Alternative Treatment

Steve Jobs Regretted Alternative Medicines

I knew that Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc, died with pancreatic cancer, but didn’t know that he was on alternative medicines and regretted it.

According to the CBS news on January 7th, Steve Jobs had warned his friend, David Kelley, who was diagnosed with throat cancer, “ don’t mess with any alternative treatment—go straight to Western medicine.’

Usually pancreatic cancer is very aggressive and kills patients quickly, but Steve jobs’cancer was a rare type with slow progression and even curable if it’s found in the early stage, and he found it early.

He had a good chance to beat the cancer though, declining doctor’s advice for a surgery, he chose herbs, vegan diet, spiritualists, etc.

How come such a genius, who created so many high-tech gadgets, refused  modern medicine?

According to Isaacson, who was the author of a book “Steve Jobs”, Steve was afraid of opening his body; “He didn’t want to be violated that way.”

9 months after the diagnosis, as Steve Jobs learned his cancer was not shrinking but getting bigger, he finally changed his mind to have the surgery.  If he had chosen the surgery first instead of trying the alternatives, could he live longer?  We will never know the answer. Yet he must have regretted that stunning unexpected result of the alternative treatments.


 Integrate Western and Eastern Medicine

Andrew Well, the director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said to CNN that after he had studied alternative medicines and Western medicine for 40 years, he found no alternative medicine which was effective on cancer, although he admitted even standard treatments such as a surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy may cause more harm than benefits.

He believes as of now, in spite of nasty side effects, the standard treatments are the best options for cancer patients and instead of rejecting them, if we integrate with Eastern Medicine, it could ease side effects, improve the quality of life, make chemo more effective, and make it less costly.

I understand that even if we bare the harsh side effects, chemo or radiation may not work.  Even with T-DM1, “the promising super Herceptine”, the effective probability is less than 40%. The alternative medicines that doesn’t cause any side effects  sound really tempting, but the fact is that the odds to beat cancer for alternative medicines is much less than the standard treatments.

I receive plenty of information about alternative medicines, including supplements almost every week.  Tonight was about soursop, a tropical fruit. The site I read said “ Soursop Fruit Kills Cancer 100-Fold better Than Chemotherapy”.  However, as I researched, I found out this fruit may cause Parkinson’s disease.

Through the maze of overwhelming information, a cancer patients’goal may be finding the truly trustable integrated treatments with trustable doctors.

Acupuncture: Peculiar But May Work

The neurologist  said medicine was the first line for peripheral neuropathy and if it doesn’t work, he can refer to an acupuncturist (and I can use the insurance.)  I pondered about Gabapentin, an anti-depression med the neurologist recommended, reading the description and some websites. It could cause multiple serious side effects, and it didn’t appeal to me enough to choose it.

Two weeks ago was the worst – not being able to sleep because of numbness, tingling, burning, cramps, and spasms in legs. Yet last week was better. Perhaps it was because of lots of supplements as well as acupuncture I’ve experimented with. I emailed the neurologist that I want to continue what I am taking including acupuncture instead of taking the anti-depression drug for peripheral neuropathy as of now.

My first experience of acupuncture was a little interesting.

The old white-haired man coming out from the back of an old plain office escorted me to his desk and asked what was the problem.

While I was answering  him in English, he was writing a couple lines in Chinese on a line paper.

Then he said, “One session is $40. Let’s start.”

Because I was not sure if he really understood my problem, I asked him,

“Before we start, would you please explain what you will do and how it works?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, come this way.”

He took me to a booth, which had a bed.

I asked him again to explain what he would do and how it works.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I put needles here, here, and here (pointing some spots on his body.) Change to the gown.”

I was not content with his answer and got nervous, but changed into the gown anyway.

As he came into the booth, I asked him the 3rd time.

“ This is the first time for me and I don’t know much about acupuncture.  Until you tell me how acupuncture works for me – if it’s like Tylenol working only for short time or is able to cure – I won’t pay you.”

Then finally a young guy came in from the back of the office, and explained to me in good English:

In a body there is a circulation of energy called ”Chi”.  If this circulation is blocked with some reason, a problem happens.  Acupuncture stimulates spots to bring the circulation back to normal.  It is curable and safe.”

O.K.  Finally I was convinced and laid down on the bed.  The doctor poked about 8-inch needles on my forehead, left and right shoulders, and calves.  They didn’t hurt except the needle near the left ankle, but as I said it hurt, he changed the spot and then I was o.k. I was still on the bed for about thirty minutes.

Right after the acupuncture, I felt sluggish just like after chemo, but by the night, I felt my body was so right with little tingling more than ever!

The young guy told me to visit twice a week and continue for a few weeks to see the better result.

It was peculiar,but it may work!

Giving Up Acupuncture

I tried acupuncture for two months, but I decided to give it up.

The first session was excellent –I thought – but since then I haven’t seen any effects.  As I was advised to try it for 2-3 months, after a month I changed the acupuncturist.

The 2nd acupuncturist had eastern and western doctor degrees.  He was trilingual speaking English, Chinese, and Japanese.  He was even teaching a free Tai-chi class.

Every week he consulted with me in fluent Japanese.  The acupuncture was mostly focused on my feet using heat from a lamp, electric stimulation, which was connected to needles, and included rubbing massages, too.  I thought this doctor was more sophisticated than the first one.

His Tai-Chi class was also different from the class I have attended for last 6 months.  Although the movements are still slow, as he stretches his leg, it kicks up straight to the sky, and as he bends his knees, his body sinks so deep but bounces back like  rubber.  As he sticks out his arms, they are so quick and powerful that they seem to cut the air.  It really convinced me that Tai-chi was originally a martial art.   I was fascinated.

Although I was impressed so many things about him, and appreciated his hard work for me, it was a shame that the acupuncture didn’t seem effective.  I have had spasms or even cramps during the treatment, or an intense sensation of numbness or tingling after the treatment.

Thankfully, insomnia and cramps are now much improved.  It is probably because of Goshajinkigan, a Chinese medicine I resumed taking.  Though the acupuncturist recommended me to continue acupuncture with the Chinese med, it is not covered by the insurance and I feel like I tried long enough.

On the other hand I’d like to continue the cool Tai-chi.  Right now I get out of breath even for 30 minutes, and after the class cramps attack me.  When I said so, the acupuncturist told me that Tai-Chi was probably too much for me and I should walk instead of Tai-Chi.  It is sad that I can’t even keep up the exercise for 30 minutes.

If I can continue Tai-Chi, the class, which starts at 8:30 every morning, would be good to develop the new habit of getting up early, and it’s just fun to watch even if I don’t participate much.  So, I set it as a goal and am enjoying the imagination that someday my body would become so light like a feather, and agile like a wild cat, that I would be able to do Tai-chi so gracefully.  🙂

Recommended Baby Aspirin and Vitamin D

I have read that a baby aspirin and vitamin D might prevent breast cancer in news articles before, but yesterday when I assisted a cancer friend, I had a chance to hear about this great information from her doctor directly.

The friend was advised to take a baby aspirin and vitamin D along with Tamoxifen, a hormone medicine, and the doctor told that if cancer is hormone driven stage one, which means the lymph nodes were not involved, it is probably safer and more effective to continue a baby aspirin and vitamin D for the rest of life with 5- year usage of tamoxifen than a 10 year usage of tamoxifen. He said the long-term usage of tamoxifen has a risk of ovarian cancer.

When I had Googled, I read that vitamin D can prevent cancer cell’s division. Although as of now there is no evidence that both aspirin and vitamin D could shrink cancer like chemo yet, the doctor said they can prevent not only breast cancer but all kinds of other cancer, as well.
I, who recently increased the dose of vitamin D from 2000 IU to 4000 IU, wished to hear that either aspirin or vitamin D was effective even for stage IV cancer, but nevertheless, I think this is still a big deal.

In my follow up research, I was excited to find that aspirin may be good for the prevention of the most notorious triple negative breast cancer, and also that it may work on cancer stem cells. Because aspirin may cause serious bleeding in the digestive organs, the articles warn that the patients need to consult their doctors if they want to use it.

At night my good friend from the U.K. also gave me an U.K. newspaper article regarding vitamin D. According to the article, while vitamin D deficiency can cause cancer, we can only intake 5 % of vitamin D, which a body needs, from food, and the most major source is the sun. The scientists in U.K. proved that “people who get more exposure (to the sun) get less cancer including the skin cancer, melanoma.”
As a side note, the retired UCLA doctor, who recommended me vitamin D, said that recent studies discovered vitamin D is also good to prevent diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer disease, dementia, etc, and encouraged George, who has Parkinson’s disease, to take vitamin D, as well.
Our body can make such an important vitamin D just exposing under the sun. God’s creation is truly marvelous!

I have read that 70 % of breast cancer can be cured and never come back only with the first treatment. If aspirin or vitamin D, which are easy to get and much less harmful than chemo, can prevent cancer, this is the best way to go. Though I am not in such a lucky group, I feel like the new era that we don’t have to be afraid of cancer is coming close.

AHCC May Enhance Immune System

AHCC stands for Active Hexose Correlated Compound which is a chemical isolated from the Shiitake mushroom.

I encountered encouraging information that this supplement, can protect the immune system from side effects of chemo, especially from a low white cell count, Neutropenia.

It was last year when I received a box of the supplement, AHCC from my cousin in Japan. She said, “ When I feel coming down with something, I take one package of this, and then I get back energy.”

As she said, as I have tried AHCC for the morning when I woke up with sore throat or fatigue, it worked. Then, since the day I was told by the dentist that my immune system might be weak because of chemo, I have taken this supplement 1g everyday as the label of the bottle suggested.

However I was surprised reading a site, in which multiple terminal pancreas cancer families said AHCC suppressed the side-effects and the patients recovered from poor appetite, fatigue, fever, etc, and even stopped cancer progression when they took it along with their chemo.

I am not sure how reliable those comments are, but also found quite a few articles supporting the effectiveness of AHCC on the immune system with evidence.
This supplement may help preventing not only neutropenia, but also rising liver enzymes.

For the next regimen, I’d like to try T-DM1, which two year ago I had to go off due to the rising liver enzymes. Being encouraged by this information, I also would like to try AHCC with 3g per day, which was the recommended dose for cancer patients.

False Advertisement

Finding a letter from the LA county Supreme Court, I felt some urgency and opened the letter.

“ If you have bought or used Fucoidan of Kamerycah Inc. before July 17, 2015, you are entitled to receive benefits through a class action lawsuit settlement.”

The big bold letters jumped into my eyes.

According to the letter, someone filed the lawsuit against the false advertisement, and after the company voluntarily turned advertisement’ details into the court, they came to the agreement to settle.

Fukoidan is a Japanese supplement made from seaweed and advertised that it enhances the immune system, and especially effective for cancer if you take a large amount. The company sites introduced numerous doctor’s positive reviews and testimonies of terminal patients, whose cancer shrank or disappeared.

In 2010, the year of my diagnosis, I, who knew little about cancer tried this supplement desperately. I even went to a seminar, where a Japanese doctor, who was using Fukoidan for his patients, was a guest speaker. I wanted to ask questions, but there was no Q&A session and I remember came home increasing the suspicion.

I stopped using Fukoidan when I had the mastectomy and received the bad pathology report, yet since a bottle of the supplement cost about $300, I wasted a lot.

After reading the letter, I looked at the company’s website. All the pictures of doctors and testimonies are gone, and instead, there was a warning;

“These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. UMI NO SHIZUKU Fucoidan is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

I am so glad that the truth was revealed, but still overwhelming false information and people, who make profits taking advantage of cancer patients, are out there. Though we wish to find a dream medicine to cure,  the patients must discern wisely what is right and folse.