Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “June 2, 2014”

An “Iron Knight” Or An “Iron Maiden”

This past weekend, my oldest daughter participated in her second elementary school triathlon. It is a school district wide event, so the triathlon has been called the Iron Knight Triathlon (the high school mascot is called the Knight, or for the females, the Maiden).

The event was in its third year and involved over 1000 students from grades Kindergarten through sixth grades, separated into three divisions of grades and then genders. Each grade division is then established with a different duration to allow for the disparity and difficulty. For my daughter, who is finishing fourth grade, she had to swim three lengths of the high school pool, then ride her bicycle a mile and half, and then jog 3/4 of a mile. She had done this course last year for the first time, and trained a lot harder this year, knowing what to expect during the transitions between legs. No surprise, she improved her time from last year, and as I viewed an overhead view provided by the school district of the event, it was amazing to see how elaborate and huge this event has become in only its third year.

But there are two things of importance to take out of this post. First, the emphasis on physical fitness, even for our children at all ages. And this took place, not during school but on a Saturday – morning and afternoon, though training meetings for the triathlon took place on school days, after hours, and of course practices were on the student athlete’s time. Every day the children were expected to train, eat well, and get plenty of rest. This was a good thing.

The second point I want to make, as a huge supporter of public school teachers, I mentioned this event took place on a Saturday, morning and afternoon. Swim practices for the event were also held on Saturdays. Guess what, there were numerous teachers and other staff members involved who volunteered to make this event as great as it was. And while I am only writing about the triathlon, there are many other events that take place by teachers who volunteer their time. I bring this up because it is contract time again for many schools including my daughters’ school district. And there are always morons who want to spew out the garbage about teachers being part time workers, and they clearly are not. Any parent who is involved with their child’s education, and that means more than just sitting at the kitchen table making sure the child does their homework, but participating in the various other functions held within the school, would see plenty of dedicated teachers, who many are parents themselves, and you would see the extra hours that these family members put in, away from their families. I will write more on this in a different post. But for now…

GREAT JOB!! elementary students of the North Penn School District. And to my daughter, I am so proud of you. As I trained with you, I could not keep up with your efforts (at least as far as the running) so I have an appreciation for the time, effort, and practice you put in. I hope you participate again next year, of course in the higher division, which means a lot more practice and a lot more distance. But if there is one thing I know about you and your sister, you can do anything when you put your mind to it.

If It Looks Too Good To Be True…

My family has been decimated by cancer. I battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 25 years ago. My maternal grandmother died from ovarian cancer following a battle with breast cancer. My paternal grandfather died of complications from lung cancer. And just last week, I lost my father after a bizarre and aggressive battle against lung cancer. I have said goodbye to well over a hundred friends who have had cancer and died.

As if having cancer is not bad enough, sometimes the cure is worse than the cancer itself. I have a list more than a dozen diagnosis of things that have developed in me over the last two decades. And again, dozens of close personal friends who have also developed severe maladies from treatments that were meant to cure patients often leaving them in conditions that are often worse than the cancer itself.

Of course there are the side effects of the treatments.

We are of course a society of hope, that some day cancer can be cured. I know personally that I hope some day better treatments are found that are not as toxic and easier to tolerate.

Which is what makes my post today difficult to write. It happens about once a year, but a blog publishes a post about a major hospital coming clean about the truth about cancer and its treatments. And it “validates” its legitimacy by intentionally misspelling its name, keeping it close enough to fool readers into believing a major conspiracy against cancer patients and survivors. These misspells are common among people on social media sites as to keep from being discovered by people not desired. But in the case of offering medical advice and opinion, this is morally wrong on so many levels.

First, I want to say, I do believe in “alternative” and “complimentary” methods along with the scientifically proven treatments. I stress scientifically proven, because in the grand scheme of things, these are the things that work, or have the best chance of working. Is enough time being spent researching “alternative” or “complimentary” options? Probably not. But this does not mean that those options are bad for people, or even offer hope for those who do not have any hope. I recall the moment my father was told that his cancer had “changed”, and was not considered terminal. There was desperation by many to look for other options for my father, even in the scientific arena in the form of clinical trials. And for those where there may not be any options, perhaps alternative and complimentary options have their place. Especially if they carry the same cure rate and less side effects, short and long term. And I do believe in a strong placebo effect that occurs when a patient simply wills themselves to get better. I would not be here today had it not been for my attitude. But I needed medicine to beat my cancer.

Getting back to this particular blog post, they claim the source is Johns Hopkins, not Johns Hopkins Hospital (prior posts had used John Hopkins Hospital). In any case, the article clearly does not come from a top cancer hospital in the country. But right from the beginning, it can capture anyone’s attention with its opinionated headline “Big Hospital Finally Telling Truth About Cancer” and then without saying which hospital, it throws in a name, Johns Hopkins, which coincidently is the same name of a major cancer hospital. I do want to offer this disclaimer though, I am not a doctor, and I am not necessarily disagreeing with the post. But I do disagree with the motive behind it, which is to push an agenda that while offering hope, is not scientifically proven. The information discussed is not new knowledge to anyone other than newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Items 1 and 2 discuss the fact that we all have cancer cells in us and just how difficult they are to detect. Which is true. In fact, even the most current go-to test to diagnose cancer, is called the PET scan. Yet, this PET scan was unable to detect any additional cancer cells once my father’s surgery was complete, once his chemotherapy was complete, nor when his radiation was complete. These items provide no new discussion, other than cancer’s complexity.

Item three is where things get interesting. Discussion turns to the immune system. One thing that I was told a long time ago, decades, was yes, we all have cancer cells in our bodies. But at some point, there is a “trigger”. Which I do not doubt. In my case, though not scientifically proven, I recall when I was diagnosed, I was under a tremendous amount of stress. One thing if you have to notice about people who are under lots of stress or depressed, they are commonly sick, often more sick than those not under those circumstances. With stress and depression, it is a known fact, your immune system suffers making you susceptible to any number of illnesses, including cancer. Again, nothing new noted here.

Items 4 and 5 refer to nutrition and diet, especially deficiencies. There is not doubt what caused my father’s lung cancer – fifty plus years of smoking. But with my cancer, I do not recall having any diet deficiencies. I will go one better. What dietary deficiencies occur in toddlers that are two and three years old when they are diagnosed with leukiemias or other cancers? I do not doubt that certain foods may help to fight off cancer, and perhaps even cause cancer, just like smoking causes lung cancer. But I just cannot accept that a diagnosis of cancer in a two year old is to be assumed due to dietary cause alone.

Items 6 and 7 discuss how the various treatments work. Basically by destroying the cancer cells (the bad cells). The hard part for a person to hear though, is that because of the toxicity of the treatments, that also means that “good” cells will also be destroyed. Which is why most of our treatments involve some sort of supplemental treatment to boost blood cell counts, or to increase our immunity. Unfortunately, if you want to have a fighting chance against cancer, this is currently our only proven scientific method.

I will not spend much time discussing what the treatments do to the organs, as this is what “Paul’s Heart” is about, and I write plenty of articles about side effects, most recently I wrote a post about “Adriamyacin” and the brutal and potentially fatal effect it can have on the heart. I survived that’s drug, not without some effect, but recently I lost someone very close to me who was not able to overcome that side effect.

Item 8 unfortunately seems to encourage you that once you hear your tumor has shrunk, that is all it will do, not go into remission. This is not true. Look, if you take an antibiotic for an infection, what does the doctor tell you to do? Take the whole course. Researchers were the ones to determine how long to take a medicine for it to be effective to get whatever infection into remission. And when you do not take the medicine for the prescribed time, more than likely it will not go away, or stay away. Chemo and radiation therapies are not different.

Item 9 talks about the effects on the immune system, and is mostly true. But again, if you want a chance at surviving cancer, it is a risk you must take, and then learn to take care of yourself afterwards.

Item 10 is kind of interesting, because while I have never researched the concept of pissing off cancer cells with treatments that they mutate and become resistant, I am open to that discussion.

I had warned my father about undergoing radiation therapy following the completion of his chemotherapy for Stage 4 lung cancer. Though I was against it for the side effect possibilities to his heart and lungs. But strangely, half-way through his radiation treatments, he developed a cough which gradually got worse. By the completion of his radiation, it had been discovered that the cancer had returned (or perhaps redeveloped) and changed from non-small squeamous lung cancer to a sarcoma. He passed away two weeks ago.

Numbers 11 through 16 make clear the website’s agenda, eating healthy and living right. This is a no-brainer whether we have cancer or not. I am finally learning to eat right, but that is not what caused my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 26 years ago.

We all want a better way to deal with cancer, one that saves everyone’s lives. We all want a way to prevent cancer. And I am extremely disappointed that since the time I made my first donation to a cancer fundraiser, more than forty years ago, we have not cured all cancers 100%. More research is needed. But I have to disagree with the method of dealing with cancer, that this hoax clearly tries to represent.

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