#sciencesunday – Conventional medicine is your best shot at surviving serious illness

My MBC friend, Jennifer, has been admirably open and honest about her brief foray into alternative medicine after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is her story (bolded parts mine).

"Alternative Therapy vs Conventional Therapy keeps coming up. I want to share my experience, in hopes it may help someone.
I was dx stage 3b ductal carcinoma in 2012. I had 3 tumors in the right breast. I was advised to have a double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation right away. I had starting juicing and looking into holistic therapy before my dx, so I was convinced alternative was the only way I would survive. I was scared of chemo, I believed the side effects and the chemo itself would kill me faster than the cancer. So I ran away(literally) from conventional treatment. I enrolled in a 10 day crash course on Raw food, cleansing, enemas, supplements, oils, and meditation. I changed my diet. I ate 100% vegan/organic for 18 months. I drank wheatgrass and even did wheatgrass enemas daily. I used all organic oils and supplements. I drank essiac tea. I meditated daily and practiced gratitude. I used thermography instead of scans. I felt pretty good, looked better than ever, and was convinced I was turning the cancer around.
I still progressed to stage 4. So did my friends who took the class with me. I am the only cancer patient who was in that class who is still alive! That is scary as hell. Why am I alive? Maybe its Gods intervention, or maybe its because I decided to get a catskan when I noticed my biggest tumor was not shrinking. Thermography had lied to me, telling me I was regressing, when in fact, I was progressing. So I decided to get a lumpectomy, instead of a mastectomy, and I kept on eating Raw and using holistic therapy .( I still had to get a mastectomy in 2015 due to a second cancer in same breast) I did start chemo ,because I knew in my heart I would die if I did not. I started to realize the oncologists and Drs are not the enemy, as I had been taught. These people are actually trying to save my life. I realized some of the people I believed were helping me were actually taking advantage of me, and profiting from watching me die.
I no longer eat Raw, or juice often. I do believe there are benefits from this lifestyle, but I personally dont believe the effects are enough to counter act the poisons of the life extending chemo I take every 3 weeks for the rest of my life. Yes, chemo is hard. It tears me up physically, its difficult to endure mentally. But Im still alive, fighting for better treatments for all of us, because the chemo has given me more time. And for that Im grateful.
I beg cancer pts not to buy into the documentaries, the very expensive and misguided wellness center programs, whhich train you on how to reprogram your body. It saddens me to watch friends fly all over the world to get thier blood reoxygenated or do these crazy treatments. If you are willing to chance doing that, then please know in my opinion, you are going to die feeling so much regret. And probably broke.
Prayer and gratitude are very important, but a positive outlook alone will not stop the cancer from spreading.
And everyone please stop spreading the cruel lies that alternative medicine will save cancer patients. Stop telling us there is a cure, because there is not. You are actually encouraging cancer patients to committ death by suicide, by using alternative therapies alone.
You may think I caused my own progression by not doing chemo right away. Who knows, maybe so! I personally believe I would have progressed anyway as I was borderline at dx. I do know this.. I have tried both, alternative vs Conventional. I know without a doubt Conventional is the way to go. And more research and better treatments with less side effects is the only way to stop the argument of holistic vs conventional."

I just spent last evening with Jen and she is doing well. Yes, she has side effects from treatment. But she here, raising her girls and raising awareness both of metastatic breast cancer and of the harm of following alternative medicine. In fact, she is No Evidence of Active Disease (NEAD). NEAD is what Stage IV cancer patients aspire to. It doesn't mean the cancer is cured, but it does mean the cancer is so well-controlled that it is not visible on scans.

(I am not NEAD but that is not the fault of conventional medicine. I have a tricky, mutated cancer. I can tell you I am almost four years from my initial Stage IIIc diagnosis and almost 20 months from my brain mets diagnosis. I would be long dead if it weren't for conventional medicine.)

Complementary therapy may be helpful in treating both disease and the side effects. The difference between alternative and complementary therapy is that alternative therapy is used in place of conventional therapy and complementary therapy is used in addition to conventional therapy. But always check with your primary doctor before beginning any complementary therapy as some therapies can cancel out the benefits of conventional therapy.

And before you accuse me of being a shill for Big Pharma, consider this:

#sciencesunday – Conventional medicine is your best shot at surviving serious illness

#floridafriday – Homestead: Exploring the gateway to the Everglades

In my last #floridafriday, I talked about visiting the Everglades. When Younes and I went for our minimoon in March 2014, we blew through Homestead, the nearest town. But when we returned with my parents a month later, we decided to make a weekend of it and explore the town.

That turned out to be a fantastic decision. I was on Month 4 of my initial chemo treatment and any exploring needed to be broken apart with frequent breaks. Hotel Redlands was the perfect place to lay my head on a comfortable bed and eat some solid comfort food. The hotel still has their charming, quaint and comfortable rooms, but the restaurant has revamped their menu. Back in 2014, it was homemade, homey food, like their fabulous chicken and dumplings – perfect food for someone on chemo.

Hotel Redlands was a great Old Florida getaway, with a lobby that made you feel like you were in someone's living room and chatty, friendly owners who were long-term members of the community. So was The Royal Palm Grill and Deli, a classic greasy spoon located in the local drugstore. The food was nothing amazing, but it was classic comfort food – milkshakes, flattop burgers, grilled cheese, omelets – which was exactly what my poor stomach needed.

Homestead in general has a rough-around-the-edges frontier Florida feel. Wandering down Main Street, we popped into Town Hall Museum, a classic grassroots little museum that gave a great historic account of the area from the beginning through now, and had a charming sweet docent who was full of knowledge. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Another diversion that is Fruit And Spice Park. This 37 acre parks runs golf cart tours daily where you can see and sample every all sorts of fruits right from the tree and spices right out of the ground. From their website:

"More than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world; 180 varieties of mangos; 70 varieties of bamboo; 40 varieties of bananas; 15 varieties of jackfruit trees and numerous other exotic edibles are grown and maintained here."

The jackfruit sampling was my favorite part. I had never had it before and it was juicy and so yummy. The guides are well-trained and know their fruits and spices. There's a small cafe that is the perfect place to go after the tour and cool off with fruit smoothie or milkshake made with product from the grounds.

So if you find yourselves in the Everglades and you have an extra day, take a chance to look at what there is outside the big park!

#floridafriday – Homestead: Exploring the gateway to the Everglades

#tbt – The story of Conrad and Harriet and what they produced

On September 25th of 1923, my grandmother, Harriet Magdalene Hamm, was born on the kitchen table of a house in Richmond Hills, Queens. She was raised in Floral Park, Long Island. She later went to school to become a nurse and met a young man, Chuck, from the neighboring boy’s college. She and Chuck became engaged and they would double-date with Chuck’s fraternity brother, Conrad and his girlfriend at the time. When Chuck was about to leave for the service, he floated the idea to my grandmother of an open relationship – open purely from his side of course. Not only did she turn down that idea, she promptly dumped Chuck. She wrote a letter to Conrad, who she had become friends with, telling him that she was no longer engaged to Chuck and she supposed he wouldn’t want to continue to be friends with her.

My grandfather, Conrad William de Fiebre was born January 19th of 1924 in Jamaica, Queens. He later moved to Cranston, Rhode Island and then Norwich, Connecticut. While at college, he and his girlfriend at the time went on double dates with his fraternity brother Chuck and Chuck’s fiancée, Harriet. He and Harriet hit it off and became friends themselves. One day, Conrad, in Basic Training, got a letter from Harriet announcing that she had broken off her engagement to Chuck and that she reckoned he would no longer want to remain friends. Conrad replied that he saw no reason that they had to end their friendship on account of her broken engagement with Chuck. From my grandfather’s account of his life:

“Mail finally caught up with us, and one letter was from Harriet. She told me she and Chuck had ended their engagement and she assumed I wouldn’t want to be writing to her again. She was wrong. Mail Call was the high point of what usually was an unpleasant day and the more letters you got the better life was. I replied that I was sorry that the engagement hadn’t worked out but that we had been good friends and I saw no reason for us not to continue to correspond.”

Conrad and Harriet continued to see each other as friends. One night when he was on leave from Basic Training, they were out at a movie and a love song came on. They suddenly looked at each other and realized they were in love.

“Most movie houses in the big cities were large and in addition to films also had a vaudeville show. We sat up in the balcony where the seats were cheaper and smoking was permitted. We never could remember the film but the stage acts included the usual juggler, tap dancer, etc. as well as a featured star or band. That week the band was Jimmie Dorsey. The vocalists were Bob Eberle and Helen O’Connell. They sang several of their record hits, such as Tangerine and Green Eyes. Then they sang one that Harriet and I had never heard, but as soon as we heard the lyrics (in Spanish) we knew what they meant. It was Besame mucho (Kiss me very much). We looked at each other and suddenly realized we were more than just good friends. We were in love!”

Conrad served in WWII and Harriet waited for him. On October, 26th of 1946, they were married at Our Lady of Victory church in Floral Park. Our Lady of Victory was also where their first son, named after his father, was baptized.

In subsequent years, Harriet and Conrad moved for his schooling and career many times – Wisconsin, Delaware, the Chicago suburbs and finally Columbus, Ohio – while raising their growing family of six boys. But when my cousins and I met up in NYC recently, we were focused on seeing some of the old family sights from our grandparent’s youth.

First, we took the train out to Floral Park, where we found the house our grandmother grew up in. Then we found Our Lady of Victory. The church has been almost completely redone since the 40s, but it’s still standing and the priest took us for a tour. Afterwards, we stopped at a local watering hole and a few of us had Grandma and Grandpa’s favorite drink – whiskey Manhattan on the rocks.

We were seven – the children and grandchildren of the six boys Conrad and Harriet had. We call ourselves G3 for Generation 3, although my nephew Matt has been folded into the same generation as my brother as my brother has been the only one to procreate and Matt is now going on 18. When we weren’t family pilgrimaging, we were eating/drinking lots of yummy things, playing tourist, being “that annoying table” at restaurants and just enjoying each other’s company. As my parents said when they saw the pictures, I hope that Conrad and Harriet were watching somewhere and smiling down on the craziness they created.

Prost to cousins and the two people who started it all

The house our grandmother grew up in

The day in 1946 that started it all…

The church

#tbt – The story of Conrad and Harriet and what they produced

#truckingtuesday – The living quarters

Living in a sleeper truck with your spouse means tight living quarters. The truck serves as everything but the bathroom. It serves as the office, the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, the pantry, the closet and the bedroom. Let me take you through a tour.

In the front are the driver’s and passenger seats. Aside from being where the driving happens, we eat, he will do his paperwork and I will send emails, write checks and letters, and do the keeping up the household stuff there.

The middle part of the truck is the storage area. There are a number of cabinets and shelves where we store our clothes, toiletries, food and cooking appliances (like a plug-in truck stove and frying pan), as well as cooking and eating utensils. The mini-fridge is also stored there. Any utensils that aren’t disposable, we wash at rest stops.

The back part is the sleeping quarters, separated by a privacy curtain. We get two single beds, bunk bed style. We relax, either together or separately, on the bottom bed. We’ll watch videos and read there. When it comes time to sleep, if one or both is not feeling well or is exceptionally sleepy, we will split up (Younes usually gives me the bottom bunk, gentleman he is). If we’re in a cuddly mood, we’ll share the bottom bed. As we both are tallish with long limbs, bed sharing can lead to a comedy of errors. He’ll look up something on his phone and whack me in the head with his elbow, I’ll reach for my water bottle and whack him in the stomach with my elbow. Fun times.

If anyone is wondering if we get sick of each other, with that much togetherness, the answer is yes. However, it’s a testament to how much I love Younes that I can share such close quarters with him and not want to kill him. If it were any other guy, I would’ve murdered him and disposed of the body after the first week.

View from the “living room”

#truckingtuesday – The living quarters

#metsmonday – Update on Beth and then there were 24…

I wrote a few weeks ago about my MBC hero, Beth Caldwell. She had been diagnosed with Lepto mets, a rare and often rapidly fatal complication of breast cancer mets, and decided to go on hospice so she could enjoy the reminder of her time with her family. Well lepto is a bastard to diagnose and there’s lots of false positives and false negatives. Beth appeared to have a false positive. She was diagnosed off an area of enhancement on the brain MRI and she also had some seizures which are a symptom of lepto mets but are also a symptom of regular old brain mets as well.

Anyway, both the spinal tap and follow-up MRI came back negative for lepto. So Beth is off hospice, the entire MBC community is breathing a sigh of relief, although she still faces a long road, which includes whole-brain radiation and more chemo. She’s within weeks of reaching her life goal at original diagnosis, which was seeing her youngest start kindergarten. She’s now thinking about her next goal, to see her oldest become a teenager. Let’s help make that happen.

But since MBC is a sick mofo, as soon as we celebrated Beth’s good news, our community was walloped with an unexpected loss of a young woman. Kristie had just been a Duke a few days before she died, planning her next treatment. What’s more is that Kristie was part of my Hear My Voice advocacy training class back in April. Since late April, we’ve lost three of my class, also including MaryAnne and Stacey. We started at 27. It shouldn’t be this way. Pink ribbons don’t help us. We need research and we need it now.
My training class. Kristie, Stacey and MaryAnne are now gone.

#metsmonday – Update on Beth and then there were 24…

#sciencesunday – The importance of Potassium

You've probably heard of potassium in regards to runners. If their potassium gets depleted during a long run, they can develop leg cramping. That is why bananas are always served at races, because they are one of the best food sources of potassium. But potassium is important for more than marathon runners. I learned this recently.

I have been on an oral chemo called Xeloda. Now Xeloda has been the most miserable drug I've been on. Xeloda's worst side effects for me were nausea and inflammation and blistering in my feet. Until the last two cycles when everything went off the rails.

The nausea became so debilitating I could barely get out of bed. Then constant diarrhea kicked in. The few nutrients I was taking in, I started immediately losing.

I stumbled to the bathroom one night, had another episode, and the last thing I remember was thinking "at this rate, I'm probably getting dehydrated." The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the bathroom floor with a sore spot on my head from where I had fallen. I had literally passed out on the toilet and then fallen over. I was so exhausted that I drank water, did a neurological status check (checking for signs of a stroke and such) and went back to bed.

Since I was getting scans and seeing my neuro oncologist within a week, I opted not to go to urgent care. The nausea was too intense to leave the house and I figured
I would stop the Xeloda a few days early so I would be functional for my appointments and later for the NYC trip.

I was off long enough by the time I got my bloodwork at Moffitt that my nausea was gone, so I assumed I was replenished nutritionally. I sat in the exam room and a resident pulled up my bloodwork. He noted my potassium number out loud. Eyebrows were raised, panicked looks were exchanged. It was decided I would get a potassium infusion after my Herceptin infusion.

My potassium was 2.8. I had no idea how bad that was, but I did remember my late friend, Mandi Hudson of Darn Good Lemonade, had a potassium scare on the same treatment (although the opposite of me – Tykerb was the drug that caused her bad diarrhea and she was ok with Xeloda while I was fine with Tykerb but Xeloda caused the problems for me) and her docs had been freaking out about immediate heart failure because the heart needs potassium to function. All of the sudden a lightbulb went on. My oncologist, when he had worried about a drug having diarrhea as a side effect, wasn't worried for my own comfort. He didn't want me to die of heart failure. At some point "drink lots of water to rehydrate and even put some salt and sugar in it per my Peace Corps training and Where There Is No Doctor" doesn't cut it anymore.

I ended up hooked to a 2.5 hour potassium infusion and went home with potassium pills. Mandi had been admitted to the hospital for several days with a potassium level only .5 lower than mine, so I felt comparatively lucky. Anyway, I got to go on my NYC trip and then went to urgent care when I got back for a potassium check since I was having some nighttime leg cramping. Thankfully this blood draw showed it as 4.5, well within normal. I am grateful for my dear friend Mandi for being so frank in her blog, which motivated me to take this shit (ha) very seriously. Even after death, she helps others. Which is why I'm being so candid about my bathroom issues, which amazingly, after two years of Peace Corps and almost four years of cancer, still isn't comfortable for me. But I do want to educate people and my hope is that people will read this and take side effects of medications seriously.

As for my future with Xeloda? I am fairly certain we're breaking up. Scans showed slight progression and I doubt I'd be allowed to continue at the highest dose even if they had been better. I had ever side effect under the sun, so I'm not sad. BYE FELICIA.

Anyway, my next step is to consult with an innovative doctor in South Dakota to see how we can target the specific mutations I have in my cancer. I'm psyched and you'll be hearing much more about that later…

#sciencesunday – The importance of Potassium

#tbt – Revisiting NYC

You want to know what I’m psyched about tonight? In less than 24 hours, I will be in New York City for a reunion with my cousins.

I lived there for seven months in 2013 and I miss it a lot. I moved there because the economy was crap and I was offered a job working for one of my dream organizations – an international student exchange for high school students.So i packed up, found a roommate and the cheapest apartment i could get and jumped in.

I couldn’t afford Manhattan, so I lived out in the Flushing/Jamaica area. It was a mix of Orthodox Jews, Chinese and Bengali immigrants, rough neighborhoods next to prosperous ones. I took long walks to the site of a past World’s Fair and to small markets for veggies. I loved it.

I often worked at the airport, greeting, chaperoning and shuttling off students from all parts of the world. I loved it.

On my office days, I would grab lunch from a food truck and look up at the tall buildings and watch the Staten Island ferry come and go. I loved it.

I would take the subway to my office and the bus to Astoria Park where I went lap swimming. I would put in my earbuds and just people watch. I loved it.

Cancer took me away from New York and the ridiculous rents kept me away, but I’m so excited to go back tomorrow. I’m going to love it.


#tbt – Revisiting NYC

#truckingtuesday – Wildlife!

In the truck, the wildlife we saw was not terribly exciting and mostly consisted of deer hanging out on the side of the road, a little close to our speeding truck for comfort. Being the supportive wife I am, I would keep a running tally of all the deer we saw at sunrise and sunset.

"Oh babe, just saw four more in a cluster here. That brings the total up to seven today.” Or “There's a fawn with them. It's so cute, make sure you don't hit it.” And when we drove through the mountains of West Virginia in the dark and there were deer all over the place, I sang him a very comforting song to the tune of Cat Steven’s Moonshadow.

I'm being followed by a deer shadow, deer shadow, deer shadow
Leaping and hopping out in front of my truck, deer shadow, deer shadow
And if one ever hits my truck,
I will yell and scream “oh f———"

I’m lucky the man loves me.

But the reason I resorted to such antics was because the wildlife was simply not very interesting – at least until we got to Colorado.

As we drove through the valleys in the shadow of the mountains, I peered out of the windows looking for white-water rafting groups. Too late in the day, I surmised, as the early dusk was beginning to settle. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an enormous fluffy black dog walking off leash. I wondered briefly if the owner was nearby before I registered what I was seeing. ‘BIG BLACK BEAR’ I managed to squeak out to Younes before we hit a curve in the road and the bear was gone.

I didn't have an extra second to snap a iPhone pic, but it was pretty cool. My first bear in the wild sighting! And the experience left me sufficiently entertained enough that Younes got a break from me teasing him about deer shadows.

Oh, and although I'm not with him, he got to see moose yesterday. I'm jealous.

#truckingtuesday – Wildlife!

#metsmonday – How I found out part2

I missed #metsmonday yesterday, but I’ll be doubling up today, starting with the continuation of my story of how I got my MBC diagnosis.

After the incident at the school, I knew I had to get a brain MRI but decided to put it off until Christmas. I wanted to enjoy my time with my family, including my dying grandmother, and frankly, I wanted to have one last Christmas free of MBC.

As luck had, my symptoms subsided and between my ability to be active cycling and swimming, l had some hope that I didn’t have breast cancer in my brain after all. I knew I still needed an MRI though. Christmas, glorious Christmas, went far too fast and the new year brought the task I was dreading. New Year’s Day, I met my early-stage breast cancer friend Dora for drinks. I slammed back Jameson on the rocks and finished her red wine and asked her for her opinion on whether it would be ethical to still have a baby via surrogacy even if my scan came back positive. She reassured me that even after losing her own mom to breast cancer as a young adult, she wouldn’t change a thing about her life. In my next buzzed-up quest to get mets-ready, I went home and messaged a few of mine and Younes’ female friend’s, asking if they would be his second wife if I died (CRINGE). Then I finally emailed my oncologist and asked for a brain scan. The next day, I texted with a friend who has non-cancer related grand mal seizures. ‘No big deal if you’re having them they’ll put you on Keppra,” he said. ‘But I have a cancer history and you don’t so it is a big deal,” I shot back.

The scan order placed, Younes and I made plans to head back to our apartment and jobs. My grandmother was iffy but holding her own, especially for a 93-year old woman. Younes and I visited her the day before we were supposed go back and she seemed on the upswing. We showed her YouTube videos of Irish Setters (her beloved dogs), hugged and kissed her goodbye and thought she was on the upswing.

I know now that when someone in declining health seems like they are on the upswing, it often means that they are making peace with the end of their life. That was what Grandma was doing apparently. A few hours later, I got back from a bike ride and received the news she was gone.

Losing Grandma, who once declared that “85 was the perfect age to die,” wasn’t so much a loss in and of itself, but the ending of an era. My mom’s dad and dad’s dad dropped dead of heart attacks in 1995 and 2012 respectively. My dad’s mom was lost to a combination of Parkinson’s and breast cancer in 1999. Grandma was my last remaining grandparent. Our history, our legacy, was slipping from our fingers little by little. On the other hand, I was grateful that none of my grandparents would have to experience the heartbreaking tragedy of burying their grandchild.

Even knowing that I would likely have to take off work for the scan, I still took two days off to help my parents pack up Grandma’s assisted living complex. As we celebrated the end of several days of hard work with burgers and milkshakes, my phone rang. It was the scheduler calling to set up my brain MRI. No turning back now…

TBC with the actual diagnosis and surgery…

#metsmonday – How I found out part2

#sciencesaturday – Why Beth Caldwell is my hero, part 1

If I've been quiet lately, it's because the metastatic breast cancer (MBC) community just received a big hit. One of our leaders, Beth Caldwell, is entering hospice care. She's only 40 years old, people. Let that sink in.

I "met" Beth online in 2014 on a young women's cancer message board. She was diagnosed Stage IV from the start with an aggressive, misbehaved fucker of a cancer – which is why she's in hospice now. I was Stage lllc with an aggressive, misbehaved fucker of a cancer myself. Wanting to prepare myself for if/when my cancer metastasized, I started reading MBC blogs, including Beth's.

Now I've never been much of a science person. I barely squeaked by in high school chemistry and college freshman biology. As soon as I finished my two required science courses, I joyfully ran away from the subject. I was a history and humanities person. Not a science person.

When I was diagnosed, one of the most dismaying parts was that I was going to have to try and understand science and shit. I didn't think I could do it. I read all the paperwork I got from my oncologist's office – the words swam in front of me like they were in a different language.

Beth (who was also a history major) and her wonderful writing, helped me understand the science of how cancer worked and helped me believe I could understand enough that I could become extremely proactive in my own care. I'd like to share some of her writing in the coming weeks, not just to honor her, but because I believe it will help educate many other people.

A lot of people believe that cancer can be cured by diet or in natural ways. This is an extremely dangerous misconception and it has caused many deaths that could've been prevented. So I will present to you a series in Beth's blog – Crazy Cancer Cures.

You should really read the whole thing, but if you don't here are some of my favorite quotes:

"The theory behind this Crazy Cancer Cure is that cancer feeds on sugar, so if you don’t eat any sugar, it can’t grow. That’s it, that’s the whole theory, it’s pretty straight-forward. There’s like books and stuff out there selling this cure and saying they’ve cured their cancer by cutting out sugar from their diets; however, you’ll note that none of them are written by oncologists.

Now, it’s true that cancer cells feed on sugar. You know what else feeds on sugar? Every other cell in your body. All of them. Cells run on sugar, it’s their energy source. Even if you don’t eat any sugar, your body will take other foods you eat and convert the carbohydrates in them into sugar. Because that’s what your cells need to function. Don’t believe me? OK, then perhaps listen to the nice folks from Cancer Research UK. 

Is it healthy to eat a lot of sugar? Of course not, are you stupid? Sugar contributes to all kinds of health problems, like diabetes. And who the hell wants to get diabetes? No, I’m just saying that a no-sugar diet won’t cure your cancer. It just won’t. Because even if you don’t eat sugar, your body will just make it, even from the healthy foods you eat. Like those carrots that that asshole commenter said that a dying woman should juice because it’ll cure her cancer. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK."

"Do I hope breast milk will someday be found to be a miracle cure for my cancer? Sure, I’m all about miracle cures. I’m also hoping to win the lottery and buy a bungalow in Tahiti, but I’m not holding my breath."

"Here’s where the science gets in the way of the health food trend: what the science seems to have shown in human trials is that when you eat turmeric, hardly any of it makes it to your blood stream. So, if your cancer is limited to your gastric tract, then maybe the turmeric is being delivered to your cancer–although we have no studies showing that eating a lot of it will cure you. But to have enough turmeric reach your blood stream to have any hope of it attacking cancer cells anywhere else in your body, I mean, you’d have to just be injecting it like heroin or something. Now, scientists ARE currently experimenting with finding a way to deliver turmeric to your tumor. But “eating a lot of curry” is not one of those ways.

Compounding this turmeric “cure” craziness is that if you want to buy supplements with high levels of turmeric to bypass the scientists and their pesky science in hopes of curing your own cancer, you may run across supplements that contain all kinds of seriously harmful shit in them, because the supplement industry isn’t regulated. And now I quote from Cancer Research UK:

“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning about the turmeric based food supplement Fortodol (also sold as Miradin). Fortodol has been found to contain the strong anti inflammatory drug nimesulide. Nimesulide can cause serious damage to the liver and is not licensed as a medicine in the UK. The Food Standards Agency in the USA states that taking products that contain unknown amounts of nimesulide could be very harmful. Fortodol and Miradin are sold in the UK and on the internet as food supplements. The FSA advises anyone taking these products to stop doing so immediately, and contact their doctor if they have any signs of liver disease. The signs include jaundice, dark urine, nausea, vomiting, unusual tiredness, stomach or abdominal pain, or loss of appetite.”

Look, I get it: we all want a simple solution to our cancer problems, and we figure taking a few supplements can’t hurt. Except when they cause goddamn liver disease. If I wanted to get liver disease, I’d have started drinking a shitload more whiskey, thatnkyouverymuch."

And my favorite:


#sciencesaturday – Why Beth Caldwell is my hero, part 1