The one year anniversary of my last immunotherapy treatment for Leukemia is fast approaching. As many of you following this blog know, remission hasn’t exactly been a cake walk for me! A month and a half after my last treatment and I was feeling better than I had in years! I had strength and stamina to work a 40 hour week and still have energy to do something social with my wife on any given evening. This was short lived and I have struggled to reach that plateau since.
Several trips to my Oncologist and numerous tests later, no culprit has been found. In fact, my blood work looks excellent and the amount of CLL in my bone morrow has decreased from 3% last September (when I finished treatment) to only two tenths of a percent!!
I was elated and relieved to see such great numbers and to see that, even though treatment ended, my body is still killing off the cancer cells! My immune system is back to working at full tilt! Perhaps, I reasoned, my body is still working hard to rid me of the cancer cells and regenerate new healthy cells? Could this be the culprit?
My Oncologist remarked that some cancer patients experience extreme fatigue that never goes away! (NOT what I wanted to hear!) He prescribed me Ritalin for the fatigue. Apparently this works in some cancer patients. I was very reluctant to try it and decided to give some natural supplements a try first. I started taking Ginseng and green tea extract but that just made me feel crappy. I tried the green tea extract alone…ditto. So after a couple weeks of experimenting I gave the Ritalin a try.
At first, I took only one in the morning with breakfast. It seemed to work pretty good for most of the day, but then I crashed pretty hard in the mid -afternoon. No matter what I was doing, I suddenly felt the urge to lie down and go to sleep! After a few days I stepped up to taking a second one in the afternoon around the time the crash started and this worked pretty good, but then I had trouble sleeping! On day 5 I decided to go back to just one a day but took it a little later in the morning. About 30 minutes after taking it I began to have the shakes and get dizzy. That marked the end of the Ritalin trial!
About a week prior to starting the Ritalin, I watched a great documentary on food called “Forks over Knives”. It was a real eye opener and one that had me making more changes to my diet. My wife and I took another step in eating cleaner and healthier. We cut back on dairy meats and sweets replacing them with more fruits and veggies (and we’ll get back to juicing too). It wasn’t too difficult as we had been doing some of that already.
After the Ritalin debacle, altering my diet a little more drastically coupled with taking just the ginseng supplement in the morning seems to have been the key. I am happy to report that after a couple weeks the fatigue level has dropped to a manageable level and I have even felt good enough to do some hiking! Will this last? I believe so!
Eating clean and healthy is key for everyone wanting to stay healthy and have energy and vitality. My wife has always stressed this to me. When she first moved in, I had to fire all my kitchen help. Mrs. Stouffer, Marie Calender, P.F. Changs and the Gorton’s fisherman….gone. She started me on the path to eating better. When we’re young, we can get away with poor dietary choices and not notice the negative effects. But when we are older and battling diseases like cancer, I believe it becomes absolutely crucial to be more vigilant about our dietary choices!
Sleep is also key for me. I try not to stay up late (past 10) and I haven’t used an alarm clock in a couple years unless I needed to get up early for an appointment or catch a plane. I let my body get the sleep it needs.
Fighting cancer has made me reset my mindset. I believe the medications and treatments have set my body back at zero as well. My thought process is that now is the best time for me to re train my taste buds and stomach to accept a new and healthier way of eating. Food is my medicine and my fuel. Yes I will still have my chocolate, but in much smaller quantities and frequencies. Same goes for meats. I will eat only organic products and no GMO’s! I believe in moderation, after all, what’s the point of life if you don’t treat yourself once in a while?
Random thought that popped in my head the other day: “No death is tragic unless the life lived was unfulfilling.”