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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Les an Jaq Health Update

"I cried like a baby. When no one could see me or hear me. Not because I feared what cancer would do, but because I didn't want the disease. I wanted my life to be normal, which it could no longer be." ~Yuvraj Singh

     Les went down to London on Tuesday last for his latest scan results. There is one microscopic lesion on his right lung which has not grown at all since his previous scan in July and a lesion on his left lung that has grown from 4 mm to 5 mm which is very slow growth for metastatic colon cancer.  Their advice: wait and watch; see what the next three month scan indicates.
     I have been diagnosed with degenerative Osteoarthritis in both knees. This is a disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away. Cartilage is a buffer of sorts that lets your joints move smoothly. When cartilage begins to break down, your bones end up rubbing together when you move. The friction causes inflammation, pain, stiffness, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
     It is not uncommon for older people to develop OA, but it is not restricted to baby boomers and other aging populations. Younger adults can also feel the morning joint stiffness, aching pain, tender joints, and limited range of motion that signifies OA. Younger people are more likely to develop arthritis as a direct result of a trauma.
     The seven common causes are: Genetic pre-disposition (my mother suffered from it), age and gender: before age fifty-five both genders develop OA evenly. After age fifty-five more women than men develop OA. The trauma of injury from sports, accidents, war, and abuse can cause OA to develop in a joint. Repetitive straining of the joints can cause the cartilage to wear down prematurely. People who perform physical labor, kneel, squat, or climb stairs for hours at a time may be more likely to develop joint pain and stiffness. The hands, knees, and hips are common joints affected by occupation-related OA. your risk increases if you’re overweight. Excess body weight places additional stress on your joints, especially your knees, hips, and back. It can also cause cartilage damage, which is the hallmark of osteoarthritis. You’re also more at risk for OA if you have other forms of arthritis, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
      I had my knees x-rayed on Thursday and amazingly Dr. D called me that afternoon at 5:30 PM to tell me the x-rays revealed I have degenerative Osteoarthritis in both knees with my left knee joint severely affected. My knee pad has shrunk severely and the bones on the outward left side of my knee are rubbing together and have done so for long enough to cause severe damage to the bones.
     The GP said I would need a knee replacement but first I had to go through physio and see what they recommended and I needed to lose as much weight as possible before any surgery could be done. 
     I am a big proponent of personal responsibility. So, onward and upward as they say. I will fast two days a week, by having fresh made carrot-apple juice twice a day, and eating Ozlem's delicious vegetarian soup (recipe here) for lunch and dinner.
     Since we had all these medical appointments to attend to in Warwick, we stayed moored up near Hatton Station on the North Grand Union for five days. We had the pleasure of Tom and Jan's company as NB Waiouru came up the Hatton flight and moored behind us for a few days. Afternoon tea and conversation gave us a great chance to get to know one another. It was a joy to sit and converse face-to-face. They are lovely folk and we learned a ton from Tom about the latest computer gadgets. Note to Les: time to upgrade a couple of things!!
    We moved up Thursday afternoon to pick up a Tesco order at Station bridge and then cruised up for water at Tom 'O' the Woods and on to Kingswood Junction where the Grand Union intersects the Stratford Canal. The sky was a bright blue, the leaves turning slowly to tapestry colors of gold and red. We were on new water for me. As we cruised along the cutting and embankment between Shrewley Tunnel and Turner's Green, we passed by a tree farm. The embankment was so high we only saw the very tops of large, tall Blue Spruce. For those who have never been on a canal before, let me explain these geographic terms.
     A cutting is a deep trench dug through a hill into which the canal bed is laid, lowering it down. I imagine the dirt dug out of the trench is piled up on the top. An embankment is a place where the dirt is piled up high to build up a stretch of land into which the canal bed is laid, lifting it up. Both forms allow a canal to pass through an area without the need for building locks to lift or lower the canal; it also means the canal need not meander like a river in wide arcs and turns as it was dug around low or high spots in the landscape, essentially going around them to keep the building of locks to a minimum.
Inside Shrewley Tunnel.
Cruising along the embankment. See how high up we are?  Embankments offer great views across the countryside.
Here we are entering a cutting. Note the trees growing up the sloping sides.
As we come out of the cutting and cruise toward an embankment, I looked back at the narrowed cut we just came through.
The tunnel through the bridge hole!
Just past the hedge one can see the tops of very tall, large spruce trees growing down the other side of the embankment, on a tree farm.
A fall tapestry hedge.
Someone's cat is perched in an excellent spot for mouse hunting.
Approaching the permanent offside moorings at Tom O the Woods. We discovered a water point here on the towpath side which doesn't appear in our fifteen year old Nicholson's Guide Books. According to a local boater it was installed three years ago.  Never pass up a water point! We top up our tank before moving on.
     As we cruised along enjoying the brilliance of the day and each other's company I began to think about Les' latest scan results and the loss of family and  friends from cancer this past year.
     My brother-in-law died a year ago tomorrow of liver cancer caused by over exposure to carcinogenic chemicals at work. He waited patiently for a liver transplant but by the time one became available, the cancer had spread too far. He was young and full of spirit--only in his early 60's. Nick used to hold all phone callers hostage by telling a joke and then waiting for you to tell one back. Whenever he wanted to learn something new he undertook to gather as much information as possible and then practiced, practiced, practiced until he mastered the skill he sought to own. He too had dimples one could drown in and laughter so contagious one could have a hilarious meltdown just watching him, as his belly heaved with mirth, his dark brown eyes crinkled up in the corners, cheeks roundly lifted underneath. Nick always laughed from his belly and you couldn't help but join in.
     On Summer Solstice a dear friend and mentor died of advanced colon cancer at the age of fifty eight. We'd known each other for twenty five years. In that time he had gone from one strength to the next, gaining national recognition as an educator and serving as president of a top ranked research university. His career made him wealthy and well known and his character made him highly respected and well loved. E. could afford the very best in medical care, and he received it, undergoing surgery,  radiotherapy and chemotherapy. For six months he recovered slowly, hopeful he had beat the monster inside.
     The cancer returned with a flourish, growing faster than before and spreading everywhere. Sadly this is an all too common outcome of chemotherapy. Oncologists tell patients it will kill all the cancerous cells but cancer is a tricky disease. It evolves, developing immunity to the poison of chemotherapy, while healthy cells die of shock and the immune system breathes its last.  Oncologists use cytotoxic therapy to take a patient to death's door, leaving them there in the hope they will somehow recover. The newly evolved malignant cells' immunity to chemo allow even faster growth, spreading with a vengeance that is breathtaking in its pace. As cancer colonized his liver, blood, bone and brain, he pushed to establish a new school of medicine for the university.  It was his last act. His final days were spent in hospital, with every need attended to by someone while his wife watched day by day, hour by hour, as this stinking disease devoured her husband and my friend.
     Today I've received word that another boater--the lovely, funny, kindhearted Mo of NB Balmaha--died last night after a lengthy battle of his own with cancer.  Their deaths have left a huge wound in their communities, their families, and my heart. 
    When Les was told, after undergoing five days of radiotherapy followed by what we were told was a successful surgery, that he needed six months of chemotherapy as a follow up despite there being only a 12-15% chance of living another five years with a highly recommended regimen of cytotoxic agent Capcitibane/5 FU, which oncologists jokingly refer to as "Five Feet Under," he refused to have chemo and has refused it every time he returns for scan results.
Cheeky Monkey!
     We are using a variety of different alternative methods to fight our battle, as the doctors reveal a bit more information with each assault. We know now that colon cancer is considered one of the metastatic cancers, and it nearly always spreads from the colon to the liver, and from there to the lungs, heart, and brain.  If only they had been completely honest with us from the beginning, but medical professionals assume they are the only ones with any answers to the questions concerning cancer. They assume patients can do nothing but sit at home on their hands and fret until a surgeon or oncologist takes control of the situation. There are alternative treatments we could have tried earlier on with a greater chance of stopping cancer from spreading to Les' liver and lungs if we had been told everything earlier rather than after his liver surgery or with each new scan.

     Nevertheless something we are doing is slowing cancer's growth inside him. We take heart in that small miracle, and we are thankful he feels good in himself. He has energy enough for both of us, a hearty appetite, a zest for life, and he is enjoying every day. We believe Les' body with its functional immune system is responding to the change in our diet, the supplements, and alternative treatments we are trying. When Les was told cancer had colonized his liver, The medical team said the scan indicated a minimum of 30% of his liver would have to be removed--probably more. I started him immediately on large doses of Milk Thistle which assists the liver in healing and regeneration. He took it for a month. To his surgical team's amazement, only 10% of his liver had to be removed and then only the actual malignant lesions and a small margin of healthy tissue.
I fell in love with those dimples!!
     Lest you labor under the assumption that we think we have all the answers, I tell you we feel like blind beggars groping in the dark. We try something and see what the next scan brings. If we see no improvement we try something else. All my research indicates that when relying on alternative treatments for cancer one has a better chance of survival by combining at least three treatments. But which three? Which three will work for us? That is the puzzle, isn't it? 
     I still continue my research, pounding away at the keyboard late at night delving into cell biology, grasping tumor morphology: DNA synthesizing for preparation of mitosis that allows accelerated cell growth, taking notes, asking questions, searching for answers, reading literature reviews, abstracts and medical research reports, downloading book after book onto my Kindle regarding the biology of cancer, reviews of alternative treatments, and so on. I immerse myself in looking at different alternative modalities and surfing cancer patient forums which are a wealth of real time information about treatments experienced by real patients who don't sugar coat the side effects or hide behind pharmaceutical company literature and non-profits that have jumped onto the cancer industry bankroll, to "be there for you through your disease."
     Most folks over here have see the Cancer Research adverts on TV which say " Fifty percent of all cancer patients survive; but we know that isn't good enough..." for those who are a part of that fifty percent we are hysterically happy for you, your family, and your community. And you fifty percenters who survive have all the mainstream media, medicine, and politics supporting you. But what about the other fifty percent? The other HALF of cancer patients who die despite following all the protocols, the new drug trials, etc. etc. Who speaks for them? Who speaks for those of us with cancer who don't believe fifty percent survival to five years is actually a cure, or something in which we can trust with our lives? I am sure I don't know. In this blog I am only speaking for me and Les.
     Lest you think I never tire, I will tell you the bitter truth: there are times when I take a shower and cry while the water runs so Les doesn't hear me. There are mornings when I have to force myself to get up and put my feet on the floor, to walk to the galley and begin "The regimen" of hot water with fresh squeezed lemon juice first, which we drink while I count out twenty four of the thirty pills Les will take each day, knowing he will not remember to take them if I don't remind him throughout each interval of every single day.
     I plan our menus with care to make the most nutritious, healing meals filled with cancer fighting agents resveratrol, ellagic acids, buteryl acids, short chain fatty acids, and so on to stop or slow angiogenesis, cell division and mitosis of cancer cells inside my husband. I grow weary of brewing herbal decoctions every week, decanting them into jars taking up precious real estate in our tiny fridge, and remembering to mix them: 30 ML of medicinal herbal decoction with 60 ML of water every night before bed; mixing blackberry, raspberry or blueberry smoothies for lunch with additions of Ultra B Complex. IP-6, Whey powder, and Modified Citrus Complex.
     Understand, I am not complaining about the doing of these things for Les--he is my lover, my best friend, and the best of my Best Beloveds. I feel entirely grateful he is still here to laugh with me and pull me into his arms each night. It is the disease that makes me weary, sad, tired and angry; my enemy, my foe--and the modern cancer industry which grows richer each month while it consumes the lives of those I love and feeds on our misery.  I have spent almost a decade now fighting cancer; for myself first and now for Les. Cancer is relentless in its growth and colonization of new territory and so I must be just as relentless. I cannot afford a day off here, a night out there; a vacation from this war is not an option.

22 comments:

Marilyn McDonald said...

Love you, dear friend, for your strength of purpose, your honesty and your naked raw pain so heart-feltedly expressed.
I know who I am coming to if either David or I are diagnosed with a cancer!
In your battle with the cancer, do make sure you have some time to look out what you can do, food/supplement-wise to deal as much as possible to the OA.
I am by your side in the fasting, Jaq, remember that, and anytime you need to groan, complain, rant, I am always at the end of a phone or email.
Mxox

Patti said...

Beautifully said, and love permeates through the exhaustion. I love all you are doing, loving, and discovering on this journey, and I send you restorative hugs through the ethers....Love you both! Patti

Tracey Holmes said...

Amazing post. I am reading the end with tears streaming down my face. They are tears for for your amazing courage and for the amazing fight in both of you and what i feel is injustice of what life throws at us. I can only hope that if i am faced with only a small part of your battle i have the same fight in myself forany fsmily member or friend.

Shiery Beaty said...

I love you both to the moon and back keep fighting and keep your cancer kicking ass boots on. Remember to laugh often and love deeply

Love your stubborn child

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Marilyn,
You are one in a mill, and I treasure our friendship. Fasting is hard for me. It brings food issues from childhood abuse. I was a skinny little towheaded , knock kneed girl until I was starved fro six weeks by a parent whose addiction to alcohol was more important than feeding his child. I thought of nothing but food during that month and half and for the rest of life food ruled me.

It's time to work on that issue now, as its hold on my emotions is doing my health harm. No doubt emails will be forthcoming.
Love JaqXXX

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Patti. Your prayers and healing energy on our behalf do make a difference. You started our married life off with love and joy, officiating at our wedding. Your loving energy is part of every day aboard NBV.
Love and hugs to you and Steve. xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Tracey. My fervent hope for you is that you will never have to face cancer in yourself or a loved one.
Jaq x

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sparky,
LOL! I can hear your voice telling me to keep putting on my combat boots to kick cancer's ass. these days it is pretty hard to lift my leg high enough thanks to OA.

We do laugh and love. Da and I were meant to be together. We finish each other's sentences and are so in sync sometimes it amazes even me. There is joy on this boat, but some days....some days are harder than others and I know you know how that feels.

I miss you more than the 60's misses Aquanet!
I love you to the end of the universe--and back again.
Mammaxxxxxxx

life afloat on nb tickety boo said...

I am in awe of you Jaqueline, I think you are an amazing woman and half of a wonderful, wonderful couple! Can't wait to meet both you and your lovely Man Les. Your posts get me everytime! I cry with sadness and happiness at the same time! You have such a gift of expression through your lovely writing.Thank you, and positive vibes winging there way along the cut towards you accompanied with a huge hug!!

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh Deb, you've been a loyal blog follower since I started posting from the States on my blog So this is Love. YOu have traveled all along this journey with us, and so appreciate your comments and your support.
Jaqxxxx

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Jaq, You are a wonder - now that you have decided to stop letting that skinny, little, starving kid live your life, nothing can stop you taking even more control of having a healthy body.
You go, girl!
Mxox
PS Have a virtual hug from me ...

Paul and El said...

Keep up the fight Jaq, Elaine too is now treating herself and will refuse to have anymore chemo, she is going and feeling very well at the moment so we will just keep travelling and enjoying every day as long as we can.
Paul xx

Dragontatoo said...

Check out The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson -- that's the book Ben & I have been following since the beginning of September. Ben is down 16lbs and he hasn't had to take his Glipizide since we started. I am down nearly 10lbs and I AM NEVER HUNGRY. Veggies, Meat, Full fat Dairy, Fruits, Nuts -- no processed sugars and no grains. We use honey, blackstrap molasses & maple syrup for most things and one TS of turbinado sugar in our coffee in the morning. I use coconut, almond & tapioca flours for baking. Also, I found coconut sugar that smells & tastes a little like brown sugar. I have a board on Pinterest that has paleo/primal recipes you can look at if you like. Love you both 1000 Swedish Fish <3

Bryce Lee said...

Cancer is an interesting disease. The longer we humans are part of this world the better than chance of some disease taking us down. Heart disease is up at the top; however it seems cancer in all its forms can claim to be the second number one killer. Number one is still heart disease of one sort or aother.

As Jaq and Les, and others are aware, am a survivor of cancer (albeit now without a left kidney, nor my spleen nor most of my lymph nodes); however unlike many who have six months of chemo and are then let go, had an additional three years of chemo as I also have Lupus! Yes, was made VERY aware of the possible side effects however looked on the entire exercise as another chapter in my current existence. Major side effect was a severly weakened lower heart muscle; equivalent to three major heart attacks in damage.

Juicing is fun, Jaq taught me that, and my juicer gets well used, every day of the week; it takes longer to clean than to use though. Staying away from certain food products helps, and like Jaq, find if I fast one day of
seven (not always the same day) it helps clean the system. I drink only warm water on the fast day, the additve
drinks including coffee, tea (although I enjoy tea made from certain plants and especially dandelion tea) find coffee is for naught, tea is something before bed, and milk is for some teas; 500 ml of milk will last me a week or more.

Cancer, if and when it returns
will have neither radiation or chemo.
Been there, done that; my time to transition shall approach faster than predicted.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Virtual hug received Pal, and much appreciated. xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Paul,
I am glad to hear you and Elaine are out there enjoying yourselves. Life is to be lived and we should in my humble opinion, suck the marrow right out of it!
Best of luck to you both.
Jaq

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh darling Jesse,
I am so relieved and happy to hear Ben's diabetes is under control and you are addressing your health too. I'm glad you found something that works for you both.

I have to figure out what diet is essential to fight OA and hope it dovetails with Les' dietary needs. I cannot eat red meat when he cannot have it. The same it true for high fat dairy--and I've discovered I am allergic to dairy so I only allow myself dribble of canned milk in my one cup of coffee a day--and cancer loves all forms of sugar. It isn't particular about what chemical makeup its main meal has, so sugars in general of any kind are off the menu for us.

I am pleased you have turned to molasses, maple syrup and honey which are so much better for you than white death. Keep it up sweetheart. I want you to be around when we are pottering around in our seventies and eighties!

I will check out the The Primal Blueprint anyway as I am always interested in anything my kids are up to!

We love you a hundred thousand Swedish Fish!
Ma xxxxxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Bryce,
It has been my rare pleasure to share what I've learned with you. That is what knowledge if for in my humble opinion--to make life better. And there is no doubt your friendship enriches our life Cousin Kindheart. I only wish the Pond between us wasn't 4000 miles across.

I know you will keeping me company as fast and juice so that will make it easier.

Your resilience in the face of everything that has been done to you in the name of traditional cancer "cures" is a testament to your courage and strength of heart, damaged though it may be.
Biggs big love and hugs,
Jaq and Les xxx

June Denton-Burns said...

Hi Jaq,
We have not spoken much and my heart bleeds for you both but also leaps with joy. You are an old soul but more importantly you are also an inspirational 'wise woman', sharing her knowledge - there are not enough of you in this world. It is my privalage to have come across you both & I wish you both so much positive, embracing love, healing and hugs and I expect to still be hearing of you for years to come. You are defo on the right track re diet for your OA & quite rightly need to modify it for your own personal requirements. Nutritional medicine is such a powerful tool - although a little trial & error is required (I'm afraid) sister ? but you already know that & have that experience. If I could carry you I would but I know (and you know) that we all have our own personal journey, BUT you are not travelling this journey alone xxxxxxxxx

Ken and Sheena said...

Hi Jaq. Full of admiration for your strength and determination. It's understandable that you are completely knackered, tired and weary. I am very grateful for your insights into oncology departments. And the poisons/lethal cures that they dish out. On the positive side, I'm glad that the two of you are on a boat, with nature directly outside. Imagine people who are stuck in city flats, with no view at all. And how bleak their own struggle must be as a consequence. It is great that you can open your doors, see kingfishers, and breath the clean air. It was good to see Les grinning at the tiller. Your writing and style, are as always, very much appreciated. Thank you for these very personal insights. It goes without saying, that I wish the both of you the very best of fortune.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi June,
Thanks for you comments and for the additional information you've provided. As for being an old soul, I've been told that all my life from many different people. I just wish I could remember or tap into all that source wisdom I'm sure I knew before I transitioned into this lifetime, like Edgar Cayce did. Ah well our lives are meant to be a learning experience and I am pleased if anything I've learned can be of benefit to someone else.
Blessed Be,
Jaqxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Ken,
YOu are absolutely spot-on about being on a boat. We are blessed indeed to live so close to nature, and She is a great healer.

I appreciate your writing as well and while I haven't posted an comments lately, I do dip in and visit to see how you and Sheena are doing. I find your writing very calming, centers, and thoughtful which is a balm, much like Irene's pictures on NB Free Spirit. She captures natures' essence in such beautiful photography. I find both your blogs comforting in times of stress.
Jaqxxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs