Hello, I am sorry I have not written in over a week. To be honest, I am on the feeling good week prior to chemo and wanted to spend time with family and my dog, rather than sitting in front of the computer. Although you know me, I can never stay idle, so even though I have been spending time with the family, I have also spent my time researching Cancer Treatments and feel like a chicken with my head cut off. The number of alternative treatments and opinions out there is just mind boggling. One needs a PhD in Quackology to figure out which ones are real and which are not.
There are clinics in Mexico, Germany, Hungary, USA, you name it. They range in cost from $15K plus the cost of accommodation in local hotels to $100K and up. They offer everything from chelation therapy to coffee enemas. Yes you read that correctly "coffee enemas"! Some reports say that chemo will kill you and to stay away from it and go on their program only. Some clinics advocate a combination of traditional (chemo, radiation and surgery) and alternative treatments. Some quote survival rates of 80% vs. 25-30% with traditional. With all this information out there it's no wonder patients struggle to figure out what to do. A lot of people will automatically accept their doctors recommendation for traditional treatment and never look further. For those who do decide to explore alternative methods, I can only hope you are educated, intelligent and have a strong sense of self, otherwise, you could be suckered into spending all kinds of money on a treatment plan that piques your interest and may not necessarily work for you.
One of the things I did like about most of the alternative treatment options is that they are individualized. With traditional treatment it is a one size fits all approach. They do not do any testing such as Oncotype DX (The Oncotype DX test is a genomic test that analyzes the activity of a group of genes that can affect how a cancer is likely to behave and respond to treatment), Biofocus (Biofocus is a test that offers a chemosensitivity test that allows you to know which chemotherapeutic agents will work most effectively against your particular cancer cells) or EVA-PCD (the Ex-Vivo Analysis—Programmed Cell Death (EVA-PCD) platform creates a functional profile of your cancer's sensitivity and resistance to various drugs and combinations. With this profile, your oncologist is equipped with the most accurate information to treat your cancer) test to see if the treatment they are recommending is the correct one for you. Cancer is a profitable business for hospitals, doctors and drug companies. The drug companies push the doctors to prescribe their drugs, the hospitals don't want additional tests that may mean additional costs, and the doctors are looking for the safest (for them) and easiest way to provide treatment. So hence, the blanket approach is used unless the patient doesn't do well, in which case the doctors will consider other "traditional, big pharma" treatments. Now I'm not saying these don't work, they just don't (according to statistics) seem to work very well. It is my belief that a combination of traditional and alternative is the way to go. Especially for me because the aggressive nature of my cancer does not afford me the time it may take for gentler more alternative treatments to work.
With this in mind, I have found an alternative treatment that makes sense to me, has a proven track record and is the least expensive of the possible effective options available. So, I am going to be asking for my Oncologists blessing to proceed with Intravenous Vitamin C treatment. If he approves it then, twice a week I will be receiving the treatment at a cost of $130-$150 per session for the first 6 months, then weekly for the following 6 months and monthly thereafter. It is a small price to pay if it can help heal the cancer and keep it away. The only concern I have going in to it is my veins. As it is, I am having surgery on August 7th to install a Port-a-Cath in my chest. This will help with the problem the nurses have in finding my veins and to stop my veins from getting damaged during chemo. With the IVC protocol, they don't do that, they have to find a vein every time, and for me that is a task and a half. Also, I am not sure I want to have this done here, so may have to drive to Kerrisdale twice a week to get it done. That would suck!
So you see.....I may have been recovering from my last chemo session, but I have also been learning and researching and trying to find a way to help myself get better. One other thing I did, that I am going to stop doing is to join a few Facebook pages for IBC Support. I'm not saying they are bad, but they aren't for me. I find it very depressing to get posts on a daily basis that so and so passed away last night, and so and so passed away yesterday and on and on. I already know the statistics on IBC are not great, however I believe that I have an advantage because I am young, fit, strong and have a positive, no lose attitude. Hearing all this sad news on a daily basis is not good for my psyche. So bye bye negative, hello positive. I have five days until my next chemo session and I'm going to spend them getting strong and preparing both mentally and physically for the onslaught. Tomorrow I am going to a healing session with horses - it should be interesting. I am also doing a presentation in my office about the insane costs of having cancer and the role Critical Illness Insurance has in providing peace of mind to the patient allowing them to focus on recovery, not money. If there is one lesson I have learned through all of this, that is it! I didn't ask to be a poster child for Critical Illness Insurance, but here I am!
Well, time for a dog walk and my gross "garden" drink and supplements.
Michelle (PS: Look who's BALD)
Sunday, 22 July 2012