Some Thoughts on Cancer Treatments

In regards to the idea of hyperimmunity, one of the concepts that come across in many people's minds about cancer is that the immune system needs boosting. Therefore, high doses of vitamins or herbs might be used unjudiciously. There is a lot of information out there supporting this idea, and mostly it's a lot of quackery.

I went with Helen, my now ex-housekeeper, to a local cancer support resource center the other day. She comes from an ethnic group that very much uses certain herbals and alternative practices. She's Navajo on one side and Filipino on the other. She is due to begin chemo for her stage 4 colon cancer next week. She's already had a foot and a half of colon removed, an ovary as well as some nodules in her liver. When she asked about supplementing her intake with a certain immune boosting herb common to her culture, the Nurse Practitioner gave a great answer.

"When you have a group of cancer cells clumped together, they need oxygen, so they start to grow blood vessels in order to get some. One of the things that immune boosters do is provide a way for our body to be at it's best, therefore it gives the opportunity for the cells to grow better, stronger blood vessels. Especially in the case of those recieving chemo or radiation, the treatment is to make it difficult for the cancer cells to grow and deprive them of oxygen and other nutrients. So supplementing is going to interfere with the treatment. After treatment is over with, then the immune system can be encouraged to bring the patient back to health."

By the same token, when we are dealing with Chondrosarcoma, I keep this in mind. Though chemo or radiation do not work, except in rare circumstances, surgery is absolutely necessary.

When we have been cut into and cut to the bone, our body is in major stress, and it is putting all it's energy into healing so it puts everything it can into the process (and this can take up to a year for bone to heal). If we are taking high doses of "super supplements" we are taking a chance of increasing the growth of possible cancer cells that might still be in the body.

I am not against complementary treatment. I've done a great deal of it myself over the decades. I've also done a lot of stupid stuff, simply because it was popular. Raw liver, apricot pits, seaweed and powdered chalk for example. They were once the rage. I've done a lot of weird stuff out of fear. (more on all that later). But finally, I learned to research and verify whether something was honestly useful. The best source of verification is in Pubmed, which is the National Library of Medicine the world's largest medical library. where all medical articles are kept.

One thing I feel strongly about, and quite frustrated too, is when someone who is diagnosed and then talks bad about the modern practice of medicine. I don't know if I will ever understand the dichotomy. How can one who is against medicine even get diagnosed without benefiting from all the science that allowed for diagnosis, (and treatment)? Any why are they going to doctors in the first place if they are against them?

One thing I've noticed about having Chondrosarcoma, is that it really makes me take a look at how I lived my life before Chondrosarcoma. Making changes in diet, sleep, exercise and so on seems to be a natural progression. Even those with a healthy lifestyle might need to step back and take another look at it.

Some folks think the more exercise you do, the more healthy you are. I don't think so! Sometimes we can overstress ourselves in the exercise category, for example, by pushing beyond what is healthy. Then we end up with inflammation of the muscles and joints. Inflammation will encourage chondrosarcoma to grow.

Getting enough sleep seems to be pretty much ignored even by those who give great advice and information on healthy living. So much research shows that people who get enough sleep are healthier. It gives the body a chance to heal itself. A healthy full night's sleep is difficult for me to maintain on a regular basis. Therefore, the fluctuations in my well being.

Art by Elizabeth Munroz

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