July 15, 2010

off the reservation

     Last round of chemo.  I can only imagine how my brother feels to be finishing with it.  I think it's a mixed bag for him.  On the one hand, the doc stated, "you should be quite pleased, your cancer is responding to the therapy like I haven't seen in a lllooonnggg while."  The bone lesions show evidence of repairing and on the PET image of the primary (and secondary), even I could tell a big difference between the before and after.  But it vexes my brother that no cures are proffered.  And so I've thought a lot about what can come next.  According to current wisdom, conventional therapy offers no cures.  So at what point does one begin to go "off the reservation" with respect to therapy?  Usually that statement is reserved for those going off into the hinterlands of insanity.  But when one knows the limitations and outcomes of the conventional route, to me it's the sane man who ventures off into those hinterlands. 
     Being uncharted territory, it's littered with anectdotal and hyperbolic claims, many of them almost predatory playing on the hopes and fears of patients.  My research background helps me be able to sort through that bs pretty quickly.  But I also keep telling myself to keep an open mind.  Spontaneous remissions do occur.  How or why is open to debate but discoveries, especially the really big ones, are more often than not when a prepared mind happens upon a chance finding.  I watched it happen enough to know when to follow my gut.  But it's hard to wade through it since the research is so personal.
     It's also a function of how much the patient is willing to embrace.  I can't imagine my brother going off and becoming a hardcore vegan (not that I recommend that).  The negative impact on his quality of life would preclude him from following it.  So we start incrementally.  We start with things that A) have a reasonable chance of helping and just as importantly B) do no harm.  His chemotherapy regimen has granted him an enormous gain and that needs to be honored and not undone.  So first the easy and safe things.  Green tea.  Pomegranate. Broccoli.  Fish oil.  (I'm not going to review the literature on each of these here but I'll probably do it later if I get around to it).  Now that the chemo is done, we'll probably now add curcumin and some other things once he's recovered from this last round.

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