A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Monday, May 31, 2010

LaLa Land

Have you ever experienced that odd sense of surrealism during treatment? Maybe surrealism is the wrong word here... Daze? Treatment has become such a regular fixture in our lives that what was once abnormal is now normal. You go through the days, living your new life. And when the times are good, things are usually not that bad. Aside from copious amounts of driving and needles, we have much to be thankful for. And so when you go from cycle to cycle, everything seems to all blend together into this massive clump of a routine that, unless something is different, you don't pay TOO much attention to. Its a bit like blissful ignorance... Maybe not ignorance, but more so of a blissful flatline, if you'll excuse the expression. But I'm not complaining, because no new news is good news. Treatment is going as expected. Today we had a consult for a kyphoplasty procedure, which is where they put this little balloon-thing in your vertebrae and fill it with cement to offset any compression fractures. The primary reason for this procedure is to relieve pain. Considering the fact that my mom's back pain is really the only thing that hinders her from doing the things she used to do (aside from some mild fatigue), this seemed like a great procedure for us. We were able to view the MRI and X-Ray slides she had, and wow. It was like a balloon popping. *snap* just like that, that dream-like state we were in, popped and we were brought back to reality. We were able to see exactly the effect that myeloma had on her bones, and that was like a rude reminder of her condition. We opted to go for the procedure, though, because the positives largely outweighed the negatives. I guess what I trying to say is that... We were enjoying the non-drama-ness (apologies for the baddd english lol) of what had become a routine for us. And now that we're approaching the end of our treatment (for now) and the beginning of what will be an undoubtedly arduous stem cell transplant process, we'll have to stop getting comfy and really gear up again. But, one must do what is necessary in order to be better again right? And of course, what is necessary is hardly ever easy. I think... The trick to being happy, because that is just as important as health (if not more), is to think you'll be ok. You have to view this as a chronic disease instead of something more ominous and dark. That's it, that's the trick. Because it is much more easier and comforting to try to lead a normal life if you see the disease in a different light. How can you possibly enjoy life if you are constantly thinking of how many more days you have left? It's more anxiety, pressure, and stress than anyone can handle, I'm sure! It is not a way to live. You are not being ignorant by approaching myeloma as a chronic disease because you are still very much aware of your condition, and more importantly, are taking the right measures to get better. We are very, very, very fortunate to have drugs out there that are not the stereotypical form of chemotherapy aka vomiting, nausea, hair-loss, etc. If you saw my mom, you would never think she had cancer. She looks very healthy. Maybe a little tired, but who isn't tired these days? What would be ignorant would be to stick your head in the sand and pretend like nothing is wrong... Until it is too late. I understand that fear can often be crippling, but what is more scary than cancer is the promise of death due to inaction. I'm sure by now you probably think this post is a bit random, that's because it is. I'm not really heading in any direction with this. Just saying what's on my mind :)
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Friday, May 28, 2010


Just got a B12 shot. I didn't even feel the needle, but wowwwww. Afterwards it felt like I got charlie-horsed by a bulldozer. So a word of advice, don't get the needle in your butt. Get the arm. It only lasts for about 20 minutes though. I'm running on three hrs of sleep right now and I actually feel energized! Not tired! Weeee! For any students out there like me, this might come in handy come midterm season or finals as these are used for energy and nerve preservation/regeneration. Make sure it is methylcobalamin form of B12, NOT cyanocobalamin.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wellness Wednesdays: Wireless Edition!!!

Wow. So until about twenty minutes ago, I thought TODAY was wednesday. Dang. Apologies! I decided for this week's WW to talk about wireless technology, with an important emphasis on cell phones. This form of technology is a very recent development that we've seen only within the last two decades or so. And a rapidly expanding one at that. I remember when I was little, my parents would carry around the ever-so elegant brick phone. Now, cell phones are capable of so, so much. It is most definitely a symbol of my generation. If you're like me, your phone is not just some gadget you use to talk to others, it is like a vital limb used for social networking, e-mail, internet browsing, texting, instant messaging, music, and of course, phone calls. So, you can only imagine the sheer amount of desperation and panic that ensues after you mistakenly misplace or lose your phone. It is pretty much like the apocalypse - for your social life. You literally cannot FUNCTION. How sad is that? I think this is an extremely relevant issue that we need to be aware of because wireless technology is only going to expand in the future. So here are a couple tips to keep in mind.

1. Don’t allow children under 12 to use a cell-phone except in emergencies. Organs that are still developing are more sensitive to the possible influence of exposure to electromagnetic fields. A child's skull is thinner than an adult's, and every millimeter between the handset that's emitting electromagnetic waves and the child's brain cells can make an enormous difference.

2. During calls, do your best to keep your cell-phone well away from your body. (When the handset is held four inches away, the amplitude of the electromagnetic field drops to one-quarter of its full value, and it is 50 times smaller when the phone is a yard away). Use the "loudspeaker" mode whenever possible, and a hands-free mode or Bluetooth earpiece (which on average gives less than one hundredth of the phone's normal electromagnetic emissions).

3. Keep your cell-phone conversations short. The biological effects are directly linked to duration of exposure. Text as much as possible.

4. Avoid using cell-phones when moving rapidly, for example when in a car or train. (There's an automatic increase in power to maximum when the phone is trying to pick up a new -- or increasingly distant -- relay antenna).

5. Choose the phone with the lowest possible Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for your needs. (The SAR measures the quantity of radio frequency energy absorbed by your body). Classifications of the SAR values of phones from various manufacturers are available on a number of websites.

More on this later. Family movie night.

Source: Anticancer: A New Way of Life (website)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And So It Begins...

Ok! Well that meeting was... Productive! It went really well, actually. We do not yet have the results back from her urine test, but our doc told us that our total protein (mix of good AND bad protein) is now in the NORMAL RANGE!!!! HALLELUJAH! You can imagine how elated we were when we heard that :) Being normal, that must mean that our m-spike protein levels went down a lot! So, as I mentioned before, we had no scheduled appointments after today. Well, we've decided to go for one more cycle of velcade/dex/rev to further reduce her proteins before we start prepping for transplant. June 15 is our consult date for stem cell transplant. Sooo, yeah. We're already at that point! I won't lie, I left the clinic with a mix of nervousness and anxiety (as did my mom). But, I think these feelings are normal and expected. This is a major milestone and treatment for us. I think we'll just need a couple days for everything to sink in. Good thing is, this is absolutely a step in the right direction, a step towards better health. It is completely necessary. We all know that. So, I guess we will have to start preparing for what is to come! Today was a good day and I am glad we are taking action and getting things initiated. *deep breath* This is another big step in our path to recovery. Wish us luck! All tips/recommendations/suggestions are greatly welcomed and appreciated.
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Waiting for our end-of-cycle meeting with our doc. As of now, we have NOTHING scheduled after today, so obviously this meeting is an important one. Since our last meeting with him, my mom's PN has completely subsided! I'm not sure if its because we started seeing a nutritional doctor, but wow! Isn't that great!? Her back has been a little sore, but we're hoping that that is from her Revlimid and a sign that it is working. Gotta think positive right? We met a guy that we hadn't seen since our first support meeting (which I had posted about earlier), and since then, he has gone through a second stem-cell transplant. This man's story is astonishing and inspiring. Usually after a transplant procedure, you're in the hospital for about a month (give or take) in order for you to recover. This man was there for seven days. When he was first diagnosed, he had about 97% cancer cells within his body. He now has none. Zero. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say, HOLY SHIT! You'll have to excuse my language, but how effing amazing is that?! He credits his recovery to eating healthy, being active, and having a strong, mental outlook. Before he goes to bed, he tells his white blood cells to "go and get 'em". His story was a reminder that it is so important to always keep your head up. Your mental outlook and perspective DOES affect your physiology, and he is living proof of that. Anyways, going in to see the doc. Ill keep you posted :)
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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Hello Good Morning

It's quarter to 6am and I've been awake for about an hour. Going on about four hours of sleep right now and, surprisingly, I am NOT TIRED! The fact that I have not downed five cups of coffee yet is quite astonishing. Maybe I'm so tired that I'm not tired??? Haha. Busy day ahead! Plan to get lots of work done so you can expect a post or two later on today :)
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Be Still My Beating Heart

Sitting in Emerg at the local hospital right now... Not impressed. My mom was outside on the lounge chair all "la dee da". That was until she basically freaked out from a bug bite that felt "worse than a needle". No evidence of any bug or stinger, but there IS a bump that looks similar to a mosquito bite (except bigger). So, we thought we would have it checked out just in case. When you have cancer, there is nothing you can't be too safe about. But seriously, a bit of a break would be nice. I know they say that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle, but... I mean, is it really necessary to have it get to that point??? Luckily, no signs of anything gone wrong except symptoms of a typical bug bite (maybe a spider?), but I told my mom to stay out of trouble. OBVIOUSLY, she wants nothing more than that, but sometimes I feel like I have to wrap her up in bubble wrap in order to let her be on her own. It would be nice if we could have a drama-free stint. Plus, tomorrow I have to wake up at 530am to take my dad for an angiocardiogram to see if he has angina or not. CHERRY ON TOP! I'm hoping once this week is over, things will calm down. In other unrelated and random news, I have recently discovered that the path I frequent for jogs is also one that is favoured by a particular cougar (for the last month!). Joy. And there was apparently a bear in central park this week. Guess these things are to be expected when you live in the mountains?
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Friday, May 21, 2010


Currently watching Dr. Oz's show on cancer prevention. Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, who is the author of "AntiCancer: A New Way of Life", of which I have been featuring quite frequently on WW, is a guest on the show. TUNE IN peeps!
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Thursday, May 20, 2010


If you read my blog, you might remember a post I had made called "A Call to Arms". It was an invitation to any and all those affected by cancer to tell their story, stories of success and survivorship, to inspire hope and strength. So far, the number of responses that I have received have been... lets just say less than impressive. People are busy enough as it is with treatments, updates, and whatnot. But we're still trucking on and my hopes for the site are for it to slowly, but surely, grow to one that others can go to when they are feeling a little down or discouraged. As I have said to others, I realize that their already exist sites dedicated to such things. However, when my mom was first diagnosed, I was not aware of any despite the amount of research and web-surfing I did. During what was undoubtedly the darkest time of our lives, we had to find a way to lift each other up and find strength within ourselves to move forward. God bless all those who contribute to the ACOR ListServ, because without them, we would not know NEARLY as much as we do. God bless others who inspire hope and strength, like the Brabbs (MM for Dummies) and Margaret (Margaret's Health Blog). They have brought an incredible amount of light and positive energy in a world that can feel dark, scary, and lonely sometimes. It's a beautiful thing, no? Everyone working together, as a united front, to tackle this disease? Just like there are various forms of treatment, hitting myeloma from different angles, there are different resources that help to keep us standing. This, too, is done from a variety of angles, from humor and optimism to nutrition and well-being to the most up-to-date information and knowledge. When we hit cancer from all these angles, we become stronger not only as individuals, but also as a collective group. For H4H, although there are similar sites, I figure... The more resources and sites there are out there, the higher the chance there will be that those newly diagnosed and those feeling down will be able to discover, not necessarily H4H, but *A* site to help them out. Pat Killingsworth, who I am sure many of you are aware of, has just sent in his own story of strength, success, and survivorship. If you are not familiar with his blogs (Multiple Myeloma Blog and Help With Cancer), I highly recommend that you check them out. They are INCREDIBLY informative and host an abundance of the most up-to-date news out there. If you would like to send in your own story, I would love to put it up on the site! Until then, I hope you are all doing well :)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wellness Wednesdays: The SUGAR edition!

I've decided to dedicate this week's WW to sugar. As you will soon discover, it is ESSENTIAL that we all reduce the amount of sugar (primarily refined sugars) in our diets. It won't be so much an emphasis on tips (although still there), but more of an informative bit. So herrrrre we go!


- When we eat sugar or white flour – foods with a high “glycemic index” – blood levels of glucose (a form of digested sugar in the body) rise rapidly. The body immediately releases a dose of insulin to enable the glucose to enter cells. The secretion of insulin is accompanied by the release of another molecule, called IGF (insulinlike growth factor), whose role is to stimulate cell growth. In short, sugar nourishes tissues and makes them grow faster (see where this is going?) Furthermore, insulin and IGF have another effect in common: They promote the factors of inflammation, which also stimulate cell growth and act, in turn, as fertilizer for tumors.

- Today we know that the peaks of insulin and the secretion of IGF directly stimulate not only the growth of cancer cells, but also their capacity to invade neighboring tissues. Moreover, after injecting breast cancer cells into mice, researchers have shown that the cancer cells are less susceptible to chemotherapy when the mouse’s insulin system has been stimulated by the presence of sugar. … Each of us can already cut back on the amount of refined sugar and white flour we consume in our diets. It has been shown that simply reducing these two dietary factors has a rapid effect on the levels of insulin and IGF in the blood. This reduction has secondary effects, such as healthier skin (oh lala!)

- There is good reason to believe that the sugar boom contributes to the cancer epidemic, as it is linked to an explosion of insulin and IGF in our bodies. Mice inoculated with breast cancer cells have been used to compare the effect of tumor growth of different foods of varying glycemic indices. After two and a half months, two thirds (sixteen) of the twenty-four mice whose blood sugar peaked frequently were dead, compared to only one of the twenty that had been on a low-glycemic-index diet. … All the scientific literature points in the same direction: People who want to protect themselves from cancer should seriously reduce their consumption of processed sugar and bleached flour. This means getting used to drinking coffee without sugar. (It’s easier to give up sugar in tea.) It also means making do with two or three desserts a week. (There is no limit on fruit, as long as it is not sweetened with sugar or syrup). Another option is to use natural substitutes for sugar that don’t cause a sharp rise in blood glucose or insulin (ex. Agave Nectar, Stevia, Xylitol, dark chocolate). Eating multigrain bread (made from wheat mixed with at least three other cereals, such as oatmeal, rye, flaxseeds, etc.) is also essential in order to slow down assimilation of the sugars coming from wheat. You can also choose bread made with traditional leaven (“sourdough”) instead of the more common chemical baker’s yeast, which raises the glycemic index of bread. For the same reason, ordinary white rice should be avoided (CURSES!!!) and replaced by brown or white basmati rice, for which the glycemic index is lower.

- Avoiding candies and snacks between meals is essential. When cookies (or other sugar) are consumed between meals, there is nothing to block a rise in insulin. Only their combination with other foods – especially vegetable, fruit, fibers, or good fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, or organic butter – slows the assimilation of sugar and reduces insulin peaks. In the same way, some foods, such as onions or garlic, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, or spices like cinnamon, reduce the rise in blood sugar.

- Three Principles of Detox: When smokers give up tobacco, their risk of cancer drops sharply. If we stop promoting the growth of cancer cells in our bodies, the natural mechanisms of control over cancer can start to intervene and curb their spread. To protect ourselves against cancer, we can limit our exposure to toxic factors in the environment. Among all of those already identified or highly suspicious, I have selected three that seem to me the most deeply involved and the most easily changed:

1: Overconsumption of refined sugar and white flour, which stimulate inflammation (BADDDDD!!!!) and cell growth through insulin and IGF (insulinlike growth factor)

2: Overconsumption of omega-6s in margarine, vegetable oils (including trans fats), and animal fats (meat, dairy products, eggs) stemming from farming methods that have been out of balance since the Second World War.

3: Exposure to chemical contaminants that have entered the environment since 1940, which accumulate in animal fats, and – though studies are not yet definitive – exposure to the electromagnetic fields of cell phones.

Source: AntiCancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Buckle Up!

I've got some very exciting news coming your way soon! All I can say now is... The "monsters" are coming ;) Buckle up kids!
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vitamins and Supplements and ReallyAnnoyingBloodTests, Oh My!

So, as I posted earlier, we started seeing our nutritionist/alternative practitioner recently. So far so good. The following is a list of recommendations provided for us to keep in mind:

There are a couple tests that we've decided to perform on my mom to identify certain conditions in her body. Besides the typical CBC work done from our regular blood tests, we've also gone ahead with one called a "Urine Toxic Elements Test", which is used to identify the presence of any toxic metals within the body. Basically, you're hooked up to an IV (pretty much my mom's BFF at this point) that contains a liquid that draws out the metals in your body and helps excrete it into your urine (which is collected and shipped off to the US for analysis). Simply put, you're given what is called a "chelation" agent. It was important for us to do this during our week off because, as mentioned, it draws out metals from your body. That combined with chemotherapy would be too much on the body. I'll keep you posted on our results, which take about 2-3 weeks.

The other tests that were recommended to us included a "Comprehensive Parasitology" (identifies organism imbalances within the digestive tract) as well as a "Comprehensive Bio-Terrain Test" (determines the balance between the major regulatory systems in your body, allowing for a more precise dietary and supplemental recommendation). Unfortunately, we couldn't go through with them, and won't be able to until we have a good long break from chemo. Chemo basically effs up the results and skews the information you receive from these tests, soo we'll have to put these on the back-burner until ... WE ARE IN REMISSION! (*positive vibes/spirit fingers-motion*)

Basically, we just have to continue what we've already been doing. That is, eliminating flour products and gluten-containing grains (i.e. wheat, rye, oats, barley) as much as possible, eliminating sugar/sweeteners and refined foods, and cutting down on our red meat consumption. In terms of what we are to add to our diet, more organic and free-range foods, as well as raw fruits and vegetables (blended, juiced, or chopped up). Oh, and of course, PLENTYYYYYY of water (even if it forces you to be in constant close vicinity of a washroom.....which it does). In addition, cooking our food with olive or flax oils, or if you want to get all fancy pantsy, coconut butter, butter (ok, not so fancy) or clarified butter (ghee).

We were also advised to purchase some sort of "green" drink (ex. wheat grass or barley grass) or powdered green drink (ex. Pure Synergy, Berry Greens, Greens Rx). We bought the Berry Greens and Greens Rx and are very pleased with it. It seems to keep my mom's energy levels up and, more importantly, consistent. No peaks and valleys, my friends! I know fatigue is a huge issue with cancer patients, so it's something that we needed to address.

Wobenzyme PS: enhances natural killer cell activity and immune communication. It acts as an antiinflammatory and stimulates your immune cells to focus in on cancer cells.

Avemar: enhances natural killer cell activity while reducing cancer cell DNA synthesis and repair.

A.H.C.C: improves immune strength during chemotherapy. It is derived from a type of Japanese mushroom.

Vitamin D: 8000 I.U./day(!!!) There is a TON of information on vitamin D, specifically D3. My most-recent "WW" post had some information about it.

Salvestrol Platinum: related to resveratrol, they promote cancer cell death (apoptosis) via activation of CYP1B1.

Chemo Support Formula: keeps the liver, kidneys, and nervous system strong during chemotherapy.

Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin): promotes normal cell division and growth while supporting nerve health. Specifically, these would be used to help with my mom's peripheral neuropathy. She's just starting to feel the tingling/numbness associated with the condition, so we thought it best to catch it early before any kind of permanent damage was done.

Modified High Myer's IV Cocktail: ensures basic nutrient needs are met. This is what we were receiving when I posted earlier today from the nutritionist's office! It was very interesting, actually. Basically, it's this little IV bag (once again, BFF...) that you're hooked up to that gives you, as the name suggests, a "cocktail" of different vitamins and minerals to replenish what your body is lacking. The nurse told us to note how much fluid was in the bag if my mom started to taste or smell something "vitamin-ey". Right away, my mom reported it within a couple seconds of administering the fluids. Initially, I thought that this would be a bad thing. But then the nurse told us that was an excellent sign as that meant that my mom's vitamin B levels were up to par and doing well! Yeeeeuh! Also something to note, after receiving the cocktail today, my mom felt pretty much energized throughout the whole day right up until around 1am. Hopefully that is the cocktail at work. HOPEFULLY. One other thing to note is that it is a water-soluble solution. From what I gathered, that means that your body takes what it needs from the cocktail and then excretes the rest through your urine within about 24 hours. This is important because it means we don't have to wait until our week off to receive it. If we administer the solution a day before chemo, that should give my mom's body ample time to absorb what it needs and get rid of what it doesn't so as to not possibly interfere with the other drugs. Correct me if i'm wrong?

Far Infrared Sauna: enhances tissue detoxification and elevates core body temperature which is known to slow cancer cell growth.

PHEW! that was a.LOT to get through! Now, out of that ginormous list, my mom decided that, for now, she would only pursue the basic dietary "rules", vitamin D (new dosage), B12 shots, and the Myer's cocktail. We were given this list of recommendations at the same time as when we were taking Revlimid for the first time. To be safe, we thought we would avoid all the other stuff (as most of them deal directly with the cancer and chemo) so as to not skew the results on how effective the Revlimid was. So, that's pretty much where we're at. I know it's a lot of information, but hopefully it helps you in some shape or form. Most importantly, our nutritionist is helping us plan for how best to recover from the transplant as quickly and safely as possible.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Update Yo!

So I figure it's probably due time that I post an update on where we're currently at. A lot has happened since the last time I posted anything about my mom's progress. So here goes! About a month or so ago, we learned just exactly how fragile my moms bones are. We had just got home, and my mom was leaning against the kitchen counter (no biggie), and she fractured.her.ribs. That was a bit freaky. Definitely another wake-up call (don't you just LOVE how many this condition gives you!? Like oh em gee! (That was sarcasm, incase you couldn't tell)). Thankfully, it wasn't anything major or serious, so we just made SURE to take it easy and rest up. Thank the lord winter is almost over. Can you imagine what a slip on the ice could do! Not cool.

Because the velcade was not cutting down the numbers as fast as we wanted, we also added revlimid to our treatment. That was a little stressful because we had been anticipating a host of new and wonderful side effects, but thankfully, they have been quite minimal! All things considered, we have been very fortunate in terms of side effects. Some additional tingling/numbness in the hands and feet, and a little more fatigue, but definitely not anything that impaired our current quality of life. The other day, we got our numbers in from our first cycle of rev/velcade/dex, and the numbers were great! Our m-spike levels are down to about 34.9 g/L. Still not where we need to be, but compared to diagnosis (89.7!!!), that's a SUPERB number. One round of revlimid/velcade/dex has decreased the protein numbers more than about three rounds of velcade/dex. So, if the m-spike continues to drop at a constant or, hopefully, increased rate, we can expect to be prepping for transplant in about two more cycles! Yeeeeeuh!

A little while back, I had mentioned our little dilemma with the nutritionists and which to see. Well, we decided to NOT go with the doc with all the connections. Nothing says "I care about you" than being rushed out of an office with a price quote of supplements. Gee, thanks! Not. From personal experiences, I have found that a doctor's personality and how he/she addresses you is equally as important as how he/she treats you. At least in our case. In the past, when we were assigned a "substitute" because ours was too busy for our checkup, she ended up being very confusing and a little pessimistic. That took my mom a good week to recover from (you can imagine my frustration! My family worked so very hard to get her to a place where she was stronger and happier, and that came crashing down in about twenty minutes...) I find that if you feel a doc cannot give you the time of day, then how much do they really care for you? We need a doc that we can believe in. So we decided to go with the warm, inviting, PATIENT nutritionist instead. So far, we are happy with the experience. Albeit, we haven't done too much, but you can tell that the staff truly care for you. They see you as human beings rather than paychecks. So, that's always good. That's where were currently at (literally. In the nutritionists office as I type!) I don't have a paper of the current nutritional treatment we're on at the moment, but ill post one up when I get home so you can all take a look :)

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wellness Wednesdays

#12 Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not. Imitation butter – aka margarine – is the classic example. To make something like nonfat cream cheese that contains neither cream nor cheese requires an extreme degree of processing; such products should be labeled as imitations and avoided. The same rule applies to soy-based mock meats, artificial sweeteners, and fake fats and starches. Source: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

#13 Omega-3s. “Organic” meats or eggs contain few or no pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, but they are not necessarily balanced in omega-3s. If the animals have simply been fed organic corn and soy but are not grass fed or free range, their meat and eggs remain excessively rich in proinflammatory omega-6s and deficient in omega-3s. To be sure that you’re eating products of the same quality as what your grandparents ate, look for labels that specify “grass fed” or “rich in omega-3s”. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

#14 Sugar. Recently, the team at the University of Sydney that introduced the concept of “glycemic index” pointed out a natural substitute for white sugar with a very low glycemic index: Agave nectar. An extract from cactus sap (used to make tequila), it tastes delicious, comparable to a light honey. It is three times sweeter than white sugar, but its glycemic index is four to five times lower than that of honey. (The glycemic index is considered “low” if it is under 55; glucose has an index of 100. The glycemic index of agave nectar is between 15 and 21, and between 60 and 80 for most kinds of honey.) Agave nectar can be used instead of sugar or the usual syrups to sweeten tea, coffee, fruits, and desserts. Xylitol, a birch-bark extract, is highly sweetening but contains only one third of the calories of other sugars. It does not cause blood sugar or insulin levels to rise, and it is the only sugar that has been linked to a decrease in the risk of dental cavities. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

#15 Vitamin D. Skin cells produce vitamin D when they are exposed directly to the sun. People who live away from the equator produce less vitamin D and can sometimes be deficient. It has recently been shown that a significant supply of vitamin D reduces considerably the risk of several cancers (by more than 75% with a daily intake of 1000 international units (IUs) of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D form), in a Creighton University study published in 2007. In a Canadian pilot study of fifteen patients with prostate cancer, researchers reported on the effects of taking just 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily over a median of eight months (up to 65 months for one of the patients). Fourteen of them saw a slowing of progression of their PSA levels (the most common marker of prostate cancer, used to follow its growth over time). And these levels actually dropped significantly in nine of the patients compared to their levels at the start of treatment.

Other studies published recently have shown positive effects of vitamin D3 on breast cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. Many researchers now believe that vitamin D3 contributes to slowing down all forms of cancer, at least in the early stages. Moreover, we no know that vitamin D3 very likely protects us from colds and flu and contributes to maintaining a positive mental outlook – a precious antidote to lower energy levels during the dark, cold months of winter.

The Canadian Cancer Association now recommends a daily intake of 1000 IUs of vitamin D during the fall and winter months (because of Canada’s limited access to sunlight) and all year long to people over sixty-five years of age and those who get very limited exposure to the sun because of lifestyle or religious reasons. Take care: Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should be avoided, since some specialists have reported potential toxicity from hypercalcemia.

Remember that twenty minutes of noonday sun exposure to the entire body provides between 8000 and 10000 IUs (but beware of the risk of overexposure, which is clearly related to skin cancer).

The foods that contain the most vitamin D are cod liver oil (1,460 IUs in a tablespoon), salmon (360 IUs in 100 grams), mackerel (345 IUs in 100 grams), sardines (270 IUs in 100 grams), and eel (200 IUs in 100 grams). Milk enriched with vitamin D contains only 98 IUs per glass, an egg 25 IUs, and calf liver 20 IUs per 100 grams.

Though rare, there are possible risks associated with excessive intake of vitamin D3. Kidney stones may develop, due to excessive calcium in the urine, and hypercalceima (excessive levels of calcium in the bloodstream) may develop, which, in some very rare cases, can be lethal to people with cancer. I therefore recommend that you measure blood levels of vitamin D3 and calcium levels in blood and urine under your doctor’s supervision before you begin supplements and roughly every three months subsequently. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

Sorry. Bit of a doozy, eh? If you want to know more about the importance of vitamin D (and its connection with Multiple Myeloma), check out Margaret's Health Blog! It's Super!

#16 Meal Replacement Bars: Nutrition on the go. I thought this would be a relevant post as many of us are constantly busy with treatments and other activities.

Meal Replacement Bars: Formulated to be a meal substitute, these bars typically contain 300 to 400 calories. These are not snacks. Check out the calorie content and the nutrient density of a bar. When looking for a meal replacement, set the bar high. Look for those that contain whole food ingredients such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit – preferably organic. If ingredient names are unpronounceable or their true identities are unknown, take a pass on that product. To be of nutritional benefit, a bar should contain at least 5g of protein and at least 3g of fibre. Always watch the amount of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar a bar contains. This is especially important for those with health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes. High sugar content can rapidly elevate blood glucose in diabetics. However, bars that contain protein and fibre allow blood glucose to rise gradually and safely. Avoid bars that contain as much saturated fat and sugar as a candy bar. Meal replacement bars, when eaten occasionally, are a convenient, portable way to ingest an optimal amount of nutrients rather than skip a meal or resort to fast foods.

Energy Bars: Also known as sports bars, energy bars were created to improve the endurance of athletes, such as marathon runners, cyclists, or cross-country skiers. Many of these bars provide a big hit of carbohydrates. Bars that contain extra carbohydrates may benefit an endurance athlete but aren’t necessary for the average person. Some energy bars are high in carbs; others are high in protein. Strength training demands extra protein; tuck a bar in your gym bag for a post-workout snack. Look for bars that contain less than 200 calories; the goal is to boost nutrient intake and provide a balanced source of energy, not replace a meal. Avoid bars that list high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredient list.

Source: May 2010 Issue of Alive Magazine. Article by Ellen Niemer

True Life

Mtv's "True Life" started off a brand new season with an episode that I am sure all of us can relate to. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this show, it is basically a documentary series that follows the lives of people, from schizophrenics to shopaholics to embarrassing parents. It is a fascinating and wonderful show. The premiere episode of the new season is titled "True Life: I Need A Transplant". I highly recommend you give it a watch. Although, an advanced warning if I may, don't watch it in front of anyone you want to impress, unless you'd like to do so with puffy eyes and a drooling nostril. It's very emotional (or maybe I am just an emotional person). Not gonna lie... I am
terrified of the transplant procedure we are planning to go through this summer. My feelings towards it are a mixture of pure dread and anticipation, because I know it will do my mom wonders. In the long run, it is a small price to pay if it will mean a remission that lasts 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Just gotta be strong.

Provided is a link to the show you can watch online. Note, this is the Canadian website. If you can't access it, try going to mtv.com, then shows, and search True Life. Should be there. Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Observation...

What does it mean when you see a full "new patient" orientation group every week in the cancer ward? It means people are getting sick. And more frequently. Not cool.

It also means that, even in a society as advanced as ours, we are still doing something wrong. Basic nutrition and well-being are so so important in prevention and treatment, my friends. Now is the time for change.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Heart You

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wellness Wednesdays

#7 Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients: Labels list ingredients by weight, and any product that has more sugar than other ingredients has too much sugar. Complicating matters is the fact that, thanks to food science, there are now some forty types of sugar used in processed food, including barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, cane juice, corn sweetener, dextrin, dextrose, fructo-oligosaccarides, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, sucrose, invert sugar, polydextrose, turbinado sugar, and so on. To repeat: Sugar is sugar. And organic sugar is sugar too. As for noncaloric sweeteners such as aspartame or Splenda, research (in both humans and animals) suggests that switching to artificial sweeteners does not lead to weight loss, for reasons not yet well understood. But it may be that deceiving the brain with the reward of sweetness stimulates a craving for even more sweetness. Source: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

#8 Avoid food products that make health claims: This sounds counterintuitive, but consider: for a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it's more likely to be a processed rather than a whole food. Then, only the big food manufacturers have the wherewithal to secure FDA-approved health claims for their products and then trumpet them to the world. Generally, it is the products of modern food science that make the boldest health claims, and these are often founded on incomplete and often bad science. Don't forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to contain transfats that give people heart attacks. The healthiest food in the supermarket - the fresh produce - doesn't boast about its healthfulness, because the growers don't have the budget or the packaging. Don't take the silence of the yams as a sign they have nothing valuable to say about your health. Source: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

#9 Eat your colors: The idea that a healthy plate of food will feature several different colors is a good example of an old wives' tale about food that turns out to be good science too. The colors of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain - anyhocyanins, pholyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids. Many of these chemicals help protect against chronic diseases, but each in a slightly different way, so the best protection comes from a diet containing as many different phytochemicals as possible. Source: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

#10 No such thing as "microwave-safe" plastic!: So we've finally woken up to the fact that microwaving plastic baby bottles is plain tantrum-worthy. Not only does estrogen-mimicking bisphenol A (BPA) leach from polycarbonate plastic during regular use, but studies have found that one zap in the microwave can cause as much leaching as 60 to 100 rounds in the dishwasher. Kind of erodes your confidence in the whole "microwave-safe" label, doesn't it? Especially when you find out that no one regulates the term. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in the fall of 2008, lab-tested 10 plastic food containers for microwave leaching, they found even plastics Nos. 1, 2 and 5 had BPA leaching. These included frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers, and plastic baby food packaging. What? Isn't BPA only in No. 7 polycarbonate plastic? Guess not. Stay safe and follow these tips: 1. Never microwave food or drinks in any plastic. Period. 2. Never microwave or heat plastic wrap. 3. Don't put plastics in the dishwasher. Heat (including hot water from dishwashers) boosts leaching from purportedly dishwasher-safe polycarbonate, so who's to say your dishwasher-safe plastic won't leach when someone decides to test that too. Source: Ecoholic: Home by Adria Vasil

#11 Red Wine: Red wine contains many polyphenols, including the celebrated resveratrol. These polyphenols are extracted by fermentation; hence, their concentration is much greater in wine than in grape juice. Since they come from the skin and seeds of the grape, there are not nearly as many in white wine. The methods used for preserving wine protect it from oxygen, which means resveratrol is not exposed to rapid oxidation as it is in grape juice or raisins, which have lost most of their polyphenols. Resveratrol acts on genes (called sirtuines) that are known to protect healthy cells against aging. It can also slow the three stages of cancer development - initiation, promotion, and progression - by blocking the action of NF-kappa B. Because resveratrol also acts as an antiangiogenic, like thalidomide it can interfere with fetal development. This is one reason to avoid alcohol (even red wine) during pregnancy. Resveratrol supplements should also be avoided by women who may become pregnant. Recommendations for use: These results are observed with concentrations similar to those obtained after consumption of one glass of red wine a day. (More than one glass daily should be avoided, since it may lead to an increase in cancer.) Pinot noir, originally from the damp climate of Burgundy, is particularly rich in resveratrol. Source: AntiCancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

** I should note that NF-kappa B, especially for MM patients, is BAD NEWS BEARS! I don't really want to get into the details because this post would never end, but you can go to Margaret's Health Blog (there is a link on the side of the home page), and read more about it. She has a PLETHORA of knowledge in regards to this subject (and many, many others), so I encourage you to at least take a look :) **

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No Pee

Four simple words: 24-hr Urine Test

I saw this little note in the bathroom today and thought it was cute. I'm sure you can all relate to the pains of this test. Last time we forgot to collect, and the whole test was RUINED! It's enough to throw someone into a conniption fit of epic proportions.
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