Cancer and Chemotheraphy.

Some changes in our lifestyle can go a long way.

AFTER YEARS OF TELLING PEOPLE CHEMOTHERAPY IS THE ONLY WAY TO TRY AND ELIMINATE CANCER, JOHNS HOPKINS IS FINALLY STARTING TO TELL YOU THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY …

[Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins ]

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person’s lifetime.

3. When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to STARVE the cancer cells by not feeding it with foods it needs to multiple.

What cancer cells feed on:

a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Note: Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg’s aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells will starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes t o nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells.

To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water–best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines will become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body’s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body’s own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body’s normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor.

Anger, unforgiving and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

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Dealing with Hernia.

Five days after returning from Umrah, Sam was admitted for his surgery. We knew what we were up against. His right kidney was removed last year by open surgery. 2 Months later he was diagnosed with a hernia. You see there are several layers of skin, tissue, fat and muscle after which the doctors reach the organs. In sam’s case, a large area had opened from the initial scar. He had around 46 stiches on his abdomin. The scar opening from the stitches was around 9-10 cm long. 20% of his intestines were already out from that opening. Hence when he stood, there was a baseball shaped and size side to his stomach. We were only worried about strangulation in those intestines therefore we delayed the operation till now. The surgeons push the intestines back in, and place a large mesh to keep it from protruding back out. The worse part about this type of hernia is that it can reoccur. The surgeon we had, was exceptionally good, but sam’s case history was not a very encouraging one, so he assured us that he would be trying out his best to do it thru laprocopy and if they were still unable to fix the issue, then they would have to perform an open surgery. Which was the worse case scenario.

This time around, I could sense Sam was far more nervous and had made more preparation with all the house and bank docs etc, Which really puts me in panic mode. Luckily for us, his surgery went very well. The surgery lasted 5 hours and after a stay in the hospital for a week, we could get him home. As in almost all surgeries and especially with a hernia, doctors always advice that the patient should refrain from carrying heavy objects.  Sam still has swelling, probably water retention. Our concern always is that he has only one kidney which also has an arterial block as well. But I am an optimist. I believe in giving the body some time and space to heal. Inshallah. Heal, he will.

Bilal my oldest son born premature. He was underweight like most premature births and unfortunetly devoloped bilateral anguinal hernia at age 2 months. The swelling above private part was very severe. We were asked to have him operated immediately. He was so anemic and underweight that they had to first infuse blood and then perform the surgery. However, it was a simple surgery ~ ofcourse to a first time nervous mom, It was simply a nightmare. Since I had dealt with hernia before, I did a little research about it on the internet as well to keep myself prepared.

What I found strangely annoying later on, is that naturally people are limited by their own knowledge and experience. I had not mentioned about samie’s surgery to alot of people until the day of his surgery. Later however, when I had advised the near and dear ones, I felt so ridiculous when I had one person actually tell me that her cousin had a hernia which takes just half an hour and its ridiculously a simple procedure !!! Inspite of explaining his entire abdomine case, she just kept compairing it to her “cousin”. Honestly, if there is one thing that I have learnt from my experiences in dealing with a traumatic surgery is that when you visit someone who is so seriously ill, it would be best to lend your emotional support (which is so desperately seeked) and BE QUIET !!! It can be so damaging to the relationship, when you tend to belittle a certain situation.  

We have changed quite a bit of sam’s eating habits. Ofcourse he has been on low sodium salt for a little over a year now. He’s having salads for lunch and a healthy breakfast. We have been going on late night walks everyday, Which, I think, is the best part of the evening instead spending the evening being a couch potato.  I suppose dinner is the only meal, when I let him get away with rice. He is a typical rice eater.  He is making several changes, so I think, I am letting him get away with the rice in the night deal !

Here is sam with the boys 3 days after the surgery and the other picture, is that of sam with the boys, 2 weeks after surgery.

Lessons from 2010 ~ part 2.

Just a day before we had sam admitted for the operation. Twas Bilal's birthday.11 May 2010

Two days after Sam’s surgery, he was still in the ICU. I needed to stay close to him so I slept for a couple of hours in the common ladies waiting room in the night and kept waiting for the visiting hours the rest of the time. I had not visited the kids the first 5 days. There was a large, safe and clean cafeteria which was 24 hours so really almost all my immediate needs were taken care of.  Needlessto say, I hardly slept. I would be seen prowling constantly infront of the ICU, waiting for visiting hours to begin.

Most of the security guards and cleaners and nurses had come to know me very well by now. And one thing I was asked several times, is how I managed to keep so composed ! I remember, a distant friend of mine called once and tried to console me briefly; becoz she did not know all the details, she almost made me feel, “like its not the end of the world”.

It took a whole lot of patience and maturance to not snap back at her. Perhaps my state of mind and patience was already stretched beyond its capacity and here, I had someone telling me, that it could’nt be all the bad !! I must have been alittle sharp in my tone, although I said nothing offensive. This friend came all the way from Dubai to check up on Sam in the evening while I was in the cafeteria. By the time I returned, She had already seen  Sam.  She came over to me and just broke down in tears.   Human emotions are fragile. I learnt just how very fragile.  I found myself consoling her that evening !!

During those first 2 weeks, my telephone was flooded with calls. Calls from abroad, local calls, dozens of sms’s. At some stage, I almost felt like a telephone operator and at some other times, like telephone voice message. I nearly detested it having to answer the calls and repeat the same updates over and over !  Most of the calls that came from Sam’s friends had a similar feel to it.

It went something like this :

“How did this happen ?

” “Why did’nt he tell us ?”

 “I found out thru so and so ”

“How did you’ll diagnose it ?”

“Why dont you get it done in India?”

“Let me know if you need anything ”

Duh !!! As if !!!!!!! I realized that we should be careful in what we say to a person when he going thru an ordeal especially one which involves health. He sits there feeling “how would you know, you dont have this problem” while we ask all the silly questions and even offer our unwanted advice !!

Nobody really knows whats going thru the mind of a person sinking in his boat except he himself !! so why pretend to have answers. But I suppose its a polite etiquette or ritual to do so !!!

Trying so hard to ease his pain... young sawaab

In all of Sam’s friends, there was only one guy whom he has disclosed his condition to, and also explained in detail about the operation.  Instead of making the effort of being around with us, he calls two days later wanting to know how things were !!! His wife had the audacity to state that 8 months back, when she was in India where her mother was sick, We didnt call on her in India, we just visited her hubby here !!! Thats friendship for you.

I learnt that encouragement, support and compassion does not necessarily come from those whom we know for sure will show it. Many a times, there can be a big disappointment. And many a times, it can come from a totally unexpected corner !! Therefore, its best to pin hopes only from Allah swt. He is the creator, he will create a way. . .

The lesser your expectation, the better chance you’ve got a solid relationship !! In all honesty, I dont believe in what I just said.     How can one not have expectations from someone you speak to virtually everyday ??? Someone whom you share your domestic secrets and office hassels ???

I realized now, that someone going thru trauma, doesnt need our silly superficial talks, he just needs genuine concern and someone who can listen and perhaps understand. Not judge. Never Judge !

I’ve learnt that Health, Wealth and children are a man’s biggest assets and they are also his biggest weakness too. He is most vulnerable when there is a deficiency in either his health or his wealth and if his children are away or hurt.

On the left is samie's surgeon, Dr Ziani and on the right is Dr ousama at Sheikh Khailifa Medical city.

I also learnt that what ever our sickness is, the two extreme way approach is not really the best.

Either we focus on the sickness so much that all our positive energy is drained and we’re completly touchy and depressed all the time.

On the other hand, completly living in denial and trying to carry on with life as though nothing has happened is not going to take us anywhere too.

When a disease strikes, it is a way of the body responding and telling us that something wrong is happening. why ignore and live in denial that alls well. We have to make positive changes to cure our problem.

Earlier I never stopped sam from the quantity he ate, or the amount of his salt intake, or from munching those                in-between snacks or hogging on all those nihari’s and ghee smothered parathas !! How much could our body take ?? Naturally we made changes. How could we not ??

I’ve also learnt that staying in a hospital, no matter how plush and sophisticated it is, can be quiet a sad and lonely experience. There’s a reason why Muslims have a sunnah, which is to visit the sick and that too it states, how and for how long should the visit last and what should be spoken off when visiting.

While we were transfered to the private room from the ICU, a bunch of volunteers had organized an hour program for the long staying patients of the hospital. They got out their guitars and sang lovely songs, some played board games and some card games. It was so refreshing to see the smiles on the elderly patients, who had, by now, gotten so used to staying over long periods of isolation ! 

A visit to the hospital can really make a great difference in the life of the patient and it makes us realize how fortunate we are for being blessed with good health too. we may feel, what good would a single short visit from us do for a patient, what we probably dont realize is how he/she may not have had seen family, friends or relatives for so long and a short talk with them may make them feel “wanted” or “not forgotten”  Try it, you’ll know what I mean.

This post was not supposed to get long, but perhaps I “Have” learnt quite a bit. I really hope, what I have learnt from my experience helps you to make even one single change in your life.

Come back to read the 3rd Part of “lessons from 2010”

The Unwelcomed Lump.

 

The lump is on the left side of the picture. This pic was taken just before the operation.

this pic was taken 6 days after the operation. Notice how disfigured the neck still looks. Ofcourse the mass is out, now what remains is swelling.

This ugly scar is where the operation was done. It covers my entire profile. Pic was taken one day after the operation.

Somewhere in February, I realized I had started binging alot.  It did’nt seem right that I was cracking down on Modern Bakery’s laddoos or was completly spellbound by the Boston Kreme DD.  I believe that until I dont hit rock bottom, I wont make changes. Little do we know what is enstore … one minute we think we have everything planned up and the next minute , one telephone call can change the entire course of your life.

I have been so restless this entire year .. just waiting for something to happen, well if nothing happened, then I tried to make it happen. Towards March, We had seen a couple of villa’s  already and We decided that if we could try, we would get the kids admitted to a school in town and rent a place somewhere in mirdiff and probably rent out our own villa at the Ranches.  Generally these kind of things fall in my lap and I love working and organizing such things. Once Sam gave me his consent. I started packing the excess stuff in the studio, preparing cartons of toys for the garage sale, clearing up pieces of art that I felt could save some space in the house etc..

Things had still not run in full swing, becoz I had not jumped into the school admission scenario. I have no idea why I wasnt hoping around as I would have wanted to, except for some larger force was at work. I convinced myself the kids needed time to prepare for the assesments.

Meanwhile on a busy friday night somewhere early march, I discovered a lump in the right side of my neck. Initially I dismissed it thinking it had to be one of my tooth infections … then I assumed it had to do with something related to the hearing loss I had experienced in my right ear just 8 months back. Then I felt it could be something related to the allergy and subsequent severe rash I had by the DermiCool Powder that I had used while in India, to relieve me of some sweat.

What was peculier was that it was large enough to prutrude thru my neck and yet not pain at all. There was absolutely zero pain in it. I suppose we all love to live in denial or then indulge in self obsession !!  Becoz it did not pain, i didnt have to turn to any medication and becoz it caused alittle discomfort, it kept playing on my mind. I decided to give it a week or 10 days … perhaps it may be some sinus caused inflamation of my lymph nodes !! who knows !!!!!

Well 10 days later and the little lump on my neck had travelled right till behind my right ear.  And still no sign of pain. It almost felt like a large protruding swelling or a flab of double chin.  Finally Sam put his foot down when I told him about some muscular pain in my right arm. We emerged at the Emergency at American Hospital.  Dr Akbar  prescribed some antibacterial for the rash and suggested it could be a reaction to the rash that some lymph node had inflammed.

He suggested consulting Dr Tarabishi which I did in a week. Dr Tarabishi had seen me earlier for my ear injury. He did several examinations including passing a camera thru my nose !! and aspirating two places on the gland too.

He prescribed 2000 mg of Augmentine each day for 10 days !! His guess was that if it was some infection, it would clear itself. There was a very small chance of a tumor … which at that stage seemed out of the question.

15 days later, and Mr lumpy had made himself very comfortable in my neck. Thank God for my hijaab or else I would have really been embarrassed with the humungous size. At this stage I could sense the Doctor getting alittle annoyed with not being able to figure this thing out. 

He asked me to get admitted of a byopsy and CT scan on 7th. The idea of having general anesthesia after 8 years was not well received by me. I had hoped and by this stage, started praying that this unwelcomed lump would just disappear but it was here to stay.

Just around this time ….. The cancer in Sam’s Kidney was diagnosed.

Two people in one household having a tumor at the same time !! Unheard of !!! It almost seemed like a dream, I was really hoping someone would wake me up and I’d finally say, “thank God, it was an awful nightmare.”

It was not to happen.

That friday before 7th April, I called Bhaiyya and broke down to him.  In my weekest hour, I found solace talking to Bhaiyya. From then on, I kept him informed about all the devolopments…  His humility and selflessness are amazing. If I have found anyone resemble my Sam in my family or otherwise, it has to be my brother.  I trust his judgement completly and really hold on to his advise.

Alot happened between then and now.

On 7th, I was supposed to be at the hospital by 12 for the CT Scan but at 11 for the admission. For whatever reason just about everything that could have gone wrong with the hospital had managed to go wrong. Everything was failing … everything was a complete chaos.

I was completly irritated, anxious and frustrated. I dropped the kids at the hospital and Sam picked them and dropped them at Kidzania. Finally he joined me after the CT Scan was completed.

My CT was done just 2 hours before my operation … The doctor had decided in the OT that they would remove all the mass and tissue. I believe they had carried out the frozen test and thereafter it was taken out.

The operation started at 15:00 hrs and took 3 hours to complete. I came around at 20:00 hrs and felt as though nothing had changed except some strangely uncomfortable feeling in my neck.  

I remember sham and Arif kept saying why my cut had been so large for a simple biopsy. Strangely enough I was hungry. I was so desperate for something to eat !! and EAT, I did !!!!! Infact I ordered for an extra sandwich meal at 23:00 hrs !~!~!!!!!!  I never slept all night ….. happiness and anxiety kept me awake.

Following day, Dr Osama had informed me that the tumor was benign and apart of the tissue sample was sent to the pathology for investigation. To think of it !!! what were the chances of a tumor ?? 2 % !!!! Well, that was one story with a good ending.

I was already waiting for Sam to take me to Abu Dhabi so that we could discuss his case with Sheikh Khalifa Medical City that afternoon.  That never happened coz Sam arrived late. We had a meal and reached home. Finally I got my beauty sleep only to wake up the following morning with what felt like a large tyre around my neck. The swelling was so large that it almost scard me to see my reflection in the mirror. Poor Sam, what he has to put up with !! 5 days later, the swelling is subsiding … I am enjoying pulling off the dead skin around the area of the incesion. Infact I get a real kick pulling the dead skin off the entire stitched area.

Inspite of all my strength, I find myself dragging me around. Its hard to gather up strength and get chores done. I tire easily. For someone as active as myself, it is a very sinking feeling not being able to achieve 100 % all the time. But one thing this entire episode has taught me is to enjoy every minute and put more time with my boys.

Sometimes we take our lives for granted and then we need wake up calls like these that can set us straight.

Surviving Cancer.

Last November, we visited India to attend my nephew’s marriage. After my marriage ie 12 years, We were going to see “ALL”  my relatives.  In between all the fun and frolic, I could sense how fortunate we were to be so happily in love.  Sam and I were the talk of town. Plump and made for each other !!

Came back and posted some of the marriage pics in FB where a huge number of my friends, family and relatives hang out. Perhaps it was a mistake that I posted that pic but I know now that If it was a mistake, It is one, I have to live with for the rest of my life.

Sam has had high blood pressure for the last 7 months. He has been taking medication to keep it on an average scale. On one visit to American Hospital Dubai early February for a repeat medication,  the doctor suggested an MRI of the renal artery. If you know sam,  you know that sam, immediately decides that doctors love to mint money with a huge bunch of tests .. so inspite of all his whinning. He had the MRI done. What followed was to change our lives forever.

The renal artery seemed fine but his right kidney has a tumor about 10 cm large !! After several sonographies, xrays, and CT scan’s the doctors explained how serious his state is but ( hate that word *BUT*) The only solution to the tumor is removal of the entire kidney.  This is a very critical operation with a very high risk rate, therefore American Hospital Dubai has refused this operation. However they have advised that we take Sam’s case to any Kidney specialist Center where there would be a team of doctors to carry out the operation. Sam has never been operated upon. Naturally he is curious and anxious. His left kidney has a mild stenoces.  Although the cancer has not spread out of the kidney, they can see some signs of it in his lungs !!

Ofcourse our initial reaction was that of disbelief. He is healthy, if anything, overweight. Never complains about sickness.  It took sometime for this harsh reality to seep in. For the first week or so, I kept hoping that there was an error in the report or then just kept searching for the silver lining.  Sam has been spending alot of time with the boys. It is difficult to think of my world without Sam. He is that orbit around which I revolve. He is one of the nicest people I know of.  I am so dependent on him. One of the first thoughts that ran thru my mind was ” what will happen to me ?” Silly why I lost hope so early in our battle. … then gradually I composed myself. I am a hardcore optimist, so it dawns late but it does dawn for sure. There is always a silver lining. Our love story is not going to end here. We have to have many more years of bliss and joys. We are going to grow old together. We will see our sons getting married. I will sit and watch all the videos and photos that we have shot of the boys’ childhood in our retirement with Sam and we will have a blast recalling all the incidences. Sam is not going to leave me and I am not going to let Sam leave me. Not now, Not like this.  I will fight for him. I will keep fighting for him. I will beg Allah swt for my samie. I will beg him to spare his life.

In the heart of the matter we all know, that we are visitors in this world and have a larger home to return to in the here after and no matter how much we feel we are preparing for it, we are really not at all prepared.

It seems difficult to be practical at such times, but its like we shift the gears of our motors to act accordingly. 

We have been struggling with decisions …. if we should have this operation done here in Dubai or should we take him to India  … ( just as everybody has been advising us ) how would the logistics of all this work ???  We Indians are very emotional and get into “Panic” mode very easily. Although we managed to keep it in wraps for a month … when we did disclose it to our near and dear family members, all hell broke looose.  Too many opinions, too many judgements, too much chaos,  just too much panic to handle.

Sam has been one of the best gifts Allah swt has blessed me with.  The mere thought of loosing him makes me feel week in the knees. He is too precious, too nice,  too dear,  too loving,  ……..  too mine. I would do anything to keep him alive.

And yet I find myself at Allah’s mercy, begging him for help as I would for any ailment for my family. The Almighty has been so generous to us … so forgiving and so merciful, I have complete faith that a solution will follow.

One line I have always believed for as long as I can remember is : ”  If Allah can get you to it, He can get you through it.”

For all those of you reading this, please pray for my samie.  He is truly a special individual. There is no one who passes by him that is not touched by his compassion and generosity.  Please keep my samie in your prayers.