Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cancer Conference, Bill Henderson & Sprained Ankle

The Sheraton in Universal City. It's a big step up from the thriftier Holiday Inn we Co-op gals are staying in a few miles away.

We're sharing a booth at the 36th annual Cancer Control Society Convention with Bill Henderson, best-selling author of Cancer-Free: Your Guide to Gentle, Non-Toxic Healing. We're featuring Co-op products that Bill recommends in his book, specifically Heart Plus, Green Tea Extract, and Greens Plus (we have a few new products in the works that Bill likes to recommend, like Beta Glucans, but shhhh, that's a secret that the kat wouldn't share just yet).

Meanwhile, back to the show. Teri, Tess and I arrived just after 7 am and found our booth location a bit spare. Tess made friends with the handsome guy setting things up and he promptly brought the missing backdrop and table drape and some hooks for our Co-op banner (he needn't have done this, as we're supposed to bring these things, but he and Tess were buddies already).

Our table is at the bottom of the escalator, so Teri is calling ours the "greeting station." Good heavens, Teri is beyond chipper well before the sun comes up. She greeted everyone on our way out of the Holiday Inn, as Tess and I were still waking up. A guy in the lobby asked in reply, "And how are you?" Teri's rapid-fire and cheerful response was, "Great, but the day is early and I haven't had a chance to screw anything up yet!" He cracked up, as did we.

I told Teri I should follow her around and "learn some things" about one-liners that brighten others days. Teri responded quite earnestly, "That's why people love calling me, they know they won't get the same old, same old, and they'll feel better than before they called." That's Teri's mission in life, infusing her sunny outlook in others. Teri swears that if she doesn't do her yoga stretching in the morning that it would all be a different story. Hey, whatever works.

I have yet to meet Bill Henderson in person (however, I feel like we've met as we've done a videoconference call through Skype and several regular calls before). I'd know his resonant voice anywhere!

Alas, I'm nursing a sprained ankle. A moment of stupidity compelled me to play tennis on Wednesday morning bright and early with the wrong shoes. Everyone knows that you never but never play a start-stop, skid-into-a-stroke kind of game with running shoes, which grip a hard surface and offer a nicely-cushioned platform,from which to roll one's ankle over when racing to hit a backhand. Sigh.

I do my share of stupid things but sometimes life likes to remind me to notice that my choices or actions are indeed stupid.

I take my poor sprained ankle and its scary bruises as a reminder to slow down and remember to be more mindful. My hope is that today, as a result of reading this, you will too. Although you'll never know what misfortune you avoid by being mindful, you just might notice how all sorts of beautiful things show up when you're not rushing.

For me, sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton with my leg up on a gray ottoman, facing huge floor-to-ceiling windows graced by oyster-colored drapes with a large chrysanthamum motif , I'm enjoying the music playing. As someone who is more visual than auditory, I can miss really hearing "background" music.

Gazing outside, I see how the wind moves the leaves on the decorative pear trees and tall palm trees out in the courtyard and my eye follows two tow-headed little boys in bright red shirts, who are buoyantly hopping around the pool's edge not far from their mother.

Sprained ankle and all, this moment could not be more perfect.

If you are curious about Bill Henderson and his ideas on beating cancer gently, listen to Bill sharing his perspectives and recommendations in an interview we did earlier this year. You'll hear what I mean about Bill's deep voice! :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Curcumin Helps Some Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Curcumin is such an awesome spice (hey, it's even supposed to be good for pitta doshas).

Meanwhile, on a much more serious note, an encouraging study on curcumin and its effect on advanced pancreatic cancer was published recently in Clinical Cancer Research. Researchers noted:

"Twenty five participants were administered supplements incorporating a patented curcumin ingredient manufactured by New Jersey-based herbals specialist, Sabinsa, which was found to advantage pancreatic cancer sufferers despite the supplements demonstrating 'poor oral bioavailability.'"

While all patients did not respond the same way, given the non-toxic nature of curcumin (safe at levels up to 8g/daily for 18 months) and given the incredibly pessimistic statistics of recovery from pancreatic cancer (it's considered by the authors of the study as "almost always lethal"), curcumin's value for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer is promising.

According to a leading cancer researcher, Bharat B. Aggarwal, a Ph.D. biochemist who has studied curcumin for over a decade:

"The active component of turmeric turns out to be the best blocker yet of a natural chemical called TNF, or tumor necrosis factor, which contributes to cancers and arthritis and is resistant to chemotherapy drugs. You don't even need tens of thousands of dollars of TNF blockers. Turmeric does exactly the same thing."

Aggarwal, by the way, was second author on the recent study on using curcumin for treating advanced pancreatic cancer.

Here are some more links on curcumin's uses against cancer:

For health, consider adding more curcumin (turmeric), that bright yellow cooking spice that should be in your cabinet, to your meals at home, and order a lot more curry when you're out.

Nose Healing Nicely

For those of you who want to know the "rest of the story," my nose has been healing nicely, especially after yesterday. Alas, the dermatologist's assistant missed a part of a suture. I could see this little black spot and it didn't fizz up with the hydrogen peroxide I would dab on the wound twice a day.

I had Tess look at it yesterday, having become convinced a piece of a stitch was in there and needed to come out. She peered at my nose under a good light and agreed. However, it was too late to get in to the dermatologist's office (they don't work a full week down there!).

Tess said, "I can do it for you, I have all sorts of good tools!" I looked at her skeptically at first, but then took her up on it. After all, Tess used to be a vet tech in high school and early college and had assisted with all sorts of medical procedures.

We drove over to her house (also a home to two Siamese talkers who were indolently napping when we arrived). She worked on the spot for a minute or two and wondered at first if it wasn't a skin after all, then the aha moment came and she said, "It's teal. It's definitely a suture." She tugged with her little manicure scissors and finally freed a little tip and then said, "There's a knot in there."

I worried briefly that it would hurt to pull the knot out of my healing (almost fully healed) nose.

Tess got her fine tweezers out and finally got the little piece of teal plastic out. My skin was so happy, it seemed to make quantum strides overnight!

Thanks, Tess. You saved me a trip south and waiting around in the dead-dullest waiting room in the nation. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hypochlorhydria & Nutritional Prescription for Rosacea

I had a note from a reader about rosacea and low stomach acid (known as hypochlorhydria) and did some research. I never worried about having low stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCl) before.

Now I am planning to do saliva tests for a few days to see whether my pH rises after eating (a good sign if it's going from say 7 to 9) or if my pH drops (a bad sign, especially if the reading is down to 6, 5 or 4.5 being really bad).

Back to my research. I found an older but still good article on hypochlorhydria by Judy Kitchen, published by the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients in 2001. She starts with the premise that:

"Because hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) is so common and yet leads to terrible degenerative diseases such as cancer, congestive heart failure, osteoporosis and even Alzheimer's, patients as well as doctors need to become aware of its causes and symptoms and how to respond to them."

Kitchen makes the case for how many deficiencies -- including lots of minerals, B vitamins, and critical antioxidants vitamins A, E, and C -- are caused by low stomach acid and lead to problems that include hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, deteriorating nails, blepharitis, cataracts, macular degeneration, rosacea, high blood pressure, and so on.

In another article, Ms. Kitchen talks about slow healing of injuries, muscle pain , asthma, and lung infections (not so much things I relate to, but it's important to note that hypochlorhydria can come on slowly and without much notice). In this article, she mentions a diet high in seeds and nuts (that would be mine) can inhibit enzymes important to digestion.

Meanwhile, as I was researching low stomach acid, a friend recommended that I look into a Pitta dosha diet. In ayurvedic medicine, there are three main doshas, and the pitta type is a mixture of fire and water. One description likened a pitta dosha to gasoline, a liquid that is not the fire itself but which can be the source of the flames. Flammable. How charming. There are some nice positives to pitta constitutions (for those of you who share the "fire and water" dosha), but the characatures seems so much more fun!

Anyway, as it turns out, a Pitta diet looks quite similar to rosacea diet recommendations (avoid spices, tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, bananas, citrus, yogurt, vinegar, etc.). Yet, there were some things that don't work for me (i.e., milk and wheat).

Not surprisingly, the Pitta dosha is aggravated and increased during summer and during hot, dry spells (practically the whole spring-summer-fall here in Utah)!

A little more research and I found a great little article on a nutritionl approach to treating rosacea by an immently credible naturopath, Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr.

Here's what Dr. Pizzorno recommends for rosacea:

  • Add HCl 600mg - with each meal to ensure proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Once skin clears drop to 300mg - after 3-4 months supplemental HCl is probably not required.
  • Commit to regular Omega-3s (four servings per week of cold water fish or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil).
  • Add pancreatic enzymes 350mg/10x - immediately before each meal (to digest omega-3s and other fats). If no benefit, increase by 100mg every 4 days until skin clears and then can drop enzymes unless flare-ups happen.
  • Less meat - limit meat and poultry to one serving a week and curb the dairy (all animal products have "an acid that your body converts to inflammation-promoting substances").
  • Watch troublesome items - completely avoid red wine and aged cheese until skin clears and reduce alcohol, hot beverages, and spicy foods.

Okay, so it's clear why I had some flushing flare up earlier this month. I was having dinner out with friends a lot this summer (okay, I'll confess, I was only too happy to share a bottle of red with my friends...I didn't pass up enough dishes with cheese...and I absolutely love spicy foods, so I not only didn't avoid them, I chose those spicy dishes, over and over again).

I was eating fish, but not always enough omega-3 rich fish (hey, what happened to the sardine filets on so many modern Caesar salads?!). Alas, I was not being diligent on supplementing with my omega-3 Fish Oil (something about enjoying summer that makes me lazy about taking all my supplements).

Once I boosted my omega-3's (and vitamin C), stopped drinking any caffeine or red wine or eating cheese or grains, and boosted my Pancreatic Enzymes, my flushing stopped -- in only a few days.

Now, I have a better regimen I can follow if I cheat a bit with some spicy Indian or Thai food or a fabulous red wine with friends with a nice dinner. :-)

I hope someone else with flushing skin (or a pitta constitution with sensitive skin) has some good results with Dr. Pizzorno's advice above. Let me know if you do (or what you do that's also helpful)!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 2 with a Nose Bandage from MOHS Surgery

It's a conversation starter, for sure. The owner of the next-door coffee shop, Toasters, made a joke about me getting into a fight. Enes, a Bosnian transplant to Salt Lake City, runs the Cheers bar of coffee shops -- the place where everyone knows your name -- and the banter is fit for sitcom t.v.! Enes's wife, Muberra, was far more empathetic and quite practical ("Good, at least it's all gone").

The bandage on my nose is about 2 by 4 inches. It's definitely worse for the wear on day 2. I can't wait to take it off (I can start changing it tomorrow morning). Fortunately, the pain is way down, unless I wrinkle my nose even the slightest bit that is!

The big question everyone asks? Did your surgeon do a good job? Dunno about the cosmetic result yet.

I'm sipping on a new (stable) Heart Plus powder (collagen producer that it is) and while we haven't found a fantastic flavor for a commercial product, I can tolerate spoonfuls of the formula with stevia and some agave nectar in water (easier than handfuls of tablets that can sometimes feel stuck halfway down even when they're not!).

We may go with a plain powder with some xylitol and let our members flavor it on their own or stash large amounts of Heart Plus in cottage cheese and flaxseed oil (otherwise known as the Budwig protocol, which Mike Ciell, R.Ph. and Bill Henderson endorse).

I tried my stash of Heart Plus powder in cottage cheese and with flaxseed oil today and thought it was quite tolerable. We'll see what the rest of the crew thinks, but I think only the most committed will try this particular combo.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad that blogging does not involve live video clips (not loving the bandaged nose look at all). :-(

Monday, August 4, 2008

Basal Cell Cancer Procedure - Ouch!

My dad used to talk about getting a face lift someday. After all he inherited the drooping jowels from his mother (I think Stephen and I got 'em too but Stephen got the more resilient olive skin and I got my mom's Irish skin).

Great. Jowels that will droop and skin that's prone to skin cancer. What a bonus! I have on occasion, and quite cavalierly, stated that I will plan on a face lift at some point.

I had a little basal cell cancer taken off my nose today (I had put it off for a year, I'm ashamed to say). I thought it would be a snap, but three slices later, after they got all of it, the medical assistant had to go and fetch a mirror and thrust it into my hand to see their handiwork. Egad! I did not need to see that! The hole in my nose looked like a crater to me! Vanity reared it's comparing mind (will the scar be horrible? will my skin heal more poorly than others? etc.).

The doctor recommended letting the hole heal from the inside out, no stitches, and then maybe a little skin graft. Eeew. Getting cut again? Clearly I wasn't thrilled. He then said he could, if I preferred, put a few stitches in underneath and on top. Bring 'em on, I said. A little scar with faster healing was okay by me.

This afternoon, I realize how many (many) faces I make during the day. Ouch. Wrinkling my nose hurts. Ouch. Raising an eyebrow hurts. Ouch, my nose hurts! In two days, I can take off the bandage. In a week, the wound should be healing up nicely (or so they say).

I plan to help out my little scar as much as possible, with plenty of our Heart Plus -- after all, vitamin C, lysine, proline, and bioflavonoids are handy collagen builders, Vitamin E, Arginine, and, of course, extra protein.

Meanwhile, if a little skin cancer removal hurts, how on earth do people live through rhinoplasty or full-on plastic surgery?! To cope, I think I'll put my feet up early tonight and try not to make faces for the next few days.