Thursday, July 7, 2011

Angry

Today was a bad day.

When I woke up this morning, I was prepared to accept what is going to happen to me in a little over a week. Chemo and radiation. That's the plan. The loop of my roller coaster is getting closer.

But today, after an appointment with a biochemist, my entire thought process has changed.

After my hysterectomy, my dad was in a bagel shop in the town where he lives. He was talking to the owners about my situation, and they told him about a woman they know who had a similar situation and also went to Sloan-Kettering for treatment. I guess my dad gave them my number to give to this woman, because she called me right away to talk about her cancer and see if she could be of any help to me. The one piece of advice she insisted I accept was to go see her biochemist. She said he saved her life during chemo and she never got sick at all.

Sounds like an angel from God.

I had an appointment with that angel, aka Dr. Abrishamian, today at 11:30 am. I should've known it was going to be "one of those days" when his receptionist called at 11:15 to change the appointment to 1:00 pm. Or maybe I should've know when we got to the appointment at 12:50 and the receptionist was on the phone saying, "Ok, I'll call her to change it. Wait, she just walked in. Ok, 2:00 then?" But, whatever. Jimmi and I just ran around doing nothing in particular until the doctor was finally available to see us.

We walked in at 2:00, and the receptionist gave us a thumb's up. "He's here. Sorry about that. He lives in Pennsylvania and there was a lot of traffic." Yeah, yeah. Just give me something to make the chemo easier to handle. But, "No problem," was what actually came out of my mouth.

Dr. Abrishamian took us into his office and asked me to tell him what's going on with me. Of course, since he had asked for all of my records to be sent to him over a week ago, he already knew. I explained my situation, what had already been done and what was going to be done. Then I said, "one of your patients told me that you got her through chemo without feeling sick., That's what I want. I hate to throw up so I'll do anything."

First, Dr. Abrishamian let me know that he thinks the doctors have already been more than aggressive with my treatment just by doing the hysterectomy alone. Then he let me know that if we were in Germany, they would not even think of giving me chemotherapy at this point. "Doctors here follow a protocol. They do the same thing for every patient so they have information for their studies. Why do they need to give you radiation?" I just stared at him and shrugged my shoulders. "Because they said the chemo works best in conjunction with the radiation." Dr. A shook his head. "I don't understand what these doctors are thinking," he said. "Radiation CAUSES cancer. And the damage to the tissues in your body is permanent. You can't recover from that. I can give you supplements to boost your immune system to help with the chemo, but there's nothing I can do for the radiation. If it gives you diarrhea, I can stop it. But that's it."

My face fell. I hadn't thought about the effects of radiation being permanent.

Dr. A continued, "What I will do is give you bunch of different supplements to boost your immune system. These are all things your body makes on its own, I'm just giving you more. They will help your liver to break down the medications easier and help your digestive system stay strong. That will help with the nausea. It will also help to keep your white blood cells at a normal level and keep your bone marrow from depleting so you're able to fight infections better and you won't end up sick and in the hospital. Honestly, though, the best thing I can tell you is to take Alka Seltzer. The doctors give you all of these anti-nausea meds, but all you really need is Alka Seltzer the day before and the days of chemo. It'll be the best $4.00 you'll ever spend."

Sounded good to me.

But I asked, "What will the doctors say if I ask them about this? Will they let me take these supplements?" Dr. A smiled, "It's up to you whether or not you discuss it with them. But no, they usually don't like you to take anything but what they tell you to take. They don't want any outside influences ruining their studies. The thing is, they prescribe medication to you because it's the standard regimen. But I'm a chemist. I can actually make the medicines. I also know exactly why they cause the side effects, so I know how to counteract them. Nothing I give you will alter the effectiveness of the chemotherapy, it will just help you to feel better. You'll walk into the treatment without any problems. You'll feel fine. Everyone will want to know why."

I couldn't think straight. Jimmi and the doctor were chatting about medical doctors and music and cancer treatments, and I was just sitting there in a daze. I don't want radiation. The whole time I was so scared of chemo, but it's actually the radiation I should be worrying about. If chemotherapy is systemic, and kills cancer cells everywhere in the body, why do I need to radiate the stump that's left after surgery? The doctors say they got it all, right? So what's left to zap? Only my vagina. If they do that, they'll shrink it. If they shrink it, I'll need dilators. If I need dilators, my sex life is over.

I'm not ok with that.

Dr. A went on to talk about foods that I should and shouldn't eat to help with the treatments and aid in preventing more cancer growth. Anything with alcohol or vinegar is out because my liver will be too busy working on the medical poisons to break those down. Ok, I can live without salad dressing. But then, the list continued.

I can't eat:

Ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, horseradish, mayonnaise, salami, pepperoni, hummus, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, tofu, miso soup, mozzarella, fontina, cottage cheese, cheddar, swiss, muenster, pepper jack, blue cheese, cream cheese, mushrooms, yams, sweet potatoes, pickles, marinated artichokes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, red meat, bananas, pineapple, grapes, jams or jellies, dried fruits, store bought fruit juice, soft drinks, all baked goods, bagels, donuts, bread, rolls, cake, cookies, muffins, crackers, egg rolls, waffles, pita bread, pancakes, chocolate, candy, potato chips, pretzels, ice cream, pudding, sherbet, sorbet, sugar and artificial sweetener.

Ok. Ummmm...What the Hell can I eat??

I think I was probably ok until I read the no cookies, ice cream or chocolate part. Then he tells me that he doesn't want me to lost any weight. Are you kidding? You've just taken away anything that will possible keep fat on my body and you tell me you don't want me to lost weight? I get that this will help with the chemo, and I understand that cancer cells love sugar. But give me a break! And the best part is that the doctors at Sloan-Kettering are telling me to drink Gatorade and eat Jell-O and ice pops to help with chemo. But this guy is saying no sugar or sugar substitute!

Now I was getting angry.

I really want to do what Dr. A is telling me to do because feeling good during chemo is really important to me. I understand where he's coming from with the supplements. But without hiring a personal nutritionist and chef to live with me for four months, I really don't know how I can possibly stay on this diet. I won't even be able to eat my own wedding cake!

Dr. Abrishamian encouraged me to start my supplement regimen immediately so my immune system has time to build up before treatments start in 10 days. I agreed, and he walked us to the waiting room while he got an armful of bottles together for me. He plopped them down on the counter, wished us luck and left his receptionist to type up my instructions.

Biotin - take 2 pills twice daily with food. Do not take after 5 PM.
Bifo Viden - take 1 capsule twice daily with or without food
Co-Q-10 - take 2 pills in the am. Days of chemo take 2 pills twice daily
Colostrum - take 2 capsules twice daily. Days of chemo, take 4 pills twice daily
I-5 & L-Glutamine - mix 1 scoop of each supplement in milk and drink once daily. During chemo take twice daily
Vitamin D - take 1 pill daily. During chemo take 1 pill twice daily.

In a juicer, Blend equal parts:
Parsley
Anise
Bok Choy
Carrots
Drink 8 oz per day

Whoa. That's a lot of stuff. If it works, I don't care. But should I try it? Should I talk to Dr. Leitao about it tomorrow? What if he says no? Should I do it behind his back? Will he let me skip the radiation? Will I be forced into submission again?

I don't know what to do!

My head is spinning.

I paid a fortune for my stash and left the office. I was in bitch mode and when Jimmi tried to talk to me, I just about bit his head off. Everything Dr. Abrishamian had said seemed to make sense. But when I had spoken to the other doctors, everything they had said seems to make sense too. Why am I so easily swayed? I get roped into all the sales pitches. I'm the perfect target for the next fast talking salesman that wants to make a few bucks. I'll believe anything you tell me as long as it sounds like there's information to back it up.

I'm lost.

I'm scared.

I'm confused.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know who to listen to.

I just want this to go away.

I just want to be healthy.

I just want to get married.

I just want my life back.

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