Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Short update on tumor markers. I got yesterday's blood work results back this morning, and my markers had fallen to 73! That's a drop of more than 40 points, and if that happens again during this week, I will be in the normal range. Please keep praying.

Selin and Emre - Thanks for getting in touch. I was excited to see your post. Hope you're well and life is pleasant in Turkey. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fruits and Nuts

We couldn't have chosen a better place to be for cancer treatment during the winter. We have been enjoying the balmy spring-type weather here in Phoenix for most of our stay. There have been a couple of cold spells, but the kids didn't realize it was considered cold and they ran around outside barefoot. The desert nights are always chilly, but the weather during the day is beautiful.

Last Saturday we picked oranges and grapefruits at a friend's house, and have been enjoying making fresh juice since then. The kids hardly recognized the juice as the same stuff we normally buy in frozen concentrate. I use lemons regularly in my green juice, and we've been blessed with huge lemons from trees around here too. The treatment center has several pecan trees that are dropping nuts all over the yard, so I've been picking up pecans too. And do you have any idea how much better pecans are straight off the tree than the nuts you can buy in bins or bags? There is simply no comparison. I took a small bag of nuts into the treatment center one day and several of us patients cracked them and shared the meat around. It was the first time most of the folks there had tasted a truly fresh pecan.

We were invited to an interesting potluck dinner last week - all raw, vegan, non-processed food. It was hosted by a family who goes to the church we've been attending since we've been down here. I was having a hard time imagining a smorgasbord of raw food. It was difficult to visualize people walking around with plates piled high with carrot sticks and tomato slices. To my surprise, there must have been about 70 people there, and the array of food was lavish - wraps, fruit salads, nut salads, green salads, cold soups, dips, crackers, and wonderful desserts. Our plates really were heaped, and it looked every bit like a normal potluck. My favorite was a chocolate-strawberry pie, which I shouldn't have eaten since it wasn't IPT day, and my blood sugar wasn't lowered. I only had a small piece, and it was worth the step out of the boundaries. I truly enjoyed almost everything I tried that evening. I even contributed a raw apple pie which I made myself with only a little help from a recipe. (Recipes are only suggestions.) It was a very positive raw food experience.

I have been enjoying my food so much more lately. Thanks to all of you who prayed about that. I made my first cheese sauce out of cashews, garlic, lemon, and a little bit of red bell pepper last night, and tonight I enjoyed it on sprouted grain tortillas with red bell peppers, tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, onions, and (cooked) marinara sauce. It tasted very much like a little pizza, especially after I warmed it somewhat in the oven. Oh, well...it started out raw, anyway.

My white blood cells have been behaving wonderfully, and it's been nearly two weeks since I've needed a Neupagen shot. The counts are falling, and I will need a shot again by next Monday probably, but I'm doing so very much better than I was.

My tumor markers fell this week to 119. We are praying that that number will plummet into the normal range very quickly (30 or below) so that we can all go home. We'd sure appreciate your praying about that too. It's been so encouraging to us to see how the Lord has answered your prayers for us. In case you have wondered, getting the tumor markers into the normal range is really only the beginning of this battle, but it is a very significant part. The challenge is to keep the tumors from growing again once they have been destroyed. That is what the strict diet is expected to help with, as well as a period of maintenance treatments.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I met with Dr. Lodi yesterday to review the results of my PET scan from last Friday. Almost all of my tumors and lesions have shrunk by about half. Their metabolic uptake has also decreased by about half. (That's the amount of sugar that these cancerous areas are appropriating). The smallest tumor decreased by only 1/3 in both measurements, but that's still an improvement. The previous PET scan in October had showed two areas of concern, but were not positively identified as metastisized cancer - my ovaries and thymus. Both of those areas are completely clear of whatever was causing them to show up on the PET scan. So that was all good news. Dr. Lodi said that if we could compare this to a baseball game, we are on third base. With two outs. So don't give up praying for me. This is still a battle for my life, and perhaps the analogy to a game was a little light for this situation.

I was discouraged when I found out that during the week's break from the IPT treatments my tumor markers climbed to 143. Dr. Lodi told me not to let that get me down, since tumor markers are only a very narrow indicator of how things are going and will almost certainly fall again once treatment resumes - which, by the way, was yesterday.

We discussed future treatments, and I was not surprised that Dr. Lodi recommended I complete a full 12 weeks of treatment. Although I long to go home, I would hate to stop in the middle and lose the progress we've made. The goal is to get my tumor markers down to normal, and then continue with maintanance treatments for approximately a year to a year-and-a-half. Dr. Lodi is reasonably certain that this is an achievable goal over the next month. If my markers continue to fall at the pace they'd been falling before last week, we would be within 10 points of normal at the end of the treatment routine. Tumor markers are not necessarily predictable, though. Please be in prayer about that.

My white blood cells are doing better, and I would appreciate prayers that those cells will keep up with me. I'm feeling a lot better now. The cold symptoms have been rapidly clearing up since last Saturday. And I've been enjoying my food a great deal more. So your prayers are being answered. Thanks very, very much.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Progress and Regress

My white blood cells have been giving me trouble again, and I'm on preventative antibiotics as well as nearly daily Neupagen shots again. I will not be having the IPT chemo treatments until my counts go up and stay there on their own. The doctor hopes that will happen quickly - about a week, but please pray about that. I'd also appreciate prayer that this bug I've been fighting will clear up. Every few days, the symptoms worsen again, and I'm getting worn out from these physical ups and downs. The combination of the chemo and flu bugs is not good.

Yesterday we got more good news about my tumor markers. In the last week they have fallen to 125! Please pray that my break from chemo will not seriously interfere with this progress. I will continue with all my other regular treatments.

One more prayer request. I've been having a hard time enjoying my food lately. Strange, since I loved it at first. Maybe the Christmas season got to me, but I've been pitching internal fits (and one or two that weren't) about not being able to eat the normal things that appeal to me. I threatened to eat a whole plate of pork roast on Sunday, but my supportive husband refused to be intimidated by my tantrum, and patiently reminded me why I'm doing this treatment regimen. All of you who have contributed to help pay for this option are also keeping me accountable. I sure don't want to waste your investment in me. In the last few days I started praying that the Lord would help my to enjoy me food and be thankful for it.

I want to tell you one very encouraging story from another patient. This man is a doctor who was recently diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. (Pancreatic cancer has only about a 5% survival rate.) His oncologist recommended to him, doctor to doctor, that he decline the standard treatment and prepare to die. He came here about a month ago, and although this world of alternative medical treatment was a real challenge to his training, he decided to embrace it. His tumor markers very rapidly fell into the normal range and his PET scan over the weekend showed absolutely no unusual metabolic activity. He is one grateful man. It was funny to me, after all my food struggles lately, when he told me today that he is asking God to help him enjoy the food he has now committed to eating for the rest of his life.