Cancer is a horrible disease. There are many wonderful results from modern oncological treatment. Sometimes, however, I am reminded of a quote from Francis Bacon: 'Cure the disease and kill the patient'.
Surgery is often the first medical treatment for cancer. Its purpose is usually to remove the primary growth, but sometimes it is also necessary in later stages to reduce the size of a tumour causing pain or obstruction.
See also Wound Healing
A derivative of mustard gas used in WW1, chemotherapy was first used in the 1940s. It became somewhat unpopular due to its common side-effect, death. More effective chemotherapy agents were discovered in the 1960s and '70s. Generally given in combination, they caused fewer side-effects than their earlier counterparts. Nowadays, chemotherapy is more and more specific to the cancer cells and less deadly to the rest of the body. Nevertheless, chemotherapy does suppress the immune system and has several nasty side effects. Chemotherapy drugs target the fast-dividing cells of cancer so other fast-dividing cells in the body such as those lining the digestive tract and hair follicles also bear the brunt. This explains the common symptoms of digestive problems (mouth ulcers, heartburn, nausea, diarrhoea) and hair loss.
Radiotherapy involves directing a series of gamma rays at a specific area. It may be applied as a solo therapy, an adjunct to surgery, or combined with chemotherapy. It can also be applied as palliative treatment to reduce the size of a tumour causing pain or obstruction.
The purpose of radiotherapy is to damage and destroy dividing cells, but it also destroys normal cells in the neighbourhood. Side-effects can include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, cystitis, sore, discoloured ('burned') and peeling skin, lower immunity and haemorrhage. Delayed side-effects include loss of hair, nerve damage and blood vessel fragility (easy bruising).
What To Do
For specific symptoms see the appropriate sections, including Nausea, Cystitis and Diarrhoea. Always ask your oncologist and/or doctor before starting on a course of natural therapies. Often, it is best to 'launch' into supplements and a radical change in diet AFTER your medical treatment has finished.
- As far as possible, adhere to the dietary suggestions in Cancer.
- If you feel nauseous, eat small amounts of food rather than large meals and follow the suggestions in Nausea.
- If you are losing weight, try to have a glass of high calorie protein drink daily.
Herbs and Supplements
- (See Glow) (See also Settle Petal) (See also Longevity)
As mentioned before, always check in with your doctors first. I prefer to treat patients' symptoms eg mouth ulcers, diarrhoea etc, until all chemo and/or radiotherapy has finished, then 'mop up' and improve immune system afterwards. The rationale is to let the drugs and radiation do their work thoroughly.
- Herbal tisanes are often permitted during cancer treatment, ask your specialist. Herbal tisanes that include Siberian ginseng, Withania and Echinacea would be good to try.
- Siberian ginseng is an important herb which will help see you through this stressful time. Not only will ginseng increase your energy and stamina, it will help to protect the rest of your body from the effects of these treatments. Take ginseng before, during and after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- Herbal bitters will improve your appetite and help digestive problems. Take one teaspoon in a glass of water, sip before dinner. Other herbs that are good for digestion include meadowsweet, ginger and chamomile. Drink as a herbal tisane.
- Slippery elm powder and acidophilus will protect your gut during chemotherapy.
- Half a glass of aloe vera juice taken daily will help prevent many digestive problems.
- Garlic and seaweed have protective properties against the effect of radiation.
- Take antioxidants before, during and after treatment. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy increase free radical activity.
- Do NOT take separate supplements of folic acid (vitamin B9) as it encourages cell growth... something the medical treatment is designed to thwart.
- Suck on vitamin C and zinc lozenges several times daily to prevent and treat mouth ulcers.
- Shiitake, reishi, maitake and coriolus mushrooms contain impressive immune boosting properties. Eat or take as supplement.
- Cover the irradiated area with vitamin E cream before and after each treatment. Mix the cream in with a little aloe vera gel, which is also protective against radiation. I often recommend Rosa's scarless Healer after each treatment.
- Enduring the treatment for cancer can be an ordeal. Daily meditation is a must. In your meditative state, visualise the treatment obliterating the cancer cells. (See Cancer.)
- There are many studies that show that marijuana can be useful to help reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy, and also to relieve pain.
At a glance
- Good food
- As far as possible follow recommendations in Cancer.
Food to avoid: Anything that disagrees. Sugar, high fat foods (especially animal fats)
- Remedies to begin
- Antioxidants, slippery elm, aloe juice, ginseng, seaweed.
- Take rest.
- Now more than ever use those positive affirmations and creative visualisation techniques.