Best Diet When Going Through Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Best Diet When Going Through Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

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Best Diet When Going Through Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

In today’s post, I’ve made a YouTube video for anyone anticipating going through chemotherapy – it covers the best diet when going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. it’s probably one of the top 10 questions I get asked the most.

Because let’s face it – you know you aren’t going to feel the best when going through chemotherapy – or at least you’ve heard all those horror stories – and you want to give yourself an edge. I get that – I’ve been there. So here are my best tips and tricks for helping you get through this.

And don’t be too surprised if you sail right through your chemotherapy treatments – yes, the suggestions in this video can make that big of a difference.

This is what I did – plus a few things I had no idea about! In the video I have covered all the best foods to have, my favorite green smoothie recipe, as well as a few things that are best avoided. So dive in, and enjoy. If you have any questions, just let me know.

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About Marnie Clark

marnie clark breast cancer coach

Hi I’m Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor turned coach. I have 20 years of experience in natural medicine.  In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.

I’ve been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!

So it is my duty to help you unconfuse and untangle all that information, and find what works for YOU.

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

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.

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How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / zirconicusso

 How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Although your body does a great job of detoxing all on its own – at least when you’re healthy – when you’ve been through chemotherapy and/or radiation, your body is overloaded with chemical residues.  It is important to detox after chemotherapy and/or radiation to get that residue out of your body – and you’re going to feel so much better if you do.

An overload of toxins is known to cause bloating, fatigue, headaches, poor memory, aching muscles, a suppressed immune system (which is the very thing you’re relying on to keep you well), even halitosis (bad breath). Toxic buildup within the body can also be a problem if you have had lymph nodes removed because our lymphatic system acts as another method of waste removal, and this toxic buildup can worsen the side effects of lymphedema.

Once chemotherapy and radiation are finished and these strong treatments have done their work, the body is filled with toxins.  Radiation can damage healthy cells and create toxic buildup and if you think about it, even cancer cells themselves become toxins as they wither up and die from the treatments. The body does its best to get rid of all this, but I certainly felt the difference after a good bowel cleanse subsequent to chemotherapy, and many others have reported the same.

Make sure you’re strong enough to undergo cleansing, however.  Consult with your physician or naturopath before embarking on cleansing.  You might find it necessary to wait a number of weeks or even months if you are too weak but the sooner you get started detoxing, the better you will feel.  Even if you are too weak, you can still increase your water intake, do some gentle exercise and begin juicing (for more on juicing, keep reading).

How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation – 10 Tips

1.  Colonic Hydrotherapy – Colonic hydrotherapy can be of assistance not only after chemotherapy but also during to help alleviate the terrible constipation that often results from chemotherapy.  Your medical staff may argue the efficacy of chemotherapy (I had one nurse tell me that we are designed for wastes to move ONE way and we shouldn’t go against that!) but it really helps tremendously.  I went through a course of colonic hydrotherapy post-chemo and found it to be a gentle and effective method for toxin and waste cleansing.  There’s nothing new about colonics – Egyptians were using it for constipation centuries ago.  If you’d like to read one person’s experience with it, click here.

2.  Drink Plenty of Water, Herbal Tea – This is the most natural way to detox your body after chemotherapy.  Make sure your drinking water is filtered (and preferably not obtained from plastic water bottles) to help keep you safe from herbicides, pesticides, and other assorted nasties that our water can often contain.  We used to hear that drinking 8 glasses of water per day was essential, however, newer studies have shown that as long as you are sipping away on water all day you are probably getting what you need.  Put in a slice of lemon for some additional flavor, cleansing qualities and antioxidant protection.  Herbal teas are also wonderful to help the cleansing process, particularly dandelion tea which is a liver tonic.

3.  Juicing, Juicing, Juicing – It seems like I am always touting the benefits of juicing organic vegetables and fruits but their importance for health cannot be overstressed.  Make sure you have a great juicer though, as not all juicers are designed to keep the living enzymes within your expensive organic produce alive!  Here’s a great one, this is the one I use (and it’s a great price).  Live juices can help to heal, rejuvenate, and flush away toxins. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are the cleansers, energizers, regenerators, and blood builders of the human body.  Try any combination of beet (great blood cleanser), kale, spinach, carrot, cucumber, apple, ginger and pineapple (both great anti-inflammatories, so that makes them anti-cancer as well).  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants and help to cleanse the blood of impurities.  See my page Diet and Cancer for some data on why certain veggies and fruit are good for cancer. I have loads of articles on my website about the benefits of juicing, so be sure to check them out as well.

4.  Circulate Your Blood – Something as simple as bouncing on a rebounder (one of those mini trampolines) for 10 minutes a couple of times per day helps to get your heart pumping, blood circulating and toxins flushing out of your body.  Best done BEFORE a meal or juicing, however!  Walking, cycling, hiking, dancing, yoga – all of these are great to get the body moving and detoxing.  Make sure you drink plenty of filtered water after exercising.

5.  Fiber – Fiber helps to grab onto toxins in your digestive tract.  Fiber soaks up toxins rather like a sponge, speeds up elimination, helps with cleansing.  Natural fiber is available from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, however there are also plenty of fiber products on the market which you could add to your health regimen.  One particularly good one is freshly ground organic flaxseed.

6.  Herbal Medicine – There are many herbs and essential oils which will assist you in detoxing after chemotherapy and radiation.  Milk thistle is a particularly good herb for liver cleansing.  I would definitely recommend seeking the advice of a qualified naturopath before using herbal medicine, however, because they are specifically trained in herbal medicine and since herbs can sometimes have drug interactions you would want the best guidance possible for your particular needs.

7.  Eating Organic Food – Because at this stage you are working towards detoxing and keeping well and healthy, your best bet is to avoid processed and sugar-laden foods as these will not assist the detox process.  Eating plenty of organic fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish or chicken is much more conducive to keeping your system clear of any further toxins.  Google “raw food recipes” for some really great suggestions and recipes that appeal to you.

8.  Epsom Salt Baths – There is something so restorative about a hot epsom salt bath!  Hot water opens the pores and assists perspiration to take toxins away.  Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, and these two minerals help generate enzymes that clean up the body.  To make it a totally revitalizing experience, add lavender essential oil for its calming effects, or ginger which also helps to open the pores and is a good natural anti-inflammatory.  If you don’t have epsom salts, baking soda is also useful and it helps to neutralize the effects of radiation.  This is another place where water filtration is important because if you live in an area where the water is highly chlorinated you are soaking all that chlorine up into your body through the skin.  Chlorine certainly has carcinogenic potential, according to several studies [1] [2] [3] [4]

9.  Detox Your Household – You might not think about this, but if your body and skin care products are laden with toxins you are taking all of those into your body via the skin as well.  If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin or hair.  I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the importance of using organic body products and cosmetics when you are detoxing your body.  There are several good brands out there, contact me if you need help finding good ones.

10.  You Must Rebuild Your Immune System – Since your immune system is your first line of defense against cancer and all other diseases, you must rebuild it because the chemotherapy and radiation treatments will have blasted the hell out of the very thing you are relying upon to stay well.  Yes, your body may eventually do this on its own, but the process is generally quite slow and we don’t want to give any open doors to stray cancer cells.  Here’s my page on how to build immunity quickly so that it’s very strong:  8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.

I know that’s a lot of things to think about, but if you are determined to get well and stay well, incorporating even just two or three of these suggestions into your life will be very helpful.

References:

[1] Assessment of the Carcinogenic Potential of Chlorinated Water: Experimental Studies of Chlorine, Chloramine, and Trihalomethanes – https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-abstract/85/10/817/1024456

[2] High Organochlorine Body Burden in Women With Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer – http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.975.5525&rep=rep1&type=pdf

[3] The association of drinking water source and chlorination by-products with cancer incidence among postmenopausal women in Iowa: a prospective cohort study. – https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.87.7.1168

[4] Case-control cancer mortality study and chlorination of drinking water in Louisiana – https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/abs/10.1289/ehp.8246169

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this, so that you are better than before, thriving!

New Chemotherapy Drug for HER2+: Genentech’s T-DM1

In June of this year, the results of a new study were released by Duke Cancer Institute for a breast cancer drug known as T-DM1 which is made by Genentech, a unit of Roche, who sponsored the trial.

I didn’t write an article about it at the time because I wanted to do a little more research.

How T-DM1 Works

T-DM1 is designed for those who are HER2 positive, meaning that their tumors have high levels of a protein called HER2.

T-DM1 works a little differently than most chemotherapy drugs.  It consists of toxins that are linked to proteins called antibodies.  The antibodies latch onto cancer cells and deliver their toxic payload directly into the cancer cells.  This is termed an antibody-drug conjugate.

More specifically, to make T-DM1, trastuzumab, the T in the name, is attached to DM1, a toxin more potent than the typical chemotherapy drug.

The trastuzumab latches onto cells with the HER2 protein protruding from their surface and is taken inside the cells.  Once inside, the antibody degrades and sets the toxin free. Although the toxin is still connected to the linker, it is still able to kill the cells.

According to the research, by doing this, side effects are supposedly reduced.

Study Results

The T-DM1 trial involved 991 women with metastatic breast cancer whose cancer was getting worse despite previous treatment with the drug Herceptin (also a Genentech drug) and taxane.  Half of the women in the study got T-DM1 and the other half received two drugs that are now commonly used for such patients — Tykerb, also known as lapatinib, and Xeloda, also known as capecitabine.

According to the study results, T-DM1 delayed the worsening of disease by about three months.  For those who received T-DM1, the median time before the disease progressed was 9.6 months, compared with 6.4 months for those getting the two other drugs.

While it is too early to state that T-DM1 prolonged lives (because not enough time had elapsed since the beginning of the trial and the release of the results), researchers were pretty confident that it would be beneficial.

T-DM1 Side Effects

I have been active in several breast cancer forums and I know of a few women who have been on the T-DM1 trials.  Here’s what some of them have had to say about side effects of T-DM1:

  • Neutropenia – neutrophils are a class of white blood cells in your immune system and neutropenia means a low count of neutrophils
  • Significant aching and stiffness of muscle and joints, pain and cramping – worse in hands and feet
  • Mouth sores, dry mouth
  • Drippy nose, sometimes bloody
  • Liver enzyme elevation
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Fatigue
  • Lung inflammation
  • Heavy periods (if not menopausal)

I thought you might like to know.  To me, that list of side effects sounds a whole lot like most chemotherapy drugs but if they are keeping people alive and giving them hope, that’s always a good thing.

I’ll get excited when researchers come up with effective drugs that don’t have side effects.

Reference articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/health/research/in-study-drug-delays-worsening-of-breast-cancer-with-fewer-side-effects.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&ref=health&src=me&adxnnlx=1344974462-qxirhUkbLGWgXzcVl83Qww

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trastuzumab_emtansine

http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/breast-cancer/is-tdm-1-a-miracle-drug-for-advanced-breast-cancer-1

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

If You Are Contemplating Chemotherapy, You Should Know About the Chemosensitivity Test

chemo drugsHere in America, if you are contemplating chemotherapy, you may or may not be offered the chemosensitivity test.

In Germany, chemosensitivity tests are routinely conducted in order to determine which chemotherapy drugs should be utilized for a specific cancer patient.

Because some tumors may resist certain chemotherapy treatments, some oncologists are choosing to test tumor cells in advance of treatment rather than prescribe a standard chemotherapy combination without knowing whether it would be effective for your particular tumor.

Tailor-Made Treatment

The tests, called chemotherapy sensitivity and resistance assays (CSRAs) are relatively new  and are carried out for many types of cancer.

The CSRA is a laboratory test that is done on a single cell in a test tube (in vitro) or on a clump of tumor cells (in vivo), usually taken from a biopsy tissue sample.  The test assesses how many cancer cells are killed by a particular drug, or by a combination of drugs, and how many cancer cells are unaffected by the treatment.

When your oncologist examines these test results, he/she can then treat you more effectively, knowing which chemo drugs your cells respond to.  Two more added benefits are that you don’t lose any time being blasted with drugs that don’t work for you and you don’t have to be debilitated by the side effects of drugs that won’t kill your cancer.

There Are 5 Qualifying Factors

As of writing this article, I am aware of 5 qualifying factors before you will be considered for a chemosensitivity test.

  1. You have to find an oncologist that will order the test
  2. You need to be strong enough to undergo chemotherapy
  3. You need to have access to a lab or facility that does the assay
  4. You must have a solid or fluid tumor
  5. You must be willing to undergo a new biopsy to get a fresh tissue sample for testing

Insurance Companies and Clinical Trial Results – Two More Problems

Not all insurance companies will cover the cost of the chemosensitivity test, which as close as I could tell runs around $800.  Aetna Insurance considers chemosensitivity assays “experimental and investigational because there is insufficient evidence that these assays influence management decisions such that clinical outcomes are improved.”  I guess Germany doesn’t count.

It appears that independent clinical trials are still underway here in America and because of that this test is not standard, and it will not be offered to every patient until doctors are convinced of its accuracy and value.

It’s Just My Opinion, But…

If the chemosensitivity test assists oncologists to tailor make a chemo regimen that is going to be the most effective for our specific cancer, why wouldn’t the insurance companies pay for this?  It could conceivably lead to less chemo treatments and a patient who is actually ALIVE at the end of the treatment regimen (as opposed to one who won’t be paying any more insurance premiums due to being 6 feet under!).

I think that if toxic chemotherapy is going to continue to be the standard of care (which many consider outdated and prehistoric) they need to step up the clinical trials and get these results back as quickly as they can so that ALL can be given these tests and ensure they have the best response rate to the chemotherapy drugs and the greatest chance at beating cancer.

Finally, take 7 minutes out of your busy day and watch this interesting You Tube video – Burton Goldberg interviews Professor Michael Geising, a German Molecular Oncologist from Munster, Germany.  Dr Geising advises “only 15-20% of chemotherapies are successful. The other 80% not only don’t work, but 60% of them actually make the cancer more aggressive by allowing it to develop resistance mechanisms.”

Research strongly suggests that when patients receive the most effective treatment, matched to their cancer profile, they survive longer.  Ask your oncologist about the chemosensitivity test.  In fact, insist on it.

References:

http://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/200_299/0245.html

http://breastcancer.about.com/od/newlydiagnosed/a/chemosensitive.htm

http://csn.cancer.org/node/237389

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Coenzyme Q10 – Beneficial for Breast Cancer or Not?

viamins in handIs Coenzyme Q10 Beneficial for Breast Cancer or Not?

Back in 1996 when my mother was going through breast cancer that had moved into her bones, I encouraged her to see a naturopath.  I knew that she needed additional nutritional support – my father had just passed away and I knew she wasn’t eating as well as she could be.

The naturopath made a big list of vitamins she should take, among them was Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).  Though I had been studying naturopathy myself at the time, I hadn’t learned about CoQ10 yet.

He said that preliminary studies had indicated CoQ10 had cardioprotective properties for breast cancer patients and that it helped the immune system.  His concern for my mother was that CoQ10 helped to protect the hearts of study animals that were given the anticancer drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) which can cause damage to the heart muscle.  It turned out that she was given another chemotherapy drug, but that’s another topic for another day.

What Exactly is CoQ10?

CoQ10 is a compound that is made naturally in the body, however it has been found to be lacking in those whose immune function is under attack, typically cancer patients and HIV/AIDS patients, and also the elderly because as we age, our bodies appear to make less CoQ10.

A coenzyme helps an enzyme do its job. An enzyme is a protein that speeds up the rate at which natural chemical reactions take place in cells of the body.  The body’s cells use CoQ10 to make energy needed for the cells to grow and stay healthy. The body also uses CoQ10 as an antioxidant.  An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from chemicals called free radicals.  Free radicals can damage DNA.  I apologize if I got too basic there, but I wanted everyone to understand the importance of this nutrient.

I was interested and wondered since CoQ10 occurs naturally in the body, what is the supplement made from?  Further research found that it is made using fermentation with special strains of yeast.

Does It Actually Work?

The problem is the studies have thus far been too small to show definitive answers.  Animal studies found that CoQ10 boosts the immune system and helps the body fight certain infections and types of cancer, however, there have been no well-designed clinical trials involving large numbers of patients to study the use of CoQ10 in cancer treatment.

There have been some clinical trials with small numbers of people, but the way the studies were done and the amount of information reported made it unclear whether benefits were caused by CoQ10 or by something else.

The Studies on CoQ10 and Cardioprotection

Recent studies on CoQ10’s cardioprotective properties during administration of the chemo drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) have been conflicting, which surprised the heck out of me.

One very recent study (April 2012) concluded that although CoQ10 does not alter the ability of doxorubicin to prevent the growth of cancer cells (good news), further studies would be “reassuring before a large-scale clinical testing of CoQ10 [could be recommended] as a cardioprotective drug” (Lack of Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Doxorubicin Cytotoxicity in Breast Cancer Cell Cultures, Greenlee H, Shaw J, Lau YK, Naini A, Maurer M, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA).

The Good News

Despite the lack of scientific studies and actual PROOF positive that CoQ10 can be of assistance to cancer patients (and why would “big pharma” spend the money on such studies when CoQ10 is easily obtainable from any health food store), what we DO know about CoQ10 makes me a believer that it should be included in our daily arsenal against disease and most natural therapists I’ve consulted agree.

The good benefits of CoQ10 (the things we do know) are:

  • CoQ10 is required for your cells to produce energy, and is an integral part of helping cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy
  • CoQ10 can help protect your body from free radical damage
  • CoQ10 offers powerful antioxidant protection
  • CoQ10 can boost your heart health
  • CoQ10 can help you reduce the signs of normal aging
  • CoQ10 supports your nervous system (which takes a beating during chemotherapy)

I take CoQ10 daily for my health regimen and I feel good about doing so (despite the lack of scientific research!).  I know it’s working and doing its job.  If you need a good, reputable source for CoQ10, contact me.

References:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/coenzymeQ10/patient/page2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22544232

http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/CoenzymeQ10.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/12/coq10-fights-obesity.aspx

http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-questions/coq10/what-is-coq10-made-from

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

 

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