Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Have Green, Watch Me Go!

Well, here I am catching up again from another long ago post! I think I'll stop apologizing and just ask you to understand that I'll post when I can; how's that for now?

The newest developments since last post:

1) My miracle "drug" Chlorophyll!!! First, let me tell everyone on cancer treatment that you MUST ask your doctor before taking this to see if it will interfere with your treatment. Many "good things" that help the body can also help the cancer too. If it strengthens your regular cells, it can also strengthen the cancer cells just as much.

So, I have a friend named Phillip who has used Chlorophyll since he had to go through treatment for HEP C/Interferon treatment. He told me how much it helped him, and when I expressed interest, he went down to the health food store and bought me my first bottle of the green juice. (it stains really bad, so be sure to pour over your sink!)

However, I did some research online and here's what I found out: it primarily helps red blood cell production/support in carrying oxygen to the body better, (great for Anemics!! which I am presently), it is a "natural" internal body deodorizer (meaning less smelly underarms and poo), it naturally increases energy levels without a "caffeine" feel (no shaking, tremors, etc. and no crash either), etc.

Chlorophyll is basically the blood of green plants. It is primarily taken from alfalfa (at least that is the kind I have been using and read about). It is also found in spinach, broccoli and kale, among other plants.

For me, having been on chemotherapy now since June 29, 2009, this is what it has done for me: eliminated 90% of my bowel/constipation/gas/pain on going problems, reduced by 98% my feeling of faintness and light-headedness (rarely experience this anymore), reduced my fatigue by 80% or so, improved my GERD so that I feel like I have no stomach problems anymore (other than I still take my GERD medicine as prescribed), has improved my metabolism (I've lost an additional 8 pounds in the last month and trust me, I could still stand to lose another 30lbs.) and my general sense of well-being and happiness as improved. I feel calmer and more centered. Last and certainly not least, my hair is growing back and my eyelashes have returned and are growing rapidly!!!

I originally began taking this on March 31, 2009. Because I felt immediate results, I went from the minimum dose of 1-2 tablespoons daily to the maximum recommended dose of 3 tablespoons. This started on a Wednesday and on Friday I thought I better call my doctor and tell him about this - get permission. I knew it wasn't on the list of things for sure not to take, like green tea, ginko biloba, high doses of A, E, and C, etc. I spoke to the Office Manager and told her and she said, "Hmmm, I dont know about that, never heard of it before. I'll check with the doctor and let you know if its not okay."

So I waited and continued taking it at the 3 tblsp dose. I traveled with my kids by plane from where I live on the central coast of California to Port Angeles, Washington and stayed for a week. I still rested quite a bit and had to take naps, but my digestive system and bowel problems were greatly reduced already at that point. When I was up and about, I felt more like my old self, less heart-pounding, easier breathing, less light-headedness. I ate a lot better. Not to mention that I was getting an extra week off from chemo due to the trip - I have to include that to be fair and accurate.

Anyway, we got home and I kept taking the Chlorophyll, and at the end of the week (which was April 16, I went in for my next dose of chemo.

I was so excited to tell the chemo nurses about this wonderous stuff I was taking and lo and behold, the nurse I told (Diane), majorly popped my happy bubble! She stopped in her tracks when I started effusively gushing about all the improvements I was getting from taking this stuff and she said "What is it called again?", so of course I told her. She said she didn't think I should be taking that and would check with the doctor. I explained my prior conversation and how I hadn't gotten any warning back, being hopeful that would explain things. However, being a good nurse she checked with the doctor anyway.

Here is what Dr. P said: I absolutely cannot take it the day before, the day of, and the day after chemo!! (to which I said, uh oh, I already took it yesterday and today (day of chemo), and the other recommendation for the rest of the time is "he recommends against it, but its up to you."

So, I quit taking it from April 17, until April 22. At that point I was feeling so rotten again, every problem I have mentioned came back in full by then. I thought to myself this "justification" to return to using Chlorophyll; I have been on chemo almost a full year and its been a hard year. Its very hard to be a normally energetic person and be reduced to a bed/couch potato when that goes against what your heart and head want to do. It is very painful and limiting to have severe ongoing bowel infections, pain when you try to go #2, embarrassing levels of gas, horrible constipation that seems to be unresponsive to any amount of stool softeners and magnesium and laxatives, etc. Both my kids were so happy to "see the real me" again that they both said to me on their own "Gosh, Mom! I missed you!" - only to have to watch me return to the invalid during that week off of the Chlorophyll. My kids are 10 (almost 11) and 16 years of age. I am a single mom and although I get support from friends and family, I am still the primary parent that they rely on. Additionally I thought this - while I am great at eating salads, cooked veggies from time to time (like 2 x week), I should be eating things like broccoli, asparagus, spinach etc. every day and I don't. If I took a cup of spinach or broccoli and ground it into juice, I believe I would get more than a tablespoon of juice. Therefore, I feel that if I stick to the minimum basic level of 1 tablespoon a day (in the morning), and stay off of the Chlorophyll the day before, the day of, and the day after chemo as Dr. P requested, then that is my new plan.

I resumed Chlorophyll on April 23rd and immediately again felt all the benefits. However, i still have some gas and gurgling in my bowels, but its manageable at least, on this reduced dose. I feel a little more fatigue than before but I can get through the day and have started to walk for exercise again about 15 min. every other day. I also have yet to inform my doctor of this as I don't meet with him until tomorrow (I also had a PET scan yesterday and I didn't take the Chlorophyll until after the test was over so I wouldn't screw up the test as I didn't know if the Chlorophyll would affect it or not). So, depending on my scan results and my discussion with my Dr. tomorrow, I may have to change my new dosing pattern again but I am loathe to give it up altogether! I feel too good with it!

If my scan doesn't say good things, I will have to re-think this Chlorophyll plan again. But the scan is supposed to be confirming that my liver has indeed returned to normal (ie no lesions anymore) as the last MRI scan showed in February and again check the status of my bones, which are already supposedly "healed" of cancer since last December --- so other than my CA-15-3 blood test still sitting at 54-55 for the last 2 months, I am hoping this scan will show dramatic improvement, maybe even that I have entered remission? Who knows? I am prepared to hear the opposite since I have so many times. But this is where I am at. And all the things I've read about Chlorophyll is that it is more a "detoxifier" than an antioxident, but it is likely both.

So tomorrow is the real truth-teller. What the scan will tell, what the doctor will say and what I will ultimately have to decide from that. But I tell ya what! If you can take Chlorophyll, DO it!! You will be amazed. I have 5 friends who have started taking it who are not in treatment and they have experienced their own energy boosts, and benefits, so the stuff does work and if you need help with fatigue and digestive and anemic help, ask your doctor and give it a try. It only costs about $10 a bottle and a bottle lasts for about a month.

Good luck and let me know what happens when you take it, okay? I'm interested!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Still Alive and Kickin'!

Well, it's 2010 and it is the 10th of February...and it's been over 3 months since I last posted on my blog. Naughty, naughty me! However, I've had some challenges with THE cancer (one of my New Year's Resolutions is to stop calling it "MY" cancer, because I don't want to own it, or let it belong to me anymore!), that it is in my body and being killed off by the chemotherapy that I am on. I used to be on Taxol but while I was on that treatment, after the cancer appeared to initially go down -- about October (treatment began in June 09), THE cancer began to grow again. So, in December of '09, I was switched to Adriamycin and Cyclosposphamide (spelling?).

I also had a radiation treatment on my left leg in the first weeks of December that resulted in an unexpected response whereby the pain that they were radiating me to reduce, actually went sky high instead! Boy, was that a surprise and a painful one! My radiologist immediately stopped the original 2 week radiation schedule and said, "Your body is telling us that right now, radiation is NOT your friend". I was put on steroids and Fentanyl patches to reduce the pain feeling and result in my bones. After Christmas, I was able to stop using ALL pain medicines (by then I had already had one dose of Adriamycin +)!

At the time of the first dose, my CA-15-3 test had risen from a low of 40 to over 100. That was not good to say the least! It peaked at 133 after 2 doses and now, after 3 doses, it is down to 71 (the goal level is 0-31). I've also had an MRI w/ and w/o contrast that shows nothing has increased or decreased at this point. I may not have gone down on my 3 little lesions in my liver, and one on my sternum, but hey!, they didn't grow either. So, I'm happy!

Now that the update has been provided on what I was "busy" with when I was not posting, at this time I think I can say I'll be better able to keep up with my posts for the forseeable future.

Thanks for your patience with me!

With Gratitude For All!

Elizabeth Gregory

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walking with gratitude

Welcome and greetings! Iknow I've let a few weeks go by; due to side effects/illness like... Having cold after cold, catching pneumonia (medicine & a full week in bed turned that around) and as I mentioned earlier in another report, developing that bacterial infection called Clostridum difficule infection (which is an intestinal/gangrenous infection caused by intestinal bacteria getting out of whack).Anyway! I can also report that I've had to temporairly remove myself from college. This was very sad for me. I love going to college. I missed out doing it earlier in my life due to my alcoholism & drug addiction issues that were active at that time in my life.I love school! But for now, my health must take precedence. Too many germs there for my body at this time. Plus, in the last few weeks (most of November) I've had an MRI, a bone scan, xrays, and a ct/pet scan of my whole body and halleluiah! Everything is either looking normal or, for my liver lesions - 2 of the 3 are completely gone and the 3rd one (the size of my thumbnail) is "less conspicuous" meaning it is starting to disappear! I'm saying with faith in my heart that I believe God is healing me through this with the help of people and faith. I have become a tad better, through this cancer journey, at trusting in God that the "net" is there to catch me,even though I can't see it, and sometimes I can't feel it, but I've learned better to "Let go and Let God" and also to accept His will for me, no matter what. I believed from the beginning that this was a journey to "grow" not "go" even on fearful days - my best defense is still asking "God to help me deal with this". It always restores my heart and mind when I talk to God, because I believe in Him. I trust in Him; that His will is the will I must follow. My will alone can't always do what I want-unless its aligned with God's. That's also how my chemical recovery works today too.

And on another note, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to remember, express and appreciate all the bounty in their lives. I've been homeless before in my life...and I was still able to find gratitiude in the organizations that feed the homeless, the churches that let us sleep on a cot for one night at a time, for having access to showers, laundry etc. When my house burned to the ground in 8 minutes because of the propane company's error; my immediate thought as I first saw it was not for my things - but for "my people - my child & best friend" and as soon as I knew they were alive and okay I said "thank you God, I'm good...even though after those 1st few days, I heavily mourned the loss of two cats, family heirlooms, my childrens babybooks, birth videos, my beloved books, and so much more. But I knew immediately God had saved exactly the most important, most irreplaceable, most vaulable things - the people I loved. Period. And, as hard as it was to mourn that, struggle to become "not homeless" after that, still be a mother, still function through depression for several years - my belief in God was strengthened through that tragedy. I began to learn that God was my friend, my heavenly Father who loved me and was carrying me through a horrible time in my life. And with this second time around with cancer, boy!! Don't I have a deeper faith now! How fortunate I am to have opportunities like these to grow my faith and my relationship with God. I used to think, years ago, "poor me!" and "why me!?". Today, I don't think "lucky me!" but I do say, "okay, here we go, another time to grow, trust in God and hang on."

Acceptance comes with faith. Gratitude does too. Thanksgiving is a special opportunity to remember all the things, people, situations, moments, etc that we should be, and/or, are grateful for. I feel blessed to be alive, to be sober and with my children every day. I am grateful for my amazing family. I am thankful for my awesome friends that walk with me on all my journeys in sobriety, through cancer, or any other thing that feels scary or hard. I appreciate all that I have in my life today -- and what I don't have in my life too.

As they say at my place of worship, "God IS good, all the time. Be at peace, practice acceptance and believe in the power of your personal energy and your Higher Power, whomever you choose that to be.

With Gratitude for All -
Elizabeth Gregory

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time Goes On

Hi everyone! Wow! I haven't written anything since September 22! And why is that? I've been sick with various side illness during this whole time. I attached a link for any of you to see if needed, of one of the tougher illnesses I was/am still fighting off. That was a wretched disease, I tell you!! Disgusting and painful! And very serious/life threatening too.

I have learned that I have a high pain tolerance for my body with the onslaught of that disease. I had it for about 2 1/2 weeks (maybe 3) before I sought help (from the amount of pain, explosive cramping I was having). I should have sought help about a week and a half earlier than I did (when my bowel movements didn't look normal anymore). By the time I did, they almost had to hospitalize me! Moral? Get medical help in the beginning & don't wait! It could kill you if you wait.

I also had two more colds during that time; I'm still fighting a sinus infection. The side colds are a real bummer! Really hard with 2 kids to care for too.

So, that's my wisdom for today. I'm starting to feel better, but, here comes my daughter with a sore throat so we shall see.

Oh yeah! One other thing - I entered some of my art (1 painting & 1 photo) in an Art Contest locally on the central coast here; one I can win some cash if I place...will know this Sunday.

And lastly, my CA-15 went up slightly from 40 to 52. That's the wrong direction - we want it to go the other way (down to under 31). At first, I felt very alone, very, very disappointed, very angry and sad. I almost felt like, "that's it!, I'm actually dying!" Talk about a drama queen, a severe reaction to a small hurdle really. Then I decided to look at it as, "just a bubble of cancer cells bursting (cause that happens and that makes the #'s go up briefly). So, I changed my thoughts and perception. I could've chosen to let that defeat me, instead (after that first few days of wallowing), I chose to turn it into a positive. Everyone has a choice ike that every day, on anything. I'm still fighting my disease... How about you?

With Gratitude for All -
Elizabeth Gregory

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

By the way...

Just forgot to mention that I finally received the free "cancer killing" game, called Re-mission, from HopeLab.

Haven't tried it yet, but I will soon. Will let you know my review, asap.


With Gratitude For All,

Elizabeth Gregory

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Wow! It's been a slow month of postings, hasn't it? Mostly due to fighting off secondary infections, which seems to have been ongoing since our return from Disneyland at the end of July.

We've been sharing this awful sinus infection on and off through August and September. We are all on anti-biotics now and slowly recovering, thank God!

I tell you what, having colds with chemotherapy is so much harder to deal with than without. That's probably an obvious statement; but the side effects you feel with a cold seem much more magnified, than regular cold syptoms - as when your not having chemotherapy.

Anyway, it's been a struggle being sick w/various colds, while going through chemo, taking care of my two kids...thank goodness I have wonderful family and friends to help support us in our routines.

So, back to my results from my tests that I promised to give further discourse to. Good news! Dr. P said unequivocally, that the dropping cancer markers on the CA-15 test, for my situation, definitely means the cancer is being killed off! Ya-hoo to infinity! My marker on this test is now at 57, the normal range is 0-31.

Regarding the MRI results; this showed I still have 3 "subtle" lesions on my liver and that my bones are still "mottled" and "abnormal". So, more chemotherapy to be sure that we clean up my liver, and do as much as we can for my bones to repair themselves, (which can take years to repair themselves) per the doctor.

In the meantime, I told him that while chemotherapy was a "pain", I was loathe to stop it because of my desire to do all available to ensure success. He indicated that we can do chemotherapy, on that note, for as long as my body can tolerate it. Hey,I'm game! I'd rather do this now as long as possible; hopefully for the very last time, rather than quit early just to maybe have it come back again. Who wants to go through this yet again? Not I! I've done this twice now, I'm not looking for a third time, that's for sure.

I mean, I've already got about zero hair, less than 1/2 of my eyelashes are left...why not go all the way while the "chips are down" in the beauty catagory already? I hope, with God's grace, I'll never have to look at my "chemo beauty" ever again. God, really, has blessed me with a wonderful doctor, family and friends who pray for me, my own prayers (because for many years - I didn't pray) , and His Grace of giving me another challenge. One that I've learned, and am still learning, to walk through.

People tell me "You're so strong" but that is coming from God, I'm sure. I lean on God just like any other close, personal friend, in this situation would. God is my dearest, most wonderful friend.

Thank God too for good doctors who know what they are doing. If you don't think you have that, go get one! You are your own best advocate, after all.
And, doctors are humans too. Some are more knowledgable at what they do. Some don't offer everything there is to know, even an excellent doctor, such as mine. Read the story below to get what I mean.

My dear friend with anal cancer, who appears to also to be beating that cancer - she went (just in case) to San Franciso to doctors at the main hospital (university connected?, not sure).

Anyway, she found out our Dr. was right on about every thing he was doing for her. Yay!
However, they did find out that for follow up checks over the next few years, she should get biopsies of the site in order to be sure. Turns out our Doctor had not mentioned that, either because our area has no one to refer her to for that, or, no one the doctor has confidence in. So, he was relieved to know she was able and willing to go to SF for that as needed, that she would have that level of follow up. It is interesting to note that our doctor, who is so thorough about what he does share with us (which is a tremendous amout), didn't mention this to her, because it's not available here. Please people! Remember every opinion can offer something; second opinions can be extremely important. Or confusing, too.
Remember, go to the best, and only the best. Specialits in their area.

Last thing, my son turns sixteen this Saturday! I so want to do something wonderful for him; kayaking off the coast in the ocean kelp forests, or bi-plane rides at a local place we have here, or something he suggests. Zip. No. Nada. Typical sixteen year-old who has a girlfriend! Can't do anthing without her. Which is ok with me, she's a decent girl. So, having cleared kayaking with the girlfriends mom, then he still doesn't get behind it. She's excited to go, he's not. C'mon my son! I love him with all of me, yet all he wants? An X-Box 360! Something to sit in his room with. Again. (We have a very old X-Box he has now). Frustrating to appreciate life and adventure as much as I do, and have a son, who (at this point in life) juat wants to play video games. Geez. I only hope this is just a stage.

Well, that's enough out of me!

With Gratitude For All,

Elizabeth Gregory

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Well, the cancer is going down!

Well, well, well! Some very happy news to present today! My tumor marker test (CA-15) shows my tumor (blood) level is now @ 57!! This is a big deal because I started out at 263, and, the "normal" range is 0-31!! Yahooie oooie oooh!

This upcoming Friday I will be finding out a lot more because I also had a MRI done last week, that in conjunction w/my blood test results, I will get a better feeling about the whole picture. I still have 3 "subtle" lesions on my liver (levels of which have gone back up again but slightly), and the MRI has repeated the mottled multi-level changes in my bones, but that has been like that since I before I began treatment -- so we'll see what Dr. P has to say about it all. Will update on that after this Friday.

Also, really glad that I kept the couple classes I wanted to take. It's hard, they make me tired, but I am so inpired by the basic photography class! And, math is a necessary evil. One thing that isn't so good is that with being part time, and in California, the grants have gone way down! Makes it that much harder to make it at school (especially w/photography which is a more expensive class...good thing I don't have two art classes or it just wouldn't work out!)

Anyway, I love school; it takes my mind off everything except me trying to absorb & do my very best & move on towards that goal of a degree. I don't want to be the only one in my family without one. I had a very bad time when I should've been going to school when I was younger because I was blinded in many ways by my alcoholism/addictions and lack of faith/contact with God. Thank God I don't have that problem today, and I get to me more of me today-who I really am, and always wanted to be. I'm not quite where I want to be of course, but a step at a time, I will be there.

And, let me say again, how much I appreciate the friends and family that I have. I am so fortunate to have the people in my life today that I do. I have deep gratitude for everyone in my life. One thing about having cancer, for me, it has brought me new friends, closer to old friends, and dearer to my family/I appreciate my family that much more every day.

God is great! Life is good! No complaints here today.

With gratitude for all!

Elizabeth Gregory