Thursday, 18 February 2016

Nutrition and the Immune System

In one blog last week, February 07, I mentioned the importance of thymus health, because the thymus produces T cells. The rest of this paragraph is a repeat of what I said at the end of that blog. "T cells are killers for tumour cells. T cells are lymphocytes of a type produced in the thymus that participate actively in the immune response. One problem that arises is that both aging and malnutrition reduce thymus ability to assist immunity. Apparently zinc is required to boost thymus health. Malnutrition with Zinc deficiency causes thymic atrophy apparently. Red meats and seafood contain much more zinc than vegetables." 

Now, although the idea of boosting zinc intake seems to encourage me to each steak and lobster, it is probably not a good idea given the fact that I only have one kidney and animal protein metabolism is known to put a heavy load on the kidneys ( I should actually be eating more peanut butter - now that is ok with me. So where will I get the required zinc?

I read a lot of labels these days and the Fixodent that I use to secure my dentures so they don't rattle around in my mouth has enough zinc to provide more than my daily requirement if I use it on my dentures once a day ( I have been using Fixodent for nearly 20 years. So my thymus should be in great shape in spite of my 75 years of youngness! And the T cells are produced at a good rate then to fight cancer cells. Could that be one reason why the cancer is shrinking in my lungs now that the cancerous left kidney has been removed?

Doctors at the Cross Cancer Institute poo poo the idea of minimizing sugar (glucose, sucrose) as having any affect on killing cancer cells from the point of view that cancer cells like a high sugar environment. They claim that all carbohydrates are metabilised to sugar so minimizing sugar in the diet can have nothing to do with treating cancer. Hey, wait a minute! I thought the whole idea was to strengthen the immune system, with drugs like Sunitinib if necessary, so that our natural immune systems using T cells and so on could kill cancer cells.

I insist that sugar is important. Take a look at where Dr Patrick Quillin states the following early in his year 2000 nutritional science article: "Of the 4 million cancer patients being treated in America today, hardly any are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat good foods." Most patients I work with arrive with a complete lack of nutritional advice. I believe many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose. By slowing the cancer's growth, patients allow their immune systems and medical debulking therapies -- chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to reduce the bulk of the tumor mass -- to catch up to the disease."

So the message there is that minimizing sugar will slow cancer growth through sugar starvation. And here is another question. What effect does eating sugar in large quantity have on the immune system?

Here are two more quotes from Quillin's article: "The quest is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates from the diet but rather to control blood glucose within a narrow range to help starve the cancer and bolster immune function;" and:
"In a human study, 10 healthy people were assessed for fasting blood-glucose levels and the phagocytic index of neutrophils, which measures immune-cell ability to envelop and destroy invaders such as cancer. Eating 100 g carbohydrates from glucose, sucrose, honey and orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria. Starch did not have this effect." So there you have it. This is not the only available information pointing to the fact that the immune system is weakened by sugar intake.

With reference to "According to Health Services at Columbia University, when you eat 100 grams of sugar, about as much sugar as you find in a 1 liter bottle of soda, your white blood cells are 40 percent less effective at killing germs. This can cripple your immune system for up to 5 hours after eating sugar!" So, is removing sugar from the diet to help in reducing cancer growth and killing cancer cells a myth? I don't think so.

Oh yes, and how about a News Focus article in the January 6 2012 issue of Science entitled "Unravelling the obesity-cancer connection", an interview with author Gary Taubes (don't know if this link will work or not: Early in the article is states: A curious thing happens
if you try to wean the tumor cells off insulin, however: They “drop off and they die,” says Stambolic, a cancer researcher
at the University of Toronto in Canada. “They’re addicted to [insulin].” Now it is not rocket science to know that if you increase sugar intake you increase insulin production in the pancreas. I haven't yet done a literature search. This was simply the first article to pop up when I put "sugar feeds cancer" in the Science search engine.

The point is that my Stage 4 cancer tumours had become visibly smaller between December 6 2015 and February 6 2016 using CT scanning. My thesis is that, once the cancer source - the left kidney with its huge tumour was removed, my healthy immune system, combined with minimizing sugar and simple carbs from the diet (except through eating a moderate amount of fresh fruit) caused the cancer to begin shrinking. The next appointment with Dr North April 18 in Yellowknife will tell the tale.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Looking Death in the eye! And a happy Valentine's Day

Before talking about the immune system and nutrition some more I need to express some personal thoughts.

Cancer is lethal  - almost always. And death usually comes prematurely as a result of cancer. Death was something I took seriously all my life in feeling empathy for families affected, but never took seriously really for myself personally - it always was something that happens to other people, not to me. I go to the funerals of other people, not my own!

In my case, cancer growth wasn't the only lethal threat. The piece of tumour that had migrated up near my heart influenced the specialist to tell me he was surprised I was still alive, and that I could be dead in the next 10 minutes. Apparently that hunk of tumour was adrift in my blood stream near the heart. If it reached my heart it would be lights out! 

So when the surgeon said an immediate operation was required and there was a 10% chance of death on the operating table the whole thing was really scary. When we had time alone before the operation we tearfully thanked each other for the near 30 years of companionship, love and support. Now, I can't help but quote Rick Yancey in the young adult novel "The 5th Wave" where Cassie says (in Chapter 13 (a scary number) by the way): "We'd stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first." 

On a spiritual level, I am very thankful for the message that came to me during my prayer time the night of February 02, the day before the Cross Cancer consultation. At the time I was full of fear, afraid, so the message was a jolt. The words "everything will be ok" came with a profound feeling of pure joy and peace. That message and the feeling that came with it only lasted for a very short time. 

I have a very strong belief in God, in a pure personal spiritual sense, not in a religious sense. Religion today teaches us to believe according to a man-directed system of rules and/or traditions. True spirituality teaches me personal contact and communication with God as my creator, teaches me to follow the life of example and teachings of Jesus the Messiah, and that God is love, and the creator of the wonderful universe that I observe as a scientist. It is the vagaries and self-will of human nature that causes all of the horror in the world. God cannot work in the unwilling heart and mind.

Today is a happy Valentine's Day, with red roses and lotsa love all around. However, when I ordered them it was at the end of January, before the Cross Cancer reprieve. Back then it seemed that this might be our last Valentine's Day together. We had absolutely no information about what conclusions the Cross Cancer doctors had reached about the Stage 4 cancer in my system.

So now I must get back to the cancer recovery discussion.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Encouraging healing and recovery from clear cell renal carcinoma cancer

Dear friends and readers. Just to let you know I have done some editing of earlier blogs to mention the 10s of folks that came to visit me in hospital before and after the Dec 6 operation. I have tried to name most of them, but there were others that my hazy memory simply won't pull up. The anesthesia and post op drugs really did a number on my memory. If you were there and your name isn't mentioned, please include that in a blog comment.

The problem I have now is to discern what in my lifestyle and nutrition changes since the operation, and what other factors, may have contributed to the cancer shrinking. Whatever I do has to take into account that I have only one kidney now that is not behaving quite normally and might be susceptible to further stress regarding waste elimination.

First of all, there is the fact that the cancerous left kidney, with a tumour nearly the size of the kidney itself was removed, thus removing the original source of cancer. Maybe that would slow the cancer growth. But what would cause it to recede? That very seldom happens, but it has happened to me! All things are possible, even if some of them are not probable.

Before I get into nutrition and alternative medicine, I want to mention briefly the experience of two good friends. One is my friend Bill in Yellowknife who about 25 years ago or so had a cancerous kidney removed and the cancer never returned and he is fine to this day. Another is my cousin Aleta who lives just south of Ottawa, who had leukemia that was progressing so fast that she was sent home for her last days by her doctors who felt there was nothing they could do. That is about 30 years ago now I think. But Aleta did use nutrition and alternative medicine to completely beat the leukemia. More about that later.

I should also point out in defense of alternative medicine that my life long companion Sandra owes her life to a naturopath in Yellowknife. The medical profession over a period of about 15 years (Ottawa, Sherwood Park, Yellowknife) watched her liver enzymes climb and, finding out that she has consumed no alcohol for the past 29 years, simply said we will have to monitor it. When pushed, our family doctor in Yellowknife admitted that the last patient with these symptoms had died of liver cancer! Finally the suggestion was made to try a naturopath. Sandra then consulted with Dr Nicole Redvers, a very knowledgeable naturopath in Yellowknife, who proceeded on the basis of special blood tests to identify a number of food allergies, especially eggs, milk protein (not lactose), corn, almonds, and spelt. In a very few weeks after minimizing and in some cases eliminating foods containing these substances, all of Sandra's liver enzymes but one returned completely to normal ranges. The one that is still high is not dangerously high and need not be treated. As a result Sandra's physical health has improved tremendously in many ways over he past 1 1/2 years.

We found out from the medical professionals at the Cross Cancer Institute that the treatments provided by newly developed drugs for cancer are based on the premise of boosting the immune system, allowing the body to kill cancer cells in a somewhat similar way as it would a normal infection. For example, had I been prescribed Sunitinib (Sutent) that is exactly how it would have worked, to boost my natural immunity allowing my own body to "interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells," as an Alberta Health Services handout for Sunitinib points out.

More specifically as a paper by Terme et al mentions: "Sunitinib treatment enhances the functional capacity of tumor infiltrating T cells" (Modulation of Immunity by Antiangiogenic Molecules in Cancer, Clinical and Developmental Immunology, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 492920, 8 pages ( See Modulation of immunity by antiangiogenic molecules in cancer These T cells are killers for tumour cells. T cells are lymphocytes of a type produced in the thymus that participate actively in the immune response.

One problem that arises is that both aging and malnutrition reduce thymus ability to assist immunity. Apparently zinc is required to boost thymus health. Malnutrition with Zinc deficiency causes thymic atrophy apparently. Red meats and seafood contain much more zinc than vegetables. Aha, bring on the ribs and steak!!

My next blogs will look further at nutritional aspects affecting the immune system.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Cross Cancer discovery that the cancer is shrinking!

Hello again folks, I made some changes to a couple of my first posts. For example I had forgotten that when I was discharged from UA Hospital on Dec 14 on the 8th day after my 6 hr operation I was very weak and exhausted so Sandra and I stayed at the Varscona Hotel on Whyte Avenue for an extra day and flew home on the 16th of December. 

The anesthesia experience and or the trauma shock of the 6 hr operation played havoc with my memory. So I have had to check my "what happened" when facts with Sandra to make sure I get it all right. And NO, senility has NOT set in folks.

This post about my Cross Cancer Institute (CCI) consultation is one of gratitude and excitement. But it didn't all start that way. The Monday and Tuesday leading up to Wednesday the 3rd of February, 2016 were days of excruciating anxiety for Sandra and me, not knowing anything except that being optimistic was one thing, but that at the same time we had to be prepared for the worst. Sandra and I flew to Edmonton from Inuvik through medical travel arrangements on Tuesday, February 2, rented a compact car, and drove to Campus Towers at the edge of the University of Alberta campus where we were to stay.

I try to be prayerful every day of my life, and on the last night before the CCI consultation, February 2, praying in the midst of my angst and anxiety just before slumber, I was given the most profound moment of joy and peace and a whisper in the mind that said: "Everything will be all right." Although that helped exceedingly, I was still pretty anxious the next morning, February 3, as we walked the 1.5 km from Campus Towers at the corner of 87th Ave and 112th St to CCI, arriving at 09:40. We were to be there for the next 5 hours.

My first CCI experience began with the admitting process, jostling with hundreds of other cancer patients. That only took a few minutes and then I was prepared for the CT scan to update my medical record from the time of my op on December 6. I was given a litre of liquid (of unknown origin) and had an intravenous thingy installed for use during the CT scan. 

After about 45 minutes in I went to the scanning room, dressed in the usual hospital garb. They did a complete CT scan, from chest area down to the lower extremity of my abdomen. After that I went for blood tests. The results of those test were fine except that my one kidney (only one left now you know) was behaving a bit abnormally. The creatinine level was higher than normal at 168 (it had been 149 about 10 days before) micro-mol/l, higher than the normal limit of 130, indicating impaired kidney function in eliminating wastes. So I will need to talk to my doctor here in Inuvik to see what I can do to improve kidney function.

 After lunch in the cafeteria, where Anne my daughter with MD training and Sandra's sister Sylvia (who has worked as a CCI nurse for many years) met us, I appeared for the CCI consultation at 12:30. At 13:00 we were ushered into the tiny consultation room and daughter Lynn and son David Chernenkoff joined us from Yellowknife by cell phone, just to listen in. 

After a few anxious moments, a lady resident doctor entered the room (don't have her name). Her prognosis was based on the results at the time of the early December operation, since she did not have access to the CT scan results done that morning. She said that yes indeed I had clear cell renal carcinoma, and that it was Stage 4 cancer because it had metastasized to both the chest area near the heart and the lungs, and could be in other places as well. However, she was hopeful for positive treatment, because clear cell carcinoma is easy to treat with modern cancer therapy such as the drug Sunitinib (or SUTENT). I was to be given 50 mg a day. She went through the various side effects of this drug, which was much more benign than chemotherapy or radiation. I.e., no hair loss, etc, etc. The average life span extension with this treatment was to be about 3.5 years.

 After a half hour of this discussion, the doctor in charge, Dr North, came in and everything changed! He had seen the new CT scan of that morning. He said that although a full analysis had not been completed he could see, by comparing the new scan with the old December one visually, that the visible cancer growths had shrunk, become smaller in size, which was very good news indeed. He said that because of this they would not prescribe a drug at this time, but would continue to monitor the cancer, with another CT scan due in about 10 weeks on April 18 in Yellowknife. Dr North flies north to Yk as a locum doctor and it is easier for us to get to Yk than to Edmonton.

Then we had an argument. He asked me what I attributed the shrinking of the cancer to. I told him about my experience in reducing my blood pressure permanently just be drastically reducing sugar and simple carbs from my diet. And of course I had heard that sugar feeds cancer cells, so reducing sugar intake should help. He huffed and puffed and said that was all a myth because the body metabolizes all carbohydrates to sugar. 

I think he the good Dr North is wrong there, and I am building a case for discussion with him in April. It helps to have a research background and access to the primary research publications as well as the gray literature in websites and newsletters. The next blog(s) will deal with nutrition and lifestyle to eradicate cancer.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The cancer prognosis begins

On Tuesday February 02 Sandra and I fly to Norman Wells, a short stop in Yellowknife, and on to Edmonton for a day of prognosis and treatment at Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. We will pass a box of my medical records to Lynn at Yellowknife airport so that she can deliver them to our naturopath Dr Nicole Redvers.

Dr Redvers literally saved Sandra's life through her work. With liver enzymes climbing relentlessly all the medical service industry could do was monitor. Dr Redvers found many serious food allergies with blood tests. By staying away from these foods Sandra's liver enzyme levels came down in the normal range in just a few weeks!

And so, it may be that naturopathic treatment may accompany chemotherapy for cancer. We shall see.


Waking up with the thought: I am still alive!

I am switching to a larger font for ease of reading.

That afternoon of Friday December 04 was filled with some tears. Thinking of the worst that could happen, the end of time on this earth. Then, on the evening of Friday December 4, I was readied for the big operation which was to take place sometime late that night. I was on a drip and ready at about 8:00 pm. However time dragged on and nothing at all happened. Not that night of Dec 4 nor during the day on Dec 5. We were finally informed about the delay. A very bad accident on the Whitemud freeway in Edmonton brought many trauma cases to various hospitals including the U of Alberta.

Finally mid morning (08:36 I am informed) on Sunday Dec 06 I was wheeled at great speed down a hallway to the operating theater on a stretcher by two tall orderlies. I immediately thought of Formula 1 and that I was going to win this race against time. They parked me in the pits for a very short time and then into the op room for some serious maintenance work. I was put under general anaesthetic and out like a light until some time after 2 pm. Waking up from the anaesthetic felt very strange, certainly not euphoric in any way. But my first real thought was - I am alive.

Naturally my normal bodily functions had pretty well shut down. I had no appetite at all. But other friends had arrived including David Chernenkoff and Candice from Yellowknife. And Donna and Mark Karstad came with a fine supper for Sandra and Lynn and everyone. I slept through that one!

The week of post op trauma began in a bad way in the Intensive Care Unit, where the nurses were mechanical and checklist oriented and I was not treated much like a human being that had survived a 6 hour operation. It got so bad that I was afraid to be alone with those nurses from hades! I have put an official complaint in to Alberta Health Services about that. Again, Sylvia, Vera and Janice sat with me in those early days. Anne arrived from Viet Nam on Wednesday. So I had a lot of concerned people who visited me during the post op days, including some not mentioned. My poor foggy memory is no help here.

I was finally moved a couple of days later to a public ward - several bed moves until I spent my last days in a private room which was very nice. My dear daughter Anne arrived from Viet Nam on Wednesday December 9.

On Monday December 14 I was discharged and Sandra and I took a day of rest in the hotel because I was still too weak to travel, and flew back to Inuvik December 16. I was wheelchair-bound during that time, and my good friend Larry Mumby came to the airport early at 5am to help get me checked in while Sandra returned the rented car.

Anne flew up here to Inuvik on Wednesday the 16th and stayed to help my recovery so Sandra could go back to work over the Christmas and New Year time when her counseling work become a necessary service. Anne stayed until January 13th, so she was here to help out for 4 weeks. I certainly found out that my Scrabble game was rusty! I only managed to win 2 out of about 7 games.