1778 years to wait for a cure!

UKhealthradio – “Must-Listen”

“There is no evidence for any benefit of that treatment.” On more than one occasion my suggestions in clinic have been met with that reply. I have felt like screaming: ” For heaven’s sake – each study takes up to a decade and nearly twenty years are needed to bring a cancer drug to market – at this rate it will take centuries to find a cure – that is simply not good enough”. But of course I don’t scream. I really rate my oncologist – he is doing his best for me and overall I have had a good deal from the NHS. Chemotherapy  had a good effect – I’m still here. But I want so much more – probably just like many other patients diagnosed with metastatic spread.

No evidence then! But what constitutes evidence. Mainstream medicine requires the randomised double blind method in the context of a phase 3 clinical trial. In the alternative medicine sphere, trials are difficult to fund and very complex interventions are investigated. There is a dearth of randomised trials and therefore much reliance is placed on anecdotal reports.

So, the radio show I have highlighted really resonated with my thinking. It is a “must-listen” – if that is indeed a word. Over the last twenty years the drug companies have released medicines that produce on average a 2.7 month increase in life expectancy and for that they receive a perversely bountiful reward. In my book, paying tens of thousands for a medicine should give a really meaningful benefit and increase survival by years – not just a few months. Moreover the speaker calculates that to achieve a twenty year increase in survival it will take 1778 years at the current rate of progress. Truly abysmal! In spite of this dire situation, Pharmaceutical companies are generating obscene profits,  often based upon discoveries made in our Universities which are funded by taxpayer money. They have over-generous profit margins and receive significant tax breaks from governments. Something must be done! The clinical trials system is failing patients diagnosed with the big C. The relationship between pharma and governments must be reviewed. Thinking outside the box is urgently required – to achieve better results faster and reduce suffering around the world.

 

Visual Imagery with my Cat

Visual Imagery with my Cat 

Chessie

We have two cats – Chico Gomez (Squirrel / Frog Slayer) and Chessie (The Mad Thinker). They have very different personalities but both love toasty warm cuddles. Wherever I decide to do my relaxation, Chessie seeks me out. I prepare myself. Headphones, dim the lights, lie down. I follow a visual imagery protocol described in O Carl Simonton’s: “Getting Well Again”. I say my prayers and start the breathing. I listen to YouTube videos of falling rain, beach sounds, forest tweets and tinkles. Binaural beats help getting in the zone. In through the nose. Anatomy goes out of the window as I imagine the air passing over the top of my head and travelling down into my tummy and lungs. My muscles relax as I summon my avatar to do today’s work.

The Silver Surfer complete with surfboard awaits my bidding. I imagine him soaring in my mind , navigating myriad lymph channels, blood vessels, nerves. The Power Cosmic at his disposal, the Silver Surfer zaps the weak and frail tumour cells with abandon. And they are weak. They cower, shivering, bewildered. My mind starts to wander, straying into an infinity of possible futures. I need to be disciplined. Concentrate on the breathing and the rest should follow. Zap each known deposit in turn – the primary, omental deposit, para-aortic nodes. All fry in my mind! The Surfer summons my powerful natural killer cells and vigilant macrophages to mop up the destroyed tumour cells. Strong and vigorous my immune cells shred the feeble cancer cells. It’s no contest!

silver_surfer

I feel a tap on my right hand. More tapping becoming a swat. It is very insistent.

“Prrr. Meow?”

Oh no, it’s Chessie. She meows again. I need to concentrate to finish my protocol. She nips my hand. Chessie wants to be stroked. What do I do – if I stroke her she will get more affectionate and I will totally lose my concentration. I don’t really want to swat her away. I decide to stroke her.

“Meow, Meow, Meow Prrrrrr.” Chessie tries to climb on my tummy to get comfortable. I am now uncomfortable! Oh dear, the session is breaking down. I wonder if she is attracted to the birds tweeting in the background music. I change the track – but she continues to fidget, finally getting comfortable, settling against my right flank – the heat of my very active liver must be almost irresistible if you are a cat seeking warmth.

“What’s that smell?” Oh no – Chessie is really relaxed now – so relaxed that she farts away to her heart’s content. A little flustered, I continue my breathing exercises and relax slowly again. I can’t breathe too deeply as the aroma is rather pungent! I decide not to swat her away. I stroke her until she settles down purring by my side. I wonder if her purring at 120 Hz will set up some sort of interference with the binaural beats and counter the healing, but the combination seems fine. And, as all to often happens, I doze off before the work is done. I wake with a start, feel a bit guilty about the sleep and finish my protocol. O Carl Simonton states that the imagery must conclude with a vision of health. For some strange reason Morecambe & Wise spring easily to mind.

bringmesunshine

M&W

I see my self skipping happily into the distance. The bright future awaits. I give thanks with the Lord’s Prayer. Chessie is still purring and I can hear Jackie  downstairs. Time for a raw salad!

Dr. Michael Greger: “Standing up to the corporations killing millions.”

Dr. Michael Greger is speaking at the University of Bristol on April 29th. Now sold out, rather unfortunately. Here is a you tube video of his recent talk at Google. Entertaining and with a lifesaving message! The tobacco companies played dirty tricks and delayed the message about tobacco and cancer. Now the food companies / salt / sugar conglomerates are using the same tactics and seeking the collusion of government. Don’t let them do it!! Happy Easter!

My Experience of Curcumin

My Experience of Curcumin.

Curcumin the King of Spices. Derived from turmeric and one of the main components of “Curry Powder”, the health benefits of curcumin have been known for centuries.

During chemotherapy my diet was not the best. Fried egg sandwiches were my afternoon delight.

When chemotherapy finished, one of the questions, uppermost in my mind was how to keep at bay the the wee-crab like thing that had taken up residence in my body:

Me: How do I keep the cancer at bay?

Oncologist: Well, we adopt a watch and wait strategy in cases like yours.

Me: I don’t want to watch and wait, it doesn’t seem a very active approach to treating an illness. If I am not doing anything I will feel hopeless and get depressed……

Oncologist: OK, try taking selenium, zinc, possibly aspirin – no scrub that last one – you might bleed. We know that curcumin is looking good as a potential treatment – particularly for bowel tumours. Get as much into your system as possible.

Armed with this bit of advice, curry became the daily meal with lots of organic turmeric. Turmeric in every meal, soup, stew, salads dressing. Not unpleasant in the diet and apart from turning me a light shade of orange, no real side effects.

However, patients diagnosed with cancer read and read and read. I was no different. It became apparent that the bio-availability of curcumin i.e. the amount absorbed compared to the amount ingested, was pretty low. The alternative and orthodox literature on curcumin is immense and several ways to increase absorption are well documented.

First, curcumin is better absorbed in the presence of fat. Now, I am on a pretty low fat low sugar diet, so how would I achieve this? Coconut oil seemed to be the preferred method in the curcumin  chatrooms

Second, piperine – a component of black pepper – increases absorption – OK I love black pepper, full speed ahead on that one then.

The curcumin chatrooms were also full of adverts, promotions for supplements, specifically formulated to increase curcumin bio-availability – some of the sales pitches quoted huge increases  in absorption. Wow – fab. I needed some of that! I succumbed to the sales pitches and started heavy supplementation – curcumin XL 4000 – evidently 23 times as much absorbed. I was becoming even more golden taking over 20 capsules daily – but the supplements were not without side effects: griping abdominal pain late in the day, increased frequency of the bowels, and also liver pain. I checked that I was not suffering from gallstones (turmeric can make gallstones worse evidently) and persevered. Something else to be cautious about is an anti-platelet effect of the spice – it has a mild aspirin like effect and can make the blood thin – this might be a problem if one al;ready takes aspirin or anti-coagulants – so always discuss with one’s doctor before dosing up on herbs and spices or considering radical dietary change to treat illness!

Peak orange-ness occurred around the middle of last year and is evident  in this photo taken when I took my youngest daughter to visit The London Dungeons:

OrangeDad 1
“Are you overdoing the spices a bit Daddy?”

At the beginning of this year I started to wind down some of my supplements as something wasn’t quite right and I was getting too liverish. Lo and behold, my liver function started to improve and is now the best it has been since chemotherapy.

But, but, but I need the golden spice – so back to natural methods – curcumin, coconut oil and black pepper. The curcumin chatrooms have recipes for golden paste – which can be taken by mouth in various forms. My preferred method is the golden milk:

Golden paste:  http://www.turmericlife.com.au

I use a teaspoon of golden paste, and warm with a cup of non-dairy milk, adding a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. No sweetener needed but one could add a bit of honey if one is not worried about the sugar load. YUM!!

Off Label Drugs for Cancer

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/healthadvice/11424747/The-professor-who-cured-his-cancer-with-a-cocktail-of-everyday-pills-and-20-years-on-remains-disease-free.html

  • Aspirin             – Heart Disease
  • Artemisinin    – Malaria
  • Metformin      – Diabetes
  • Mebendazole  – Worming tablet
  • Doxycycline    – Antibiotic
  • Naltrexone      – Used to treat drug addiction in high doses

 

The medicines above are showing promise in the treatment of cancer. Research is early stage and as yet there are no large scale phase 3 clinical trials demonstrating efficacy and safety. However they are all pretty cheap with good side effect profiles. So why not use them? Well, we don’t really know for sure that these agents work. They may make the situation worse. Doctors like to see a robust phase 3 clinical trial and more before they feel comfortable prescribing a new drug. Things could go wrong and if the drug is unlicensed then the practitioner may be vulnerable to a complaint or lawsuit. The use of these medicines for cancer would have been made much easier if the recent “Off Label Drugs” Bill had not been filibustered  in Parliament last year, but don’t get me started on that…..

So what does one do if articles appear promoting the use of medicines for the treatment of cancer in the absence of big clinical trial evidence? Doctors are busy and “evidence-based” guidelines may be out of date. The huge volume of research being published means some important developments get lost in transit. Some doctors will prescribe – for instance my oncologist has advised me to take low dose aspirin – risky with a bowel problem but the evidence is pointing to good effects of aspirin in patients with gastro-intestinal cancers.

The inspiring survival of Professor Ben Williams who recovered from  one of the most deadly brain tumours – grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme clearly demonstrates the benefit of using appropriate off label drugs under appropriate supervision and monitoring.

 

 

 

The Death of Cancer

41Avw5QHZUL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

 

I read this book before Christmas and found the message very uplifting. Vincent DeVita pioneered combination chemotherapy. His philosophy – “keep patients going until the next big thing comes along”. “Hang in there!” this doctor would say – and sure enough a lot of the time a new therapy would come along. De Vita states that if your doctor doesn’t have this mind-set  – then get another doctor!

A 30-minute discussion with Dr. Vincent de Vita:

OncLive

The author discusses the over-regulation which is impeding progress in finding cures for the big C. NICE, FDA and the strict adherence to guidelines are stifling innovation and blocking promising avenues for study. Concluding, DeVita  highlights some of the amazing new discoveries, the grounds for optimism and particular progress in Multiple Myeloma and Prostate cancer. Well worth reading, although some of the subjects discussed, by their nature, may upset in the short term….

 

 

 

How Not To Die

Unknown

 

Title: How not to Die

Author: Michael Greger

Genre: Nutrition and Health

ISBN: 978-1447282440

Price: £14.99

 

I really, really like this book! Dr. Michael Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. He runs the nutritionfacts.org website. The author states that he receives no money from proceeds of the website or book sales. The funds support the running of his site so there seem to be no conflicts of interest.

I’m sorry if you are a carnivore – and indeed if you are a dedicated meat eater, this book may not be for you. I say “may” – because of course one can make one’s diet more healthy without giving up eating soft fluffy quadrupeds. Just try adding shedloads of fruit and veg. Try meatless Monday or Tuesday or whatever day you want but don’t miss a must-read! However,  Vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians, flexitarians should not be smug. Carcinogens abound even in the meat free world – there is no room for complacency! Healthier dietary options for all types of diet are discussed in depth in “How not to Die”.

The amazing 652 page tome appears quite daunting at first but is very readable. “How not to Die” is written with a gently sardonic and witty style that renders some of the more academic sections very easy on the eye. It is not quite the tome it first appears as 147 pages comprise the bibliography – Greger provides excellent references to back up his claims.

Starting with his personal story of loss which stimulated an interest in Medicine and nutrition, Greger discusses the state of the nutrition battlefield, the vested interests, the deep politics. Poorly taught, if taught at all in medical school – there is a sizeable literature from which Michael Greger extracts Evidence Based Nutrition and constructs a useful traffic light system. Green light foods are the way to go..

The book is divided into two parts. The first part looks at how plant based dietary approaches can be used to treat the 15 leading causes of death in the USA (Western World). How not to die from Heart Disease, How not to die from Digestive Cancers and so on and so on…. Gripping stuff if you are a patient and written in plain English, to boot! Useful tidbits abound and I soon found myself in Scoopaway buying some broccoli seeds and then searching for my sprouting jar. Moreover, for healthcare professionals this book would provide a valuable resource in the consulting room. Using this book might enable clinicians to be more confident when advising lifestyle changes.

In the second part Dr Greger looks at specific food groups and how they can be used to maintain health. Part 2 contains sections on “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen”. Beans, legumes, greens, berries to name but a few – and of course not forgetting that well known vegetable – exercise. The chapters are well structured with sections for Dr. Greger’s favourites, selected recipes and serving sizes, potential pitfalls e.g the potential interaction between greens and warfarin

There is a common theme throughout. Whole food plant based nutrition equals GOOD. Meat, Dairy, sugar, refined grains not so good or downright BAD….

I suppose this leads me on to the downsides of this book. Well, I have already given “How not to Die” a score of 11/10 but there is always room for improvement, as they say. The book might be criticised for several reasons. First, I don’t think the scientific argument is complete. A lot of the quoted research has been done in the petri dish and in animal studies. It is always difficult to extrapolate the results of these studies to the general population. However, make no mistake – there is a crisis surrounding the corruption of our food supply. Diet studies are difficult to perform and even more difficult to fund. Our Universities are hard-pressed for cash and Drug companies have little incentive to pursue research in this area. Will long term dietary studies ever be performed? Probably not. So what do we all do? Well, is it absolutely necessary to have Class A research all the way along the line? Most dietary interventions have little toxicity, although there are important side effects of some diets – for instance the Atkins regime can cause the most dreadful constipation and halitosis. But on the whole, apart from a few pitfalls you are not going to suffer by augmenting your vegetable and fruit intake and altering your diet.

The author has done a great job adapting the text to local UK conditions but some of the references are to US based companies or products not available here in ‘Ole Blighty. The only other area for improvement might be the inclusion of a more formal recipe section/ This might make the end of the book a little more colourful.

“How not to Die” is an important book. The word needs to be spread! It took decades for the message to get through about smoking – there was no internet in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Now we have an internet to disseminate information about nutrition and people can be empowered. The corporations will do their darnedest to prevent this but books like this, based on reputable science provide one with robust tools to improve health. Do you need to cut out meat completely? Probably not, our ancestors ate a diet of vegetables, fruit and occasional meat. Our forebears did not add sugar to their beverages and before agriculture arrived on the scene – there were few if any grains. The rapid change in diet over the last 30-40 years has been triggered by an inadequate scientific discussion and potentiated by power politics. The change has has been far too rapid for our bodies to adapt…. However, there is always hope because given the right conditions often the body heals itself.

Feedback sandwich over – what do I really think about “How Not To Die”? I really really like this book! If I was Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnell I would need to add an extra point to my visual analog scoring scale to give this book a massive 11/10.

Eleven out of 10!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful

No treatment – seven months said the textbooks. With chemotherapy – thirteen months said the textbooks again. So where am I now? Answer – twenty three months after diagnosis….. And Very  Grateful!

“The mortality of the condition is skewed to the first two years.” I can’t remember which doctor told me that..

Throw away the textbooks please – I won’t behave!

Unless I choke on my Christmas nut loaf – two years should be “taken as read”. I have many plans for next year. I am very grateful.

gratefulness-quotes-the-more-often-you-notice-the-gorgeous-world-around-you-the-happier-youe28099ll-be

So grateful for:

A saviour who I believe died to save us

My wife, Jackie who is so lovely on her own but buy one get one free – she also has a lifesaving social network!

This Christmas  – which will be the best ever!

My doctors and healers

The NHS

My talents. A bit of chemo-brain and neuropathy aren’t going to stop me.

Three healthy daughters

My Church

Family, friends and work colleagues who have supported us so much in the struggle

My Juicer

champion2-black-2

Curcumin, Cruciferous vegetables, Carctol, vitamin D, and many other natural supplements

Youyou Tu for artemesinin!!

Two cats, a hamster and a tortoise.

The Coast-to-Coast Walk is looking possible!

Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TO48Cnl66w

So many other things…. Thank you!

Merry Christmas everyone!

People ask me what I do all day….

IMG_1966IMG_1968IMG_1967

Well it’s mainly food. Then there is watching juicing videos. Juicing and preparing, preparing and juicing. Jay Kordich – the original juice man holds forth on the subject here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72taB4JJ-1U

For instance today’s lunch – not strictly raw but straight out of “Oh She Glows”:

http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/enlightened-miso-power-bowl/

Extremely yummy, although a bit fiddly with the ingredients.

Scanxiety over. Hasta la Vista!

keep-calm-and-hasta-la-vista-8http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2013/02/ct-and-mri-scans-tips.html#more

Hurrah! MRI spine was OK. No malignant cord compression! Still got the pain and numbness but I don’t need radio or chemo! Brill… onwards and upwards. So no more scanxiety until my next scan. Which is in two weeks.

So what to do about my back. Jackie recommends pilates. Acupuncture may work for this as well….

Difficult – but this must be the way to go!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU