Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Chemo Diaries: More Summer Fun

Aside from my ever diminishing veins, the infusions during maintenance continue to be easy and relaxing. I guess I am lucky in that way — I know people who have different cocktails that they have various reactions to, from rash to fever to nausea on one end and flat out groggy sleep on the other. During these Alimta cycles, I am in and out fairly quickly and my biggest complaint is not having enough time here with the heated massage chair and my morning coffee to, uh, get any real work done…

finally time for my cup of morning joe


Two infusions ago this chemo drug appeared to really mess with my digestive system, but it cleared up just in time for my scheduled CT scan and did not recur with the following round. The assumption now is that I simply caught a stomach bug that lingered for a couple weeks. The whole repressed immunity thing has been on my mind lately, and not just because what probably should have been a 24 hour virus took me 14 times longer to purge from my system.

Although the ensuing three weeks were relatively symptom-free (steroids make me irritable, mess up my sleep for three or four days and make me an emotional raw nerve; the chemotherapy wreaks havoc with my joyous time travel into the land of teenage acne, but even these things seemed to lessen somewhat), the issue of immunity and, more specifically herd immunity, was thrust back front and center when we brought a new kitten home from the pound. Continue reading The Chemo Diaries: More Summer Fun

The Myth of the Wellness Warrior

Please note, this is Part One of a series. Click here to jump to Part Two or follow the link at the end of this post. Part Two contains some very important information that greatly expands upon some of what is raised here.

Somehow I managed to miss the name Candice-Marie Fox when I was going through earlier research on foods that are claimed to cure cancer, of which her pineapple diet ranks as one of the more ludicrous. Through the grapevine, I learned of this diet yesterday and immediately I wanted to find out if there was anything plausible about it. Certainly, pineapple is healthy to eat and it is often used for digestive issues due to its enzymatic activity, so I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Of course, I did not expect that there would be an actual cure in there, but maybe I could ascertain some actual benefits to the diet that transcended my initial skepticism. I was excited about this possibility; less so about discovering one more person preparing to cash in on a faux cure.

Pineapple is good for you.

A quick Google search brought up hundreds of articles online about how this woman, Candice-Marie Fox, a former model (always in the lead of the story), beat “Stage 3” or “Stage 4” (depending on the article) thyroid cancer by “ditching her husband” and eating a diet dominated by pineapple and other fruits. As is often the case in this sort of story, even as it is translated into multiple languages, the text is almost identical from web site to web site. And most of those articles can be traced back to a source in that British rag called the Daily Mail — not exactly a solid, investigative news source.

A few other “news” outlets picked the story up. It makes great click bait, after all. But fascinatingly, these actual news stories manage to get a whole bunch of facts wrong. Which is not surprising, as the former model herself seems to trip over her own facts many times, even in interviews on other web sites after her celebrity began to grow.

Continue reading The Myth of the Wellness Warrior

Let’s Talk Nutrition!

Doing research on Cancer, you cannot help but stumble across about a million web sites (not to mention books, those old things) ready to inform about all the ways that food and supplements can either prevent or cure the myriad of cancers out there. So I thought I would do everyone a solid and break down the Truth About Nutrition and Cancer right here. I’m not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, but I am a human being who eats, takes his vitamins AND has cancer! Kind of makes me an expert, just don’t look at this as medical advice. (The info here is good for people without cancer, too, because everyone wants to be healthy!)

About the time that a patient receives a diagnosis of CanCeR, or any other crazy disease/condition/illness/mutation that sets the mind into panic mode, someone is going to be hot after a diet to improve things or search out a cause in the previous diet for where things went terribly wrong, or otherwise look to Nutrition for answers. And, just as inevitably as Nutrition will be sought out for those answers, the InterWebs will provide volumes about why whatever the patient had been eating was the cause of his or her maladies, or perhaps what the patient had not been eating, but whichever the case is there will most certainly be a solution/cure for whatever ails said patient in the form of an ingestible, potentially (or at least allegedly) natural substance. And, by gum, this is in spite of the fact that Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex have conspired to keep the valuable information a secret (which is why it is available on thousands of non-academic, ready to sell you something web pages).

And this is when I point out something obvious, which many individuals fail entirely to pay attention to while distracted by the conspiracy theories being thrown at them: even when the information is being “given away for free,” the site you are visiting is almost certainly selling something. Continue reading Let’s Talk Nutrition!

The Chemo Diaries: Summer Maintenance

One of the fun things about chemotherapy is the surprise side effects that pop up, differing from one round to the next. For the most part, after you’ve had a few rounds, you know what to expect in broad terms. Some issues get cumulatively more pronounced, others perhaps seem less so. But the element of surprise is always there with something.

When I switched from the three drug infusion that was designed to beat the cancer cells with a sledge hammer, to a single drug infusion that is basically intended to keep tapping at those cells in a more gentle fashion, I noticed a huge difference in how I felt during the critical week that followed. After six rounds of the hard stuff, it had been really getting to me. My body, as healthy as it otherwise is, was feeling a bit worse for wear. I was exhausted. I felt like I had a brain cloud. Then suddenly, after the maintenance infusion cycles began, it was like a weight had been lifted. It wasn’t necessary for me to take my anti-nausea meds anymore. I could think (relatively) more clearly.

There were still side effects, though. The chemo still made me tired, still had smaller versions of the same things that had been bothering me before. Now my feet were puffy, then it would be something else. Another cycle or so in and some of the issues I had been so happy to avoid seemed to come back again, perhaps in a lighter dose, and I spent a couple weeks with some truly odd gastrointestinal issues before going in for another in my string of exciting CT scans. Continue reading The Chemo Diaries: Summer Maintenance


I was reading a friend’s blog post a while back, a personal rant she shot off about tolerance (especially among the particular Christian community of which she considers herself a part) in response to Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn. I had not realized (at that time) that this was a big deal, or even anything particularly new to discuss, but then I have been living in Los Angeles for about 30 years and this sort of thing is long past novel for me. I know that there are plenty of bigots and idiots in Southern California, but I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with, if not always like-minded, at least open-minded individuals for most of my time here. I am also fairly confident that even my oldest friends from rural Illinois who remain entrenched in “Middle America” are soundly rooted in kindness and tolerance. In my well-lived-in fantasy world, it often seems that most narrow-minded people exist strictly as online trolls, waiting to lob their tirades at rational science or reasonably centrist political viewpoints. Then, every now and again, I wake up and venture outside.

For a long time, I’ve been repeating my belief that much of what is wrong with our particular society is rooted in a lack of Critical Thinking Skills. And I believe that tolerance, in general, is indicative of that same problem. If we, as a culture, were to exercise better critical thinking, then bigotry of all types should readily dissipate. After all, bigotry stems from a certain dogmatic thought process which is destroyed by self-examination and a broader understanding of how things actually work and fit together. Therefore, any thoughtful group of people ought to find that their differences make them stronger and unite them better, unless those differences are Continue reading Vanity

Ignoring the Plumbing: Never a Good Plan

Ignoring the plumbing is one of those things that always seems to lead to more problems (and expenses) down the road. Good maintenance is the best practice for a cost-effective and hopefully long life of the system. This is true, not just for our own bodies, but also quite literally when it comes to household plumbing.

wpid-20150108_144118.jpgNot long after I began my chemotherapy, I realized that I had been putting off some of my own maintenance for far too long. In this case, it was a wobbly toilet in the main bathroom, where one of the bolts that used to hold it securely in position against the floor had rusted away and, not long after, the seal on the caulk had come loose. Realization struck that it was only a matter of time until something would go terribly wrong, and I imagined all sorts of disasters I did not want to deal with following an infusion (or pretty much any other time, ever).

I had looked into toilet repair on YouTube. Since that is how I solve most of my plumbing issues, I watched a five-minute video on how to install a wax ring and set a toilet properly. Everything was ready, except that my kit from Home Depot was missing the actual wax ring it was supposed to include with all the other bits of hardware. Fortunately, I noticed that before taking the toilet off the floor. Continue reading Ignoring the Plumbing: Never a Good Plan

Clip Show: Cancer Edition 2

Welcome to another Clip Show! Here are some things that were lingering in open tabs for a while that I intended to use or share, but haven’t found a proper post within which to do so. I encourage you to click the links and explore, watch the videos here and enjoy. Hopefully there is something for everyone.

I don’t normally reference Fox News as a source of reason, but here is a great interview with actress Maura Tierney discussing her experience with chemotherapy:

Continue reading Clip Show: Cancer Edition 2

Dinner With Friends: A Healthy Recipe for Healing

As in all things, it is important to remain grounded and retain good humor. While I have been fortunate enough to have a supportive family, I have found that one particular activity has been especially effective in reminding me about who I am and what I aspired to as a younger man. I don’t do it often, but it gives me a chance to largely forgo maudlin conversations and getting sucked into pseudo-therapy or endless medical recommendations or even just additional reminders of what I am dealing with every day. I position this, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its relative infrequency, at the top of my list of desirable, repeatable events: dinner with old friends.

The friends referenced need to be of the “knew you when” variety. While dinner with new good friends is terrific (or coffee, or whatever friends do when they are just hanging out these days), such new friends are likely in the thick of it with you right now. It’s a different vibe. Spending time with them is great, meaningful and hopefully supportive in the best ways. But they cannot bring with them that sense of history, served best by those who you have not seen much of in years or at least long enough not to be deeply associated with the current process of therapy, from diagnosis and beyond.

This evening I had been out to dinner with four college roommates with whom I remain in touch and who still live locally (at least when their jobs don’t have them in some more exotic locale). The timing was great, as one just flew in from overseas yesterday and another is flying out tomorrow for the East Coast and the third, nearly on par with the travel obstacles, drove in from the Westside of LA to meet with the rest of us downtown. The locale was a

Continue reading Dinner With Friends: A Healthy Recipe for Healing