Stay Healthy During Chemo: The Five Essential Steps

Stay Healthy During Chemo: The Five Essential Steps


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573246750
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 01/01/2016
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 517,681
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mike Herbert is a PhD naturopath with more than 15 years in practice as a wellness consultant, with a particular emphasis on nutrition and natural healing. When his life was touched by cancer, he turned his full attention to investigating cutting-edge studies on the link between cancer and nutrition.

Joseph Dispenza is the author of several books and scores of articles about living a higher quality of life. He is a former university film professor and former director of Education Programs for the American Film Institute. He is a columnist for Beliefnet and a contributor to Spirituality and Health, American Way, Massage Magazine, and Yoga Journal. He is also a spiritual counselor.

Read an Excerpt

Stay Healthy During Chemo

The Five Essential Steps

By Mike Herbert, Joseph Dispenza

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Mike Herbert
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57324-675-0



Chemotherapy Is Only Part of the Healing Process

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.

Thomas A. Edison

Cancer and Chemo

• In recent years, according to the American Cancer Society's Global Cancer Facts & Figures, over 12 million new cancer cases were diagnosed each year and 7.6 million cancer deaths — about 20,000 cancer deaths a day — occurred worldwide.

• Around 150 people are diagnosed with cancer every hour in the United States. Over a year, that amounts to almost 1.6 million people in the United States alone.

• One out of every four Americans is diagnosed with cancer each year. This year about 564,800 Americans are expected to die of cancer — more than 1,500 people a day, day after day, week after week.

• Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease.

• One of every four deaths in the United States is from cancer.

• Cancer is expensive: the health care industry in the United States — which includes doctors, hospitals and clinics, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of medical technology, insurance companies, and so on — comprises around 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or around $1.5 trillion in 2011.

• Of the million and a half plus American people with cancer, the vast majority opts for treatment by conventional medicine ... and at least 75% receives chemotherapy as part of the routine method for dealing with the disease.

• Chemotherapy, either by itself or in conjunction with radiation and surgery, has become the standard treatment for most cancers in conventional medical practice.

We Can't Rely on Chemo Alone

Many cancer patients seem to have attached themselves to the idea that chemotherapy solves all the problems that cancer poses. They believe that between chemo and radiation treatments, everything that can be done to destroy the cancer and bring the patient back to good health is automatically being done.

Call it the antibiotic mind-set. When we take antibiotics, we assume that they are combating an infection in the body brought on by bacteria or fungi or parasites, and we don't need to do anything else to push the process of infection-fighting further. The antibiotics are taking care of everything.

Let me say immediately that chemotherapy is not the same as antibiotic or antibacterial therapy. The medications are quite different and so are the processes of how they work. But the mind-set of "let medicine do the work while I just sit back and wait" is the same with chemo as it is with antibiotics for many people.

Cancer patients who are not suffering from a cancer related to the digestive process — such as stomach, pancreatic or colon cancer — are usually allowed an "unrestricted diet" by their oncologists. For instance, my partner who was diagnosed with lymphoma needed to be hospitalized for his first round of chemotherapy because he had a history of hepatitis-B and his doctor did not want to risk a flare-up of that disease during the chemo treatments. Chemo would suppress the immune system, leaving the door open for other diseases to come out of hiding. So the first chemo cocktail was administered as a round-the-clock drip over five days.

All during that week in the hospital, since his diet was officially "unrestricted," he was served the same kinds of food available to anyone eating in the cafeteria-style restaurant down the street. A typical dinner was Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, a salad with ranch dressing, bread roll and butter, a glass of milk, a cup of coffee, and for dessert, a generous slice of chocolate cake.

During the time that chemo was being administered — his entire stay in the hospital — he was not allowed supplements of any kind, because of the concern that vitamins, minerals, and amino acids might have interfered with the intended effects of chemotherapy, and in some cases might have actually caused dangerous chemical reactions in the body. This, in spite of the fact that most foods naturally contain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

So my partner was left with chemo and an "unrestricted diet," which is to say that there was precious little to rely on for healing beyond chemotherapy and a business-as-usual eating plan.

Once out of the hospital, he was put on a regular schedule of chemotherapy treatments every three weeks. His prescription was for five day-long treatments following the week-long drip in the hospital — making six rounds of chemo over eighteen weeks, a period of five months, six counting follow-up blood work and PET scans.

All during that critical half-year period, he was left in chemo treatment only with the usual unrestricted diet directive and the admonition to avoid all supplements on the chemo days. Nothing was said about adding or subtracting foods and beverages from his diet or engaging in some gentle exercise such as walking or yoga, or anything else beyond getting chemo and, as best he could, recovering from one round in time to take another round.

Left with this regimen for healing, which is no regimen at all, a cancer patient can look forward to weeks and months of feeling bad from the side effects of chemotherapy as the body processes and then finally eliminates the toxic chemicals along with the dead cancer cells. Meanwhile, the body is left in such a weakened state that the patient often becomes a professional sick person, open to all kinds of lesser diseases that a compromised immune system lets in.

Something is missing. There must be a way for a cancer patient to withstand the forceful work of chemo in the body and feel good at the same time. There must be a way to speed up the process of healing from cancer and enjoy high energy and a sense of well-being while the healing is taking its course.

There is a way, of course, and it is nature's way.

What Chemo Is Designed to Do

To understand more about what really goes on in chemo treatment, it is important to know what chemotherapy is designed to do. Chemotherapy treats cancer with an antineoplastic drug or several antineoplastic drugs in combination. "Antineoplastic" means that a drug acts to prevent, inhibit, or stop (anti) the development of a tumor (neoplasm).

The task of chemotherapy chemicals is to kill rapidly dividing malignant cells in the body. Cancer cells divide and multiply at a rapid rate, causing a breakdown in bodily systems. Chemotherapy kills those cells, and along with them the reproducing cells of normal tissues. The chemicals can be given through a vein, which is the usual way of getting them into the body, or injected into a body cavity. Sometimes one or more of the chemicals are given orally in pill form.

When chemo descends to do fatal damage to malignant cells and stop the disease from spreading, it also damages normal cells. And when that happens, unwanted side effects appear. Since chemo cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell, it attacks both the rapidly growing cancer cells and other fast-growing cells, such as hair and blood cells.

A cancer patient already knows most of this, because it is part of the experience of living with chemo treatment. Naturally, an oncologist tries to find a delicate balance between destroying the malignant cells to control the disease and leaving the normal cells alone, so that there are as few negative side effects as possible.

So, chemo is designed to kill. There is some interesting history behind this language of killing, destroying, and attacking. The chemical treatment of cancer goes back to the world wars of the past century and the development of weaponry.

During World War I, one of the weapons deployed was chlorine gas, which was used as early as 1915. Another was mustard gas. So devastating were the effects of these and other chemical gases — killing, in many cases, both sides in a battle — that their use in warfare was banned. But it was found that mustard gas was a powerful suppressor of hematopoiesis, or blood production. Based on those findings, medical scientists began to study how chemicals derived from nitrogen mustards might arrest the growth of cancer cells.

In 1942, during World War II, an accident exposed several hundred people to mustard gas in the Italian town of Bari. Those who survived were discovered to have very low white blood cell counts. After the war, researchers experimented with using chemicals to fight cancer, starting with mustine, developed from nitrogen mustards.

The first chemotherapy drugs were born in warfare and have never lost their bellicose expression. In the 1970s and 1980s, when cancer began to emerge as "the emperor of all diseases," as one recent book calls it, cancer patients were encouraged to engage in noble combat with the disease, imagining healthy cells in the body doing battle against cancer cells — and winning.

Allusions to chemotherapy's wartime past are also evident in how we frame the treatment of "aggressive" cancers that "advance" rapidly and therefore must be killed, destroyed, eradicated, wiped out, exterminated. When the National Cancer Act of 1971 was announced, it was immediately named "the War on Cancer" by the media. Other efforts to support cancer research are routinely referred to in warlike terms. Obituaries report that a person "lost his battle against cancer."

These warlike allusions attached to chemotherapy are entirely appropriate, since chemo does indeed kill — and, as I have said before, when it does, it destroys healthy cells along with cancerous ones. The challenge for cancer patients and caregivers is to allow chemo to do its destructive work on malignant cells, while at the same time trying to stay healthy enough to withstand the onslaught (another warfare term) of the necessarily lethal chemicals.

Since 1971, when President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, the United States has spent $2 trillion on conventional cancer treatment and research, but it is a war we appear to have lost. Mortality rates are about the same as they were in 1950. To give a further warlike perspective, more Americans will die of cancer in the next fourteen months than have died from all the wars that the United States has fought combined.

Even though chemotherapy has its roots in war, a cancer patient does not have to become attached to the battle images that arise when discussing treatment. In fact, I think it is best not to envision a war raging inside the body of a cancer patient; better to see it as a healing process that is taking its course to well-being.

What Chemo Will Not Do

Chemotherapy is designed to kill cells in the body and, by accomplishing that, will stop rapidly dividing cells from multiplying. That is what it will do. What chemo will not do is make a person healthy.

The mission of chemo is a quick and thorough seek out, find, and destroy operation, to call upon more warlike terms. The rest is about staying healthy during chemo treatment and returning to vibrant well-being after the toxic chemicals and the residue from dead cancer cells have passed out of the body.

It is important to remember that chemotherapy will not heal the body, since it is not designed to do that. What chemotherapy will do is destroy cells. The idea here is that once cancer cells are attacked and removed, the body can then take over and heal itself.

When cancer cells are no longer viable and cease to divide and multiply, they are flushed out of the body as waste material. At that point the environment in the body is changed from a functioning system compromised by a spreading cancer to a system that promotes the body's well-being. Changing the environment creates the healing scenario.

I mention this here, because there is often a misunderstanding among cancer patients that chemotherapy actually does the healing work involved in recovering from cancer. It does not heal, but it sets the scene for healing by getting rid of the offending aberrant cells. Tumors will go away or be reduced, and other symptoms brought on by the cancer will vanish, hopefully, including pain, bodily discharges, and so on. Returning to good health, though, is another issue entirely.

Chemotherapy will not make a cancer patient well; it will, however, and under the best of circumstances, destroy the cancer that is preventing wellness. In other words, chemo will not produce the solution, but it will help to take away the problem. That is something enormous, of course, and needs to be acknowledged and respected. To keep with the warlike metaphors that chemo has suggested since its creation, it is powerful ammunition for a seek-and-destroy medical mission.

Another thing that chemotherapy will not accomplish has to do with the immune system. Chemo is so potent, as I've said before, that it weakens the body's own means of protecting itself, which is why so many people on chemo will come down with colds or the flu or worse on their way to being healed from cancer.

Let's remember that chemotherapy is not intended to, and therefore will not, promote the body's self-healing mechanism directly, although it does so indirectly by helping change the environment in which the cancer is thriving. A cancer patient's immune system, after it is compromised by the attacks on cancerous cells, will rise and fall with no help from chemo itself. To protect and enhance immunity, much will depend on what is done outside of the chemo clinic.

Chemo's Negative Side Effects

The positive effect of chemotherapy, in the best of circumstances, is the killing of cancer cells in the body of a cancer patient. But, as we all know, along with the good comes the bad. The distress accompanying chemotherapy is for some almost as difficult to endure as the cancer itself.

Invariably, a person who has been diagnosed with cancer will receive, along with a schedule of chemotherapy treatments (assuming chemo has been prescribed), a list of the precise drugs that will be used and their "possible" side effects. As if the catalog of the drugs and their descriptions is daunting enough, the litany of side effects is scary indeed.

The following are the most common side effects of chemotherapy, depending on the type of cancer, the type of chemo drugs administered, and their dosages. Not every cancer patient will experience all of the side effects, but most will experience at least some of them.

Immune system depression is the first, most obvious, and most dangerous. The immune system is suppressed to the point where the body can be prey to illness and infections that would ordinarily be quite harmless. This is why doctors will tell chemo patients to avoid crowds, where they might come into contact with contagious potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses. For a healthy person to be in a room with someone who has a cold is no problem; for the chemo patient, it could mean days or weeks suffering the contracted cold — sometimes it might even result in a hospital stay.

Fatigue is the result of fighting both the cancer and the chemo. It is always mentioned in the literature of what to expect from chemotherapy treatment. In some cases, anemia will be detected and drugs will be prescribed to address it. Most cancer patients can be spotted for their tired and haggard looks, slow movements, and cloudy thinking — all of which are symptoms of fatigue. Most of the fatigue is due directly to the accumulation of toxins in the liver.

Hair loss occurs almost immediately after the first chemo treatment. It happens because the chemotherapy drugs go after all rapidly dividing cells, and hair follicles are among the fastest-growing cells in the body. This is a physical effect that has tremendous emotional and psychological counterparts. Almost all cancer patients report the shock they felt at first seeing all their hair gone, straining to recognize the person in the mirror.

Damage to other parts of the body is also a potential side effect of chemotherapy. An oncologist will be on the lookout for breakdowns in areas of the body that may not be contaminated with cancer, but are the result of the powerful work of the chemo. These areas include, but are not confined to, the heart, the liver, the kidneys, the inner ear (manifesting as imbalance), and the brain.

Chemo brain. On the subject of the brain, cancer patients on chemo will almost universally report fogginess in thinking, forgetting things, an inability to come up with the right word, and so on. These lapses are more than the ordinary brain stops-and-starts that are part of virtually everyone's experience. For a person receiving chemo treatments, this is part of the process and can be emotionally painful and perilous, especially when important prescribed medications are forgotten.


Excerpted from Stay Healthy During Chemo by Mike Herbert, Joseph Dispenza. Copyright © 2012 Mike Herbert. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

Part 1 Chemotherapy Is Only Part of the Healing Process 17

Part 2 The 5-Step Chemotherapy Diet Program 37

Step 1 Change Your Thinking and Develop an Attitude Focused on Healing 41

Step 2 Detoxify to Promote Healing from the Inside Out 47

Step 3 Eat the Best Foods to Create a Healing Chemistry in Your Body 57

Step 4 Supplement Your Diet Correctly to Support the Healing Momentum 75

Step 5 Exercise and Rest to Speed the Healing Process 91

Part 3 Recipes: Eating Healthy 99

Part 4 Beyond Chemotherapy 227

Acknowledgments, About the Author, Bibliography 243

Index 257

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Stay Healthy During Chemo: The Five Essential Steps 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was shocked by the suggestion of taking a bleach bath. I asked my breast cancer group on FB and was bombarded by people telling me not to do it. There are doctors, nurses, dietitians....a lot of people with a lot of letters after their name that said there are too many harmful things that could go wrong or that it was only used to treat extreme eczema. If one thing is wrong, I can't trust the rest of the book. I do not recommend this book at all.