Thursday, January 19, 2006

Velcade round two and thoughts on those herbs

Received my second shot of velcade today. Once again fairly uneventful, except for the following: white count is down to 2.4 today--from 3.8 on Monday. Neutrophils also dropped. Nurse says its due to the velcade most likely. Could it be due to not taking the herbs? no one can answer that and I'll comment more on that later. I did have a discussion with one of the nurses about my returning to the office for a few hours each day this week. She was a bit upset, and reminded once again that stressful environments for patients with myeloma are "toxic". I assured her I was trying to stay away from the stress, such as not interacting with clients or opposing lawyers and only going in for a few hours. She generally is not in favor of my return to the law firm environment. I, on the other hand, feel I need to do something on those days when I have more energy and hope that I can stay out of the fray when i go into the office. We'll see how it goes.--While I had pretty good energy this week, today I am quite tired, and in fact when I got home from the clinic had to take a nap. Not much threat of reestablishing a law practice with this kind of work ethic!

And now about those herbs. First, please understand that I love my doctor and think very highly of him and his knowledge and experience in the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM). While I can appreciate those of you who endorse more traditional medicine, I must say that my experience these past months, at least with this disease,makes me feel like a guinea pig. THe treatments have really not made much progress against the disease, but they certainly have hit me hard in other ways--such as wiping out my immune system and putting a strain on my kidneys. When I came down with the "crud", i.e., RSV, the baby virus, I got angry, as I know that I got that because of my compromised immune system, which is a direct result of my chemo. There have been times when I have certainly felt that the cure was going to get me before the disease did. I now understand the comments made by a couple of my doctors, that you have to be strong to survive this disease. What they meant is you have to be strong enough to endure the treatment regimes.

We all know that our bodies can heal themselves--witness the broken bones that have mended and the gaping flesh wounds that have healed. The same process can occur within my blood stream. Admittedly the herbal treatments don't have a lot of scientfic backup, but I blame the medical establishment for much of that. Linus Pauling is a great example. For those who are not familiar with him, he was a chemist, who won two nobel prizes--one for chemistry and one for peace. He did much research on megadoses of Vit. C as a treatment for cancer. He documented his results, presented it to numerous clinics, hospitals and med schools, and generally met with rejection and often ridicule. Having read a couple of his books, I believe he has legitimate scientific backup for his conclusions, but the medical community just doesn't want to believe it. (I did talk to my doctor about megadosing Vit. C, and although he did not discount its potential to help me, he thought it would be too hard on my kidneys--which are hit by my MM--but then so did most of the chemo he gave me.) I use this as an example and admit that most herbs don't have the scientific backup. That being said, there are MM survivors who have rejected traditional treatment and beaten the disease--my friend who referred me to the herbalist as well as another who wrote a book about his naturalisitic approach--"Medical Mutiny". The other problem is that most herbal approaches are taken only as a last resort--when all else has failed. One wonders what the results would be if it were a treatment of first resort. I started trying to figure out what nutrition could do for me in this struggle about 2 1/2 months ago and became very frustrated. For every wholistic approach, there was a harsh critic from the medical community and vice versa. I wish they would work more closely together instead of trying to trump one another. Simplistically, I feel that since my immune system is currently incapable of eradicating this cancer, herbs that can enhance my immune system function might present the possibility of increasing my body's ability to fight the cancer.

So, how do I answer my dilemna? I have decided to forgo the herbs for the first velcade cycle (2 weeks) to see what my numbers are while solely on velcade. Depending on the results, I may, or may not, restart the herbs. I will tell my doctor what I am doing. I am going to continue to take one of the products, which is a pulverized rice grain powder, as it really isn't an herb, but made from a natural food source. So, thanks for all the input and I'll keep you all informed. I really enjoyed all the thoughts and comments. What an interesting group you are! (and Arlene, thanks for the PDR reference, I am on it!) Love to all, Dan


sigunjoe said...

Dear Dan,

Wow, what a good blog! And yes, I too enjoyed reading about everyone's take on herbs. I congratulate you on your decision to forgo them for the first two weeks, and should the results of your velcade-taking not meet your expectations, to start on them again -- that's what I would have done. Bon courage!

I can understand your nurse's reluctance to see you back at the office, but, on the other hand, it would give you morally such a boost.
And since you seem to have the strength, why not?

Our Marseillais friends are arriving for a few days this morning. Joe will be obliged to speak only French for the next few days. At least it will be less painful for him than six years ago when he really had trouble understanding Georges when he would start 'a toute allure' (speaking very, very quickly) one of his political tirades... Bises to you all, Sigun.

Ingrid said...

Wonderful decision.
And of course, I thought more about it too, and I read all the blog answeres, really interesting indeed, and would like, if you don't mind, just add one more fact, that unfortunately or fortunately is true for myself: Herbs are great, but without the insuline, my diabetes would already have killed me for sure.
That's the dilemma, between science and Homeopatie/Herbs.

Therefore I only hope YOU find the best for YOURSELF and WE here, on the blog, or all your friends who do not get on the blog, all of us will support your decision whichever that might be.

Referring to the crud I would like to add: ok, I really understand you getting upset that you were caught by a Baby-Virus, BUT, if the increasing numbers of the white cells were due to the crud, well maybe that's what you needed. It gave you a boost, more energy, so now you can deal better with the velcade.

Go to the office, or stay out of it? Good question again. But if the nurse was so against it, why don't you take a longer walk every day instead, or start doing Sudokus, or become a Crossword king, or last not least, the most important: Start writing your book!!!
Just trying to find ideas that keep you busy, without stressing you.


Dorothy said...

Good Morning Dan. I have been following the comments regarding your dilemma regarding traditional v. alternative treatment and I must say you are very brave to let so many people give you opinions!! But I did read that you said that you would do what is best for you. As it always should be! Ingrid has put the subject in a very solid prospective, I think, without her traditional treatment, insulin; her diabetes would have killed her. On a personal level if we did not treat Rebecca’s ADD with traditional medicine she would not be as successful as she is in school. It is a combination of tactics traditional and alternative, that has helped her academically and socially. I do believe there needs to be a marriage of traditional and alternative treatment, but as you know all too well the traditional side has too many “egos” and will not always want to play in the sandbox with the others. I am a firm believer in alternative medicine since I have been the recipient of good results. I, like the others support your decision to wait on the herbs and see how the next phase plays out.

Again you are so lucky to have so many people sending you such positive thoughts and encouragement, that no matter what path you take, the support that is there for you, Susan, Catherine and Julia is so inspiring! Take care. Love the Seals.

Richie and Stacey said...

Dear Dan,

Here I am again ... always lurking but not always responding. I have been reading all of the comments on the herbal remedies, your comments regarding them and what your doctor has felt.

I have to say that over the past few years I have changed the way that I think about things ... one being herbal remedies and what they can do for you. During our quest to start a family the doctors prescribed a number of drugs whether it be in the form of a pill or daily injections that I performed. The end result ... Michael James. However, in the process I have meet up with an old friend who is an acupuncturist and I recieved treatments after we lost the twins and when trying to concieve and during my pregnancy with Michael. After we lost the twins, I was willing to do anything to get pregnant and stay that way ... for 9 months anyway. So, I began acupuncture once a week and my doctor was right on board working with my acupuncturist. I have recently started back up with her for a number of different reasons and she has suggested that I start with herbs along with weekly acupuncture treatments.

Long story short ... I went for my weekly treatment today and talked to her for a bit about you and what you are going thru. She had told me that the herbs that I am on can react with other meds and when I am not feeling 100%. Ie. if I have a stuffy nose it will get stuffier. So she said that there could be a recation with the herbs that you were taking and your chemo. She asked where you lived and when I said Denver she asked if it was near Boulder. She says Boulder is the capital of acupuncture. There is a man there Bob Flaws who owns a company caleed Blue Poppy. This is where she purchases all of the herbs for her clients. She said he is amazing and may be a resource for you as he is highly trained in the field. She also said that he has a clinic in Boulder for acupuncture and hires only the best. She said that acupuncture is amazing during chemo ... it helps to keep the blood cell counts stable and helps deal with fatigue and nausea. I can vouch for the nausea ... mornign sickness was gross but acupuncture was amazing for that and my sleep. She sent me home with a "sticker" - it had a small needle on the inside and I could place it in the correct spots for nausea and insomnia and they were a lifesaver.

Take the information and use it if you can or wish to ... again his name is Bob Flaws and the number for his herbal company is 18004879296 but she said that they can hook you up with the clinic if you are interested in the acupuncture. She also said that you can probably speak directly to him regarding the herbs.

Hope that the information is of some assistance to you.


Arlene said...

Dear Dan,

That's my girl! The very best!!

Patty Nelms said...

Hey Dan,
Just checking in. I wanted to let you know I've had great healing meditations for you both on Friday and this morning. I hope you're doing OK. I could clearly see you in my meditations glowing with radiant light so hopefully that made it to you!

Hang in there and holler if you need anything.
Love, Patty

Skip said...

Dear Dan,

I’m afraid I’ve been lurking as well. You are dealing with all the alternatives so wisely. You’ve gotten some great advice on the treatment regiments, and I don’t have anything to add on that score. I would like to point out that, aside from being important to you, I am sure that your visits to the office give your partners and staff a great deal of joy. I know this because I remember how great it was for your brothers and sisters of the bar to see you at the board meeting. You have superb judgment and your own instincts will let you determine whether, how often, and for how long you can be there. Dan, you are going to beat this cancer. Keep up the good fight. I continue to keep you in my prayers.



Lynne said...

Hi Dan,

I've been thinking a lot about you and am hoping the chemo isn't having too many adverse effects while doing its job...killing those cancer beasts. Hang in there!