Saturday, May 19, 2012

So? How did it go?!?

Before I answer that, I need to explain the ground rules I was following. Understand that even though I am generally known as a more "traditional" scientist, most of the "alternative" medicines I looked into were things not generally pushed by my standard oncologist. However, as a more traditional scientist, I resisted adding those "alternatives" that would potentially conflict with the "standard" medical drugs or otherwise compete with any of my daily passions, pulling me away from any of the people or activities that bring joy to my life. So, how did it go? First the approach.

WARNING: This might feel a little gross, so read at your own risk!

Alternatives that are now taken daily with the intent to improve energy and resist infection:
Turmeric: Morning, 2 pills, 395 mg/pill
AHCC: Morning and Eve, 1 pill each, 500 mg/pill
Energy Vitality:  Morning and Eve, 1 pill each (mainly ginseng)
Vitamins: Morning and sometimes evening depending on my "mood" and what else I ate

Required medications:
Zofran: 5 days, 1 hour before Temodar
Temodar: 5 days, scheduled right before going to sleep

Laxatives and stool softeners:
Polyethylene Glycol: Mixed with smoothies every morning and water every night
Docusate Sodium: Pills taken most mornings

Choices for eating:
I tried to eat things containing lots of iron and/or things with high fiber. These included: burritos with beans and broccoli, hamburgers or other meats, spinach salads, salmon, and smoothies with lots of blueberries. Things that didn’t go very far included: dried fruits, nuts, and a liquid iron, all things rejected by my taste buds.

After Day 1 of the Temodar,  I was given my first dose of Avastin. Amazingly I never noticed any real side effects from that. The plan is to hold off until after the next MRI to see if more needs to be added. Continuing with the Temodar, after Day 3 I definitely noticed some fatigue, but still pushed through a normal day. By Day 4 I definitely noticed a decrease in energy. However, for the next 3 days, the energy was never completely lost, and often returned to some degree after a nap or an "irony" meal. The "alternative" medicines also might have helped to fight that sleepiness. The stool softeners in general seemed to work, but I also think that Metamucil might actually work as well, and is a little more "natural" over all. Either way, this was less of a worry since most of this was easily controlled in the "old days".

Compared to the first go-around, this was definitely a successful experiment with respect to energy, evidenced by the fact that I managed to go to work part-time every day that week. I think there is a fundamental limit for maintaining energy, since iron is indirectly depleted through reduction of the blood cells (the reverse of "iron deficiency anemia"), so adding iron externally cannot sufficiently compensate. Interestingly enough, there are still some other problems to solve. My emotional attitude certainly dropped significantly during the Temodar, as happened before. Whether that is my own attitude or an actual chemical reaction from the drugs or the diet remains to be seen. That said, overall it seems like I'm on the right path. We'll know more for sure when I have the next MRI in June.


  1. Eric! Sorry I've been so AWOL & preoccupied! Man, it has been an tough & eventful stretch for you :-( I have to say I do like the tactical details - you're in the fight & it seems a lot will be tactical for a while....

    Let us know what we can do to help with energy & morale! And when is your June MRI?


  2. Don't forget spoonfed steak dinners and spinach smoothies!

  3. Eric - Keep doing what you are doing and try not to think too much, as too much thinking can zap energy as much as stress and running a marathon.

    Hoping an praying that your June MRI shows that everything is doing the trick!

    All the Best,


  4. You know what is good for your blood iron levels? A nice long hike with Clover! :) Love you man, and we'll have a catchup dinner with Dylan when we get back next week.