

Over the next eight years, 349 of the women suffered a recurrence of their breast cancer, and 332 died of the disease.

"We don't think the type of alcohol mattered, but it was difficult to examine since 90% of the women in our study drank wine," Kwan says. But how much they drank did matter; women who indulged in two or more glasses of wine per day were most likely to suffer a recurrence, she says.

It makes sense that alcohol would raise both the risk of developing breast cancer and the chance that it will come back, Kwan says. "Alcohol increases levels of estrogen in the body, and breast cancer is fueled by estrogen."

Jeffrey Peppercorn, MD, a breast cancer specialist at Duke University, states that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often want to know what they can do to lower their risk of recurrence.

"Limiting alcohol consumption is one step they can take," he says. "I tell women we're not sure that any amount of alcohol is safe ... but that it would be prudent to limit consumption except on rare, special occasions."

TC Post Script: Over the last 25 years (i.e., post undergrad studies), my alcohol consumption has been limited to the occassional Cosmo and 1.5 glasses of red wine on a Friday or Saturday night. (Yeah...PARTY ANIMAL!!!) I have also maintained a consistent body weight of 100-104 lbs (except during pregnancies). So...for me, more information on the unknown.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rabbit Holes that Lead to Yellow Brick Roads, that Lead to OZ?: PART II

If I had not been in a public coffee house I think I would have had my second cry since this odyssey began.

Dr. Isaacs' office did call -- four hours later. The
Great Oz deigned to offer me an audience. Yipee Skipee!

"Make sure you bring a CD of your PetScan. He will look at films too, but prefers a CD."

Of course he does . . .

. . . .to be continued


So I am led to the the Great Oz' (aka Dr. Jeffrey Isaacs
) office. (And for the record, AGAIN, I am the youngest and HEALTHIEST looking individual -- and that includes patients and their care-takers -- in the bus-station sized waiting room.)

I was led into an exam room so the nurse could take vitals and prelim info. I was then led to the inner sanctum - the Great Oz' office. I found it quirky that the nurse kept insisting that I place myself in this uncomfortable looking armchair perpendicular from Oz' chair -- the one "he always sits in speaking with patients. I sat on the couch.

The second faux pas is that they left me in his office unattended far too long. Curiosity is an unshakable vice of mine. I take note of the vanity wall; the pink-ribbon "awards"; that his medical training took place in South Africa; and that from the few pictures the guy is the quintessential middle-aged++, white-haired, white male, white-cloaked physician. Oz does not disappoint. He blusters in, all six feet-tw0 of him with blazing white hair, ruddy-lined faced and an XXL white doctor's frock with his name embroidered in blue under his right lapel.

The discussion is more than interesting. Some tidbits better than others. That which I found medically useful going forward was:

1. Ultrasound is the best diagnostic tool to identify ILC (Invasive Lobular Carcinoma).
2. I may be "surgically" cured at this point, but the biology of the cancer still exists within me.
3. That ILC has a "long natural history for metastasizing" even after the surgical "cure."
4. ILC is indolent, i.e., that it is prone to late relapses (5 / 10 / 15 years) after the primary tumor is found and removed. And that this is with or without adjuvant treatment.

What I found empirically useful in making my determination not to return to the Great Oz was the heart-to-heart that he and I had about the next step, i.e., adjuvant treatment:

Oz: Chemo is for the "unknown" -- to address the biology of the cancer that still exists within you.

TC: What can you tell about my individualistic "unknown" factors?

Your "unknown" is the specific biology of the cancer that still exists within you.

TC: Deja vu? And how do we know that the cancer still exists within me? I had a radical mastectomy - nothing was left.

OZ: We don't, that is the "unknown." You must think of chemotherapy as "buying insurance." You buy it "just in case" you might need it down the road, not because you are certain that you need it.

TC: Ah. Can we speak about the "knowns"?

OZ: What "knowns" are you referring to?

TC: Well, we know that chemo has side-effects, correct? With the drugs that you are proposing (Taxotere* and Cytoxan) is that a certainty?

OZ: That is absolutely correct.

We have the results of my Oncotype DX - the "RS" score says I have only a 4% margin of efficacy if I opt for chemo, correct?

OZ: If the biology of your tumor was taken into consideration with the Oncotype, yes! (Both Oz and I later independently reconfirmed the results, directly with the pathologist at the Oncotype lab.)

TC: So the choice I am presented with is
100% certainty of side effects with 4% margin of efficacy, correct? And with this "known" you are recommending chemo?

OZ: That is absolutely correct. And, yes, I am!

TC: I am not a statistician, mathematician, or even an economist -- but that does not sound statistically sound nor a good return on my "insurance" investment, to me?

(This is where my "Aha" moment with Oz hits...)

OZ: I suppose it comes down to how much you value your life. Yes, 4% is small but a real benefit. The 4% is your only window of opportunity here to fight the "unknown." If you have any desire to be around to see your children grow and be a grandmother, then 4% is what you are dealing with.

TC: Excuse me! That sounds like a very twisted ultimatum. I value the quality of my life -- and those around me stuck with me and this disease. I am not one for quantity for the sake of quantity! What about the plethora of research that is ongoing?

You must understand we have hit a wall with adjuvant therapies. Yes there are millions of dollars raised and spent each year on research -- but it gets us nowhere. You only have one shot at this. This is what we have to offer you, and you have to do something. If we were in Sweden it would be a different story, but we are not. Let's examine you shall we?

One would think I would have walked out at this juncture. But I didn't. It is not because I had bought into his ultimatum. It was just that curious vice gene of mine again. I felt like I was witnessing a multi-car pile up, train crash, or airplane catastrophe. I couldn't walk away. . .

What more did I learn? Well, the icing on the morning was witnessing
Oz verbally tear into his nurse for not getting his exam-room printer working; Oz' decree that I had a bulky uterus and needed to have a pelvic ultrasound done asap; and his tossing me (no kidding -- he tossed) an unsolicited prescription for Tamoxifen. . . .

TC: I would like to discuss my concerns with taking Tamoxifen. I am not comfortable with this script.

OZ: EVERYTHING has side effects. Just take it and let me know by the end of October if you are going to follow my recommendation for chemo.

I left the
Great OZ, standing behind his "big voice" screen turning his control wheels. I was done with the Yellow Brick Road. I learned that I much prefer rabbit holes.

Post Script: I called the radiologist who read the PetScan and asked him to look at my results again, particularly the uterus. He did and amended his report. I went to my GYN and shared Oz' concern and the amended PetScan report. All normal.

* Taxotere:

The most common severe side effects are low white–blood-cell count, anemia, fatigue, diarrhea, and mouth and throat irritation. Low white–blood-cell count can lead to life-threatening infections. The earliest sign of infection may be fever.

Other common side effects from Taxotere® include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, rash, infusion-site reactions, odd sensations (such as numbness, tingling, or burning) or weakness in the hands and feet, nail changes, muscle and/or bone pain, or excessive tearing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Kenzu" Knives Make a Comeback!


Another slice 'n dice session with the surgeon this past Friday. This time it involved both "ladies." And the only thing pithy that comes to mind is OUCH! But this time, I brought it on myself.

They tell you in the user-friendly post-op literature that "come the second day after surgery the 'discomfort' [euphemism for PAIN] will be such that you may be rethinking your decision to have opted for reconstructive surgery. Do not worry, this feeling will pass." Well, they were almost on the money.

I was actually rethinking this whole decision two weeks prior to offering myself up to the surgical slab. And I was DEFINITELY having second thoughts as I was dry-heaving for a solid 36 hours after surgery (a parting gift from my kindly anesthesiologist).

In the days and weeks leading up to cutting day, the image of the one-breasted Amazon was looking more and more attractive. And it wasn't just about nerves. To be truthful, I was not looking forward to ye ole surgical experience again. There is no upside to surgery, aside from compelled convalescence (a Type A+++ lawyer's definition of vacation). More so, it was the realization that my body will never truly be the same again. I do not mean "the same" as in my body "is not the same as before having 3 kids"; or my body "is not the same because the irony of age has grabbed ahold." I am talking about, not being the same because of a permanent premeditated alteration. I don't know how the "It People" so easily venture down the cosmetic surgery route time and time again (Cher? Demi? Joan?)-- I find the whole concept disturbing on too many levels.

When preparing for the total mastectomy, people tried to discuss with me the "mourning" I would feel for the loss of my breast. I never felt that loss. Frankly, I thought the whole "mourning the cancerous boobie thing" ridiculous. My breast had to go because it had been perverted with a malignancy caused by the environment in which we live. That amputation was just another decision on life's path. The perversion had to be excised if I wanted to be at my 17 year old daughter's high school graduation. No-brainer.

This time, the surgical decision was a decision made out of vanity. My vanity. And that is disturbing to me. I could have easily embraced my Amazonian persona. I could have gotten a really cool tattoo -- a la Phoenix rising from the ashes sort of thing. Though, I have been threatening to get a lotus tat instead of an areola tat all along.

Instead, I sit here second-guessing the foundation of my confidence. I should be doing "life" things, like planning a ski trip or training for the P.F.Chang Rock n Roll Marathon. Or figuring out to have a Cosmopolitan with an old new-found friend. Instead, I bought into the Cosmo version of beauty. Somebody should have slapped me - hard.

I sit here tonight feeling like maybe that a greater crime than having my body betray me with cancer, is me betraying my body with a conventional delusion of "beauty."

How morbidly hypocritical.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life Happens. . . Even if You Have Cancer

****** Just because I am a person dealing with breast cancer; and adjuvant treatment options; and trying to find an enlightened oncologist that I can partner with in my quest for long term survival, does not mean that I am immune from the mundane and frustrating aspects of day-to-day life! No "get out jail card" here!

Hard drives still crash. Rebuilding a professional and business life that is sustained by said hard drive is still an agonizing and time-consuming endeavor. (And yes, Alice, I have now invested in yet a THIRD back up system. This techno-nightmare enabled me to discover that off-site data preserve and central network system do have gaps.)

Work still can become all consuming 7-day a week grinds. Can or should I complain? Absolutely NOT! Not in this economy! It does, however, put the breaks on side indulgences (like sleep, writing, and social contacts).

Kids still need to get early decision college applications done and study for SAT subject matter tests -- both of which, ironically, share deadlines. The tension that combustible combo causes is fodder for entirely different blog!

Husbands and business partners still have to travel for days at a time to tend to the needs of our diverse clientele, leaving me solo at the helm on both fronts.

And yes quarterly tax reports (ooohhh...taxes...the other half of life's universal certainties) and end-year planning for all of my myriad avocations have arrived. Hello!

Who has time to deal with cancer? Life itself eats up all available time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Something to Think About . . . Guest Blogger


Now Age Minute - 11.22.09
Art vs. Science - A Holy War for the American Soul, part 2

In questioning accepted medical dogma, new studies suggests that cancer screening may be less effective than previously believed, and even risky. According to a recent article in the NY Times:

"Most people believe that finding cancer early is a certain way to save lives. But the reality of cancer screening is far more complicated.

Studies suggest that some patients are enduring aggressive treatments for cancers that could have gone undetected for a lifetime without hurting them. At the same time, some cancers found through screening and treated in the earliest stages still end up being deadly.

As a result, the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society now says that the benefits of early detection are often overstated. The cancer society says it will continue to revise its public messages about cancer screening as new information becomes available."

In the first installment on this topic, I wrote about how my mother learned to trust her gut feelings in deliberations regarding issues related to diet, health, and medicine. What began with her choosing a chiropractor to deal with my sister's asthma in the early sixties, extended to her refusal of annual breast cancer screenings, year after year, for decades. I asked her why she resisted the screenings. "My feeling was that the high doses of radiation from the screenings was unnecessary, and even dangerous. It felt too risky", she said. But, she continued, "I feel the same way about dental x-rays. My dentist told me he can't treat me anymore, if I don't take the annual x-rays. I replied that my teeth are in fine shape, and I don't want the radiation. Of course, he insisted that the amount of radiation in a dental x-ray was safe. Yeah, right. So why do they put a lead shield over my chest, then run out of the room? I love my mother.

Over the past few days, there's been a lot of heated chatter by politicos and media types about the new recommendations suggesting that women wait till they're fifty to begin breast screenings, and then get them only every other year. The most interesting exchange I saw was on the MSNBC program, "Hardball with Chris Matthews". He invited Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to give her views on the revised suggestions. For Wasserman-Schultz, the topic is personal. After receiving a "clean" mammogram a few years back, she was doing a self-exam and discovered a lump. She had it checked out, and a tumor was found. Based on her belonging to a "high-risk" breast cancer group (she's an Ashkenazi Jew of Eastern European descent), and testing positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation, she had both breasts were removed, along with her ovaries. Talk about preventative medicine!

Considering Wasserman-Schultz's experience, and that she's taken to push for breast screening and exams for even younger women, it was no surprise that she criticized the new screening recommendations. Based on the choices she made, I can understand her not wanting to know that there may have been another option to the "preventative" removal of her breasts and ovaries. Hence, she attacked the messengers, questioning the motives and qualifications of the research panel's members.

A few things struck me about the congresswoman's comments. First, attacking the science when the results bump up against one's beliefs reminded me of right-wing Republicans who deny the science behind climate change. Second, she took particular offense at the panel's concern that over-screening and self-exams may create anxiety, focusing too much on something most women are never likely to experience. That concern spoke clearly to me because, as my mother has always said, "thought becomes matter".

Last month, an article was published in the NY Times, titled, "Cancers Can Vanish Without Treatment, but How?" From the article:

"Call it the arrow of cancer. Like the arrow of time, it was supposed to point in one direction. Cancers grew and worsened.

But as a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted last week, data from more than two decades of screening for breast and prostate cancer call that view into question. Besides finding tumors that would be lethal if left untreated, screening appears to be finding many small tumors that would not be a problem if they were left alone, undiscovered by screening. They were destined to stop growing on their own or shrink, or even, at least in the case of some breast cancers, disappear."

Disappearing cancers? Say what? But wait, there's more.

In August, Wired magazine ran a fascinating article called, "Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why", that brought to light the difficulties drug companies were having competing against placebos in drug trials. It's a must read. A notable part of the piece:

"...From 2001 to 2006, the percentage of new products cut from development after Phase II clinical trials, when drugs are first tested against placebo, rose by 20 percent. The failure rate in more extensive Phase III trials increased by 11 percent, mainly due to surprisingly poor showings against placebo. Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007—the fewest since 1983—and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills."

That there's a placebo effect at all is testimony to the power of the human mind. Think about it, a human being consumes a sugar pill they BELIEVE will have a curative effect, and, according to the Wired article, does so more often than the drug designed to do the same. And that the placebo has gained in strength over the past five years should inspire public health officials to celebrate the miraculous power of the human mind to heal one's self. But, as the article explains, drug companies, together with a special task force of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, have joined forces to, well, kill the damned placebo effect, for all intents and purposes. More evidence that only with a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system can we utilize and trust science for the public good.

I don't know the circumstances that led Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz to take the drastic measures that she did, beyond what she's said, and has been reported in the press. Perhaps her cancer was determined to be so fast in growth, that, short of a double mastectomy, she would die. That said, the recommendations that women rethink breast screenings and habitually massaging their breasts to hunt for something that, in most cases, will never be there, can only serve to empower women to take more control over their well-being, and free them from focusing on what they want to prevent. Remember, thought becomes matter. Mom said so.

Craig Gordon

Let's all get up and dance to a song
That was a hit before your mother was born.
Though she was born a long, long time ago
Your mother should know
Your mother should know
Sing it again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Interlude

Happy Birthday! I have made it to 48 years old! If, at 20 years of age, I thought I would be around this long...blah...blah...blah. And, what a strange and wild ride it has been! I am such a different person at 48 than I was at 20, and glad for that fact. In retrospect, I did not much like who I was at 20.

That person was insecure; and hence cared deeply about how others perceived her. She was deeply passionate; but did not know how to channel it - at least in a way that would not inflict self-harm. That person was independent; but did not know how to stand up for herself. That person cared deeply for the general "health" of the community at-large; but had not developed any skills to contribute toward that "health." That person was driven and dictated by her emotions; often times too willing to sacrifice who she might be to make someone else happy. Twenty-year old me was unsure of the potential and power that she held within - the power of defining herself.

In knowing all that, I find curious the realization I had this morning: I am ready to be done with feeling responsible for the feelings of others.

When I started on this journey back in July, I posed the question, in an August 19 post: what would be the "bigger challenge" for me now that I had been slapped with a cancer diagnosis? At that time I thought it was "allowing others to care for me." So far, I was wrong. It has not been that all. Don't get me wrong, THAT part has not been easy! But, it has not been the greatest challenge. The greatest challenge has been: not being overwhelmed by the strange responsibility for how people handle my diagnosis!

Some, but by no means all, seem to need me to reassure them that I am okay -- and quite often!? They need me to be "normal" while at the same time, change my daily patterns and be more accessible (so that I can assure them that I am okay???) For some reason I believe some have forgotten that having cancer has not given me a "get out jail free card" from the daily tasks and responsibilities of life (work, kids, work, husband, work, home, work, philanthropy, work...) And when I can't (i.e. change my schedule and accessibility) some are actually put out with me.

Is it inconsiderate of me not to be accessible to rehash my state of health and reassure them that I am o.k.? Today I do not think so.

I am very sure that it is not a conscious endeavor on some's part. But it is curious to me.

Since my diagnosis the greater challenge has been to divest myself from feeling responsible for making others feel comfortable with my having cancer. It is a big enough job doing that for myself!

And, today, I realized that I think I can do just that. Why? Because I am not 20 years old anymore! Yippeeeeeee!

Happy Birthday to middle-aged me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Living Will


Tonight, my friend and I were sitting in the living room and I shared with her: "I never want to live in a vegetative state...dependent on some machine & fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug!"

She got up. Unplugged my computer.
And threw out my wine!

She is such a bitch ...!

Friday, October 16, 2009

PSA - Eli Lilly is Scrambling


Dear Tamera,

Last week I invited you to send your personal note to Eli Lilly thanking them for the cancer they are creating with rBGH.

Many people did just that, and it's having a huge impact. In response to our efforts, Eli Lilly's even begun covering its tracks, recently putting out an "independent panelist report" purporting the "safety" of rBGH - we have to keep the pressure on!

If it got by you last week, it's not too late now to get a card sent in your name to Eli Lilly. Just $10 bucks to BCA, and we'll send that card in your name.

If you sent a postcard to Eli Lilly last week, great and thank you. Click here to ask your friends and family to join you in sending a card to Eli Lilly.

Not only do we have a shot at stopping Eli Lilly from milking cancer… but your dollars will be used to keep us bad girls of breast cancer working hard. With an outfit like ours, every single dollar counts.

All the best, and thanks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little Further Down the Rabbit Hole (or am I now tripping down the Yellow Brick Road???): PART I


After my last free fall with the radiation onc (refer back to September 24, 2009) I decided to follow her advice. I went forward in pursuit of the 3rd and 4th consults. Heck, why not? I think I am turning into a med-pro junkie. My tete-a-tetes with the med pros have opened my eyes in so many ways that I just can't get enough of them. I just need to know what they will say and do (or not do) next.

So off I went.

The first adventure began with trying to get the appointment with the first recommended 3rd medical onc. Radio onc encouraged me to meet with the famous Dr. Jeffrey Isaacs, because "he has a brilliant mind." I recalled the name - he had been referred to me by a medical malpractice attorney friend. I had actually called his office during my initial investigations, and was told that he would not see new patients prior to surgery. Consequently, I had drawn a line through his name back in July.

Radio onc warned me about Isaacs' front office staff's personality deficits. (Yes, I begin recalling a prior surly encounter.) She advised me to "smile and nod" because meeting with him was so worth the frustration..."He's got a brilliant mind for tough cases!" And she assured me that her personal nurse would help get me an appointment. Yeah right! I don't think I had ever seen a 50-something, salt n' peppered lady roll her eyes until then.

To that "instruction" radio onc's personal nurse sighed heavily and said, "you call first and see what you can do, if you can't get an appointment let me know." Thanks personal nurse, Beverly.

But, I was intrigued (not by the eye-rolling, mind you). So I called Dr. Isaacs office, again. . . .


"Have you consulted with, been seen by, or started treatment with any other oncologist?"

Umm, I tried to consult with Dr. Isaacs previously, but I could not get an appointment pre-surgery.
"Have you consulted with, been seen by, or started treatment with any other oncologist?"

Umm, I have been meeting with another oncologist, but I am not pursuing treatment with him. My radiation onc...[insert name]...highly encouraged me to discuss my case with Dr. Isaacs.

"Dr. Isaacs will not meet with anyone who has consulted with or has been seen by any other oncologist."

But, radio onc is the one who referred me to Dr. Isaacs. You see, I have this high-risk complex situation.

"Honey (oh you so did not just say that?), you and everyone else. Dr. Issacs is a very busy and sought after specialist. He only sees new patients that have not consulted with, been seen by or started treatment with any other oncologist. He is selective." (Who anointed this guy the "Great Oz"?)

Oh, then why would radio onc insist I meet with him?

HUGE SIGH...SILENCE..."Ask radio onc to fax over your file. Dr. Isaacs will review it and will determine whether or not he will meet with you."

TIGHTLY GRIPPING THE COFFEE COUNTER...Thank you, may I have the fax number?

"Radio onc's office will have it. The records must come from her office. Someone will call you in a couple of days with Dr. Isaac's decision." ~CLICK~

Beverly? T.C., I just had an interesting conversation with Dr. Isaac's office...blah...blah...blah

"So, you are asking me to fax over your records?"

At the least. Do you think you can call, as radio onc offered previously? See if you have better luck?

"They asked that the records be faxed?"

"So you are asking me to fax the records over?"

Umm, yes, but would you also call?

"They asked for the records, I can fax the records if that is what you are asking of me."

MY KNUCKLES HAVE LOST ALL BLOOD FLOW AT THIS POINT.... If that is all you will do to assist me, then yes, Beverly, do fax the records.

"I will fax them shortly." ~CLICK~

If I had not been in a public coffee house I think I would have had my second cry since this odyssey began.

Dr. Isaacs' office did call -- four hours later. The Great Oz deigned to offer me an audience. Yipee Skipee!

"Make sure you bring a CD of your PetScan. He will look at films too, but prefers a CD."

Of course he does . . .

. . . .to be continued

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

PSA - Send a "Thank You for the Cancer" Card to Eli Lilly

****** Eli Lilly is making money by increasing our risk of breast cancer, and then treating us once we develop the disease. It's unbelievable, unconscionable, and outrageous - and we're calling them out.

Here's how: We're sending them a thank you card.

What? No, we're not crazy! We need to get their attention and keep it, and the only way to do it is to be as outrageous as they are. So, we're sending them as many "Thanks for the cancer" cards as we possibly can. Will you send one too? It looks like this:

All you need to do to participate is make a $10 donation to Breast Cancer Action, and we'll send a card in your name to the pharmaceutical giant thanking them for the cancer they're causing with rBGH. You'll be letting Eli Lilly know not only that you're onto them - but that, by supporting us, you're fighting them too.

And that $10? Trust me. It goes a long way around here. Unlike most breast cancer organizations, we don't take money from the pharmaceutical industry, so we can use all the support we can get. Thank you!


P.S. Learn more about the Milking Cancer campaign!

Breast Cancer Action | 55 New Montgomery St. #323 | San Francisco, CA 94105
Toll-free at 877-2STOPBC (278-6722) | |

Sunday, October 4, 2009


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink Ribbons are flying!

What does that really mean ... AWARENESS???????

Before I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, I was aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. I knew it was a disease that struck mostly post menopausal women. I was aware that women who have family histories; who smoked; who took oral contraceptives for prolonged periods of time were more likely to be stricken with breast cancer. I was aware of mammograms and lumps and lumpectomies and mastectomies. I was aware of the existence of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

I was aware of our local news station and its "Buddy Check 12" campaign. I was aware of the Pink Ribbon campaigns. I was aware that every October there was a hub-bub about the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. I was so aware that for the last 15 years I ran the Race for the Cure; ironically shaving off up to 8 minutes in my pace time each year. (As it turns out, I guess I wasn't running fast enough!!!!)

It wasn't until I was blind-sided with a diagnosis of breast cancer this summer that I became aware of the breadth of my ignorance. There was, and still is, so much that I did not know about the disease and its treatment. And, none of the information I received over the last 15 years of my "pink" involvement ever even hinted at the depths of my naivete.

For example . . .

I did not know there were myriad of causes of breast cancer - the majority being environmental
I did not know that women without genetic predispositions could get breast cancer
I did not know that women who did not live a high-risk lifestyle could develop breast cancer
I did not know that there were subsets to breast cancer (ductal, lobular, inflammatory and Paget's Disease)
I did not know that as a pre-menopausal woman in good health I could develop breast cancer
I did not know about sentinel node biopsies
I did not know about drainage tubes ("d-bombs")
I did not know about tram flaps; or that as a 100+/- lb person I am not a candidate for one (And thank the Creator for that one - not a procedure I would have wanted!)
I did not know about the long term effects of chemotherapy
I did not know about Adriamycin (aka "Red Devil")
I did not know about Tamoxifen (or that outside of the U.S. it is listed as a cancer-causing carcinogen)
I did not know about Herceptin and Aromatase
I did not know that the medical community treated pre-menopausal women differently than post menopausal women
I did not know about Oncotype DX and MammaPrint tests for chemo efficacy
I did not know about how a cancer is "staged"
I did not know that mammograms are not a reliable or effective way to early-detect Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
I did not know that a Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributing cause in the development of breast cancer
I did not know how key Vitamin C is in preventing the occurrence and recurrence of breast cancer
I did not know that a build up estrogen in the body is toxic.
I did not know that the only way the body effectively disposes of unneeded estrogen is through daily waste elimination
I did not know about E-cadherin and protein tests and saliva tests and hormonal balancing
I did not know about the vast discrepancies in how breast cancer is approached and treated in the U.S. as compared to Europe - and that stateside we are not on the higher road

and so it goes on, and on, and on . . . . AND

I did not know what an insidious and pervasive industry that breast cancer has generated in the U.S.

I did not know that the med-pros really do not have a "CURE" for breast cancer, but rather a "PROTOCOL" - that they are vociferous in the application of their established protocol; that the protocol has not changed much in 50 years; and that despite the protocol women are still dying - at times as a result of the protocol.

I did not know that even though 100s of millions are raised for research, awareness, marketing and merchandising that we are still no closer to a cure.

I did not know that some of the pharmaceutical companies that produce & distribute cancer treatment drugs consciously include cancer-causing carcinogens in the household products and foods we consume.

I did not know that I would need to become my own "lay expert" in order to earn a voice in the discussion regarding my own health and treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, I am a little more aware this October of 2009 than I have been in all my previous years. I am also excruciatingly aware that my new found knowledge and the continuing pursuit of knowledge has nothing to do with the flying of little Pink Ribbons!