Phytoestrogen – What’s the Big Concern For Breast Cancer?

Phytoestrogen – What’s the Big Concern for Breast Cancer?

The role of phytoestrogen – which essential means plant-derived estrogen – especially with regard to its interaction with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, is a subject about which I am frequently asked. So frequently, in fact, I decided to shoot a video about it, so that I can save time answering the question!

I don’t mean to sound flippant – it’s an important subject, for sure. As breast cancer patients and survivors, we are frequently told to avoid phytoestrogens in the management of ER+ breast cancer, but is that good advice?

Please watch the video and find out what I have learned to be true over the years.

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Reiki Healing – Applications for Breast Cancer

 
Reiki Healing – Applications for Breast Cancer
 
I sought out the benefits of Reiki healing quite soon after my lumpectomy surgery because I knew that it would have some very real benefits in my recovery. Today I’d like to share with you what Reiki is (if you’re unfamiliar), some of the benefits of Reiki healing, and even a little research!
 
A Brief History of Reiki
 
Throughout history, the ancients had a deep understanding of the nature of energy, spirit and matter and they used this knowledge to help heal their bodies, to bring themselves into harmony and unity. This was common knowledge in the cultures of places like Tibet, India, Japan, China, and Egypt. In some cultures, this knowledge was a closely guarded secret, preserved and known to only a select few, usually priests or spiritual leaders, who in turn passed the knowledge down to their disciples.
 
But the gift of healing rests within each of us. It’s not something reserved only for a select few. Everyone can learn to heal, just as everyone can receive that healing.
 
The knowledge of Reiki (pronounced RAY-kee) might have been lost to the ages had it not been for Mikao Usui, who around 100 years ago, and after a lengthy search, rediscovered this tradition of healing in 2,500-year-old Sanskrit teachings.
 
Reiki is a healing technique – the word means universal life energy. The first part of the word “rei” describes the boundless, universal aspect of energy, and “ki” refers to the vital life force energy which flows through all living beings. Ki is known as “chi” by the Chinese, “prana” by the Hindus, “holy ghost” by Christians, and “ka” by the Egyptians.
 
Reiki healing is based on ancient beliefs that a practitioner can promote overall healing and wellness by encouraging the flow of this universal life energy within a recipient via light touch.
 
As human beings, we are 99.9999% energy. If that’s a foreign concept to you, that’s great – I’m hopeful of opening your mind.
 
The Usui method of Reiki is a simple natural healing method which allows for the transference of energy between a practitioner and a recipient. In order to learn Reiki, the practitioner will have attended a 2-3 day class given by a Reiki Master, during which time the practitioner will have been opened up or attuned to become a channel for Reiki energy, and will have learned the particular ways in which hands should be placed, and other important factors about Reiki therapy.
 
My Experience with Reiki
 
When I began my studies in natural healing, the very first thing I did was to go through Reiki training, 1st and 2nd degree. So besides being a breast cancer coach and natural therapist, I am also a Reiki practitioner (something not many know about me). 
 
Through my Reiki training, I came to understand that we are living energy beings, and we have a frequency (frequency can be defined as the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave). I was interested to learn that I was not actually doing any healing, merely facilitating – acting as a conduit for the flow of energy to another recipient, whether near or far. 
 
I also discovered that some of us have healthy frequencies and some of us do not. It has been said that if cancer is present, our frequencies are quite low.
 
I remembered that teaching about our frequency being quite low when cancer is present, when I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer. So when I was going through breast cancer treatments, I found another Reiki practitioner with whom I could work, because I was aware of just how beneficial Reiki could be – for so many reasons! I wanted my frequency to be high, and I knew that having Reiki treatments could help with that. In fact, one of the local cancer treatment centers even offered Reiki treatments at reduced cost to cancer patients – way back in 2004 – and I believe they are still doing this in many larger cities.
 
I always felt so good when leaving my Reiki treatments. No matter what had gone on that day, I felt lighter, almost like some heavy energy had been off-loaded and replaced by a lighter, healthier energy. It’s kind of hard to explain. Sometimes I’d come away feeling totally energized, and other times I would simply feel that I’d been opened up to a new idea or something I’d been worrying about would be resolved. If nothing else, I felt much more peaceful, and that is always a welcome thing, right?
 
The Non-Research Backed Benefits of Reiki
 
The things for which we have no proof, but about which Reiki practitioners and patients often comment are:
 
Reiki helps to unblock energy within the body
Reiki supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself
Reiki helps the body to cleanse itself 
Reiki balances the body’s energies and helps to re-establish equilibrium within the body
Reiki revitalizes body and soul
Reiki works on whatever level the recipient most needs – mental, physical, spiritual or emotional
 
The Research on Reiki
 
Although it is hard to quantify what Reiki can do for us in scientific terms, we do have some studies that have shown that Reiki can help with symptoms such as:
 
Fatigue
Distress, depression and anxiety
Pain
Sleep enhancement
Improved appetite
Reduced loneliness
 
An Italian study of 3 years duration, reported in 2012 [1], investigated Reiki for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Patients reported that the Reiki treatments were helpful in improving their well-being, relaxation, easing pain, enhancing sleep quality and reducing anxiety.
 
A 2013 University of Pittsburgh study [2] sent out a survey to patients who were receiving Reiki as well as chemotherapy, asking how the Reiki helped them. The respondents to the survey reported improved relaxation, less anxiety and worry, greatly improved mood, some reported better sleep, and reduced pain, reduced isolation and loneliness, and improved appetite.
 
A 2015 Turkish study [3] with cancer patients found that for those patients receiving Reiki, significantly less pain, anxiety and fatigue were experienced.
 
A small 2015 American study [4] involving 36 breast cancer patients investigated which was more effective for reducing distress during chemotherapy treatments – a session of Reiki or having a companion there with the patient during the infusion. It was found that both the Reiki and companion groups reported an improvement in quality of life and mood, which the “usual care” group (those receiving neither) did not have. Researchers stated that both Reiki and companionship were feasible, acceptable, and may reduce side effects.
 
A 2018 clinical study [5] involving hospitalized patients given either massage or Reiki found that these two therapies provided similar improvements in pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being. The difference was that Reiki improved fatigue and anxiety a little better than massage therapy.
 
A 2019 Italian study [6] found that Reiki was beneficial for relieving pain in children undergoing stem cell transplants. The study went so far as to recommend that pediatric oncology nurses use Reiki in their clinical practice “as a valid instrument for diminishing suffering from cancer in childhood.”
 
A 2020 review of medical studies [7] investigating alternative therapies for cancer patients found that Reiki (among other therapies investigated) was beneficial for improving cancer-related pain in breast cancer patients. A 2016 American study [8] also found that Reiki helped better than yoga or massage for reducing cancer-related pain.
 
So while the studies are small, they are encouraging, and it’s good to see that a natural therapy is starting to be embraced by Western medicine.
 
My Thrivers’ Personal Experiences with Reiki
 
More interesting than studies, I find, are the personal experiences of people who have used Reiki healing during their breast cancer journey. I asked for some of my thrivers on my Facebook page to share their Reiki healing experiences and here is what some of them had to say:
 
“I’ve had 2 treatments and they were quite amazing. I fell asleep during the first one which came as a total surprise because I had so much anxiety and fear to start with. It’s wonderful…I highly recommend.” – Karen P.
 
“I found reiki after my BC surgery, my body felt all out of place and massage practitioners wouldn’t touch me because of the diagnosis. I’m now five years post treatment and I go regularly. It’s an amazing feeling of release. It’s very hard to describe but it works, it sort of connects everything back up..best sleep ever after it too. Can’t wait to get back post-lockdown!” – Moira L.
 
“3 years ago I went to my GP because something just didn’t feel right. I was sent to my breast care centre who told me all was fine. 8 months later I met with a lady who gave me a reiki session (this is because she was going to teach me reiki) and she kept asking me if anything was wrong in my left side as she could feel something was wrong – her pendulum also went crazy. I said no, then later I realised something still wasn’t right in that area. I went back to my GP who was reluctant to send me back to the breast clinic but after I insisted, she did. This is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. I really feel I owe so much to this lady, who continued to do reiki for me during my treatment and after. I class her as a dear friend and know how amazing and beneficial reiki is.” – Louise R.
 
“I can no longer live without it. I found it three years post-mastectomy and 1-1/2 years post arm DVT (deep vein thrombosis). I tried physical therapy, occupational therapy, every style of compression and nothing worked — but reiki. I was desperate when my hand and arm would turn blue and doctors kept sending me away not knowing what to do. Almost never have swelling or pain since I’ve started reiki sessions. It’s a miracle.” – Vicki R.
 
“After a Reiki session I feel like I’m a bubble floating in the air. I try not to talk to anyone (other than my healer) for as long as possible, actually lol. It is the most healing and wonderful thing that everyone should be required to do!” – Jennifer K.
 
What to Expect in a Reiki Session
 
Reiki sessions can last anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes. Reiki can be given on its own or in combination with other complementary treatments, like massage. Practitioners generally perform Reiki directly with, and in contact with, a recipient, but it is also possible to send Reiki healing from a distance. I did this with my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, and we were on two separate continents. So just know this is also a possibility.
 
During a Reiki session, the recipient is either sitting or lying down, and fully clothed. It is completely safe and non-invasive. The practitioner’s hands are placed on or slightly above the recipient’s body, and directing a flow of energy to the recipient. The practitioner may utilize specific hand positions on various parts of the body for two to five minutes at a time, but the energy seems to go where it is most needed by the recipient.
 
Many people report feeling a sense of deep relaxation, or a tingling warmth, or a feeling of coolness, or a feeling of rhythmic pulsations. It is also possible to feel nothing at all except a sense of peace and calm throughout the session. You may emerge from a session feeling refreshed or energized, or sleepy and in want of a nap, but you are more than likely going to feel less tense and anxious than when you went in, and that’s never a bad thing!
 
Reiki sessions can range in price from no cost to about $100 per session or more. Insurance companies generally do not cover this therapy, which is a shame. I believe we have enough studies now to indicate its usefulness, especially for cancer patients.
 
The Ethical Principles of Reiki
 
Finally, as put forth by Mikao Usui, the man who rediscovered Reiki, these are the ethical principles of Reiki. I believe these are healthy guidelines for life.
 
Just for today, do not worry
Just for today, do not anger
Honor your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to everything.
 
IMPORTANT NOTE: Reiki is not an approved cancer treatment, but it can be a very good thing to do for yourself while undergoing conventional treatments. My advice is not to rely upon Reiki alone for healing your cancer, but along with other treatments it can be very beneficial. Be sure to see your doctor for advice for your health condition.
 
References:
 
[1] The effects of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in patients attending a day oncology and infusion services unit – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21998438
 
[2] Symptomatic improvement reported after receiving Reiki at a cancer infusion center – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23221065
 
[3] Effects of Distant Reiki On Pain, Anxiety and Fatigue in Oncology Patients in Turkey: A Pilot Study – http://koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201525249375614.page
 
[4] The effects of Reiki therapy and companionship on quality of life, mood, and symptom distress during chemotherapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25381189
 
[5] Immediate Symptom Relief After a First Session of Massage Therapy or Reiki in Hospitalized Patients: A 5-Year Clinical Experience from a Rural Academic Medical Center – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422004/
 
[6] The Power of Reiki: Feasibility and Efficacy of Reducing Pain in Children With Cancer Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31046557
 
[7] Effect of complementary and alternative medicine interventions on cancer related pain among breast cancer patients: A systematic review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32147038
 
[8] The Effects of Yoga, Massage, and Reiki on Patient Well-Being at a Cancer Resource Center – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27206308
 
 
GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books.  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.  

GcMAF and Breast Cancer

GcMAF and Breast Cancer

One of my thrivers recently asked me to look into a therapy called GcMAF. While I was aware of it, I haven’t written about it, so in this article I’ll cover what GcMAF is, what it does, and whether it has applications for breast cancer.

What is GcMAF?

GcMAF is a multi-functional protein in the body so it’s not a treatment, per se, but rather a complex vitamin protein molecule naturally produced inside the small intestine of healthy people.

GcMAF stands for “Glycoprotein Macrophage Activating Factor”. It is also known as Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator. Vitamin D Binding Protein is the precursor protein out of which immune cells make GcMAF.

What Does GcMAF Do?

GcMAF is responsible for initiating and regulating several important cellular and neurological functions within the body. One of its most important functions is its ability to activate macrophages, a crucial form of white blood cell in the immune system whose job it is to eat up whatever tumor cells and viruses it encounters in the bloodstream or in other tissues (think “Pac Man”).

When we stop naturally producing GcMAF, which can occur in a depleted immune system, we also stop activating macrophages.

The Theory Behind Using GcMAF as a Cancer Therapy

Tumor cells release a protein known as nagalase. Nagalase, which is short for alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase, is an enzyme made by cancer cells and viruses to sabotage the host’s immune response. In effect, nagalase puts macrophages to sleep.

We can test for nagalase, a simple blood test will advise nagalase levels. An elevated level can indicate the very earliest beginnings of either a developing tumor or a virus.

The position of some researchers is that reintroducing GcMAF to rebuild an ailing immune system enables that person to better fight cancer. GcMAF was never intended to be a stand-alone treatment, but rather for use alongside other treatments, both conventional and natural.

The Research on GcMAF

Although GcMAF is not approved for use in the USA, some European doctors have been utilizing it. One of my former Swiss clients briefly had GcMAF therapy, which she described as expensive.

Here’s what I discovered.

Several studies authored by Dr Nobuto Yamamoto from 2007-2009 on GcMAF and cancer and HIV (studies which had the alternative medicine world very excited) have been withdrawn by the scientific journals in which they were originally published. This occurred in 2014, at the behest of the Belgian Anticancer Fund. There’s a long and interesting article about Dr Yamamoto and GcMAF on Snopes [1] if you want an in-depth analysis on the subject.

A 2012 cell study [2] on breast cancer cells performed by Italian researchers found that in test tubes, GcMAF inhibited angiogenesis (the ability of a tumor to create new blood vessels with which to feed itself), and inhibited the potential of cancer cell proliferation (rapid growth), migration and metastasis (ability to spread to other regions of the body).

A 2013 study [3] done by Japanese researchers (not Dr Yamamoto, to whom I referred above) and published in the journal Anticancer Research was done with actual human patients. Though small in size (345 patients), and used alongside other treatments such as intravenous vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid, researchers stated that their results were hopeful and promising.

A 2014-2017 phase 1 clinical trial [4] was begun by an Israeli biopharmaceutical company, Efranat Macrophage, on “Modified Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator”, which they called EF-022. The trial included subjects with advanced solid tumors and although the trial finished in 2017, no results have been posted.

A 2017 review of studies [5] written by Iranian scientists (often at the forefront of natural medicine research these days) discussed the role that GcMAF may have to play in cancer immunotherapies. They reviewed some of the other research that has been done on GcMAF, noting that most studies have been quite small, and that further studies need to be carried out. However, they did also state that these small studies found that GcMAF may have applications for cancer patients. GcMAF did appear to boost macrophage activity, had anti-angiogenic properties, and inhibited the migration of cancer cells.

A 2020 study [6] investigated GcMAF for autism and ALS patients. However, they were working with a newly developed 25-OH vitamin D binding complex together with GcMAF. They found this new complex worked better at activating macrophages than either vitamin D binding protein or GcMAF on their own.

So I would say, in light of all of the evidence I’ve read, it has not been proven that GcMAF is an authentic and effective therapy against breast cancer at this time. There’s too little evidence, clinical trial results are too small and/or scanty, and although it may well prove to be an effective treatment, it’s just too soon to say for sure. There may well be European doctors using it with their cancer patients – and if there are, I would welcome their experiences here. Please comment below if you have experience with GcMAF, either as a patient or a doctor utilizing it in your practice.

References:
[1] How a Retired Scientist’s Questionable ‘Institute’ Convinced the Internet That Cancer Was Cured – https://www.snopes.com/news/2017/09/05/scientists-questionable-institute-cancer/
[2] Effects of vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage-activating factor on human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22213287
[3] Clinical Experience of Integrative Cancer Immunotherapy with GcMAF –
http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/33/7/2917.full.pdf
[4] Safety Study of EF-022 (Modified Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator) in Subjects With Advanced Solid Tumors – https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02052492
[5] Promising role for Gc-MAF in cancer immunotherapy: from bench to bedside – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5686300/
[6] Vitamin D – Deglycosylated Vitamin D Binding Protein Dimer: Positive Synergistic Effects on Recognition, Activation, Phagocytosis and Oxidative Stress on Macrophages – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32013346
GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books.  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.  

Breast Cancer – When to Get a Second Opinion

If you have a breast cancer diagnosis and are wondering about when to get a second opinion, or even whether you should, you need to watch this video.

As a breast cancer coach, I’ve heard some real horror stories about breast cancer patients being told all sorts of negative things by their oncologist or someone on their cancer team, and this is not okay!

So in this video I provide information about the sequence of events that occurs when a breast cancer pathology report is issued, some tips about when getting a second opinion makes sense, and what to do if you don’t like your oncologist.

I hope you find the video useful, and if you do, please (as you’re watching it in YouTube) give it a thumbs-up, or comment (or both!). I will get back to you as quickly as I can. Thanks for watching!

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters. 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.

Taking the Scare Out of Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, that alone can scare the heck out of you. Then, to make matters worse, you’re expected to make a bunch of decisions about the treatments being offered to you for the type of breast cancer you have. I mean, let’s face it – you just found out you have breast cancer. Now you’re expected to make some really important decisions based on what your doctor is telling you. It’s enough to send you looney, and it’s no wonder people often make decisions they later come to regret. Let me help you take the scare out of breast cancer treatment decisions.

Let’s slow it all down, shall we? Watch my video. You have time to make these decisions. In all likelihood, your tumor has been growing for a number of years. Taking a little time out to come to terms with (a) the fact that you’ve been diagnosed, (b) the fact that you have a bunch of important decisions to make, and (c) you have no idea what you’re doing. Taking a little time will not hurt in the long run. Just don’t get stuck in that place and make no decisions at all – that wouldn’t be a good thing.

If you need help, send me a message. I have loads of resources and articles for you to delve into. I am available for coaching – call it information gathering. Whatever you want to call it, I can help. Don’t go through this alone.

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