I have brain cancer. Yikes. That sounds a hell of a lot worse than a brain tumor. I was happier with the brain tumor label. But he's right, I don't exactly have a brain tumor anymore, they removed the tumor and now I just have cancer cells all over the back of my brain. Some in nuggets, others invisible to the scientific eye. Frightening stuff.
So here's what we learned at the appointment:
Average growth of my type of brain tumor is approximately 4mm a year. From April of this year to October (this appointment), my brain tumor grew by 4.5mm. That was a 4.5mm growth in six months. Bad deal.
My radiation oncologist wants to start radiation therapy right now. Here's the information he gave about the process:
It will be conformal radiation - they will radiate the whole tumor area. It will take 5-6 weeks. It's a treatment every day except Saturday and Sunday. To start, they will create a mesh mask that they will form to my face. They will then lay me onto a table and screw that mask to the table so that I can not move. If I move, even a tiny flinch, during treatment it will damage a whole new host of healthy brain cells, killing them. The first appointment will consist of 30-45 minutes of my face being screwed to a table while they measure things. Then the following appointments will be a one hour block. They will strap me down and screw my face in to the table, then there's the 10-15 minute radiation with the beams. It will be 3-4 high powered beams going through my entire head from all sides, converging at the back of my head where my tumor mass is located.
Fatigue, Edema (accumulation of fluid in the brain), Seizures, Hair Loss (very likely permanent in the tumor area, but they'll know for sure after three weeks into the radiation), Nausea/Vomiting
Second Malignancy (a second or more tumor in another area of my brain), Damage to Normal Brain Tissue, Memory Loss, Face/Neck Skin Pigment Change, Sight Loss, Language Loss, Movement Loss, Neuro-Cognitive Loss....all of these long term effects are permanent damage that will not come back.
The kicker of this treatment is that it will not add any time to my life span. None. Basically, they will radiate the entire circumference of my old tumor, and add a buffer zone where they will kill healthy cells around the area to try and kill any invisible tumor cells in the outside area. The biggest concern in my mind is that my tumor was massive. Therefore, the buffer zone around my tumor area is quite large. That's a lot of damage to a lot of healthy cells.
The doctors say that the long term effects are permanent. They believe that radiation, right now, is the right choice because they believe that all of the short and long term effects will happen anyway as the tumor grows, so they believe that zapping it right now may slow some of the side effects. I guess they're expecting me to eventually have no vision, be paralyzed, have limited speech, limited cognitive abilities, and have to deal with a second or third, or however many more brain tumors in the rest of my head. This is crazy.
I keep thinking and thinking about this radiation and it just feels wrong. I just can't do it. I can't damage my brain, and my body like that. My radiation oncologist already doesn't like me because I refuse to get back on my anti-seizure medicine. I try to keep it light and tease him, but he is unimpressed by my chutzpa. I figure, it's MY BODY. It's MY BRAIN. It is NOT his brain. When I tell him I'm not going to do it right now, I know he will act like it's some grave mistake, but you know what - it's not his tumor. This is my life, and he can shove it. Sometimes I feel like he's drooling over my brain, and that's creepy. He has bought into the "standard of care" doing radiation, and I believe that there are other answers.
So, instead of jumping on the killing machine, I've started a new alternative therapy. Some of you might think I'm crazy, but that's ok. It is widely known that our FDA is hand in hand with pharmaceutical companies, and that they fund most research. That makes it incredibly hard to get valid alternative treatments recognized in the US. If there's no money in it, it's hard for hospitals and practitioners to jump on board. It's just our system.
I'm going to find my own way, right now using artemisinin (the main ingredient in anti-malarial drugs). If this doesn't work, I will try something else, maybe the Burzinski Clinic in Houston. I will not kill my body. I have been very fortunate to have a brain tumor fighter contact me to share their fight, and success of stopping, shrinking and then killing her brain tumor. Her husband has joined my fight to help me beat this. They've shared their MRI's, their techniques, their recipes, and their research. It's fantastic!
Here is what I'm doing:
- At breakfast or lunch I have 500mg of vitamin C, 400 units of vitamin E (with mixed tocopherols), and a D3 vitamin
- I stop eating at 4:30pm
- Four to five hours after eating dinner, on an empty stomach, I take 2 capsules of Artemix and 4 capsules of Butyrex (I might end up adding a ferrous iron supplement too, but I need more information).
- Between dinner and the pills, Danny and I take a quiet, relaxing walk, or visit, or watch a movie. Or I'll take a bath. I try to use that time to decompress.
Obviously, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not recommending that anyone do what I'm doing. If you're interested in the research let me know. I'll try and figure out how to add a page to my website and include all of the reasearch documents. I'm not going to include the MRI's, but the research alone should impress.
When I received the results of this past MRI I was in shock for two days. Then, I went into a deep depression. I would wake up and head downstairs to my favorite chair. I wouldn't get up until my bladder hurt so badly I thought it would explode. I couldn't get myself to the shower, I didn't want to eat, I didn't have the energy to talk to anyone or get on the internet. I was scared if I talked to friends I would just lose it and cry uncontrollably. So, I isolated myself. Things are looking up though. I'm happy to say that I'm on an upward swing. I was so scared, and it seemed so unreal, but the more resesarch I read about the artemisinin the more hopeful I become. It's an amazing cancer fighter for many, many types. Maybe, after all, I will cure this. Maybe I will be that 1%!