Currently viewing the tag: "chemotherapy"

Wow!  This one has even me surprised.  A recent study has shown omega-3 fatty acids (FA) to help cancer patients preserve muscle tissue and avoid malnutrition.  By taking fish oil supplements, lung cancer patients avoided losing muscle mass and weight from chemotherapy treatments.  Astounding!

The small study, published in the Feb. 28 online edition of Cancer, looked at 40 people with lung cancer that were undergoing 10 weeks of chemotherapy;16 of the subjects received 2.2 grams of fish oil containing the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while the other 24 received chemotherapy alone.  The results: the chemo only group lost an average of just over 5 pounds, while the chemo plus omega-3 FAs group lost no weight at all.  Further, 70% of the fish oil group either gained or kept their original muscle mass, while 30% of the no fish oil group lost muscle mass.  I’m blown away.

This study is important for the obvious reason–possible supplemental treatment to help keep cancer patients undergoing chemo from wasting away.  But for me the real fascination is how amazing the body is.  Give it what it needs and watch Innate Intelligence take over to produce health.  Incredible!

Some are cautioning against premature optimism.  Says one registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Dallas,

“I would caution that the amount of pure concentrated fish oil supplement the people in this study were given is a lot–much, much more than any recommended dietary allowance, along the lines of two to three servings of fish per week…[P]eople should definitely not go out and start consuming huge amounts of fish oil.”

That’s one way of looking at it.  But as far as I’m concerned, we can forget the optimism and try marveling.  Ain’t the human body awe-inspiring?  Yes I’m surprised by this study, simply because sometimes I cannot grasp the magnitude of intelligence operating through the human life form…and the universe.  It sure is humbling.  A good reminder that our educated mind cannot improve on nature’s order.  Not yet anyhow…and maybe never.

One more thing regarding my last post: When it comes to making the decision of whether to die in comfort and dignity, or whether to be treated with chemotherapy or radiation during the last days of your life, consider these side effects:

Chemotherapy:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Hair Loss
  • Anemia
  • Infection
  • Blood Clotting Problems
  • Mouth, Gum and Throat Problems
  • Diarrhea and Constipation
  • Nerve and Muscle Effects
  • Effects on Skin and Nails
  • Kidney and Bladder Effects
  • Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Fluid Retention
  • Effects on Sexual Organs and Sexuality

Radiation Therapy:

  • Tiredness
  • Skin reactions (such as a rash or redness, permanent pigmentation, and scarring) in the treated area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inflammation of tissues and organs in and around the body site radiated, which can cause burn or permanent pigmentation
  • Decrease in white blood cells–cells that help protect the body against infection

When put in these terms, I can’t think of any person that would choose this over going peacefully.


Here is an affirmation I have given to a new client who is being treated with chemotherapy for cancer:  The pain IS the healing.

I was thinking very deeply about this client, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma late last year, when I came up with the affirmation.  He is being successfully treated with the chemo, but the it has put him in excruciating pain.  He says it feels as if his bone marrow is boiling.

What we don’t always realize is that life is often painful; but the pain we endure is often our greatest blessing; it’s what usually brings our greatest growth.  That is the gist of this post.  And the gist of the affirmation.

Affirmations are statements that we say over and over to ourselves, to help establish in our minds the truth behind the statement.  What we say to ourselves repeatedly we believe.  What we believe we create.  In other words, we create our reality, whether you want to believe it or not (hidden wisdom, hidden wisdom, reread, ponder).

However, affirmations are powerless if we don’t really believe what we are saying in the first place.  For my client, it is not too hard to get him to believe.  First off, he’s super-sharp: He already sees the blessing in his illness, and he sees how his life (and mind-set) has led to where he is now, for all of which he is grateful.  Second, he’s a fighter; he feels like ess ayech aye tee (i.e. not well), yet he comes for his visits anyway.  He is doing everything he can to get well, including chiropractic, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, and very soon…rehab.  Third, he knows he is getting better; this man knows the principles of the universe, and he gets that he’s getting a second chance; he understands the process.

So “the pain IS the healing” rings true for him.  But I have given him the affirmation to get him through the rough times.  When his bone marrow starts feeling like it’s boiling from the chemo, the affirmation makes it firm in his mind that it is an integral part of the healing process; and he’ll help his body along through his certainty.

And you can use this affirmation too.  Whether you are going through a tough breakup, financial or legal troubles, or any other painful experience, just remember…the pain IS the healing.


What do you think—should courts decide how you care for your child’s health? Tough question, since the law is ultimately supposed to protect people, and children are often in need of such safeguarding. But how much is too much?

A Minnesota judge ruled yesterday that a 13-year-old cancer patient must be evaluated by a doctor to determine if the boy would benefit from restarting chemotherapy over his parents’ objections. The family belongs to a Native American spiritual organization called the Nemenhah Band, which believes in natural healing. The boy—who is considered a medicine man and an elder in the group–has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Apparently he has made the decision himself to refuse chemotherapy (he only went through one session) and instead treat the cancer with nutritional supplements and other alternative therapies.

The treating oncologist, Dr. Bruce Bostrom, from Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota has stated that the boy’s tumor had shrunk after the sole chemotherapy session. Other doctors have said that the boy has a 90% survival rate if he continues with chemotherapy; but if he opts out, they say, he only has a five percent chance of survival.

The family, and the boy according to his legal team, want the right to choose whatever treatment option best suits them. But the court has ruled that the boy is unable to properly make that decision, stating that he has a learning disability* and can’t read. According to Judge John Rodenberg, the boy has only a “rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. … he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”

And so the judgment is that the boy must adhere to the doctors orders regarding chemotherapy, and if the parents refuse, the boy will be taken in protective custody. But it gets even more complicated. Check this out: If the boy refuses the chemo–hold onto your hats–doctors do not yet know how they will administer the drugs to him. Why don’t they just pin him down and inject it into him by force? Isn’t that the way to ensure compliance—gangstick ‘em, Frances Farmer style?

Tsk, tsk, tsk…now if I haven’t heard it all. OK, first let me accede: these Nemenhah Band people are a bunch of nuts—no doubt about it. But who the hell is the government to step in and tell people what to do with their own bodies. Ok, ok…if the kid was absolutely clueless in all this, then maybe the parents are negligent and responsible for child abuse. But this kid knows what he wants. No, he doesn’t understand the full implications. Nonsense! He knows enough; and anyway, who the hell understands the full implications? Nobody has a complete handle on cancer; if they did, it wouldn’t be the new second leading cause of death worldwide.

Here’s the main problem with this ruling: At what point is governmental protection simply intrusion? Sure this is a tough case—as I’ve said, the family is teetering on the brink of lunacy. But ruling for court mandate in these complicated cases can far too easily lead to the same in other less complicated cases—like mandatory vaccinations, or worse, court-ordered psychiatric drugging of children, particularly those in “protective custody” (to get your bloodcurdling, read this frightening essay on state-prescribed medicating of children).

To what degree do we want our freedoms taken away, like the right to choose what each of us deems right for our family’s health and well being? It seems innocuous enough, this case in Minnesota—for sure it’s dealing with loonies right up there with Christian Scientists, those nut jobs refusing any medical treatment at all because of their belief that God will protect them. But this case is bigger, much bigger, because it’s deciding where Big Brother has the right to step in and dictate what we can and cannot do with regard to our families’ health. No vitamins—doctors say they aren’t necessary. Vaccinate your children or go to jail—like in Belgium. And absolutely, positively, without question you must take your pharmaceuticals because…well…doctor knows best. Just one question: What the hell are they going to do if that kid dies anyway? Doh!

*Learning disorder was a term coined by the psychiatry profession in 1963 to include children in the ever-growing envelope of mental disorders and to provide funds for disabled children in schools.

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