Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eating Praying and Loving

Last night as I walked outside and the warm night folded around my body I realized the summer is really back now.  We've had such a nice long winter and cool spring; every time the Shamals blew their dusty reminders of the coming summer over our desert we cringed and hoped that we'll have a few more weeks or a few more days before summer returns with it furnace breath, sweltering humidity and bleak skies.  But it’s here, it returned, and so did Tinus’ cancer.
Cancer is classified into stages and what Tinus has is considered stage IV (four) cancer.  This means the cancer has spread (metastasis) and has reached “distant organs.”  If you are not one of my Facebook friends or missed a post somewhere you may not know; about a year ago Tinus finished a second series of chemotherapy treatments.  His scan immediately after the treatment showed that most of the tumours (at that time he had a tumours in his lungs, lymph nodes and bone) have shrunk.  The oncologist wanted him to continue with chemotherapy.  “Until when?” was Tinus’ question to him.  “Indefinitely, until it stops working,” was the reply.  “And then?” Tinus asked.  “Well, then we increase the dose,” the good doctor said.

Quick insert here:Please please understand that I am writing here from Tinus' perspective - if you or your loved one opted for chemo it is great, I hope it worked.  Every cancer cure is a miracle, like an aeroplane flying (as Tinus puts is) the fact that thousands of aeroplanes fly each day, doesn't make it less of a miracle.  There are over a hundred different kinds of cancer and around seven billion different bodies.  This is just about him.

At that point Tinus decided to stop with chemotherapy.  We adapted our eating habits in such a way that we eat good food that is mostly alkalising. After three months, when Tinus made an appointment with the doctor for his next scan, the doctor initially refused to see him, saying he refused treatment.  Tinus pointed out to him that he refused one kind of treatment.  He had the scan and the doctor was very impressed; all the tumours were mostly gone.  Over December we let the good habits slip, and Tinus developed a cough and eventually lost his voice.   The Ear Nose and Throat specialist told him that it is nothing to worry about; a possible result of one of the surgeries.    Fortunately Tinus decided to go see a homoeopath and he strongly advised Tinus to consult his oncologist again, and that’s when we got the bad news:  Recurring cancer in his lung, lymph nodes and a 4cm tumour in his liver.  The oncologist again told Tinus he wants him to have chemotherapy.  I have mentioned in a previous blog how the doctors won’t commit themselves; well Tinus asked him straight up:  “Will chemotherapy cure the cancer?”  And the doctor said no.
Tinus has had an amazing amount of support, he has been “relieved from the responsibility to report to work” in order to fight this time, but his boss urged him to consider seeing the “good” doctors.  There are so many wonderful well-meaning friends, friends of friends, colleagues and relatives who have voiced their discomfort or unhappiness with Tinus’ decision not to undergo more chemotherapy.  And that is the main reason for me writing this blog.  When we are passionate about something, we sometimes come across as irrational.  So I am going to try and rationally explain Tinus’ reasons for choosing not to undergo more chemotherapy.
This choice of his lies in the realm of home-schooling your children or leaving the country of your birth:  If you've ever done or considered doing any of these you will know almost every single person who criticizes or give well-meaning advice has never actually done what you chose to do and therefore really know nothing about it.  What you do they find strange, it may scare them because you are doing something they can’t:  with your action, you take responsibility or control.  Someone else is not responsible for your well-being any more, you are. 
I pray that you don’t know anything about cancer and chemotherapy, because really, the only reason why you’d know about this (unless you’re an oncologist) is because it affected either you or someone you love or care for.
Firstly; what is chemotherapeutic medicines actually? 
Did you know that chemotherapy agents (I am not going to call it medicine any more) is a derivative of mustard gas?  “The nitrogen mustards are cytotoxic chemotherapy agents similar to mustard gas. Although their common use is medicinal, in principle these compounds can also be deployed as chemical warfare agents. Nitrogen mustards are non-specific DNA alkylating agents. As with all types of mustard gas, nitrogen mustards are powerful and persistent blister agents and the main examples (HN1, HN2, HN3) are therefore classified as Schedule 1 substances within the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The original nitrogen mustard drug, mustine (HN2), is no longer commonly in use for reasons unknown. Other nitrogen mustards developed as treatments include cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, uramustine, ifosfamide, melphalan, and bendamustine. Bendamustine has recently reemerged as a viable chemotheraputic treatment.”  Quoted from Wikipedia
Google Nitrogen Mustard – see for yourself.
How is it administered?
When medical personnel handle the chemotherapy chemicals they are wearing full-body chem suits.  It is really disconcerting to think that the medical personnel protect themselves with these chemical suits - have you seen it?  It has the thickness and feel of thick rubber gloves, and then the patient must mainline those poisons …oops losing the rational attitude there.    Tinus has a ‘port’ which is a subcutaneous (under his skin) catheter connected to a port which was surgically inserted (tunnelled) under the skin of his chest.  When he gets chemo, a special needle is inserted through his skin into the rubber seal which gives direct access, or is actually in, a vein.
Why do the medical personnel wear these protective suits?  Danish epidemiologists used cancer-registry data from the 1940s to the late 1980s to report a significantly increased risk of leukaemia among oncology nurses and, later, physicians. Another Danish study of more than 92,000 nurses found an elevated risk for breast, thyroid, nervous-system and brain cancers.  The Seattle Times ran an article that told the story of a pharmacist who died of cancer she believed was caused by her merely handling chemotherapy chemicals:
“Lifesaving drugs may be killing health workers:  Nurses, pharmacists and others who handle chemo drugs have been getting sick. Despite multiple studies that indicate the drugs actually may cause cancers, the federal government doesn't require safeguards on the job.”
Read the article here:
Another article read:  “A study conducted over ten years from the U.S. Centre for Disease Control confirmed that chemotherapy drugs continues to contaminate the work spaces where it's used and in some cases is still being found in the urine of those who handle it..."
If these drugs are so dangerous to the medical personnel, how can they be considered "safe enough" to inject into patients who have cancer?  Are you thinking it is because of ‘continuous exposure’?  There are reported cases of medical personnel spilling these drugs on themselves once – a single exposure – and becoming seriously ill.  But let us assume it is a question of continuous exposure – remember the good doctor wanted Tinus to have chemotherapy – indefinitely.  I think that can count as more of less ‘continuous’ don’t you think?
Right, so how do chemotherapy chemicals work? 
This is copied from the Cancer Research UK website in order to maintain the rationality aspect:
“Chemotherapy damages the genes inside the nucleus of cells. Some drugs damage cells at the point of splitting. Some damage the cells while they are making copies of all their genes before they split. Cells that are at rest, for instance most normal cells, are much less likely to be damaged by chemotherapy.  The fact that chemotherapy drugs kill dividing cells helps to explain why chemotherapy causes side effects. It affects healthy body tissues where the cells are constantly growing and dividing. The skin, bone marrow, hair follicles and lining of the digestive system are examples of cells that are constantly growing and dividing. Because these tissues have dividing cells they can be damaged by chemotherapy.”
Six months after his last chemotherapy Tinus has still not recovered from some of the side effects of the chemotherapy that he has undergone.  Chemotherapy attacks rapidly reproducing cells, which includes some types of cancer cells, but it also attacks your white blood cells, a major player in your immune system. Your immune system is what keeps you alive.
“The majority of the cancer patients in this country die because of chemotherapy, which does not cure breast, colon or lung cancer. This has been documented for over a decade and nevertheless doctors still utilize chemotherapy to fight these tumors.” (Allen Levin, MD, UCSF, “The Healing of Cancer”, Marcus Books, 1990).
Now, you have chemotherapy but it doesn’t kill all the cancer cells.  It is a real possibility – also something the oncologist will tell you if you ask him.  How will your body defend itself without an immune system?  You have very little defences left to prevent any remaining cancer cells from reproducing.  If you still have cancerous cells in your body, they will take over like wild fire.  I’ve seen it happen, and if you know Tinus, you have too.
How well does chemotherapy work?
The Cancer Research UK website says:
The chance of the chemotherapy curing your cancer depends on the type of cancer you have
·         With some types of cancer most people are cured by chemotherapy
·         With other types of cancer fewer people are completely cured
 With some cancers, chemotherapy can't cure the cancer on its own. But it can help in combination with other types of treatment. For example, many people with breast or bowel cancer have chemotherapy after surgery to help lower the risk of the cancer coming back.
 With some cancers, if a cure is unlikely, your doctor may still suggest chemotherapy to
·         Shrink the cancer
·         Relieve your symptoms
·         Give you a longer life by controlling the cancer or putting it into remission

I think if we look at Tinus’ history so far and what the doctor said, we can infer that he possibly fall in the latter category.  And although he understands that the doctor has the best intentions to try to help him, Tinus is no longer willing to risk the destructive side effects associated with chemo. 
Does this mean he is not fighting back?  He is fighting, trust me, he is fighting.  But how?
In June last year CNN ran a story under the headline:  
“No more chemo: Docs say it's not so far-fetched.” 
Another article the year before that in Time Magazine read:  
“On the Horizon at Last, Cancer Drugs that Harness the Body’s Own Immune System.  Researchers have long hoped to corral the immune system in the war on cancer. Now, antibody-based compounds show new promise. “
Tinus has opted for what is generally known as “alternative therapies.”  Naturopaths believe that cancer is not an illness but the symptoms of an illness.  Causes of illness are toxins in the body, lack of oxygen and a weak or deficient immune system.  As you read this you may think quackery or whatever, but it dawned on me at some point, if chemotherapy has to be judged under the same criteria as the thing people normally have against alternative therapies the picture is pretty much the same:  Does it always cure cancer?  No. 
Tinus is currently undergoing an intense body detox by managing what we eat in conjunction with the Three Wells Therapy.  Three Wells produces food supplements. The special composition of the nutritional supplements was designed by Rob Nijsen, father of a child with autism. The nutritional supplement must be administrated in a specific order (in accordance with a protocol), step by step. The goal of the treatment is to support the immune system. This method is not scientifically proven.  Read more about this here:More about Three Wells
In order to help increase the oxygen levels in his body he is undergoing ozone therapy twice a week.  The idea exists that cancer cells thrive in low-oxygen environments.  It is believed that adding oxygen to the body creates an oxygen-rich condition in which cancer cells cannot survive. Supporters of this type of treatment claim that it increases the efficiency of all cells in the body and increases energy, promotes the production of antioxidants, and enhances the immune system.  Ozone is forced into a pint of blood that has been drawn from him using special equipment. The blood is then returned to his body. The use of ozone in small amounts under controlled conditions for treating limited parts of the body has shown some success in mainstream medical research studies.
The third therapy he is undergoing is Quantum Biofeedback resonance.  This therapy was once accredited by the FDA but the accreditation has since been revoked.  Sale of some of the specific machines used for this therapy had been banned in the USA, Canada, Europe and even South Africa.  In amongst all the media hype surrounding the inventor (heavily criticised for being a transvestite) I could find very little about the actual technical workings of these machines themselves. Quite often people add the word quantum to something they can’t quite explain but here is a short explanation by a practitioner:
“It scans the patient's body like a virus-scan on a computer, looking for everything from viruses, deficiencies, weaknesses, allergies, abnormalities and food sensitivities. It reports on the biological reactivity and resonance in your body and indicates needs, dysfunctions and vulnerabilities. The information provided is fundamentally different from X-rays, blood tests, etc.., as it tells us about the energetic state of your body and the direction in which the body is focusing its energy.”
Something I know is that one doesn't have to believe in something for it to work or to be true.  SO this is the way Tinus is fighting cancer.  What I have written about here is not all, there are numerous other things; we've discovered that most of the local bottled water has a ph of lower than 7, so we drink only a specific type of bottled water and he bought a water alkalising unit.  He drinks spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar at mealtimes and we use sacred frankincense oil (this I believe in) he meditates and read inspiring cure yourself type books.  No meat, no milk products no gluten and more and more and more…
 You must be weary of reading now – I am weary of writing.  Does this sound like the desperate measures of a desperate man?  It is.  He is scared and so am I, we all are.  My two wonderful children are so brave.  We try to make future plans but it feels forced, like laughing at a non-funny joke.  We try to do other things but it’s always there.  So we eat, we pray and we love as that amazing book says:
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love