My Cancer Story Summarized

Trying to get on top of the Big C
Trying to get on top of the Big C

So in 2001 I did a general health test, and as I was 50 years old I thought I should also get a prostate cancer test, which is a simple blood test, called a PSA test.

After that diagnosis I was really unsure of what treatment to do.   This was because I saw 4 different urologists for treatment suggestions and they all gave me different options.  One even wanted to do an orchiectomy, the other word for that is castration! He explained to me that prostate cancer is testosterone fed and castration eliminated the majority of the production of testosterone.  When I asked him why I would do that instead of taking drugs that did the same thing, AND it was reversible, he said that it was cheaper on the government to do an orchiectomy rather than subsidize the drugs!

I made a mental note….NEVER let this guy give me anesthetic!

So one of my early lessons I learnt was that not all doctors are created equal.  There are doctors that graduate at the top of the class and those that graduate at the bottom.

A fellow patient gave me the name of the urologist who was considered the top in this field in Australia, and a week later I flew down to Sydney to St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.  This is the day I mentioned above, 9/11 in the USA.  I was sitting in front of a doctor who was telling me my prospects weren’t great!  If I had an operation to remove the prostate I had an 8% chance of surviving 5 years.  If I did radiation therapy I had a 6% chance of surviving 5 years, hormone therapy something like 5% and brachytherapy about 10%.  Not a good day!

The percentages were so low because with such a high PSA, (it was 67, with most people it is under 4) and the aggressive nature of the cancer (Gleeson score 4 + 4),  it was almost certain the cancer had metastasized. The cancer had escaped the prostate organ and could be anywhere in the body, and with prostate cancer that means no cure!

But there was better news.  If I pulled out all stops did everything (Hormone therapy, External beam radiation, and brachytherapy all in one treatment, my chance at surviving 5 years was around 18%.  Sounded pretty good to me after the other figures!

Anyway without dragging this out, that’s what I did.  I should point out that I originally thought I would just do natural therapies and forget about doctors.  Someone pointed out to me that cancer cells are super aggressive, and that I shouldn’t think that some natural therapy has the oomph to kill those cells.  He recommended find the guys on the cutting edge of Western medicine and see what they had to offer.  So basically that is what I have been doing these last 13 or 14 years.  Oh, and the person who gave me that advice is my spiritual teacher, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.

More about natural therapies in a later post.

For those who believe strongly in natural therapies for less aggressive forms of cancer I see no problem with that, as long as you monitor to see the cancer IS shrinking.  Monitor with regular medical tests that are applicable to your cancer. I have lost more than a few friends and acquaintances who were convinced that the natural therapy they were doing was working, without checking medically if it was, consequently the results were very sad.  I must say however I see natural therapies, taken in conjunction with western medicine, as being extremely helpful.

After that initial treatment at St Vincents, the hormone therapy finished 2 years later. But then the cancer started growing back quite quickly.  Over the last dozen years I have been on different drugs and had another 3 treatments with radiation therapy, been to Holland for an experimental diagnostic test which gave me results that gave me another 2 years disease free.  But it has always come back, to the point where 3½ years ago I started chemotherapy. After 2½ years of Taxotere chemotherapy that also began to fail, so for the last year I have been on Enzalutamide (Xtandi).

Over the last 14 years there is much I have learnt about prostate cancer, the doctors that treat it, and the Australian Health Scheme, I hope to talk a little about these in future postings.

But one thing I’ve come to understand is that I needed to make my own treatment decisions.  With so many options I wasn’t happy putting my life into some doctors hands.  I’ve also read somewhere that those patients that are involved in their treatment decisions tend to live longer.

Thank You and Namaste

(I welcome and encourage comments and questions on all blogs).

2 thoughts on “My Cancer Story Summarized

  1. Great website. Terminal diagnoses are really a shock. And on 9/11, wow.
    I was diagnosed with a poor prognosis leukemia almost 10 years ago. I have a great oncologist who she suggested watch and wait, since my disease had no cure, just palliative treatments. She thought I’d be very sick in 5 months to 5 years, and planned to keep an eye on how my disease progressed. Initially I had my blood drawn every few weeks, and the numbers kept climbing. But my cousin, who has no health insurance and a rare kidney disease, shared a book with me that had helped her (Healing with Whole Foods). She said: what are you going to do? Go on a macrobiotic diet or something? I said, I don’t know, Erika, that sounds like a kind of big life style change. She said: Well, I’d call chemo and dying a big life style change. Which would you rather have? So I followed the grueling anti-cancer diet in that book and lost weight but along with it, my cancer cell count started dropping and in 3 weeks it had gone down almost by half. So I kept with it for awhile until I got the hang of my body with this interloper. And my counts are still lower than at the beginning. I’m pretty healthy. I still see my oncologist every 6 months for a blood draw, and anytime I feel I have an infection which might be a sign that my disease woke up.

    In addition to the Healing with Whole Foods diet that I followed for the first 6 months, I adopted several recommendations that I got from my naturopath (avoid eating sugar, white flour, drink a lot of green tea in the morning, take turmeric at bedtime or dinner, etc.) and I try to eat a lot of fresh carrots and follow a vegetarian diet much of the time. I also eat some good quality dairy and meats. If I visit people, I eat what they do, with a little attention to having only small portions of what I know is bad for me. Unless it is totally delicious, in which case, since it is only once in awhile, I indulge. Alcohol should be avoided but if you must drink, a moderate amount of pinot noir or another red wine can be okay, it contains an anti cancer substance, resveratrol.

    At this point you are doing really well, and might consider getting the book I mentioned, or even looking into the Gerson diet books for encouragement. The Gerson Diet actually works better on aggressive cancers. But you have to be careful not to detox from killing the cancers too quickly, because that can kill you, too. So they have people do lots of enemas on the detox diet. I haven’t done this yet, but if I was sick enough, I’d try it. I enjoy my life. The key point is: By changing your diet and some habits, you can change the terrain of your body, to which your cancer has adapted. You eat things that are healthier for your healthy cells than for your cancer cells. And you let your healthy diet help your healthy cells out-compete your greedy ones. Carrot juice is a much better choice than something like ensure, which contains so much sugar, which cancer cells metabolize 40 times faster than regular cells do. Carrot juice will help repair your liver, has anti cancer vitamin A, and will give you energy without feeding the cancer. I always felt sad at the oncologist’s office to see candies in a dish on the counter. What the heck?

    My husband is a banjo physics researcher, and he showed me your website. I wish you long life and much happiness! Best wishes! Strength and courage! Thank you for sharing your learning with us!

    Maria Politzer
    P.S. My husband gave me permission to share his banjo research website with you, since I don’t have one. Be well.

  2. Hi Maria, Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and write a comment. Yes I agree about diet and lifestyle and getting advice from a ‘good’ naturapath (not always easy to find). But every body is different and may react in different ways to natural therapies. For instance I had a friend who when she changed to an anti-cancer healthier diet found that her breast cancer loved her healthier diet and grew much quicker. The problem is because there is no money in dietary change there is no meaningful research being done with large numbers.

    But I changed my diet to an anti cancer diet under the direction of a good naturapath when I was first diagnosed and while it helped me it did not keep my cancer on hold as you have been able to do. I really like that you made the point that even though what you are doing is working that you still get blood tests done regularly to check that your cancer is still under control. You may or may not be surprised at the number of people who do not do this, relying on faith that they have been ‘cured’.

    I checked out your husbands banjo site briefly but I plan to take a more detailed look at it soon. Does he know much about Weymann Banjos? I’m looking for someone who could write an authoritative post about them to make my research into the Weymann company more comprehensive. Thanks again, Charles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *