Here are the highlights of what this week had to offer on the latest developments and news about cancer treatments.
TOP STORY OF THE WEEK
Pet dog saves owner’s life after sniffing out her breast cancer
My absolute top favourite of this week is a story of a woman whose dog sniffed out her breast tumour. I love it because in an age where cancer detection is carried out with high-tech devices like Pet scans and ultrasound, and costs a fortune, along comes Daisy the spaniel, who nose trumps technology. We’ve heard of CAT scans, now here comes a DOG scan! It’s not the first time a dog has detected cancer in its owner, of course. It just makes me wonder why there aren’t a trained posse of dogs in every hospital to help in early cancer detection.
2. School-age drinking increases risk of breast cancer
I can’t see this stopping teenage girls from drinking, can you? When you’re young, you think you’re invincible and believe that cancer is a disease of the old.
Updated 25 January 2014 with US FDA approval guidelines
Life at the clinic was on fast forward all the time.
Barely two days after my arrival at the clinic I was put on my first treatment, Removab, a tri-functional antibody.
Here’s my layman understanding of what it is all about:
Antibody (from wikipedia)
What is an antibody?
An antibody is a large Y-shaped protein. It is used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign organisms like bacteria and viruses.
An antibody recognises what organism to attach itself to and attack, by matching up to a specially-shaped receptor on the organism. This receptor is called an antigen.
An antigen is a molecule capable of stimulating an immune response, and is often produced by cancer cells or viruses.
Think of the tip of the Y of the antibody as a lock, and the antigen as the only key that fits that particular lock.
photo credit: thecolour.com, with edits
Herceptin is an example of a monoclonal antibody that targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein on the surface of tumour cells.
What is a tri-functional antibody?
Coriolus Versicolor or Turkey-tail mushroom (Yun zhi in Chinese)
Updated 21 December 2013
Coriolus Versicolor is also known as Turkey-tail mushroom, Tametes Versicolor, Yun Zhi (in Chinese), Karawaratake (in Japanese). Extracts of the mushroom are known as PSP (polysaccharide peptide) and PSK (polysaccharide K, or Krestin).
In the 1980s, the Japanese government approved the use of PSK for treating several types of cancer and PSK is a best-selling anti-cancer drug in Japan as a complement to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. PSP was discovered more recently in China.
As you can see from the photos below, the food at Hallwang was very good. Too good in fact.
Daily freshly-baked cakes (before the men got to it!)
There were three chefs working shifts who cooked haute cuisine-standard, three-course meals to order. Breakfast was anything you liked. There was even room service for those staying at the clinic and who didn’t want to eat in the restaurant. There was an open supply of biscuits and fruit for in-between meals.
Updated 5 January 2014 re. cancer fatigue
I’ve written two posts on the book “Cancer Etiquette” as guides to what to say or not to say if someone you know has cancer:
Book reviews – Cancer Etiquette Part 1
Books review – Cancer Etiquette Part 2 – what to say and not to say to someone who has cancer
The following article, from the Onion (a satirical site), is a gentle poke at what is usually an awkward subject, a kind of reverse cancer story from the point-of-view of the friend of the cancer patient. It takes all the standard cliches of a cancer patient’s journey and applies it to the supporting friend.
PICC line/central venous line (after removal) with two lumens
Because of a series of high dose IV C infusions, my veins were non-existent or brittle as they hadn’t been flushed with saline after each session of IV C.
I had one or two faithful and hardworking veins which I trotted out whenever I needed blood tests or infusions. But they were getting tough and bruised. One of them was also in an awkward position, on the underside of the arm, next to the elbow. Getting to it required advance yoga practice.
My experiences with IV C had included 5 attempts to find a vein. So as you can imagine, I wasn’t looking forward to the multiple sharp-and-pointy experiences that awaited me at Hallwang.
Updated 15 December 2013 with information on where to purchase Hepa-Mertz if you are living in the UK
One thing was sure, the clinic moved fast. There wasn’t a day when I wasn’t doing treatments or infusions. Five hours after I arrived I was hooked up to infusions.
Infusions are a way of introducing supplements and boosters intravenously. They are very effective because they go straight into the bloodstream, where the body can immediately use them.
The infusions themselves weren’t expensive averaging Euro20 for a combination e.g Zinc, Vitamin C, Hepa-Mertz (a liver detox), Glutathione. Compare this to the cost of a single dose of IV C in the UK at £150-£200, and it was like being in a candy store.
photo credit: GNC Live Well Philippines
Please read this article in the Daily Mail (a UK newspaper) about a West End star, who had cancer. The irony was that she died very suddenly, not from the cancer itself, but from a condition that was preventable: blood clots.
(many thanks to the family of Sophiya Haque for allowing her case history and celebrity status to be used in publicising this condition.)
The little known fact is: anyone with cancer has blood that is stickier.
Apparently, tumours produce molecules called proagulants that make the blood clump together more readily.
Updated 15 April 2014 with more personal additions
From the book “Cancer Etiquette” by Rosanne Kalick – one of the best books in the market offering guidance on what not to say and what to say to people who have cancer. [Unfortunately it is only available as a hardcover book. Amazon has some used copies].
I’ve covered some of the mistakes people make when speaking to someone who has cancer in Part 1, as mentioned in Rosanne Kalick’s book.
In Part 2, Rosanne Kalick shares some tips on what not to say, and to say, to someone who has cancer. I’ve since updated this post with my personal additions, so it’s hard to separate what is Rosanne Kalick’s and what is mine, but the bones of this post is from her book.
I was talking to someone who had a device that he claimed could heal diseases (including cancer).
Mid-way through, he said to me: “you know, we’re all going to die some day, so that might help you to face what you’ve got.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
Yes, we’re all going to die someday, but mate, you’re not the one with cancer, and not the one with one foot (metaphorically) in the grave. And cancer is not a walk in the park.