So, now we wait. When I was in Post-Op just prior to leaving the hospital last Wednesday evening, Dr. Blair, my surgeon stopped by to say that the surgery had gone very well and that she was pleased. That’s important, of course, with the tumors gone, the immune system can focus on healing. But just because the primary tumors have been eliminated by surgery, doesn’t mean I’m cancer free.
From everything I’ve read, cancer is not like an infection, where you wipe it out and move on. It is a chronic condition that needs constant vigilance as it is likely that micro-metastases may have already migrated and seeded other parts of the body. Which means post-treatment is a time to be especially aggressive. A whole lot of physiological processes are out of whack – sufficient to allow malignant cells to arise and grow uncontrollably, so it doesn’t make sense to think that removing the tumor takes care of the cancer. Unfortunately, this is usually the most neglected phase of conventional cancer treatment. Unless you change the environment that nurtured the cancer in the first place, malignant cells that are left behind can quickly pick up where they left off.
The book, Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment by Keith I. Block, M.D., Foreword by Andrew Weil, M.D.; Bantam 2009; suggests a 3-pronged approach to combat cancer. Improving Lifestyle by a low-fat, plant-based diet; aerobic, flexibility, and strength exercises; and stress-reducing activities as the basic ingredients for sound health. Boosting Biology covers levels of oxidation and inflammation, the state of the immune system, and levels of growth signals. Enhancing Treatment refers to targeting the tumor directly, through surgery, customized chemotherapy, radiation, and molecular-targeted therapies. www.lifeovercancer.com
Improving Lifestyle and Boosting Biology are something we should all be doing anyway because A) these are things that greatly impact the state of our health as we age, and B) because we can easily make changes in these areas. Jess and I have shifted our diet more towards vegetarian and away from meat and dairy, and included turmeric, ginger, and CoQ10 supplements prior to surgery. We only adhered to this for about a week, stopping about five days in advance of surgery per doctor’s orders. The stoppage is because one of the side effects of this is blood thinning, not a good thing prior to surgery. One major benefit of this is that stopping all the anti-inflammatories I've been taking for years brought my back pain back into my awareness. While we were doing all the anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, my chronic back pain subsided significantly. So, I have an added incentive toward returning to this different way of eating… no back pain equals a much happier person. I’ve started to add supplements back in, and am looking forward to getting the go-ahead from Dr. Blair during Thursday’s post-op visit.
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
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