I was disinterested in physiology until my youngest son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer impacting the lymphatic system. This unwelcome news came on the heels of my having been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The only “happy” event in the interim was having lunch with a fellow lawyer, a Korean War vet, who was being treated by the VA for his diabetes. He suggested I explore the possibility of receiving medical attention through the VA (which ultimately meant I could buy metformin at a discount). Those of us who served in Vietnam drank water laced with Agent Orange, which causes Type II diabetes (one of the “lesser” maladies stemming from Agent Orange). That said, the year 2004 was filled with despair: cancer, diabetes, loss of control over my life and an uncertain future for my 23 year old son.
There had to be a way to reverse what had happened. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people, as they say.
The medical community gave me no hope for reversing my diabetes, except to grin and bear it with frequent trips to the doctor, to change the type of food I ate and exercise on a regular basis. For my son JD (pseudo name for purposes of this blog), the options were limited, because there was little we could do to stem the spread of his stage 2 cancer. It seemed his only recourse required me to drive him, on a weekly basis, to the cancer treatment facility, where he would receive doses of mustard gas and other chemo medications, all followed by long periods of severe nausea, constipation, cramps, fever, loss of appetite and energy and hair. The Stanford VII program in 2004 (now known as Stanford V) required 12 weeks of chemo treatments. JD’s platelets permitted him to receive all 12 doses, all administered through a drip machine, usually 1 hour per session. Each session was worse than the one before, and by week 12, he was extremely weak (his weakness and nausea required me to drive him to the cancer treatment facility). As I witnessed the transformation of an active, athletic young man wither into a thin, bald, weak and emaciated person, my mind drifted to dire results. He would not make it through the poisons of chemotherapy.
I didn’t like these changes in life styles, because I was no longer in control. I did not want to leave my future in the hands of physicians and dieticians and physical trainers and nurses. They were not trustworthy, from my vantage. I mean, how many success stories are recorded in the annals of oncologists?
Fortunately, I was hard-wired to be a curious person: my heart and soul were fed when I was able to learn as much I could about situations that affected me and my family.
So I started with JD’s situation, and began a journey to learn all I could about cancer, what caused it, how it can be treated, what we can do (if anything) to avoid it. At that time, my sister-in-law was in temporary remission from her bout with ovarian cancer (which had taken her mom’s life, as well as her grandmother’s – it would ultimately take hers a few years later). She gave us sage advice on how to combat nausea after chemo treatments (quoting Kendall: “there are a variety of anti-nausea medicines available; if the one the doctor prescribes doesn’t work, ask him to give you another”), and she encouraged JD to eat, even though food was not appetizing to him. She kidded him about what his hair would turn out to be after chemo: maybe his hair would be red and curly, or blonde and straight. Whatever it turned out to be, it would be different.
During JD’s chemo treatments, I stumbled on to a book by a Pennsylvania radiologist who fought and controlled the continued growth of his own brain cancer, Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life, which was both instructional and biographical. This book was the first readable book I found on the topic of cancer, and it included the physiological aspects of cancer. Among other things, Dr. Servan-Schreiber outlined exactly what cancer was (there were dozens of types), what factors contribute to its development and growth, and information about the many varieties of cancer, each of which require different treatment.
I had never understood the term “metastases”, which he explained to be the spreading of cancer from one part of the body to another. He added drawings and illustrations to aid the reader’s ability to comprehend the ins and outs of the disease.
To overcome his own malady, he changed his lifestyle, which was similar to what was being recommended to me for diabetes: eat differently (adopt a different diet), eliminate sugar and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and exercise on a regular basis. The physician’s cancer (which returned after 6 years of being in remission) was controlled for 19 years, once he adopted a new lifestyle: he changed his diet, exercised, and somehow managed to reduce stress (his second bout with cancer came during divorce, something that always causes stress).
As an estate planner, I was fortunate to hear stories from clients, many of whom were dealing with diabetes, cancer, COPD, cardiovascular problems, and more. I would ask if there was a cause and effect which might have caused their own maladies, and what treatment they had (or were having), to overcome these diseases. These were valuable sessions for me and JD.
Most of my contacts were content to follow the advice of physicians, viz., take prescribed treatments pills and chemo. A few referred me to local holistic resources, which consisted of local vitamin shops owned by quirky people. The contacts who recommended holistic treatment were willing to take extra steps to control their situations, by exercise and changed diets (side note: even vegans contract cancer – so avoiding meats is not an anti-cancer guaranty). Those same persons were in the minority, since most of my friends and clients were adamant in following advice from the medical community. They were simply unwilling to try and control their situations. As a former trial lawyer, I knew first hand that physicians and nurses made mistakes, but I did not argue with whatever treatment they believed in.
So what has been the outcome for JD and me? I don’t want to bait you into visiting this blog next month, but you will have to wait until then. In the meantime, read Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life, or at least the pdf summary now available on the internet.
This blog is already too long.
(adapted from http://www.kalynskitchen.com)
Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime
3-4 halibut steaks or filets
1/4th cup fresh lime juice
1/4th cup peanut or canola oil
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. onion powder or 2 T fresh grated onion
1 tsp. garlic puree or minced fresh garlic
1-2 tsp. ground cumin (or less, if you don’t like cumin)
zest from one small lime (at least 1 tsp. grated lime rind)
½ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
fresh cut limes for squeezing on cooked meat (optional)
Zest the lime (use a grater) in a mixing bowl. Add other marinade ingredients. Mix the ingredients (I used an electric “wand” type of mixer). Put halibut in a zip lock bag or holding container with a snap on lid, then pour the marinade into the bag or container. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Fire up your barbecue unit, and grill the fish until its done (I won’t tell you how to grill, but my technique is to place a non stick barbequing grilling mat or grilling plate over the metal barbecue grill itself (the grates); the mat will keep the fish from sticking). If you use such a mat, drizzle the left over marinade sauce onto the fish. If you don’t use a mat, then spray Pam for Grilling onto the grate, to help prevent sticking.
I use a digital thermometer for checking meat temperature (the fish should be done between 130°-145°; digital thermometers are a must for barbecue). Grilling fish never takes long, so don’t leave your station.
Serve hot. Squeeze lime juice over the fish, if you like. This is a very tasty and savory dish.