Liver Tumor Progress Note

Please know that the following is not medical advice. I am just explaining my experience on the keto/carnivore diet. I want to share my cancer and keto journey with others, so that people can start asking their doctors questions and really think about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in a “new” way.

In January 2019 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to the liver. I did conventional chemotherapy and had an ablation of the tumor in the spring of 2019. Following the ablation I changed doctors and started on Ibrance and Femara. I am giving all these details because I want to be transparent about the treatments I have done. I don’t want anyone to assume I did this through diet alone. However, I do think it has been the biggest help.

All through last year I explored low carb/keto diets and cancer. I learned about the Otto Warburg effect. I learned about ketosis. I learned about inflammation and insulin resistance. I learned about metabolic health. I learned about mitochondrial health. This whole path I have been on for the past year and a half has really changed how I think about health and wellness.

I had a baseline CT in October 2019 with my newer (to me) oncologist. It showed the liver tumor measured at 1.6 x 1.0 cm. It’s not a huge tumor, but any cancer tumor is scary to have because you never know if/when it will spiral out of control. At this point in time I continued to take the medications as prescribed. There was a lot of dosage adjustments and time off of the medication here and there because it tanked my blood counts too low. Finally the doctor got me down to the lowest dose possible of the Ibrance.

My next CT scan was in January 2020. This time the liver tumor measured 0.9 x 1.3 cm. It was a slight decrease but an improvement none the less. The doctor was pleased with the results.

A couple of months after the January scan COVID hit the globe. The recommended guidelines for the Ibrance changed and now even the lowest dose was causing my blood counts to be too low. During the early spring I was told to hold the Ibrance longer than the scheduled week off. I ended up holding the Ibrance for about a month the first time and then for about three weeks the second time. My routine scan for the end of April also got pushed back to the beginning/middle of June.

Last week I finally had my routine CT scan. This scan showed that my liver tumor was now measuring at 1 x 0.7 cm. My oncologist was, again, happy with the results but also a little more cautious about indicating it was a true positive improvement. My husband and I were so happy and relieved by the results.

With the ongoing pandemic and the fact that I had improvement, even though I didn’t take the Ibrance as often as recommended, we have decided that I am going to hold off on taking that medication for now. The doctor is ok with this for now, but I have to be followed more closely than every three months. I decided this was a good compromise because I would no longer be on a medication that I had serious questions and concerns about.

I continue to read and listen to new information and testimonials about the keto/carnivore diet. I have also expanded my health practices and learning to sunlight exposure, grounding, prayer, exercise, and eliminating as many toxins from my environment as I can. One of the toxins I have learned about recently is estrogen (or estrogen-like substance) exposure. This is another area of importance to me because my cancer is hormonal driven.

So now, I pose to you, why wait? Why wait until you are sick to change bad nutrition and bad habits?

Don’t be like me. Don’t wait until your life is on the line to really think about what you expose your body to and how you treat it.

 

Here is a list of books I have read so far that is specific to the ketogenic lifestyle and cancer:


19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

Chemo Hair Keto

I have not had a hair cut in over three years.

During the summer of 2016 I had my long hair cut to shoulder length. As the summer progressed and more information was discovered about my cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment plan, I decided to have my hair cut very short in September. I had always wanted to know what I would look like with short hair…and now I know.

It was not pretty.

I started chemotherapy at the end of September 2016, and after about three or four weeks of weekly treatments my hair began to fall out more and more. It was thinning and balding in places, so my husband and I decided it was time to shave my head.

 I am thankful my identity wasn’t really wrapped up in my looks. I was never really into beauty products nor hair products. I didn’t know how to do fancy hairstyles; it was up in a “ponytail” most of the time.  However, it was still traumatizing to have my hair falling out in handfuls when I would wash it in the shower. It was sad and fascinating at the same time. I did cry about it a few times, but I did not allow myself to dwell on it too long. I would remind myself that it was only temporary.

Flash forward to 2019 and I receive a metastatic disease diagnosis. The treatment plan suggested was more chemotherapy followed by a hormone blocker. We decided to follow the standard of care again, and I would endure four rounds of a different chemotherapy drug. It was another one known to cause hair loss.

This time I decided not to cut my hair short because I knew that it was not a good look for me. My hair was finally long enough that it looked good again.

 Throughout treatment my hair continued to thin but it did not fall out like the first time. My husband would continue to provide encouragement that my hair was not bad enough to warrant a short haircut or shaving. It was just a bit thinner than before.

So, why was my hair reacting differently?

I think it was due to the fact that we had adopted a low carbohydrate, whole food diet. We stopped eating processed “foods” and began to really research nutrition.  This change goes back to my brother and sister-in-law introducing us to the ketogenic concept that I talked about in my previous post. I also, inadvertently, ended up fasting a day or two after treatment due to severe nausea and vomiting that had to be controlled with potent anti-nausea medications. I did not know at the time that there was information out there about the protective effects of fasting during chemotherapy.

One might argue that the difference was in the chemotherapy drugs that I received. He or she might be right. However, this last chemotherapy caused more nausea, vomiting, electrolyte wasting, neuropathy, tinnitus, and taste changes than the first set of drugs ever “thought” to cause. I was only supposed to be in the clinic every three weeks for treatment, but I would end up back in the clinic a few days after treatment for magnesium and potassium infusions because the levels were too low.

Now, as some would say, here’s “the rub.” If the ketogenic lifestyle and/or fasting can have a protective effect during chemotherapy, why isn’t anyone talking about it? Why is it only now starting to see a little bit of light in the media? The research and information have been out there for a while now.

The ketogenic nutritional, dietary advice was not given to me by any of the medical professionals taking care of me. It was all information that I had to find and search out on my own.

Here are some links to information I found in a recent Google search about chemotherapy, hair loss, and the ketogenic lifestyle:

https://healthybodyhack.com/can-ketogenic-diet-help-cancer-patients-reduce-chemo-side-effects/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5842847/#!po=20.8333

https://news.usc.edu/118758/

https://www.dietdoctor.com/cancer-patients-tolerate-chemotherapy-better-fasting-ketosis (video)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815756/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCjm7Kk-Ods

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lcOj0RYzPY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZMDu1TXWjQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vueb9k3DiA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0xVYEpESk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBGYRGSpQ44

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7203648/ (This one is about alopecia in a child.)

 

God Provides the Healing

Last week I chose health and healing as the words of the week on my Facebook page. I always thought I was fairly healthy. I followed a typical western diet and tried to exercise when I could fit it into my schedule. I have never smoked and never really drank much alcohol. I am also still fairly young.

I didn’t buy into the organic foods for quite a while. I couldn’t see that it made any difference in my friends’ lives, and organic produce can be pretty expensive. (I would later change my mind on the organic front after doing more nutritional research.)

My world was rocked in 2016 with my first breast cancer diagnosis. Serious health diagnoses can be scary, especially for a young mother. I got through the treatment stages and still didn’t change my eating habits. I had no idea. Nutrition was never really brought up during treatment. The medical staff were only concerned that I kept my appetite and didn’t lose weight.

One thing I did change nutritionally during this time was that I stopped drinking as much soda. Some brands would make my stomach hurt, so I just couldn’t drink them anymore due to the pain and discomfort; not so much from any nutritional viewpoint. (Yes, I knew soda was not good for me, but I hadn’t really thought about how toxic it really was for my body.)

My world was turned upside down when I received the metastatic diagnosis in 2019. Around this time, one of my brothers and his wife introduced me to the ketogenic diet. They had been low carb, ketogenic, for a couple of months and we had some conversations about it over the holidays. My husband and I started counting our carbohydrates and limiting them a few weeks before I heard the words metastatic cancer.

It didn’t take me very long to start researching and going down the “rabbit hole” to find the proper human diet. The more I looked, the more lies and misinformation I found. This can be very upsetting for people who, like me, have a chronic (or multiple) illness. I don’t know the number of times I cried when I learned the truth.

I am only a little over a year out from my metastatic diagnosis and conventional treatment. It’s still too early to tell if I have helped improve my prognosis. However, I don’t dwell on thoughts like this very often nor for very long.

I look back and see God’s providence intertwined in my life. I believe the low carb, ketogenic diets were introduced to me as tools for me to use to aid in the healing of my body.

Back in February I explained it to a friend by comparing it to 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

My brother and sister-in-law were like Paul because they introduced, or “planted,” the idea of the ketogenic diet and nutrition in my mind.

I am like Apollos as I “water” my health, my life, by following a meat heavy ketogenic lifestyle and continue to research ways to optimize my health.

Only God can provide the healing.

I feel well, I am hopeful, and I know it is all in God’s hands. He is in control and can see all things and how it will work out in the end. He is mighty, faithful, just, merciful and gracious.

I will continue to share my testimony and go where He sends me.

Right after first cancer diagnosis but before treatment.

Last fall, after following a ketogenic lifestyle for several months.

 

Renewing the Mind

(Just a note: Honestly enough, I had hard time focusing my thoughts for this entry. There were so many directions I could have gone in (and wanted to go in), and I had a hard time limiting them. I hope this entry makes sense and brings someone a little encouragement today.)

We have been told to quarantine, social distance, self-isolate, etc. for our own health and for the health of other people around us. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic caused by COVID 19.

There is no time like the present to take hold of your health.

I have been pursuing health improvement and optimization since last year around the time I received my metastatic diagnosis. It has been quite a journey and I have learned quite a bit. There are so many different things that contribute either positively or negatively to our health. Today I want to focus a little bit on mental/spiritual health.

I have been studying in Romans for the past month or so and I want to point out Romans 12:2:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What is feeding your mind or soul?

The world?

Or God?

Because what we think matters!

Prayer, reading of Scripture, being thankful, and having community with the Church are some of the ways I renew my mind and remind myself of God’s presence. I typically start my day with a Bible devotion or study and prayer to help my mind focus. When I don’t do this my whole day is off and I can tell that I have not spent enough time seeking God. If I don’t fill my “heart” with God’s Word, then the things of this world have an easier time creeping in and causing chaos.

To those feeling isolated:

  • I pray we remember you are never alone. God is always with us.
  • Let’s take this time as an opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important to us and set our minds on the things of above.
  • Please remember we are doing something important by staying home, even if it doesn’t feel or seem that way.
  • We are protecting ourselves from the virus if we don’t have it.
  • More importantly, we are protecting others by not spreading the virus if we have it knowingly or unknowingly.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

To those in the healthcare field and others who continue to work:

  • I pray for God’s protection over you.
  • I am thankful you continue to work and serve your communities in such uncertain times.
  • I hope you find the time to renew your minds and prepare yourselves for battle each day.

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

To the Church:

  • I pray we continue to reach out and serve our communities with each and every opportunity we are given (through a screen or in person).
  • I am so thankful for the technology we have at our disposal today and how full my Facebook feed has been with uplifting sermons, devotions, and testimonies.
  • Let us keep flooding every social media platform with the Good News!
  • Let us step up and be an example to the world!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Though we find ourselves in uncertain times, no matter what role we play, let us remember we are called to “be patient in affliction and persistent in prayer”. Also, consider that our spiritual health and growth is more important than our happiness; being “pruned” is not pleasant.

So, let us all set out to renew our minds through our pursuits of Jesus and watch our desires to learn more about our Creator grow!

Here are some more Bible verses for encouragement:

Psalm 19:14

Psalm 46:10

Psalm 55:17

Psalm 57:7

Proverbs 3:11-12

Proverbs 4:20-22

Proverbs 15:15

Isaiah 26:3

Jeremiah 24:7

Jeremiah 29:12-13

John 17:3

2 Corinthians 5:17

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Colossians 3:1-2

1 Thessalonians 5:17