Tag Archives: breast cancer coach

How To Stop A Panic Attack

How To Stop A Panic Attack

I have been working with a number of people newly diagnosed with breast cancer, several of whom are suffering from panic attacks, so I thought it might be useful to post some information on how to stop a panic attack.

Because they can be so frightening, so debilitating and disruptive to your life, a panic attack is definitely not to be ignored.

Teal Swan To The Rescue

I had in mind to create a video with specific breathing exercises and other information, but I happened upon Teal Swan’s YouTube video “How To Stop A Panic Attack” and she has done such a good job at describing not only what causes an anxiety attack, tips on how to deal with them when they arise, as well as other holistic changes you can incorporate to help yourself heal from them, that I decided “why reinvent the wheel” and decided simply to share her video here.

Teal Swan, if you are not familiar with her, is an amazing young woman.  She calls herself The Spiritual Catalyst and offers advice on many different subjects.  She is incredibly wise for someone so young.  You can read more about her life’s journey here.

So without further ado, if you are experiencing a lot of anxiety or panic over your breast cancer diagnosis, please take nineteen minutes to view this video, I believe it really will help you (or at the very least, steer you in the right direction).

If you do continue to suffer with panic and anxiety, let’s connect. Sometimes all you need is a really good healing plan to subdue those fears and anxieties.  I would be honored to help you with that.  Please go to my page describing my breast cancer coaching services.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Our Voices Are Being Heard!

Image Source: rgbstock.com / lusi
Image Source: rgbstock.com / lusi

Our Voices Are Being Heard!

One of the things I always recommend people do is vote with their money.  If you are against a certain product or manufacturer, don’t buy it, don’t support them.  They will soon get the message when sales start to slump.

This also translates to health care.  While doing research on some ingredients within three different breast health formulations for which I have recently been writing product reviews, I came across something really interesting.  It is apparent that our voices are being heard by the medical establishment!

Most of my research is done on pubmed.gov, the US website that is a service of the US National Library of Medicine.  Pubmed.gov has over 24 million citations for biomedical literature, and that’s where I discovered that we – as breast cancer patients and survivors – are being listened to.

Use Of Complementary Approaches Is Common

One study I was reading about the effects of flaxseed began with the words “Use of complementary approaches is common among breast cancer survivors.” 1

A 2013 study done on the medicinal mushroom ganoderma lucidum stated “Breast cancer metastasis is one of the major reasons for the high morbidity and mortality of breast cancer patients. In spite of surgical interventions, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy, some patients are considering alternative therapies with herbal/natural products.”  2

I’m so glad they noticed!  Actually in America alone, upwards of $35 billion is being spent on alternative therapies and complementary medicine.  Per year.

We Don’t Want Side Effects!

One study investigating indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its effects on the aromatase enzyme (the chief enzyme responsible for activation of estrogen) really got me chuckling.  The researchers said “Natural products as aromatase inhibitors have received growing interest in recent years because of their potential in the inhibition of aromatase with lower side effect, and the possibility to the translation from their uses as chemotherapeutic agents to future clinical uses in breast cancer chemoprevention.” More on chemoprevention below.

As a breast cancer coach, the complaint I hear most often is about the side effects of the hormone blocking drugs being prescribed for people after chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatments end.  We are being told that we “need” these drugs, that our lives depend on us taking these drugs, but the side effects can be horrific – doesn’t quality of life count for anything?  So I was delighted to read that researchers are aware of this and are actively looking for natural products that will have the same or similar effect.  Good for them (and about bloody time)!

We Don’t Want Toxicity!

Another research study investigating the effects of eugenol, a phytochemical found in clove essential oil, stated “Breast cancer is a major health problem that threatens the lives of millions of women worldwide each year. Most of the chemotherapeutic agents that are currently used to treat this complex disease are highly toxic with long-term side effects. Therefore, novel generation of anti-cancer drugs with higher efficiency and specificity are urgently needed.” 4

Highly toxic indeed.  Mother Nature has provided us with everything we need to maintain our health.  The only thing that has been lacking is the scientific proof that they work, and the studies are flowing in, thick and fast.  Researchers (mainly outside the USA, sadly) are discovering every day that what we had relied upon for centuries for our wellness really does work.  It is exciting for me every time I come across some bit of research that indicates something coming from nature has potent anti-cancer activity and can be useful for our health regimes.

An Ounce Of Chemoprevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

A Polish study investigating the effects of curcumin as a possible cancer prevention agent stated “Breast cancer is the most common malignant cancer among women, both in Poland and worldwide. Due to the constantly increasing number of breast cancer cases, it is vital to develop effective activities in primary and secondary prevention. One of the promising methods of best value, connecting both types of cancer prevention, appears to be chemoprevention.” 5

Don’t confuse chemoprevention with chemotherapy. The goal of chemoprevention is to avoid breast cancer altogether, whereas chemotherapy is the use of some fairly toxic drugs to kill a cancer in progress.  Chemoprevention can be possible not only with drugs, but with certain very particular natural supplements.  In fact, I will go out on a limb and say the natural supplements and healthy lifestyle work better than the drugs do.

More Effective Modality Needs To be Promptly Established

I saved the best quote for last.  My favorite remark in a research study was made in this new study just released this month (Feb 2015).  Researchers were exploring the benefits of the medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus and remarked “Although several therapeutic options are currently available for patients with various cancers, the outcomes are often disappointing and a more effective modality needs to be promptly established.” 6   

Understatement of the year.

1.  A pilot study comparing the effect of flaxseed, aromatase inhibitor, and the combination on breast tumor biomarkers     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669750
2.  The mushroom Ganoderma lucidum suppresses breast-to-lung cancer metastasis through the inhibition of pro-invasive genes     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718855
3.  Inhibition of testosterone aromatization by the indole-3-carbinol derivative CTet in CYP19A1-overexpressing MCF-7 breast cancer cells     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25612679
4.  Eugenol triggers apoptosis in breast cancer cells through E2F1/survivin down-regulation     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24330704
5.  Curcumin in chemoprevention of breast cancer    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864107
6.  Potent Anticancer Effects of Bioactive Mushroom Extracts (Phellinus linteus) on a Variety of Human Cancer Cells    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245057/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

What Hazelnuts, Yew Trees and Taxol® Have In Common

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

What Hazelnuts, Yew Trees and Taxol® Have In Common

I was recently thumbing through a very old issue of HerbalGram magazine when this headline caught my eye: “Paclitaxel (Taxol®) Found In Hazlenut Trees”.  The issue dates back to 2000 and I’m not sure why I was going through it but I found the article interesting and wanted to share it with you for a couple of reasons.

Information On Taxol®

Taxol® is the brand name for paclitaxel, the anti-cancer drug marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb – it is one of the most prescribed chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  Taxol® is called a mitotic inhibitor because it interferes with cells during mitosis (cell division).

Taxol® Comes From A Very Natural Source

The interesting bit is that Taxol® is made from the needles of the Pacific yew tree (Taxus brevifolia) and this is one of the main sources of paclitaxel.

Back in 2000, researchers found ample quantities of paclitaxel in the nuts, shells, leaves, limbs and bark of the hazelnut tree, which is a flowering tree, quite distinct and different to the Pacific yew tree.  The researchers weren’t particularly looking for paclitaxel, they were trying to find ways to combat a blight that was attacking hazelnut trees when they discovered something that looked like and proved to be paclitaxel.

In a presentation to the American Chemical Society in San Francisco on March 29, 2000, Dr Angela Hoffman, OSB, PhD, announced that she had found quantities of paclitaxel in at least 12 species of hazelnut trees and at least 8 species of fungus associated with hazelnut trees.  She was rather excited about this because it was hoped that additional sources, and especially fungal sources, for Taxol® might make it less expensive for cancer patients.

So The Point Of All This…

The reason why I am sharing 15-year old information with you?  I was excited about the possibility that we could eat hazelnuts and avoid the toxicity of Taxol®.  As a breast cancer coach, I am always on the lookout for natural things that can provide us with anti-cancer benefits.

The researchers were quick to point out, however, that “No one should think that by eating hazelnuts they can avoid taking Taxol® treatments.”  They said that if someone were to eat hazelnuts all day, it would not equal one regular dose of Taxol®.  They also said that there was no evidence that eating hazelnuts regularly would prevent cancer.

No One Will Do THAT Research

But who would do this kind of research anyway?  If there’s no drug to be made and a kazillion dollars on the line, no one is going to do that research.  I think it is clear that nuts ARE a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fiber and we should be eating them frequently as part of a good healthy diet.

In Praise Of Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are full of natural fats, minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and, in particular, beta-sitosterol, which is a natural plant sterol known to reduce cholesterol and is thought to exert protective properties against breast cancer.  And paclitaxel.  So despite the “lack of evidence”,  I believe that Mother Nature provided us with everything we need to stay well and healthy, and it certainly will not hurt us to consume them (unless of course one is allergic to them).


HerbalGram Magazine, issue 49, 2000


Taxanes from Shells and Leaves of Corylus avellana: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18163585

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / photostock

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / photostock

How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

One of the things I hear all too often from my breast cancer coaching clients is that they are tired of being bullied by their doctor when they want to investigate more natural ways to heal breast cancer, and many ask me for help on how to be more assertive at the doctor’s office.

Really – this is a big deal.  People who are going through breast cancer are having to make lots of decisions about their treatments in a pretty short period of time.

The decisions that need to be made are scary, and if the wrong decision gets made, it could be quite detrimental to one’s health and, ultimately, life.  So that part is hard enough.

Many of the people with whom I am working are wanting to go a more natural route.  Some may choose to have chemotherapy and/or radiation and use a blend of natural therapies, some don’t want the toxicity of chemotherapy or radiation at all, and some will depart from their oncologist’s recommendations when it comes to the subject of hormone blocking medications.

Dealing With The Dinosaurs

Regardless of a person’s choices, it has been my observation that the more forward-thinking doctors are okay with their patient’s choices and support their decisions.

Every once in awhile, however, we run across a dinosaur.  A doctor who absolutely refuses to see their patient’s argument and gets mad at them for having an opinion that is contrary to what is being recommended.

The dinosaurs are apt to say all kinds of negative things like, “Well you will be seeing me again in a few months when the cancer comes back.” or “You will be sorry that you made that decision.”

The most heinous thing I was ever told by one of my ladies is that her doctor told her “You are a dead woman walking.”  Can you believe that?  It  still makes me madder than a wet hen.

So how to deal with the dinosaurs?  

It can be a scary thing, going against your doctor’s orders.  I know a few women who just about have an anxiety attack when they know they are going to have “that conversation” with their doctor.

Assertiveness is a skill that takes practice.  It may be much easier for you to swallow your feelings and just crumble, but how will that make you feel later?  You won’t be happy about it, I promise.

Please note – I am not advocating that you go against your doctor’s orders or recommendations.  But if you have decided upon a different course of action and are dealing with a dinosaur, here are my best tips.

7 Tips On How To Be More Assertive At The Doctor’s Office

1.  Most importantly, know that this is YOUR body.  You get to say what happens to it.  If you are not happy about your doctor’s treatment plan, and you have done the research and decided upon a different course of action, that is your prerogative.  You have every right to do this.

2.  Don’t go in unprepared.  Think about what you want to say.  Print off the research that you have been reading that leads you to believe your course of action is the better one.  Prepare the words you want to use ahead of time.  Visualize the meeting beforehand, with you speaking your truth and your doctor listening, and it will go much more smoothly.

3.  Realize that by saying NO, you are not hurting the doctor’s feelings.  In an hour or two, he/she will most likely forget all about this conversation.

4.  Take a friend or spouse with you – someone who will absolutely have your back and support you if you start to crumble.  Another set of ears to listen and take notes is always a good idea.

5.  While you are in the doctor’s office waiting to be seen, do a little deep breathing.  This helps ease your worries and anxiety.  Breathe in what you need – peace, serenity, strength, resolve – and breathe out feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear.

6.  Be specific, calm, honest, clear in your words, and be respectful.  Make eye contact and use confident body language.  The doctor will see that you mean what you say.

7.  Keep emotions in check.  This is not a time to cry or shout or lose your temper.  Keep your voice even and firm.

At the end of the day, realize that your doctor works for you, not the other way around.  You are not there to please them.  They are there to help you get better and you get to have a say in what happens to you.  By all means, listen to their arguments for a particular type of therapy, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, you have every right to seek out another doctor’s opinion and you have every right to say no.

I wish you much healing on your journey.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

The Best Diet For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / Rakratchada Torsap
Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / Rakratchada Torsap

The Best Diet For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

As a follow-up to last week’s article The Best Diet For Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancers, this one is all about the best food for someone who has or is healing from triple negative breast cancer.

Doctors often tell us that triple negative breast cancer is harder to overcome because the usual hormonal therapies don’t work for this form of breast cancer. Don’t let that worry you though – there are plenty of things you can eat and supplements you can take which will greatly help your return to wellness.

What Does Triple Negative Breast Cancer Mean?

If the term “triple negative” is unfamiliar to you, it refers to the fact that this type of breast cancer has no hormone receptors on the surface of the cells, meaning it is not fueled by hormones. It is estrogen receptor negative (ER-), progesterone receptor negative (PR-), and it does not overexpress HER2, three of the things your pathologist will be looking for when a tumor has been removed and is examined to see what therapies should be recommended. It is often referred to as “TNBC”.

Does Food Actually Make A Difference?

Yes it does.  A recent small study done on 354 women with TNBC found “that dietary modulations and/or micronutrient supplementations may prevent or reverse TNBC phenotype, so tumors can be treated with less toxic therapeutic strategies, particularly in genetically susceptible women.” 1

In another study reported in 2013, scientists found that “omega-3 and its metabolites undermine proliferation in all cell lines. However, they were dramatically more effective in inhibiting proliferation in the triple-negative cell lines.” 2

Blueberries have specifically been researched for their effects on TNBC at the City of Hope cancer center in California, check out my article:  Interesting City of Hope Research On Blueberries And Triple Negative Breast Cancer .

Another article you might find interesting, written by Jennifer Griffin, sharing her story of how she beat TNBC:  How I Kicked Triple Negative Breast Cancer .

Food That You Should Include In Your Diet If You Have Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Wherever possible, try to ensure that the items from the list below are organic, because if you are trying to heal from cancer you need to stay away from conventionally grown produce and meats as much as possible due to the pesticide and herbicide residues. You really need to keep the toxin load at a minimum to give your body a better chance to heal.  If you are unable to obtain organically grown produce, just make sure to wash – wash – wash it extremely well.  Soak produce in a tub or pail of fresh water with a little white vinegar for a few minutes, then rinse well.

Here’s the list:

Apples, arugula, bell peppers, black pepper, blackberries, blueberries, bok choy, blackcurrants, boysenberries, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries (both sweet and sour), coconut oil, collard greens, cranberries (not the sugared dried ones), cucumbers, flaxseed (freshly ground is best), garlic, ginger, grapes (red are best), green tea, hemp, herring, honey (minimally processed), horseradish, hot peppers, kale, lake trout, leeks, lettuce – romaine, mackerel, mangoes, mustard & mustard greens, omega-3 fats, onions, parsley, peas, pomegranate juice, pumpkin, raspberries, reishi mushrooms, saffron, salmon (wild), sardines, seaweed, spinach, squash, tomatoes, turmeric, tuna, turnips, turnip greens, walnuts, watercress, watermelon, zucchini.

One more thing you might find helpful – the supplement MSM has been found to be useful for TNBC.  See my article:  South Korean Study On MSM Indicates Potent Anti-Breast Cancer Activity (the research  specifically mentions TNBC).

There are also quite a number of essential oils that research has indicated are helpful as well, if you would like to know more about which ones to use, contact me.

For information on the food that should be avoided, as well as a list of supplements and nutrients that support a healthy body and should be included in your health regime, see my page Diet and Cancer.

A big thank you for part of the food list goes out to http://foodforbreastcancer.com/ – written by Sarah Charles, herself a breast cancer survivor, and a woman of sharp intellect, Sarah has a mathematics degree from UCLA and is a Harvard graduate.


1. Combined genetic and nutritional risk models of triple negative breast cancer:

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Slow Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation:

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Best Diet For Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancers

Image Source: morgueFile / pippalou
Image Source: morgueFile / pippalou

The Best Diet For Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancers

I am often asked “What is the best diet for someone with hormone receptor positive breast cancer?”  Research indicates that nearly two-thirds of invasive breast cancer is classified as hormone receptor positive, so it’s a really great question to ask.

The quality of your diet and nutrition while going through  breast cancer can play a pivotol role, not only for getting well, but also for staying well and avoiding recurrences.

What Does Hormone Receptor Positive Mean?

If the term “hormone receptor positive” is unfamiliar to you, it is a term employed when after a tumor has been removed and examined by a pathologist, the tumor was found to have an abundance of hormone (estrogen and progesterone) receptors on the surface of the tumor’s cells.  This indicates to your doctor that the growth of the tumor was being fueled by hormones.  Whether that means the body’s own hormones (endogenous) were fueling the process, or hormones that came from the environment (as in xenoestrogens) is a subject of contention and covered by other articles in this website.

As a sort of short-hand, a breast tumor that is being driven by estrogen is termed “ER+”, a tumor that is fueled by progesterone is termed “PR+” and has both estrogen receptor positive (ER+) and if the tumor is fed by both hormones, it is termed “ER+/PR+”.

So Does A Good Diet Make A Difference?

Yes, absolutely it does.  We now have plenty of research to support the claim that certain foods do have an inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells.  In addition, it has been found that the combination of 30 minutes of daily exercise combined with a good diet full of vegetables and fruit gives the very best protection – much more than either one of those things on its own.

Food That You Should Include In Your Diet If You Have ER+/PR+ Breast Cancer

Whenever you possibly can, try to ensure that these are organic.  If you are trying to heal from cancer, you need to keep away from conventionally grown produce and meats as much as possible because of the pesticide and herbicide residues.  You can’t heal properly if the toxin load is high.  If you can’t get these organically grown, make sure to wash – wash – wash them!  Soaking them in a tub of fresh water with a little white vinegar for a few minutes, then rinsing well can help to detox them.

Here’s the list:

Acai, apples, apricot kernels, arugula, avocados, basil, beets, beet greens, bell peppers, bilberries, black pepper, blackberries, blueberries, bok choy, boysenberries, bran, brown rice, buckwheat, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chia seeds, chicken (organic), chives, cherries, coconut oil, collard greens, cranberries, cucumber, currants, dry beans, durian, eggs, figs, flaxseed (freshly ground), garlic, ginger, goji berries, grapes, herring, honey (esp Manuka), hot peppers, kale, kiwi, lake trout, lemons, lettuce, limes, mackerel, mandarins, mangoes, mangosteen, maqui berries/powder, medicinal mushrooms, mustard, mustard greens, oats, olive oil, oranges, parsley, pineapple, pomegranates, pumpkin, radishes, raspberries, saffron, salmon (wild caught), sardines, seaweed, sesame seeds, spinach, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, turkey (organic), turmeric, turnips, turnip greens, walnuts, watercress, watermelon, zucchini

For information on the food that should be avoided, as well as a list of supplements and nutrients that support a healthy body and should be included in your health regime, see my page Diet and Cancer.

Thanks in part to http://foodforbreastcancer.com/ – written by Sarah Charles, herself a breast cancer survivor, and a woman of sharp intellect, Sarah has  a mathematics degree from UCLA and is a Harvard graduate.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer? Better Take Curcumin!

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer?  Better Take Curcumin!

If you are currently going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, you would be well advised to include curcumin in your daily supplement regime.  I’ll share why in a moment.

First, however, a little rant.  I am frequently told by women going through breast cancer that when they asked their oncologist or their radiologist whether there were certain supplements which would help them get through the treatments, without much variation they are told “Just eat what you want to, evidence doesn’t support that a certain diet or supplements will help you.”


Anyone who advises that nutrition is unimportant for people going through cancer is both ill-informed and dangerous.  Ill-informed because the research is out there!  Evidence that nutrition makes a huge difference is comprehensive.   And I say they are dangerous because such advice causes vulnerable people to ignore or disregard a source of significant help which would improve both their quality of life and their survival.   Good nutrition can indeed reduce the risk of developing cancer, it can slow the rate of progression, and it can very effectively stop recurrences.  Okay, rant over.  Back to curcumin and how it can help with radiotherapy.

Should you not be familiar with curcumin, it is a yellow pigment derived from turmeric, a common root used for spice and cooking.

In a 2007 study, Radioprotection and Radiosensitization By Curcumin, researchers found that  curcumin “…has been reported to protect various study systems against the deleterious effects induced by ionizing radiation and to enhance the effect of radiation. Therefore, curcumin can be very useful during radiotherapy of cancer.  Administration of curcumin in patients will be able to kill the tumor cells effectively by enhancing the effect of radiation and, at the same time, protect normal cells against the harmful effects of radiation.”

In plainer language, this means that curcumin was found to be protective against the harmful effects that occur as a result of radiotherapy, and that curcumin actually enhanced the effect of radiotherapy.

The available information on curcumin suggests that its protective effects may be due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit transcription of the genes related to oxidative stress and inflammatory responses.  In addition, curcumin’s ability to enhance radiotherapy could be due to the upregulation of genes responsible for cell death.

A newer Iranian study published in 2013 and done with prostate cancer patients, A Pilot Clinical Trial of Radioprotective Effects of Curcumin Supplementation in Patients with Prostate Cancer found that “Curcumin can confer radioprotective effect in patients with prostate cancer who undergo radiation therapy through reducing the severity of radiotherapy related urinary symptoms.”

I think the best article, and the most relevant one to date is The Effect Of Curcumin On Breast Cancer Cells published in the Journal of Breast Cancer in June 2013.  Although this one didn’t study curcumin’s effects for those going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, take the time to read the study because it will make a believer out of you that curcumin has a powerful chemotherapeutic role to play in the treatment of breast cancer.

For more information about curcumin, particularly its benefits for cancer patients, and for specific dosages, see my article Harvest the Power of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 3, Recovery Phase

Image Source: rgbstock / polson Image Source: rgbstock / polson

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 3, Recovery Phase

If someone you know is going through breast cancer and you are looking for tips on how best to support them, this series of articles is offered to provide you with some inspiration.

The Recovery Phase

This final article (in a series of 3) offers some ideas for supporting someone you care about who has been through all of their treatments for breast cancer and is in the recovery phase.  Both of you might be wondering “What happens after breast cancer?”.

Having been through this phase myself, I’d like to share that it’s actually not as easy as it sounds.  Everyone expects you to be better, to pick up your life exactly where you left off, to just “get on with it”, the bad stuff is over.  But that is far from how you may be feeling.

For me, finishing the treatments and moving on was kind of scary.  I was leaving the umbrella of my doctors’ protection – and I left early, having decided that some of what was recommended for me wasn’t going to be therapeutic at all.  Ten years ago, there was very little information on the Internet about natural treatments for cancer, and I felt like the Lone Ranger.  But I was determined to do this my way.

I also felt like I had just been through hell and back, I was definitely a changed person.  Mentally, I believe I changed for the better, but physically?  Those toxic treatments take their toll.  Also, I was just at the precipice of 50 years of age.  I felt like I could do anything, but what should that “anything” be?

Those are just some of the things that a person can be feeling when they get through the treatments for breast cancer.   So here are some suggestions on how you can help your loved one during the all-important recovery phase.

5 Things You Can Do To Help Someone Who Is Recovering From Breast Cancer

1.  Be A Good Listener.  Don’t assume that just because the doctor pronounces them “cancer free”, everything is good, wonderful and recovery is at 100%.  That’s usually not the case.  Make sure to ask how she/he is feeling and then LISTEN and read between the lines.  If you are reasonably close to this person, you will know whether they are genuinely feeling okay or whether there is some nagging problem.  You don’t have to “fix” the nagging problem, but I would encourage you to listen to what they say.  Be there with them and let them know that you care.

2.  Be Prepared For An Emotional Roller-Coaster.  It is not uncommon for your loved one to be dealing with a wide range of emotions ranging from grief to sadness, depression, isolation (especially if they live in a very small community), and anxiety that the cancer may return.  They will definitely need your patience, reassurance and understanding during this time.  If they really seem to be struggling with the fear factor, depending on how severe that fear is, your loved one might need:
(a)    Counseling to help them deal with it; and/or
(b)    The services of a breast cancer coach or a naturopath or integrative doctor to help them formulate a healing and wellness regime so that they know they are doing absolutely everything they can to keep themselves well.

3.  Go To Those Scary Appointments.  Accompanying your loved one on their follow-up doctor appointments will mean a lot.  Why?  Because those follow-up appointments are scary.  Worries of the cancer returning are going to be uppermost in your loved one’s mind so go with them and reassure them with your presence.  At first, the follow-up appointments will probably be scheduled about every 3-6 months. The longer your loved one has been free of cancer, the less often the appointments are needed. After 5 years, they are typically done just once a year, if at all.

4.  Encourage Those Good Habits.  Impress upon your loved one the importance of taking good care of themselves.  This is not the time for the good diet and nutrition and supplements to go out the window.  The recovery phase is the time to really stay on top of those things, to help make sure that any stray cancer cells that the treatments may have missed is mopped up by a strong immune system.  If you need help with this, make sure to subscribe to my free newsletters and e-books, full of my best information on healing from breast cancer and preventing recurrences.

5. Give Them Time.  Give your loved one as much time as they need for this recovery phase.  Remember that each person’s experience is individual.  Remind them (and you!) that they need to give themselves time to find a new way to be in the world.  Let them know you are right there with them, supporting them and however long it takes is however long it takes.

I hope this article helps someone out there.  If you would like to add your idea to the list, please feel free in the comments section.  You might also find some assistance within the pages of this website.

The 1st article in this series: How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer, Part 1, The Diagnosis

The 2nd article in this series:  How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer, Part 2, Treatment Phase

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 2, Treatment Phase

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 2, Treatment Phase

If someone you know has just received a breast cancer diagnosis, and you are looking for tips on how best to support them, this series of articles is offered to provide you with some inspiration.

The Treatment Phase

This second article (in a series of 3) will offer some help for supporting the person who is going through treatments for breast cancer.

And kudos to you for being the support person!  It’s not always an easy job.

My best friend took on that role so that my husband could keep working and stay focused on his role of sole provider for the both of us while I was going through breast cancer treatments.  Some of the things she did for me will be included here because they were just so darned beneficial to me.

19 Things You Can Do To Genuinely Help During the Treatment Phase

  1.  If your friend needs surgery, find out what kind of food they will be offered in the hospital – quite often hospital food is so processed, there’s no way it is going to help someone heal quickly.  Bring your friend some freshly prepared organic vegetable soup with beans or organic chicken in it (beans and chicken have lots of protein and protein is needed so that the surgical site can repair quickly).  Include some shiitake mushrooms, they help to boost immunity.
  2.   Offer to cook nutritious meals for them.  Find out what they are eating, because if they are going through chemotherapy, there might be a lot of things off the menu for them due to mouth sores, indigestion issues, etc.  Choose organic whole foods that have little to no sugar in them.  Sugar feeds cancer cells, so something high in carbohydrates (like your favorite tuna casserole) is not a good idea.  Deliver the food in disposable containers that are not expected to be returned.
  3. If they are juicing, offer to come over and wash and prepare the vegetables and other produce for fitting down the juicer slot.  Do enough for a week, this can be a very tiring part of the cancer patient’s day but oh-so-necessary for recovery.
  4. If they are going through chemotherapy, offer to go to their treatment sessions with them.  While there, do your best to keep them in a cheery state of mind.  Take along a joke book or something to make them laugh.  I always took freshly prepared juices with me – they would put the chemotherapy in and I’d be drinking healthy juices to help protect me from the toxicity.  One proviso – if you are sick yourself or suspect you may have been exposed to something, please excuse yourself, because your germs will not help someone who is immuno-compromised.
  5. Take them shopping for needed items.  They may be too tired to do it themselves but having a friend nearby for energy and reassurance can make a big difference.
  6. Every week, send them a beautiful card with an inspirational message in it.  Communication means everything to someone going through these treatments and this kind of thing – easy enough to do – can make the difference in someone’s otherwise depressing day.
  7. If you are out of town, send them a gift card to a local, favorite restaurant.  Not having to cook after a chemotherapy or radiation session can mean the world to them.  You could also send them a movie gift card or a gift certificate to a local spa so they can get a massage.
  8. Make a chemo gift basket filled with things to help them pass the time during treatments – crossword puzzles, books, magazines, iTunes gift cards.  If you know they will have a family member with them, maybe include a book or magazine that would appeal to that person as well.
  9. If the weather is cold, giving a hat, a beautiful scarf, cozy socks or a handmade cozy blanket would be very much appreciated.
  10. If the weather is hot, hydration is important, so give them a beautiful water bottle that doesn’t sweat.  Also a personal misting fan works great for the associated hot flashes that occur because of the treatments.  I love these.
  11. Give the gift of your time.  Just go sit and be with her.  Bring flowers.  Hold her hand and listen to her tale of woes.  Or help her to find some humor in the situation.  Just be there, understand and care.  Give her a hug.  Be aware she might have “chemobrain”.  People on chemo tend to be a little forgetful. Realize you may have to repeat things to her, and understand it’s part of the process. Just be there for her, and let her know that you care.
  12. If your loved one doesn’t have a regular housekeeper, perhaps hire a maid service, one time or regularly.  Or while visiting, you could offer to do some clean-up yourself (be prepared for resistance – they may not want to accept the help!).  Be persistent, but be prepared to accept it if they aren’t comfortable with it.
  13. Offer to do some gardening – mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds, chopping wood, trimming back overgrown bushes – all of these can be overwhelming for a person going through cancer treatments.  Make sure you get permission first though – there’s nothing worse than chopping back something that looks like a weed but turns out to be their favorite plant in the garden.
  14. If your loved one has children, offer to take them somewhere special or to the movies, or bring them something special when you visit.  This helps your loved one have time to rest and it gives the children a break from the “sick house” when they can just be kids.
  15. Order a comedy CD or DVD on Amazon and have it sent to your loved one.
  16. Do some research on treatment options – your loved one might not have the brain power or patience to do this. Enlist the help of a naturopath, if need be, or a cancer coach.
  17. Help your loved one find a good support group.  Research indicates that women who join support groups while going through breast cancer have a much longer life expectancy than someone who does not, so support groups offer some very real, quantifiable results (I think it’s all those hugs given and received!).  To find out where the closest ones are, organizations like the American Cancer Society, CancerCare and Cancer Support Community offer support groups in person, online and through hotlines.  Their oncologist may also be aware of support groups in the area, so ask.
  18. If your loved one is going through radiation treatments, make sure they know about the healing effects of aloe vera, calendula and lavender to combat the burning of the skin caused by the radiation.
  19. Give them an hour with a breast cancer coach, someone who has been through this journey and has loads of tips and information, the latest research, and knows which natural therapies work and which ones aren’t so great, someone who can help them kick-start the healing process.

I hope this article helps someone out there.  If you would like to add your idea to the list, please feel free in the comments section.  You might also find some assistance within the pages of this website.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 1, The Diagnosis

Image Source: morgueFile / GaborfromHungary
Image Source: morgueFile / GaborfromHungary

How To Support Someone With Breast Cancer – Part 1, The Diagnosis

If someone you know has just received a breast cancer diagnosis, and you are looking for tips on how to support your special someone, this series of articles is offered to provide you with some inspiration.

The Diagnosis Phase

This first article offers some suggestions for the person who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer – in the very early stages. She (or he) may be dealing with fear, anger, grief, disbelief – so many emotions. A diagnosis of cancer can seem very unreal, and your help, genuine concern and support can make a huge difference.

First of all, because even the best-intentioned person can find themselves saying something incredibly stupid, here is a list of what NOT to say.

Unhelpful Comments

The following statements are not only not helpful, they can be detrimental to someone who is fighting breast cancer, so please avoid these:

“You’ll be fine.”  Why: It’s dismissive, it doesn’t allow them to open up about how they feel, and it makes you seem uncaring.

“Oh, poor you!”   Why:  They don’t need your sympathy, they need your assistance and they need you to listen.

“I know how you feel.”   Why:  No you really don’t. Each person’s journey with breast cancer is very individual and even if you’ve had it, you still don’t know how they might be feeling.

“Were you a smoker?” or “Is it in your family?”   Why:  Not only is it none of your business, it doesn’t help that you’re trying to find out why they have cancer.  They will be doing plenty of that themselves.

“I know someone who had breast cancer, unfortunately, she died from it.”  Why:  SO NOT HELPFUL. No one wants to hear that when they are fighting for their lives. They need hope.  One careless statement can ring in a person’s ears for weeks or months and keep them from fighting as hard as they need to.

“Call me if you need anything.”  Why:  You are going to need to think about what they may need and then just provide it (check with them first though). Women are notorious for NOT reaching out when they need help, they are more apt to just soldier on and do it themselves. See below for a list of helpful things you can do.

“Will you be okay financially since you won’t be able to work?”  Why:  (A) This assumes that they won’t be able to work and more often than not, this is simply not the case. Working through breast cancer is not only possible, it’s recommended (unless the job is toxic and they need to take a break from it) because it provides a bit of normality, some focus, and the camaraderie of work colleagues; and (B) unless they choose to share their financial situation with you, it’s none of your business.

“I think you should (xyz).”   Why:  What you think SO doesn’t matter. As mentioned above, the breast cancer journey is a very individual one. If you know of a therapy that you think might help, by all means, share it – be a fact finder, not an advice giver. Don’t tell your friend how they should be changing their lifestyle or diet. In this initial, early stage, it may be hard enough for them just to get out of bed in the morning. Share an article if you like – printed information allows your friend to make the choice for themselves.

Helpful Things To Say

“I’m here for you. Would you like to share with me a little more about what you’re going through?”

“I would love to help you. Would you like me to bring you some healthy meals or juices – or organize a network of friends to do this for you?”

“We will see this through together, I am beside you all the way.”

“I know this is hard for you, but I want you to know that I will do all I can to support you.”

“I’m really sorry you are going through this. Please know that you can count on me for anything you need.”

9 Things You Can Do To Genuinely Help During the Diagnosis Phase

  1. Does your friend need help gathering information about the diagnosis received? Offer to do some Internet research – you will be more clearheaded and less overwhelmed. Feel free to use the information on this website if it resonates with you.
  2. Be available to listen. They are going through a gamut of emotions – some of which might not make any sense to you. But develop your listening skills and really hear them. You may not need to make any comment at all, but just be there. Hold their hand. If you don’t mind receiving a phone call in the middle of the night, be sure to share that and I mention that because the middle of the night is when women with breast cancer lie awake worrying. Having a friend to talk to really, really helps.
  3. Go to doctor’s appointments with your friend, especially if a spouse or partner isn’t available to go. Get together before each visit and write down a list of the questions that you both have. Be a note taker and an advocate for your friend. Make sure your friend understands the doctor’s proposed treatment plan – and why it’s being offered. Two sets of listening ears is always better than one, especially if your friend is feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
  4. Keep in close contact with phone calls and/or emails and/or text messages. Not enough to make your friend feel overwhelmed, but just to be there for them. Keep that going – not just at the first, but as the days and weeks progress when most people have stopped doing this.
  5. Help them set up a breast cancer page on websites that help patients connect with their friends and families. That way they aren’t feeling overwhelmed with calls or emails – they can just put their updates on the page and everyone can see it. Caringbridge.org, carepages.com, mylifeline.org are all good.
  6. If you know someone who has fought breast cancer and survived it, talk with that person and see if it’s okay if you share their contact details with your newly-diagnosed friend. Having someone to speak with who’s “been there and done that” could be a life-changing thing for them.
  7. Give them a copy of “Radical Remission” by Dr Kelly A Turner. It’s full of hope and great stories of survival from cancer.
  8. Make them a care package – a book full of jokes, some healthy food, a light-hearted movie, a beautiful scarf – all of these things can help to cheer them up. Remember laughter is the best medicine.
  9. If your friend isn’t good about saying “yes” to your offers of help, you may need to be more persuasive. Gently at first, but more persistently later. They may not be good about saying “yes” and you may just need to take no notice of them saying “no”. You’re treading a fine line here – but if you are a good friend to this person, you should be able to tell when someone actually needs your help and is too afraid to ask for it, or genuinely does not want you to do something.

I hope this article helps someone out there.  If you would like to add your idea to the list, please feel free in the comments section.  You might also find some assistance within the pages of this website.  One of my articles in particular may help your friend: Newly Diagnosed? Dealing With Anxiety And Fear.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon
Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon




Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

I was disappointed (but not particularly surprised) to read a May 27, 2014 Wall Street Journal article yesterday, Insurers Push To Rein In Spending on Cancer Care.

For those of you who haven’t read it, please read that article.  It is ultra clear that certain insurance companies may not have your best health interests in mind, nor might your oncologist.

The fact I found most disgusting is that there are insurance companies in the USA offering oncologists $350.00 per month PER CANCER PATIENT if the oncologist puts that patient on the insurance company’s recommended regimen for the purpose of cost control and keeping expenses down.

Not too surprising, as some chemotherapy drugs can run over $100,000 per patient per year.

But think about that – if an oncologist has 250 patients, and only 100 of them are on the insurance company’s “recommended regimen”, that equates to $35,000 per month to the oncologist, or $420,000 per year.  What oncologist is going to pass that up?

What this means to you as a cancer patient is that the insurance company doesn’t care about you.  At all.  Which probably comes as no surprise.  Insurance companies just want to keep down costs associated with cancer treatments, and if your oncologist is one of those who gets paid $350.00 per month to put you on the routine recommended treatment regime dictated by the insurance company, you will be afforded less individualized care by that oncologist.

Still think your oncologist is working with your best interests at heart?

Your particular health situation might require more expensive chemo drugs than what the insurance company wants to pay for.  For instance, some of the newer drugs such as Kadcyla (aka TDM1), approved by the FDA in February 2013, is a new targeted therapy for women with HER2-positive secondary breast cancer.  It combines a chemotherapy drug (emtansine) with Herceptin. The treatment is delivered directly to the cancer cells, so the body’s healthy cells are not affected, which means that many of the usual side effects associated with chemotherapy, including nausea, hair loss, and vomiting, are avoided.  But the cost of it in the USA is $9,800 per month.

Do you think you’ll be offered this drug if your insurance company is one of those committed only to the bottom line and not the patient?

Mainstream medicine is BROKEN, people.  The patient takes it on the chin again.  Our standard of care, especially for cancer patients, is not only deplorable but unaffordable.  Big pharma and the insurance companies are running the cancer show, that much is perfectly obvious.

All the more reason why we as human beings would be better off putting our health insurance dollars into some kind of self-managed health care fund from the moment we’re born (like a college fund) and seeking the treatment providers who actually make a difference to us.  For cancer patients, in my opinion, that would be naturopaths, oncology naturopaths and integrative oncologists like Brian Lawenda (and, of course, cancer coaches!).

How to fight back?  Become self-empowered activists for your own health.  Ask your insurance company if it is one of those paying oncologists for recommending their treatment protocol.  Ask your oncologist.  If they are doing this, go find someone else who isn’t.  Better yet, find yourself a good integrative oncologist.  We vote best with our money.  If you need help locating someone, contact me.

The health care industry is so screwed up, who knows when it will (if ever) be sorted out and fixed.  As usual, it’s up to US to be informed and to make the health choices we need to make to get well.





GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / M Bartosch
Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / M Bartosch

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

As a follow-up to my two articles on xenoestrogens, Unraveling the Mystery of Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance, in which I explain pretty thoroughly what xenoestrogens are, and Protect Yourself From Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance, in which I offer a list of things you can do to protect yourself against them, I thought it might be useful to share with you a list of the best nutrients that offer protection against the damaging effects of xenoestrogens.

There are many lifestyle changes you can make to protect yourself against xenoestrogens and there is a big list of them in that second article (above).  It’s reasonably easy to change your body products, your household cleaning products, stop wearing perfume, etc.  However, I know that some of you work in environments which constantly expose you to xenoestrogens, and if changing jobs is not possible you need to know which nutrients and dietary changes will offer some protection for you.

Nutrients That Offer Protection Against The Damaging Effects of Xenoestrogens

Calcium D-Glucarate – a calcium salt which helps detoxify xenoestrogens and blocks the body’s reabsorption of estrogen and xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 400–600 mg per day, divided into two doses. Found in abundance in apples, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and alfalfa.

Probiotics – help to decrease the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, made from bad bacteria in your gut.  Beta-glucuronidase increases estrogen recirculation so you definitely want to keep that one under control.  Good quality probiotics help you in so many other ways too!  Look for probiotics that contain 10-15 billion colony forming units.

Cruciferous Vegetables – first of all, they contain potent anti-cancer compounds, but the most important one is sulforphane which has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that help to eliminate toxic estrogens and xenoestrogens.  Found in abundance in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage.  For optimal effect they should be eaten raw because heating them inactivates the enzymes.  Also chew them well so the enzyme that activates sulforaphane is released.

Curcumin – a powerful anti-inflammatory for the body, curcumin also helps the liver eliminate and detoxify cancer-causing estrogens and xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 600-800 mg per day.

Milk Thistle – one of the best herbs for the liver, milk thistle is extremely helpful for maintaining proper estrogen balance in the cells of the body. It detoxifies a wide range of hormones, drugs, and toxins, including xenoestrogens.  Recommended dosage: 50–100 mg per day (just make sure that your supplement contains at least 80% silymarin, which is the  active ingredient in milk thistle).

Green Tea – the polyphenols in green tea help eliminate xenoestrogens and support the liver in metabolizing fats and hormones.  The easiest way to derive the benefits is just to drink green tea throughout the day.  It’s nice both hot and iced and you can add ginger and lemon to enhance the flavor and get more anti-cancer benefits.

Flax Seeds – freshly ground organic flax seeds provide so much protection for women (see my article Flaxseed Benefits and a Delicious Source) but for the purposes of this article, the most important thing you need to know is that the lignans in freshly ground flax seeds block harmful xenoestrogens in the body.

Other good practices to adopt:

Drink Plenty of Filtered Water – every cell in our body requires water to function optimally, which includes waste elimination.  Water helps you to flush out excess cellular waste, lubricates our bowels (thus preventing constipation) and will help you to eliminate xenoestrogens much better.  Try to drink at least 4 large glasses of water a day (approximately 2 liters).

High Protein Diet – eating plenty of good quality protein protects you against xenoestrogens in a very special way.  The presence of ample dietary protein increases the activity of cytochrome P450, an important enzyme needed to detoxify both estrogen and xenoestrogens.  In particular, the amino acids lysine and threonine (found in meat, fish, beans, eggs, and some seeds, particularly sesame and fenugreek) especially support the liver and since xenoestrogens are metabolized by the liver, it is thought that these two amino acids can help the liver get rid of xenoestrogens more efficiently.

Eat Plenty of Fiber – to ensure adequate removal of xenoestrogens, you need to avoid constipation.  Having regular bowel movements keeps xenoestrogens from getting recirculated back into your body.  Fiber is found in plant foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  You need at least 25 grams per day.  Please remember to drink more water when you increase fiber!

Buy Organic Produce and Meats  – whenever and wherever you can because they will help you to reduce the load of xenoestrogens coming into your body with conventionally grown and raised items.

I have found an excellent supplement that contains 4 of the 7 nutrients listed above, as well as immune stimulating ingredients, so if you’d like to know what it is just contact me.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Coping With Tamoxifen Side Effects

http://MarnieClark.com/ Coping-With-Tamoxifen-Side-EffectsCoping With Tamoxifen Side Effects

As a breast cancer coach, one of the most asked questions is how to cope with Tamoxifen side effects, so today I’m offering assistance!

Tamoxifen is a drug recommended for people whose breast cancer cells exhibited estrogen receptors, termed ER+ breast cancer.

The Action of Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen is in a class of drugs called “SERMs” – selective estrogen-receptor modifiers.  Tamoxifen’s action is to occupy an estrogen receptor on a cell, thus paralyzing the receptor and preventing it from triggering the events that result in cell division.  It does not kill cancer cells, rather it disables them or puts them to sleep.  Tamoxifen targets not only the estrogen receptors in breast tissue, but also all of the other cells in the body that have estrogen receptors.

Tamoxifen Side Effects

Tamoxifen is currently the “gold standard” treatment recommended for all women with hormone driven breast cancer, regardless of the stage.  The recommendation of most oncologists for women with ER+ breast cancer is that taking this medication for 5 years after a breast cancer diagnosis can supposedly reduce the risk of recurrence by up to 50%, which is a very persuasive figure.  They are now recommending Tamoxifen use for up to 10 years.

I am not convinced that Tamoxifen is such a wonder drug, and I discuss why in my article Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs.

Part of my problem with Tamoxifen is the wide range of side effects which include headaches, dizziness, nausea, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, leg cramps, hair thinning, brain fog, pins and needles in hands and feet, joint pain, moodiness, depression and anxiety.

Tamoxifen may also put a patient at a higher risk for blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism), endometrial cancer and overgrowth of the lining of the uterus.

Since women are recommended to be on this drug for 5-10 years, their concerns about the side effects and loss of enjoyment of life are very real.

It Doesn’t Work For Everyone

What we are finding out here in the trenches is that this drug works for some but definitely not all.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told by a woman that she took the Tamoxifen for the prescribed amount of time and is still battling her second or even third round of breast cancer.  So it is clear that the drug doesn’t work for everyone.

Are There Alternatives To Tamoxifen?

At this time, there do not appear to be any good research studies that directly compare specific diets or nutritional strategies with the use Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer recurrence.  Having said that, we do know that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are truly important, they do make a big difference, and this has been proven by research studies.

The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study followed 1,500 women with early stage breast cancer who were treated between 1991 and 2000, and found that women who both ate plenty of vegetables and fruit every day as well as got regular physical activity were nearly 50% less likely to die during the study follow up.  In this study both women taking Tamoxifen and not taking Tamoxifen were included, so it is clear that diet and exercise are incredibly important for staying well.

For those who choose to take Tamoxifen, some of the side effects can be quite troublesome and these people really need some help.

Here Are My Best Recommendations For Coping With Tamoxifen Side Effects:

Headaches – Having a regular deep tissue massage and/or acupuncture from qualified practitioners can make a huge difference with headaches.  Also, as simple as it may seem, drinking plenty of filtered water can assist your body to clear the drug from your system a little better.  So make sure to drink plenty of water (and not tap water!).

Dizziness – As odd as it may seem, meditation can be very helpful with the dizziness associated with Tamoxifen use.  If the dizziness becomes severe, however, seek the advice of your doctor.  You may need to go off the Tamoxifen or reduce your dosage.  As with headaches, drinking more water can often help to ease dizziness.

Nausea – Drink ginger tea.  You make it with organic ginger root (not the dried spice), slice off a small chunk of it and put it in hot (just off boiling) water and let it steep for several minutes.  Sip as needed.

Hot Flashes & Night Sweats – These are more difficult to solve – these symptoms show that the Tamoxifen is doing its work.  You may find that certain herbal remedies like Remifemin assist with the frequency, intensity and duration of hot flashes and night sweats.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has a number of herbs that are helpful, so seek the help of a qualified Chinese medicine doctor.  For a list of other helpful hints, see my article Tips Tricks and Support For Hot Flashes.

Vaginal Dryness – This is one of the most distressing of the side effects and not often discussed.  There is one very safe product I can recommend, a natural lubricant called Sylk.  Highly recommended.  Also organic coconut oil is very useful.

Leg Cramps – Take 500 mg of magnesium citrate twice daily.  Magnesium is also found in plenty of green leafy vegetables, so eat your salad!

Brain Fog – Essential oils are extremely helpful here because they help to clear off the neuron receptor sites of any accumulated gunk (which can result in brain fog).  Deep breathing of oils like basil, peppermint, and frankincense helps to clear your mind, improves memory and brain function.  Meditation is also very helpful.

Pins & Needles in Extremities – Again, I recommend the use of massage therapy and/or acupuncture, drinking plenty of water, and it would also be helpful to do a bowel cleanse and a liver cleanse because Tamoxifen is a toxic drug, and cleansing will help you clear chemical residues which may be building up in the tissues of your body.

Joint Pain – This is one of the more widely experienced side effects of Tamoxifen.  Yoga is helpful, as is massage therapy, and I also recommend a good quality glucosamine sulfate supplement for joint health, together with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

Moodiness, Anxiety, Depression – Sometimes associated with Tamoxifen use, but often these problems arise just from the fact that you are going through cancer.  It’s better not to ignore them and I recommend getting some counseling.  Meditation is extremely helpful for anxiety and moodiness.  For depression related to Tamoxifen, check with your doctor to see if you can reduce your dosage of Tamoxifen.  Some women are taking it every other day, rather than daily, and still getting good results.   Dietary assistance for these problems includes eating lots of fresh organic veggies and fruit, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin B complex – all of these are surprisingly beneficial.  One last word about depression – it can come on slowly over a period of several months, and some women will not realize that they are depressed.  Pay close attention to this please and get some help if you need it.  You may want to discontinue the use of Tamoxifen if the symptoms are severe (discuss this with your doctor).  I would not recommend the use of anti-depressants because they may make Tamoxifen less effective.

If you are having problems with any of these side effects (or anything not mentioned above) associated with Tamoxifen and would like more information from me, please feel free to contact me.  I have plenty of information about all of the things I have recommended and would be happy to share it with you.  I also have a more holistic protocol for staying well without the use of hormone blockers, so please contact me if you would like information about that.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

What’s All The Fuss About Alkaline Water?

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / foto76
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / foto76

What’s All The Fuss About Alkaline Water?

I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers with this article, but that’s okay.  It’s more important for you, my readers, to know BOTH sides of an argument rather than just hearing the hype.  And there appears to be a lot of hype about alkaline water and its benefits, especially in the breast cancer community.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I have always felt that keeping the body as alkaline as possible is one of the best ways to defeat cancer, and that’s one of the main selling points of companies selling alkaline water purification systems.

Look, I’m glad that people want to invest in water purification systems because our public water supplies are now known to be polluted with various heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, bacteria, viruses and other pollutants.  So using a water purification system in your home is not only wise, it is very nearly mandatory.  There are quite a few systems available but the main aim of this article is to discuss the possible merits of alkaline water.

The Arguments For Alkaline Water

Here are what the pro-alkaline water people are telling us that drinking alkaline water will (supposedly) do for us: (1) lowers the body’s acidity; (2) helps to detoxify the body; (3) acts as an antioxidant; (4) assists with the healthy function of cells and organs; (5) helps to control appetite; (6) offers superior hydration for cells; (7) helps to decrease your cancer risk; and (8) slows the aging process.  Those were the main claims I was able to find.

It all sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?  The problem is that the companies selling alkaline water systems aren’t so great with proving those claims.

One guy commented that “You can soak your fruit/veggies in it and see the wax based pesticides come off, regular washing in water doesn’t do that.”  So that’s a point in its favor, I guess.

If someone has some actual proof, I didn’t see anything all that compelling.  Lots of websites do link to research about alkaline water, but I didn’t find it convincing and I’m not alone.

The Arguments Against Alkaline Water

I’m not going to address all of the selling points of alkaline water, I believe you can do that for yourself on the Internet.

Because this is a breast cancer website, I am going to focus on the claim that drinking alkaline water helps to decrease your cancer risk.  I found three research studies to be of interest.  The first one I read indicated that tumors make their own acidity, even when they exist within an alkaline environment.

The second study dates back to 1987, and was done by some scientists who were developing new anti-cancer agents that selectively kill tumor cells by interfering with the pH within cells.  Their research found that alkaline treatments don’t kill cancer cells, but strongly acidic treatments do. 2

Another study I found quite clearly showed that big doses of ascorbic acid (better known as vitamin C and not particularly alkaline) killed cancer cells quite effectively. 3

One of the problems with extremely alkaline conditions (called alkalosis) is that normal, healthy cells die when conditions become too alkaline. 4

According to Dr Bob Arnot, an author and nutritionist, your body is designed to adjust to its optimal pH balance no matter what you eat or drink.  He says that once alkaline water enters your stomach, your body simply pours in greater amounts of acid to neutralize it.

According to Dr Mercola, if you rely solely on alkaline water you will most likely raise the alkalinity of your stomach environment, and that causes problems.  The stomach is meant to be highly acidic.  If it isn’t, all sorts of problems ensue such as impairment of your ability to properly digest food, higher incidence of parasites, and decreased absorption of minerals and nutrients.  Low stomach acid is one of the most common causes of ulcers.

The Body Is Wiser Than The Marketers

Your body’s wisdom and ability to keep its systems in balance is quite remarkable.  The fact is that your stomach has a very acidic pH which ranges from 1.35 to 3.5, due to the production of hydrochloric acid required for proper digestion.  Blood, on the other hand, must always be slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.35 to 7.45.  The body has buffering systems in place to keep blood within that very precise range, and any excess acid is excreted by the lungs and kidneys.  That is part of their job and they are quite good at it.  Regardless of what you eat or drink, the body maintains its pH balance.  Your urine might be affected by the pH of what you eat, but your blood will not be.  Too bad the clever marketers don’t share that little fact with you.

The Best Idea Is To Keep A Healthy Balance

The water you want to be drinking should be filtered of any harmful bacteria, particulates, chemicals, etc.  It should be neither too alkaline nor too acidic.

Dr. Andrew Weil, Harvard Medical School graduate, accomplished author and nutritionist says “The health claims for water ionizers and alkaline water are bogus. Save your money. You should consider the fact that alkaline water is common throughout the western states, but to my knowledge, it has not protected anyone from the diseases and disorders that occur elsewhere in the US.

Dr A True Ott has been quoted as saying “… alkaline water is actually dehydrating. In my experimentation and research, there is a direct correlation with water purity levels and hydrogen content.  Thus, one should strive to consume the purest water possible, water rich in free hydrogen ions.  Why then are people often tricked into thinking that drinking water with high TDS contaminants such as ionized water is actually a wise and healthy thing to do?  Science and logic scream otherwise.

A Better Course of Action

I believe it would be much more wise to exercise some caution when choosing something as fundamental as your drinking water.  There is nothing wrong with a good reverse osmosis filtration system.  Get yourself some litmus paper and find out what your tap water is.  Discover for yourself which filtration system provides you with a reading of 6-8.  The scale runs from 0-14 with 0 being highly acidic, 14 the most alkaline, and 7 is neutral.  A healthy body is about 7.4 on the scale.

Eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and some fruits – raw organic food will protect you from cancer much better than alkaline water could ever hope to do.  Avoid foods containing white flour, sugar, high salt, coffee, alcohol, hormones and antibiotics, and definitely avoid smoking.

Get plenty of exercise and involve yourself in nature – deep-breathing the oxygen-rich air of a mountain forest, lake or ocean will be much more health promoting than buying an expensive alkaline water purification system.

By all means, learn how to build a strong immune system.  That is your body’s best defense against cancer cells.  See my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System for ideas.


1.  Causes and Effects of Heterogenous Perfusion in Tumors

2.  Cytotoxicity of Compounds That Interfere With The Regulation of Intracellular pH: A Potential New Class of AntiCancer Drugs

3.  Pharmacologic Ascorbic Acid Concentrations Selectively Kill Cancer Cells: Action As A Pro-Drug To Deliver Hydrogen Peroxide To Tissues

4.  Prevention of Mitochondrial Injury By Manganese Superoxide Dismutase Reveals A Primary Mechanism For Alkaline Induced Cell Death



GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis For Radiodermatitis

Image Source: freeimages.com / claudmey
Image Source: freeimages.com / claudmey

The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis For Radiodermatitis

I had an interesting exchange of emails this week with one of my subscribers who was asking me about the benefits of calendula for radiodermatitis (a/k/a the Burned Boob).

Because of my ongoing herbal studies, I am quite well acquainted with the herb calendula officinalis for many health complaints, chief amongst them being the healing of skin complaints like eczema, wound healing, insect bites, etc and it does this mainly through its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Research on Calendula Officinalis and Radiodermatitis

I decided to see if there had been any recent research on calendula, I wanted to satisfy myself that it could be safely used as a healing agent after radiotherapy treatments so as to prevent the dreaded Burned Boob.

I found a very interesting 2004 study: Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer which indicated that calendula officinalis was highly effective for the prevention of acute dermatitis for postoperative patients undergoing radiation for breast cancer, better than the trolamine that was usually recommended.  The patients used a particular brand, Boiron, a French company, and it is widely available in many parts of the world.

I also found a 2013 study comparing calendula cream with another widely used aqueous cream called Essex: No differences between Calendula cream and aqueous cream in the prevention of acute radiation skin reactions–results from a randomised blinded trial.  This study, as can be gleaned from the title, found there was no difference between the effects of the calendula cream compared with Essex cream on patients undergoing radiotherapy.  That might be so, however, if you have a look at the ingredients for the Essex cream, it is full of petroleum products, which are known xenoestrogens (see my article Unraveling the Mystery of Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance for more information on the hazards of xenoestrogens) and hormone disruptors, and put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.  Why anyone would recommend Essex cream to a woman who is undergoing treatments for breast cancer seems to me to be irresponsible.

To be fair, there were problems with a few of the ingredients in the Boiron cream as well – both Pegoxol-7 stearate and sodium hydroxide are moderate hazards, according to the Environmental Working Group website, Skin Deep.

Calendula Officinalis Has Anti-Tumor Properties

While scrolling through the list of research on the pubmed.gov website, I came across an interesting 2006 study that indicated calendula officinalis also has anti-tumor properties, as well as having a positive effect on lymphocytes, an important part of the immune system.  The study is titled A new extract of the plant Calendula officinalis produces a dual in vitro effect: cytotoxic anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation.  Please read it – I believe this to be important information for anyone going through breast cancer.

I do recommend the use of calendula officinalis for avoiding the Burned Boob.  I do believe, however, that the empowered patient must find a good organic calendula cream or gel and it should be used after each treatment (you might have to clear it with your radiologist however).

Here are a few good ones I found for you:

Weleda Calendula Healing Cream (available in the USA, UK and Australia)

Four Cow Farm Organic Calendula Remedy (Australian company)

Roseneath Organics Calendula Cream (Australian company)

Mukti Calendula Cream (Australian company) – this one also has the benefit of organic aloe vera in it, an especially good healing agent for radiodermatitis.

Lotioncrafter Certified Organic Calendula Extract (USA company, ships internationally)

I hope that helps you – and please contact me if you need any more information or assistance.

If you would like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, just  sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.