Monthly Archives: October 2015

My Frenemy, Dexamethasone

When initially discussing chemotherapy treatments, most people begin with the thought that it is the chemo drugs themselves, those infamously toxic concoctions, that the patient would complain about most, or fear, or suffer from. And chemo does suck, what with the potential for nausea and fatigue and that notorious chemo brain. But do you know what really sucks, dear Reader? Steroids.

I recognize the importance of the Dexamethasone pills I take for three days at the start of each infusion cycle. And I appreciate that I am not taking Prednisone, which some of my friends have been saddled with for lengthy periods of time and which I had seen turn my father’s final years into a much less pleasant time than they should have been. I owe a debt to Prednisone, without which I would not have gotten ill enough to eventually lead to my cancer diagnosis, but I will never take it again. Dexamethasone, on the other hand, I can deal with. I don’t like it, but I understand the need to make my peace with the sleepless nights and mild dizzy spells and increased irritability, the hoarseness and seemingly endless peeing. Continue reading My Frenemy, Dexamethasone

The Give and Take of the Support Group

I met some nice people today. People who I would not normally have crossed paths with in my daily life. They were a happy, optimistic bunch, or seemed so to me, in spite of the circumstances that brought us together for the 90 minutes allotted this morning. Most of the small group knew each other, but were largely strangers to me when I walked into the room. It was my first time attending a cancer support group.

I had no idea what to expect from the meeting. The truth is, I had not been in any particular rush to attend; my impression of such a gathering was based on flimsy Hollywood portrayals, and that fuelled more by onscreen AA meetings than anything else. The coordinating nurse who ran the meeting was also the person responsible for setting me up with my oncologist and taking care of most of the administrative functions revolving around my early care from the point where my tumor was identified until I had begun my chemo drips. And she has been a part of the process since, if not directly, keeping tabs on me and checking in now and again. She had asked me on several occasions if I would attend a support group meeting and I had always put it off, thinking that I was doing fine and so, really, it wasn’t something I really needed to do.

Then she sent me a flier, with a personal note at the top, and I went and put the date in my calendar. And then there I was. Continue reading The Give and Take of the Support Group

The Cannabis Cancer Cure Explained

Let’s put the Cannabis Cancer Cure into some perspective.

If we face the facts, anyone purveying hemp oil or cannabis as a cancer cure is either willfully ignorant of the facts or is delusional about its proven effects. While certain cannabinoids or other chemicals found in the cannabis certainly show promise for potential cancer treatments, thus far the only valid studies have occurred in Petri dishes or grafted animal tumors. And there is one insidious fact left out of the claims proliferating across the Inter Webs.

Cannabis can make some cancers worse.

That’s right, the same chemical components that appear to kill or slow the progression of some cancer cells have also been shown to speed the growth of other cancer cells. There is a matter of dosing, too: some doses help reduce tumors while other doses will actually cause progression. And this is still in a highly controlled lab dish setting. Getting those doses correct through the filter of individual human metabolism could be a disaster, if it even works at all. Continue reading The Cannabis Cancer Cure Explained