I am newly diagnosed with colon cancer. How do I move forward mentally and emotionally?
Ian Clements, works at Alfred Holt & Co
Answered Sep 13
As someone who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only given weeks to live, and then went to three more oncologists (who confirmed the initial prognosis), and went into trauma, I feel for you.
We all have to do our own thing, but for me being a strongly pro-active and assertive person, I just kept going looking for a ‘solution’. This involved initially getting and following the advice of a nutritionist who promised that if I followed his protocol I’d be cured - I did, exactly; for three months. The tumour that had been removed returned big-time; I went into severe decline; and into a hospice to die.
Whilst on the protocol (which did, I believe, build me up for what came later), I’d seen yet another specialist, this time in a national cancer centre. He told me that chemo worked in 5% of cases and might be worth a try (the previous experts had dismissed this as only giving a marginal extension of life and would be lowering my quality of life too). So I did it. All in 2007.
I was also fortunate in having a wife who pulled me out of the hospice so I could die at home. Meanwhile I’d started the chemo; had 11 sessions; and did more lifestyle improvements (see below).
A brief summary is of what I do, based on the best scientific evidence (check on Google, PubMed): (see supporting evidence by clicking on the underlined words) and assuming the patient is sufficiently motivated to survive longer (many are not) to do this – but if you are new too many of these, then it is probably best adopting a new one every week or two:
a. Avoid any smoking (and here), both by the patients and those around them, including e-cigarettes
b. exercise (which pumps the lymph system, the immune system, around the body): I walk for about 2 hours/day (13,000+ steps/6.5 miles) ( also keeps Alzheimer’s disease at bay); and 2-3 times a week I do simple resistance exercises plus 3 bursts of 20 seconds high intensity interval exercises ( HIIT; now on a stationary cycle, previously sprints) with 2 minutes of slow between. Run for your life: Exercise protects against cancer (& here, here, here, here). Check out this, this, this, this, this, this , this, this, & this, this, this, this. It's never too late to start exercising, new study shows
, It is important also to enable we cancer patients to reverse ageing effects. Frailty is another problem that exercise helps with, being itself a source of early mortality; I use a wobble board to improve my balance.
c. keep your waist below half your height; fat, especially visceral (waist), enhances inflammation and is a cancer enhancer. See also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
d. Food effects our genes: so, no alcohol ( How alcohol damages DNA and increases cancer risk), sugar/fast carbs (and here, here), no diet drinks, little meat, (and here, here, here, here) processed especially (and here); fish is better. Lots of veggies works for me. Organic may be best. High-fiber helps (see also here). I've recently embarked on a " Fasting Mimicking Diet" 5 days/month ( fasting in general is thought useful – see here), as it is reported to reduce ageing/increase immune function (but probably best not done unless well clear of any evidence of cancer). See also here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Avoid processed food, and here. Coffee may be OK. Vegans more likely than vegetarians to avoid cancer, hypertension, study says and Right combination of diet and bacteria limits cancer progression
; and here
e. Little fruit now, as I keep my sugar intake low - mainly berries/red-and-black currents
f. Veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, mixed leaves, spinach, mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers, chilli peppers (as a big salad at lunch-time). Also see here and here and here
g. Nuts, and here, here, especially walnuts, may help
h. Good oral hygiene - after (not before) breakfast and dinner, flossing and using a non-fluoride toothpaste. Gum disease is a major source of inflammation, a cancer stimulant ( Periodontal Disease Linked to Certain Cancer Types, Oral Bacteria Linked With Pancreatic Cancer; How mouth microbes may worsen colorectal cancer); and here, here, here; here; here, here, here, here, and here: Alzheimer’s (and here), bone loss, and cardio-vascular problems.
i. Good early night's 8-hour sleep every night (& An epidemic of dream deprivation: Unrecognized health hazard of sleep loss) and here, here, here, here ( but too much isn’t OK)
j. Good, and daily, defecation. I now use a squat stool – enables me to squat on the toilet, similar to 3rd world countries, as this enables better elimination (as an appreciable side-benefit, squatting improves flexibility). The microbiome, mainly the gut bugs, is a major source of health/illness/immune system and the bug balance influences this. Research is in its early stages as to how to improve this, but good throughput seems to improve things.
k. Filtered water
l. Avoid/do not use such things as air-fresheners, deodorants, vaporisers, scented candles, here, here, etc; keep home well aired; maybe use an air-purifier
m. Avoid BPA plastics; beware sunscreens (I've not used them for years, despite walking for hour/week in the sun, as I've realised most sunscreens contain cocarcinogens – note: sunscreen usage has increased in line with skin cancer over the years).
n. Supplements: omega 3 (see here), 2,000IU Vit.D3 daily (and see here, here, here, here, here, here, but note caution, and here). Vit.C is found helpful for some cancers. However, avoid vitamins B6 and B12, especially for lung cancer; and perhaps Vitamins A, C and E; but note this caution and here. Aspirin or ibuprofen may help.(see here)
o. Hyperthermia with an infra-red cocoon, and hypothermia: Immersion or showering in cold water boosts the immune system. I do this one occasionally.
p. I monitor my body composition daily (a particular problem for cancer patients is fat- and muscle-wasting – cachexia), my cancer and kidney with molecular cancer markers every month, checking in with the consultants if they go above 'normal' for 2 or more months.
q. Do a diary (who, time, date, place) of my medical visits, questions to ask, answers, advice. I was surprised how often the medical people lost, even recent, medical data.
r. Join a related forum and/or support group - on line and/or local.
3. I still monitor health news sites, from which I used to extract those I considered of most importance for cancer and posted here on my blog. I recommend you subscribe to one or more of these to ensure you know of the latest developments.
a. Science Daily Health newsletter
b. Cancer Compass
c. Cancer Network
d. Create a Google Alert for your particular cancer (or anything for that matter). I have ones for bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, hypertension, and kidney disease.
e. The best guide to supplements & nutrition that I know is Examine
f. An authoritative CAM site is National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
g. A high quality cancer information website, such as Cancer Active
h. A good website for alternative treatments is The Truth About Cancer - though I find it not as authoritative as Cancer Active. But note Greater Risk of Death in Cancer Patients Who Choose Alternative Therapies, and Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival, Alternative medicine kills cancer patients, Outcomes of breast cancer in patients who use alternative therapies as primary treatment, Outcome analysis of breast cancer patients who declined evidence-based treatment, Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and delays in presentation and diagnosis of breast cancer patients in public hospitals in Malaysia, Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival, Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Cancer Therapy, and Survival Among Patients With Curable Cancers
i. Similarly with regards GreenMedInfo
Bear in mind that there is considerable evidence that cancer is related to lifestyle, so improving that is important. It helps the clinical treatments be more effective and reduces the side-effects. Plus even if a cancer patient goes into remission, they are always at greater risk of cancer again (and here) than those who've never had cancer in the first place. Cancer is by and large a disease of ageing, perhaps due to weakening immune systems and here, here
Note several things about the information and advice that your doctor will give you: diagnosis is not an exact science; that different people respond differently to both the same diagnosis and the same treatments. Remember, doctors advise, patients decide (that’s why the doctors get you to sign a form, to say that it is your decision, not theirs). And that survival times (the prognosis) are at best averages, based on historical patients and treatments - whereas hopefully there are constant improvements which ought to improve the average survival times; many people live much longer than the average.
There are many cautionary reports to underline my view that the experts themselves do not always agree, and much of what they proffer may not be based on research, for example:
I’m alive today, after being told in 2007 that I only had weeks to live by four consultants.
All doctor's recommended treatments are based on averages – individual patients will vary greatly in their response, partly due to their lifestyles but also due to their genetic make-up. At present these wide variations of response to seemingly identical treatments for the same diagnosis are inexplicable/unpredictable.
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