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The Cancer Journey: Unimaginable Things

Reposted from July 26, 2012

The past two weeks have been a strain on my brain. Days were spent hopping from one doctor to another and my nightly readings consisted of new treatment regiments, up and coming drugs, doctor biographies etc. On top of all that I was studying for an exam for my Nutrition program.

I had paid visits to Chinese doctors, western doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, oncologists and spoken to friends of friends that may have any kind of knowledge on either allopathic or alternative medicine. Currently, I’m still waiting to see and speak to two other doctors.

The decision on my treatment plan is never an easy one. Particularly this time, where the disease seems to be progressing and affecting my organ which means giving conventional treatment a serious thought.

I know that among my readers there are believers in both camps – conventional and alternative. I deeply appreciate your concerns for my well being and I also understand your worries about my decision.

Please know that I take these decisions seriously. It is true that I may secretly hope for alternative treatment to be the way out, but I also do not disregard the need for traditional treatments. I believe in doing what is best for my body, whether that is alternative treatments or an integrative approach of conventional coupled with natural treatments.

I have been seeking for that next (or hopefully one) treatment since my last blog entry. And it’s been a tiring and emotionally draining experience. Every doctor has his or her ‘solution’ to my ‘problem’. They were confident in their approach and gave persuasive arguments to why I should give it a try, yet little did they understand the handful of treatments I have put my body and mind through in this past year has taken my emotions on a roller coaster that I want to get off of. I'm tired of being a guinea pig  and the strength and will power to stick to another treatment that may or may not work is dwindling down fast! Chemotherapy is always a quick fix option (and at times even temporarily easier than alternative treatments), but that had never sat well with me and I wouldn’t turn to it for the sole reason of being emotionally tired.

Either way I’m confident that God will show me the path to take and I know that if I’m walking in His path I’m in safe hands.

For those that are interested below are brief summaries of what the doctors/specialists have been saying:

Dr Cindy Chan, Specialist in Medicine

*she has been the doctor that has been caring for me since I left the care of my oncologist at the Sanatorium/QM

- supplements: IP6&inositol, mushroom extract, enzymes, trans Factor Plus, wheat germ extract

- juicing

- colonics

- budwig diet

- PET-CT scan

- focus on getting bowel movements to twice a day

Miles Price- Nutritionist with research in cancer

- enzyme therapy

- add more protein to the diet: morning and afternoon

- liver test: to test health of phase 1&2

- I’ve done the liver test and am waiting for the results now

- He will most likely NOT be my primary care provider and may just go to him for specific issues

Richard Wickes- Manual therapist

- helps with pain and other issues I'm not even aware of

- he was able to read my emotional distress just through the energies coming from my body

- the emotional stress triggers reactions in my body and he ‘fixes’ them

- I don't understand completely what he does, it’s all very gentle work but somehow I feel better and lighter after our sessions

Dr Xu Kai- Chinese Doc from HKU

- recommend chemo

- need to shrink the lymph nodes so it doesn't affect my organs

- my body is too weak to 'accept'/react to the medicine that Dr Ma was giving me (the other Chinese doctor I had been seeing)

- body is weak and will work to build my body up but not claiming to get rid of the cancer

- I took the medicine for 1 week but think that with all the things I’m taking and all the doctors I’m seeing my time can be used in other and better ways since the medicine is not to help the cancer anyway

Dr Roland Leung- clinical oncologist QM

- suggested rituximab, a target therapy I took last chemo, with something else (as in other chemotherapy drugs)

- go back to see Prof Liang, says he’s the best in Hong Kong

- worried about pressure on kidneys

- suggest re-staging = PET-CT

- cancer still considered slow growing

- bone marrow biopsy not completely necessary (very happy to hear that and will remember this when I see Prof Liang)

Archie Tse- oncologist and researcher of cancer drugs (Ka's friend in the states)

- stem cell or bone marrow transplant: riskiest but would be the likeliest cure

* general info on follicular lymphoma:

- a slow growing, indolent cancer

- there’s no cure for follicular lymphoma at the moment

- the median survival is 10 years

- chemotherapy given is to eradicate the cancer cells but they will most likely come back in which one is supposed to go through another round of chemo. It is seen as more like a chronic illness- ‘easy’ to treat (meaning it responds well to chemo), but hard to cure and will be harder and harder to treat as time goes by.

Dr Rubin- alternative clinical oncologist

- mailed him my scans and waiting for his reply

-he’s extremely busy so the earliest appointment I could get was end of August

Dr Tam and team – naturopathic doctor & medical doctors who have treated cancer

-presented a ‘drug’ called P56, no side effects but supposedly effective on lymphoma

-lymphoma is a result of pushing myself too much and making my immune system go in over drive

-have emailed my reports to him but have yet to hear back from him

A surprise!

It was by chance that I had the opportunity to meet with this doctor. I ran into a friend one day that I hadn’t spoken to in a long time (she’s a naturopathic practitioner) and through our brief 5 minute conversation in the streets of Central I slipped in a request for her to look out for any treatments or doctors that may be able to guide me through my journey. Approximately 2 weeks later, I wake up to an email from her telling me about this new oncologist who will be starting at her clinic in September but is in town this week and has agreed to see me (on his vacation!) I quickly said yes and here’s the summary to our meeting:

Dr Rigo- clinical oncologist (future me writing : I don't recommend this doctor)

-we started off chatting about Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (he just moved from Shanghai after living there for 3 years) and I immediately saw a difference between him and other doctors. He didn’t get right into the nit and grit of the consultation but tried to understand and get to know me and my history. (patient-doctor care and communication: +1)

- he’s half Italian, half Mexican (an interesting mix I thought), schooled in Paris, worked in Paris, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Shanghai and now Hong Kong. He has two clinics, one in Mexico and another in Shanghai. (international working experience: +1)

- Having worked in Germany I knew he would have access to the advanced (and I mean at least 5 years) knowledge the Germans have on medicine, particularly integrative medicine. He mentioned there were over 400 clinics dedicated to integrative oncology in Germany alone, and it was a very common thing there, but he addressed the problem of Germans being ‘horrible at marketing their ideas’ and ‘letting the rest of the world benefit from their intellectual findings’. (knowledge of new treatments that have been proven clinically effective, which is EXTREMELY rare in integrative and alternative treatments: +2)

- He took a sample of my blood, examined it immediately under the microscope and explained what he found in my blood. He said:

- my immune system is severely depressed

- my white blood cells have been compromised by heavy metals due to the chemotheraphy (it’s actually pretty cool, you can see all this on the computer screen)

- the ‘soldiers’ my wbc send out are very few

- red blood cells are okay but need more

- my terraine (meaning where the wbc and rbc thrive’ is superb! Yay

(analyzes the blood himself rather than sending it off to a lab, quick, efficient and shows he knows what he’s doing: +1)

-after analyzing my blood and immediately consulting with doctors in Germany (he even sent them photos of my blood sample), he came up with an action plan!

- 21 day injection into my right paraaortic lymph node (which is supposed to be the main lymph node that connects to other lymph nodes) of a mix of very low dose chemotherapy drugs plus whole plant extracts that completely negate the side effects of the chemo. This is to clean the lymph nodes. Oh and I forgot to mention the coolest part. This cocktail mix will be created specifically for my DNA, which means the drugs will be prepared (in Germany) and when they are sent to Hong Kong, it is for me only and no one else. (drug made specifically for my body and my DNA: +5)

- followed with a 10 day injection of 3 other treatments. This is also an injection but into a vein. These are a mix of natural substances.

-he’s treated hundreds of lymphoma patients using this method which has also been used by other integrative oncologists like himself, for over 20 years.

- when asked about the efficacy of it on myself in particular he told me that after looking at my blood and my case he’s fairly confident it will work and if he wasn’t confident he would recommend chemotherapy. (honesty and knowing he has my best interest: +5)

- we then went on to speak about diet: no dairy, no meat, though am allowed some deep sea fish, and he even made suggestions of places to go to for cheese free Sicilian style pizza in Hong Kong (sharing a love of food and being concerned about diet: +2)

- we ended our 3 hour session talking about his fear of flying (though he flies every 45 days) and snakes and my fear of anything that flies (which he found very funny). His whole point of addressing fear was actually to lead me into any psychological needs/support I may need during this journey. (I told him I was okay and had a good support system at the moment, but now I’m wondering if I told him I needed the psychological treatment whether he would’ve spent another hour talking to me about it haha. Anyway this is a definite +1)

In the end, after discussing it briefly with my parents and praying about it I messaged Dr Rigo last night confirming I will go ahead with his treatment (he told me time is important and he is worried about my bloating so would like to act fast). He messaged me back and told me my blood smear had been shipped to Germany by express last night and we should receive the medicine in about 8 days! Praise God! (immediate response +1, for a total of 20/20, a perfect vision from God  for this part of my journey)

When I left Dr Rigo’s office yesterday I couldn’t help but think how God had cleverly planned everything from the beginning. I had been praying for direction and for Him to speak clearly to me but in the back of my mind I always had the notion of two roads: chemotherapy (and doing what I can to support my body through it) or some other alternative treatment. Never would have I imagined for God to ‘dream’ up this other path for me to take, one that has the more immediate effects of chemotherapy and still uses some chemotherapy drugs though in really low doses and not in traditional methods of application but also one where I feel completely at ease and peace about because of the absence of side effects. One of the first verses I memorized as an adult Christian was Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”. God certainly heard my cries (literally) to Him and kept His promise of revealing great, unimaginable plans for me (even if it is just for the next month).

Future plans and scans:

- PET-CT next Friday, August 3

- getting back in touch with Prof Liang on August 7 when he will discuss my PET-CT reports with me


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