I know it’s been a while since my last update. When I last posted, I was getting ready to go back into hospital to take down my ostomy, i.e., to reconnect my colon. Since January, I’ve recovered from emergency surgery to remove a tumor blocking my colon, and then treated myself for stage 4 colon cancer. The treatment was going so sell that my oncologist suggested I just keep doing it for a while and go in for the second surgery.This from a man dedicated mostly to the use of Chemotherapy. May 9th, I went in for surgery 4 months to the day since my 1st surgery! Now that’s some progress! I checked in at 197 pounds. I was in such good shape that I had played racquetball twice in the previous week. I remember that week. I was properly dreading going in for roughly the same surgery with a similar recovery period of 4-6 weeks. I just HAD to get on the court and FEEL ALIVE! I thank my friend Lee for indulging me with some friendly competition. On May 9th, at 9 am, Nanette and I went to the hospital and check in for my 11 am surgery. It was pretty uneventful. They were expecting me. I got my ID wristband, got out of my clothes and into a hospital gown. Then up on the bed to start the IV and get me comfortable. The anesthesiologist came to visit me and offered me an epidural which I declined. I didn’t think it was smart for have people messing around with needles too close to my spinal nerves. Better safe than sorry.
Surgery, Recovery and Pain
There is a strange thing that happens when you go in for surgery. There’s the before surgery time, the surgery, and there’s recovery. It’s like you close your eyes one moment, and then almost immediately open them in recovery. There’s no sense of any time passing. For me, one moment I was very happy and comfortable. Then I was given a little something in my IV to “relax” me, and the next minute I was in absolutely excruciating agony unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. Don’t think for a minute that I’m being dramatic. I actually can’t think of words that adequately describe the despair I felt amid this agony. It was just awful. No wonder they wanted to give me an epidural block! For the rest of that day following the surgery, I just endured the pain between doses of pain killer every 8 minutes. It got so that Nanette set a timer on her phone to remind me to press the red “pain” button every 8 minutes. I did this because god forbid I went some time without pressing it, like if I dozed off. After waking up, the pain comes roaring back and I’d have to play catch up to get the pain killer level back up. It takes 3-4 presses over a half our before I would get relief because of that 8 minute between pushes limit. This went on for 4 miserable days. During this time, they got me up to walk (more like an ambling shuffle) holding on for dear life to my rolling IV bottle holder. I seemed to be slowly getting better during this time. On the 5th day, I got up for my walk and didn’t make it 75 feet from my bed. I could barely stand up. Something was wrong. Turns out that I had an infection rapidly developing under my abdominal my wounds. My surgeon came in for a look. He had to pop open some staples and literally open the incisions to allow the infection to drain. For the next 5 days I drained and received IV antibiotics to help clear it up. I didn’t get out of bed for a couple days, though, because the infection knocked me out pretty badly. By the 8th day, the infection started to get under control and I started walking around again. Things were looking well enough to send me home by the 10th day.
Pay it Forward
Before I left though, I asked to see the ostomy nurse that was so very helpful to me in January when I first got my ostomy. She showed me how to use the colostomy bags and gave me the confidence I needed to go home and do this for myself. She also gave me a bunch of supplies to get started which turned out to be over 2 months of supplies. I had no idea how generous this was of her, though, until I went to order supplies. I needed to return this favor. I found out how generous she had been to men when I ordered 3 months of ostomy supplies in April right before finding out that I was to go back and have the ostomy taken down (reconnected). I had a big box of stuff for her that cost about a thousand dollars. It was already purchased and paid for before I knew I was not going to need most of it! I told you she was generous to me. Got to pay it forward!
When I got home, my mom came to visit during the first week. This is a week when it hurts to do pretty much anything. I was so doped up, though that I’m afraid I was not much of a conversationalist. Mom was great, though, and just kept me company which was about all I was up for. This was also much different than my first hospital visit in January. In January, I was given dire news and everyone was upset. Mom was extremely troubled back then. But after 4 months of healing to the point of being told to return to the hospital and take down the ostomy because I was so strong, it was cause for celebration rather than concern. Mom was as relieved as I was. And let me tell you something, never underestimate the value of a properly working pooper! The second week, Nanette was home for 10 days. Nanette took really great care of me and I cannot thank or love her enough for doing so. She was as patient and loving as could be. I really don’t know how I could go through this without her. After that, It was just me and I pretty much focused on relaxing and healing. Somewhere during this time, around the beginning of June, I got off any medications or pain killers and my head started clearing up. It also took about as long for my intestinal tract to get back in shape, due to all the antibiotics, so I could get back on my mostly raw veggie diet. It’s hard to digest raw food without the proper intestinal bacteria to do the work!
Today was an eventful day
During this entire recovery period, I have required daily home nursing visits to tend to the two holes I had in my abdomen up until today! One has just closed up as of today on the main incision. The other is the hole from the ostomy which was as big and deep as your index finger! To be expected, I suppose, considering that this was the hole through which they put my descending colon. Combined with all the nasty intestinal bacteria it was exposed to, this hole’s been tougher to heal. Every day they came and cleaned and packed the holes so they would heal from the inside out. Today was the first day that I was able to pack this wound myself with gauze. You have to do that with deep holes. You have to help them heal from the inside out. If you just sewed them closed, the hole would fill up with infection and you could become septic and die. This is what happened to King Henry VIII with his every rotting leg wound. None of that for me, thank you As of today, I can finally take care of this remaining much smaller and manageable hole myself. It’s about the size of a nickel and a centimeter deep, but it’s now healing rapidly. It will probably be gone within the next two to three weeks.
I’m so very thankful to the nurses that visited and cared for me over these past few weeks. There’s no way I could have done it myself. Also, thanks to all the folks at Wake Med in Cary. All the staff was so very genial, friendly and professional. I always felt like I was in good hands. Another thanks goes to the surgeon who saved my life in January, and gave me back a normal functioning colon in May, Dr. Michael Malik in Cary, NC. He’s really excellent in every way as a physician and healer. Thanks also to my oncologist for suggesting I get reconnected in the first place. He’s really been quite supportive of my “complimentary” therapy. He’s done a great job of monitoring my progress and advising me on how I’m doing and interpreting the numbers for me.
First, continue healing up the last of my ostomy wound. That should be done by the end of June. Exercise to get my abdomen back in healthy working order. Lots of walking to get back my my leg strength and endurance. Cancer therapy wise, I’m continuing with the modified Budwig protocol a la Bill Henderson. To that, I’m adding some pretty strong liver cleansing using coffee enemas. I know that may sound strange, but it’s a time tested treatment that used to be in the physicians treatment books until they took it out in the 70’s. (That’s another blog post) I made a deal with my oncologist that for the next six weeks, I will be doubling down on my therapy and focusing on my liver to reduce the tumors. After six weeks, we’ll do another MRI of the liver and see what we see. I also know that I need to start thinking about the future. That’s been difficult. I think that’s yet another blog post. I’ll end this update by saying thank you to you, my readers and loyal friends and family for all the unconditional love and support you’ve given me when I’ve needed it most. Nanette and I literally could not have made it without you. It’s my mission in life to somehow pay that forward in whatever way I can.
It’s been 3 months since my diagnosis.
My first reaction was, “damn, that sucks.” I had no context for any significant emotional reaction, at first.
I studied cancer for the next six weeks seeking a cure. Then I met with my oncologist, who gave me some emotional context in the form of his telling me, “if you do nothing, I’d give you 12 months to live – if you do Chemotherapy, I’ll give you 30 months.” How’s that for context? My oncologist said that part of his job is to instill a sense of urgency in me.
Mission accomplished! Now I was scared silly, filled with fear of cancer with his two choices and my own 6 weeks of study. Well, doors number 1 and 2 from my oncologist are completely unacceptable. But my own door number 3 was looking better and better. All the cures I’d been reading about had much better cure rates than my oncologist. So, door number 3 it was.
Having decided on my cancer cure, I began my treatment in earnest, following Bill Henderson’s modified Budwig protocol. I’ve been doing that for a couple of months now with high hopes for a good outcome.
Last Thursday, I went for my second MRI, but I still have to wait until Monday to get the results – to see if my Liver is much improved.
Do you remember the Heinz Catsup commercial, “Anticipation… is keeping me waiting….” Well, I didn’t realize how much I’d been bottling up while I “cheerfully” went about making my shakes in the morning and eating well during the day and exercising. Deep down, I’ve been harboring this nagging fear, “what if it does not work?” I didn’t realize, though, just how this anticipation and trepidation were feeling inside of me until I made a simple phone call.
On Friday, the day after my MRI, I called my friend Bill Sarine. Bill is one of my favorite people, a mentor and a good friend. Bill did not know about my cancer diagnosis before the call. So, I called him to tell him about it. Before I got to tell him, though, he got to telling me a story.
First you need to know that Bill is a great story teller. He’s lived a life so rich in experience that his stories echo with sage wisdom.
He told me a story about a man named Pedro that he helped find a job many years ago. At one point in the story, Bill told the man that his time was his own and he should not waste a moment of it.
Since a cancer diagnosis typically includes a significant lifespan reduction, Bill’s story took me right over my emotional edge. I found myself crying on the phone with Bill asking me what was wrong?
What was wrong was that I’ve been on the razor’s edge teetering between courage and fear – and I just had not been fully conscious of the extent of my true feelings of fear.
On the one hand, I made a choice to follow a non-traditional course of treatment. I had to trust myself and the treatment. I had to have faith and believe that a good outcome was not only possible, but inevitable.
On the other hand was the fear and uncertainty that was there all the time since the diagnosis. I had been trusting and believing in my chosen path, all the while sitting on a nagging fear that it might not work.
Make no mistake, I do feel that I’m on the right path. I do feel better. I’ve had an MRI to verify that my treatment is actually working and healing my liver – and I won’t find out the results until Monday, a wait of 4 days, or, more precisely, 8 weeks and 4 days!
For 8 weeks, in cooperation with my oncologist, I’ve been running my own little clinical trial of one. This MRI will prove that I’m not crazy. It will prove that I may have been inspired.
All the while, I face every day with my courage battling to win over my fear. No matter the way I feel, the evidence of healing, my outward demeanor, my telling people that I’m healing myself and feeling fine, there’s an underlying primal fear of dying that can not be ignored.
My surprising awakening came right in the middle of my friend Bill’s wonderful story about Pedro. I am so thankful for that. Serendipity comes to us in many ways. Sometimes it’s just a phone call away. Thank you Bill!
After Bill’s call, I realized that fear of cancer does not have to rule me. Having a little fear does not mean I will fail to heal myself. It’s human to have concerns. But we deal with them. Every business person understands Risk – calculated risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have to venture a probable cure against a certain death.
By the way, Bill is allowing me to reprint his very moving story on this blog for your enjoyment. That’s why I’ve not told you much of the story here. I want you to hear it from Bill in his own words.
I’ll end with the promise to let you know as soon as I get my results on Monday. I’ll also be posting Bill’s story next week and will let you know when it’s available for you to enjoy.
Just remember, when you are afraid, it’s not real, even though it sure feels that way. Go ahead and look your fears right in the eye and acknowledge them. Then, ask them to step aside so you can move on and do what you have to do.
After that, it’s up to you. Set your goals and make one better choice at a time, every day.
Until next time ~ Robert
Last weeks post mentioned the 5 Keys to a Healthy, Cancer-Killing Immune system. This week, we’ll expand on each of the 5 keys. If you followed last weeks post, you know that you must choose to live, choose to change your lifestyle, and learn what that means in terms of the specifics. I.e., you need to know what to eat and what to not eat, for example.
1 Eat Organic, Natural Vegetarian Food
Before I even knew anything else, I knew that a vegetarian diet was best for us. Funny how I knew that, but didn’t act on it until I was diagnosed with cancer? It is said that most people only really change when they are too afraid not to.
People only really Change when they are too afraid not to.
Guilty as charged. Immediately after surgery, I started eating a vegetarian diet. I went vegan and cut out all meat and diary, and minimized all forms of sugar and glutenous flour. That means I eat mostly Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Legumes. You might think that’s boring. But there are some rather tasty spices that are also chock full of anti-cancer ingredients that makes it all taste great! Among the most important spices are Turmeric, Cumin, Oregano, and many others. Juicing of veggies is also a major part of most healthy diets. Alternative cancer treatments start with some form of vegetarian diet as a base and build on top of it. There is a wonderful website you can check to research this more called CancerTutor.com. Take a look and you’ll see just how essential it is to cut out the meat and diary.
Most important, avoid sugar – and the taste of sugar (sweet) – like the plague. Anything that metabolizes into
2 Alkalize your body
Most people eating a typically western diet suffer from acidosis. Acidosis is an acidic ph balance in the blood and throughout the body. It is widely recognized that disease and especially cancer likes to to live in an acidic body. The opposite is also true. Cancer can not live in an alkaline body. Take a look at the recently posted PH Food Chart and look at the right side columns to see what foods promote a healthy alkaline PH in your body. Acidic bodies are also lower in oxygen vs. Alkaline bodies which are higher in oxygen. Cancer cells are anaerobic and hate oxygen. This is why you don’t see “Heart Cancer” because the heart is the most oxygenated organ in the body getting oxygen directly from the lungs and then sending it to the rest of the body.
3 Lower your stress
Stress is more detrimental to your health than you think. Half of the US population suffers from stress related ailments. Psychological stress causes your body to generate chemicals that have adverse impact on your health overall. Cortisol is one of those chemicals that can cause all kinds of problems. Read about Cortisol it here.
Areas to look to reduce stress are:
- Your Environment. Look around you. Do you like your room? Is it a mess? How about your apartment or home? Is it conducive to relaxing and being safe and comfortable? Could you use aroma therapy like diffusing essential oils to help you relax?
- Your Job. Do you like your job? Is your job stressing you out? Can you get a job that you might enjoy more?
- Your Relationships. Surround yourself with people with positive attitudes. You don’t need to have people around you talking about negative or upsetting topics while you are recovering from cancer.
- The Nightly News. Do you really need to fill your mind with negative stories about the horrors of daily life? ‘nough said.
- Exercise. See below. Exercise is essential
- Spirituality. Whatever you believe, there are some essential concepts that you need to consider. Forgiveness is one. Grudges. Hating. Being Angry. Find a way to forgive and let it go. If you are holding onto a old offense or hurt, let it go. You don’t need it and it’s killing you, however slowly. If you pray, then speak to your God. If you don’t, then do what you need to do to find peace.
Overall, do whatever you can to reduce stress in every area of your life. Every little bit counts! Just do it.
4 Take Natural Supplements
Augment your immune system with the Immune System strengthening and supporting natural supplements that you need for your body. I know that there are literally thousands of supplements out there at the local vitamin shop or GNC store. But there are certain things that you simply must have and you may have to supplement to get it. For example, if you don’t get a lot of sun, you will need to take vitamin D. Many reportedly effective alternative cancer treatments make use of well chosen supplements to help you heal and boost your immune system.
Supplements simply can not be ignored in a cancer therapy. With Cancer, your immune system is compromised (or you would not have grown cancer). You need to mend your immune system as quickly as possible. You can only eat so much food at a time. No matter how good the food, you will need MORE nutrients than you can get from the food to initially stem the tide of cancer in your body.
I’m following the supplement regimen recommended by Bill Henderson in his book, Cancer-Free. All I can say is, it’s working for me. It’s cost effective and extremely potent.
That’s right, Exercise…and do it for the rest of your life! I read a great book called, “Younger Next Year,” by Chris Crowley. In Younger Next Year, the authors assert that you need to do something aerobic 4 times a week and strength training like [preferably] lift free weights twice a week – for the rest of your life.
That may sound brash, but it’s true. Remember the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” If you don’t exercise, you will soon BE an “old adage.” Seriously, though, cancer cells are “anaerobic.” That means a cancer cell’s metabolism does not require oxygen, nor do they like it. Cancer cells “eat” glucose. The more sugar you consume, the better your cancer cells like it. This is exactly why I suggested above that you avoid sugar and sweeteners like the plague, unless you want to feed your cancer.
What we are talking about is not just a few minor changes in your life, but a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. But it means you have a choice. You can choose to change your life and live happily for a long, long time, or do the standard chemo/radiation and be on the 2-5 year “cure” plan?
That is the question, as Hamlet put it so concisely. In my next article, I’ll expand on the 5 Keys to a Healthy, Cancer-Killing Immune System.
Again, I ask you, What are you going to do?
For all those that love you. For yourself. For all the people in your life whose lives you can be part of, I implore you to Choose Life! Carpe Diem. Seize the day.
It’s clear. You are the cure to your own cancer. It’s all you.
That may be scary. You might rather that there really was a magic pill. But there is not. You simply must choose to nurture and cure yourself.
This is what it really means to change your mindset and your lifestyle. As I said previously, I’m here to help you. I’ll publish as much as I can to help you find your own healing path. Living with cancer requires you start making better choices right now, and every now for the rest of your life.
Remember… To be or not to be. It’s your choice. Start by making one better choice for life, today!
UPDATE: March 27th 2014. I went to my oncologist this morning. I had blood work last week in preparation. All the standard blood work and a liver panel were done to ensure that my liver is functioning properly.
Six weeks ago, I had an MRI that showed a few presumably cancerous nodes in my liver. With my oncologists measuring and monitoring, I started my “oral therapy” a la Bill Henderson’s protocol based on Dr. Joanna Budwig’s approach. Basically, I have a shake in the morning with a lot of supplements and I follow a strict vegetarian diet (with lots more supplements). I have a big salad every day. I don’t eat meat or dairy. I must minimize my stress all around.
At first, I think my oncologist was a little skeptical. To be honest, even I had to admit my own trepidation at the start. My own mindset was slowly changing and I was working on convincing my own self that I could cure my own cancer.
Today, I went into the office and had my vitals taken. My blood pressure was slightly elevated and I felt a little anxious about getting the results of the blood tests.
I didn’t have to wait long. My doctor came in and we went over the results of my tests. To my great relief, he said that my blood test results said that my liver is “as healthy as a horse.” My numbers indicated above average liver performance all around.
What a huge relief!
In fact, the numbers were overall better than the same work done before I started my cancer treatment protocol. Clearly, what I’ve been doing has been working!
I was especially pleased when my doctor started talking about having me reconnect my ostomy. That’s a big sign that he’s not that worried any more about cancer spreading in my body. His entire demeanor was almost giddy compared to our first two appointments. I think he was as thrilled as I was with the results!
We ended our appointment on a very positive note and confirmed my appointment for my MRI to verify how the nodes in my liver are doing. I’m declaring they are shrinking or gone by then. Time will tell.
As I was going down the elevator, I had a rush of emotions. Relief, laughter, tears of happiness, joy and gratitude. I was crying for no reason with a big smile upon my face. If felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Funny thing is, that even after losing 35 pounds, I didn’t realize the psychological weight I’d been managing in my own head. I’d been shaping my own mindset, convincing myself that a cancer cure was possible. I’ve been keeping my stress down. But still, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Now I know I can cure my cancer.
Cancer is scary. It’s tough to deal with conceptually and with cancer treatment. The uncertainty. The time between blood test results. The anticipation of what the doctor is going to say. Wondering if my cancer treatment protocol was working.
Thankfully, I can wonder less now and have that much more confidence in my healing process. I’m not completely “cured” yet, but I know the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle are healing me now and will keep me healthy for the rest of my, hopefully, very long, healthy life.
Over the years, I’ve had several of those moments where I realized that I needed to buy the next larger waist size in pants, and the next larger jacket size. If that wasn’t insult enough, those damned dress shirts with a tie where strangling me!
Don’t you just hate that? I hate that. Why does this keep happening!
“It Won’t Kill You…Today” ~ Lizard
- I’ve always known that some things are better to eat than other things.
- I’ve always known that eating less is better than eating more.
- I’ve always known that exercising is required for good health.
So what happened?
When faced with making the healthiest possible choice for me vs. eating something a little tastier or having seconds or dessert, my Lizard Brain speaks up and tries to seduce my good senses.
But my good senses don’t give up without a fight. My good senses speak up and remind me of what I know to be good for me. But my Lizard Brain pipes up and says, “don’t worry, it won’t kill you…today. And you can make a better choice… tomorrow.”
I don’t know about you, but my Lizard Brain speaks with forked tongue. You see, Lizard Brain is slicker than snot on a glass door knob. Lizard wants to see the dessert tray. Lizard wants the creme sauce. Lizard wants to add bacon. Lizard wants the one pound super burger with extra blue cheese, double bacon and curly cheese fries. Lizard can wait until tomorrow to have a Salad.
And the irony is that my Lizard Brain always sounds so reasonable. Lizard is right, it won’t kill me today. Of course it won’t! Lizard is right!
Over time, I continued to listen to my ever-more-reasonable Lizard Brain, because…,well,… I kept not dying the next day!
Oh, Good, I’m Not Alone
I started to notice that other people appeared to be acquainted with their Lizard Brains, too. Of course, I was relieved to know that I was not the only one. Clearly, Lizard must know what he’s doing.
My Lizard Brain was telling me not to worry, it was just a belly ache from some bad buffet food…all the way into the Emergency Room. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that on January 10th, 2014, I had a cancerous tumor that was blocking my colon removed and then got a diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer.
My Lizard Brain was WRONG. On January 10th, I got the message, it WILL kill me…TODAY!
THAT was the wake up call. That smooth talking, sickly sweet, soothing, slithering Lizard Brain had me lulled into a sleepy stupor. But the pain that day woke me up with a shocking realization!
I COULD HAVE DIED, TODAY!
My Lizard Brain, that miserable, lying, slithering sycophant was trying to KILL ME! But I have to sadly admit, I was his willing fool for following his advice over and over, year after year.
Well, not any more.
Today, I can make a better choice. Just one better choice each time I sit down to eat. One better choice at a time.
It’s payback time, Lizard Brain. You’ve had your 15 minutes, now it’s my turn to be healthy and heal myself from the damage we did to our body. Enough of you, Lizard Brain, Be Gone!