New Challenge

Well, so much for the trifecta of adding the T-vec injection to my radiation and Keytruda treatments! I’m glad I gave it a go, but I only made it through two T-vec doses because I ended up with flu-like symptoms each time that took almost two weeks (each dose) to overcome. With each dose I woke up during the night with fever, aches and pains, and nausea. I wasn’t able to keep anything down for a few days, and then I had to regain my strength and appetite. As if once wasn’t enough, I did it again with the hope that it wouldn’t be as severe, especially if I pre-medicated. The other factor was that with my first dose of T-vec I also had a first dose of Xgeva to fight against potential bone loss from my radiated left hip tumor, and its first dose can cause severe aches and pains. Well, there was no Xgeva injection with my second dose of T-vec, since I get Xgeva every six weeks and T-vec every three, which we hoped would lessen the side effects. While the aches and pains seemed to be less severe, with the nausea it wasn’t enough to continue with injections. We switched to radiation to zap away the leg tumor since I’ve had good responses to radiation in the past. I had four treatments one week apart in July and the tumor has spent the rest of the summer melting away – it’s a beautiful thing!

The New Challenge began very subtly on July 4th. I sat down at my laptop to type and experienced weakness in my left hand – my fingers didn’t want to fully cooperate. I actually checked the mirror for any facial droopiness and did the tests to check for stroke. Luckily, no stroke symptoms, but I knew something had changed. Over the next few weeks I noticed a change in my balance and the weakness grew to encompass my entire left side. Brain MRIs confirmed edema on my brain’s right side around the site of last year’s (June and September 2015) gamma knife treatments for a brain tumor. The post-tumor site did not light up on my March PET/CT scan (“no FDG avid focus or suspicious lesion”), but had a change in my June PET/CT scan (“Hypodense lesion of the periventricular white matter superior to the right lateral ventricle is increased in size measuring 2.5 x 1.6 cm without FDG avidity, likely representing focal edema within the location of known metastatic lesion best seen on prior MRI dated 4/18/2016”), and the doctors don’t know whether it’s radiation necrosis (dead tissue from the 2015 gamma knife treatments) or tumor growth in the exact same spot. The “spot” has grown from 1.4 cm on July 11th to 1.7 cm on August 5th to 1.8 cm on September 2nd, so at least the growth is slower! (Note: 1 cm = .393701 inch) However, the perilesional edema has decreased, likely related to the steroid treatment I’ve been on since July 29th. I started with high doses of steroids (16 mg/day) and have been weaned down to 4 mg per day for the past few weeks. Today that dose has been reduced to 2 mg a day for a week and then down to 1 mg a day from there on out. I’m quite ready for this reduction and hope to potentially regain some of my tastes and smells!

Why now? It’s been a year since my gamma knife treatments. The doctors are puzzled too. It’s possible that the immunotherapy I’ve been on every three weeks since last June (infusion treatment #22 yesterday) has had some effect. No one knows. The other unknown is whether the “spot” is radiation necrosis or tumor growth with no way to know without a biopsy (unless it lights up on the October 5th PET/CT scan). Hopefully it’s radiation necrosis and the continued steroid treatment will continue to lessen the edema. Time will tell! (I wish I had more patience!!)

The plan moving forward: I’ve met with my neurosurgeon and discussed laser interstitial thermal therapy as a best possible treatment. Resection is another option but is more invasive – we still need to discuss this as a viable option since my oncologist seems to favor this. I favor less time in the hospital! A decision might be made after the PET/CT scan plus another brain MRI (October). My neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and oncologist have all been discussing my case and keeping up-to-date on test results. The ultimate decision will be between my neurosurgeon, Bill and me.

For now I’ve been busy with occupational therapy (OT) for my hand and arm movement, and physical therapy (PT) for balance, gaining strength, and walking. OT has helped to regain some finger movement and grip strength, and PT has improved my gait. I’m not sitting at home wringing my hands, but am enjoying each day for whatever gifts it brings and every day delivers if I allow myself to be open to it. I’m quite thankful!!

Treatment since May 13th (thank goodness I retired!):

  • 6/01 – labs, doctor, infusion plus 2nd (and last!) T-vec injection
  • 6/07 – dermatologist
  • 6/22 – PET scan, labs, doctor, infusion
  • 6/24 – radiation oncology appt.
  • 6/30 – radiation simulation
  • 7/07 – radiation planning
  • 7/11 – brain MRI
  • 7/11 – 1st radiation of right pretibia
  • 7/13 – labs, doctor, infusion
  • 7/18 – 2nd radiation of right pretibia
  • 7/25 – 3rd radiation of right pretibia
  • 8/01 – last radiation of right pretibia
  • 8/03 – labs, doctor, infusion
  • 8/18 – occupational therapy (OT) begins
  • 8/23 – OT and neurosurgery appt.
  • 8/24 – labs, doctor, infusion
  • 8/25 – OT
  • 8/26 – physical therapy (PT) begins
  • 8/29 – OT
  • 8/31 – PT
  • 9/01 – OT
  • 9/02 – brain MRI and radiation oncology appt.
  • 9/07 – OT and PT
  • 9/08 – PT
  • 9/13 – OT
  • 9/14 – labs, doctor, infusion

As always, my thoughts and prayers are with those fighting the fight and with those for whom the fight is over.

The Trifecta

The trifecta refers to my treatment over these past months: Keytruda infusions every 3 weeks, radiation treatments to my hip and right arm, and now T-vec.

I decided to write an update tonight because I just received the Med Center’s first out-of-trial T-vec injections in the tumor on my right leg. It’s a big deal! T-vec (IMLYGIC, talimogene laherparepvec) is a weakened form of the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (commonly called the cold sore virus) that is injected directly into a melanoma tumor. I didn’t receive the 100% virus today, but a lower dose till they see how I react. If all goes well, I’ll receive the full dose in 3 weeks and then every 2 weeks afterwards. The first needle wasn’t too bad although the doctor had to move it around to fill the tumor with the drug. The second needle was a bit more uncomfortable in that it felt more like a flu shot and the drug started to feel like a burn. The burning feeling didn’t last more than 5 minutes, if that. It was all bearable, thank goodness. I’m supposed to wear a clear dressing for 1 week. So far, so good – no fever, no pain. When I got home, I did feel like I needed a nap but I think that was just from the stress of knowing it was coming all day and not knowing how much it would hurt. A quick cat nap and I was fine.

I’ve been reflecting on sharing my positive, upbeat attitude in this blog because maybe that isn’t attainable by everyone. Am I setting the bar too high for myself and anyone who reads this? It’s so very different for every cancer patient, and you really cannot compare one to another. Yes, I’ve gone through hell with some of my treatments over the years, but I recover. Not everyone gets to recover. Not everyone has the support system I’m so very fortunate to have. Not everyone has the research capabilities I’ve been fortunate to learn. Some have all the resources and still don’t make it. I’ve been feeling guilty for being a survivor – why me and not the others? It just pushes me more to make a difference in patient care and education. There’s a lot of work to be done and maybe that’s why I’m still here.

I continue to lament the lack of integration within the Cancer Institute. Treating only the cancer and not the entire person is a serious shortcoming everywhere within the medical system. Using only conventional research science and not considering the incorporation of plants/supplements, meditation, yoga, exercise, diet, and so much more is a huge gap in fixing the internal environment that allowed cancer to grow in the first place. I’m finally getting ahead of my cancer, but I’ve also made huge changes to my life – the Block Center’s modified vegan (and organic) diet, exercise, and retirement. There’s more I want to do, and I’ll get there step-by-step. I’m hoping to be part of starting a melanoma support group so we can share what we’re doing to feel better outside of clinic. I want everyone to have access to the same information I’ve been using to build my health.

Now, because I use this part of my blog often, here’s my calendar of treatment since my December post:

12/30 – labs, infusion (I had my internal medicine doctor add some blood tests to my labs and all were within the normal range
1/15 – brain MRI and radiation oncology appt
1/20 – labs, doctor, infusion
2/01 – radiation planning for upper right arm
2/02 – dermatologist
2/09 – electron radiation
2/10 – labs, doctor, infusion
2/15 – electron radiation
2/22 – electron radiation
2/29 – electron radiation
3/02 – labs, doctor, infusion
3/23 – PET scan, labs, doctor, infusion (stable)
3/28 – mammogram (no evidence of breast cancer)
3/31 – Retirement Day!
4/04 – internal medicine doctor appt
4/07 – dermatologist
4/14 – labs, doctor, infusion
4/18 – brain MRI and radiation oncology appt (all clear)
5/05 – labs, doctor, infusion
5/12 – T-vec injections (next injections 6/1)

Results of March 23rd PET scan: Brain clear with January lesion gone. Lungs had no FDG avidity. Abdomen is mostly clear with no FDG avidity. The tumor on my right lateral proximal tibia increased in size (from 1.2 x 0.9 cm to 1.4 x 1.0 cm) and avidity, hence the T-vec injections today. The tumor in my right arm (humeral diaphysis) decreased in avidity and became less well-defined due to the radiation treatments in February. I think my next PET scan will be in August/September.

My thoughts and prayers are with those fighting the fight and with those for whom the fight is over.

Ending 2015 on a Positive Note

The first half of 2015 was a bit of a disaster. I had pneumonia, several surgeries and a skin graft, and a week of radiation. Ugh! I rebounded with two 5Ks, great vacations, birthday celebrations, a wedding, a commitment to my Block Center modified vegan diet, and mixed results on my PET scan (which is better than it could have been and better than many I’ve had). I made it past my 8 year anniversary, December 17th, of my original diagnosis of malignant melanoma. Eight years! That’s saying something! I’ve got some staying power!

So, the update – this is what has happened since my last post:

  • 9/16 – labs, clinic, Keytruda infusion
  • 9/17 – gamma knife treatment
  • 9/18 – travel to NC for grandson’s birthday weekend
  • 10/04 – bridal shower
  • 10/07 – labs, clinic, Keytruda infusion
  • 10/10 – granddaughter’s birthday party
  • 10/15 – brain MRI, two dr. appts.
  • 10/28 – labs, clinic, Keytruda infusion
  • 11/03 – first Pilates class
  • 11/10 – Pilates instructor failed to let me (only me) know that class was cancelled – end of Pilates! Really!
  • 11/14 – wedding!
  • 11/17 – started water aerobics instead of Pilates and love it!
  • 11/18 – labs, clinic, Keytruda infusion
  • 11/19 – water aerobics
  • 11/24 – water aerobics
  • 11/26 – I cooked Thanksgiving dinner!
  • 12/01 – water aerobics
  • 12/03 – grandchildren’s Christmas pageant
  • 12/08 – watched grandson’s ice hockey practice
  • 12/09 – PET scan, labs, clinic, Keytruda infusion, x-rays of hip
  • 12/15 – water aerobics
  • 12/21 – Radiation oncology appt.
  • 12/22 – Radiation oncology planning session

The 12/09 PET scan showed mixed results again, but the bottom line is that the amount of disease left is small, really small. The oncologist says it would fit in the bottom of a dixie cup🙂. My pelvis lymph nodes were clear, my lungs were clear, and my brain was clear. The nodule I’ve had on my lower right leg for months (right anterior pretibia) was still moderately FDG avid and slightly smaller (from 1.2 x 1.0cm to 1.2 x 0.9cm). (FDG is the radioactive tracer in a PET scan and stands for FluoroDeoxyGlucose. No uptake would mean no disease and avid uptake means there is disease.) The left femoral head (hip) lesion that showed up back in August and was mildly FDG avid and ill-defined is now intensely FDG avid and is 1.9 cm. What’s new is a nodule on my right arm (proximal right humerus) that is intensely FDG avid and measures 1.1 x 1.3 cm, a little bigger than the one on my leg. Oh well.

The attack: For the two subcutaneous nodules on my right leg and arm, we’re going to use the new FDA-approved T-VEC injection. This will be injected directly into each tumor every two weeks until they’re gone. SO MUCH BETTER than surgery! I will be one of the first patients to receive this at HMC outside of their clinical trials. Plus I’m going to have a one fraction course of radiotherapy on my hip lesion – that’s what today’s planning session was for. I’ll continue with the Keytruda infusions through all of this, so I’m VERY hopeful for this 3-pronged approach! The melanoma I have does not like the combo of Keytruda and radiation, so adding in the live virus of T-VEC should really give it a hard knock. Combined with diet and exercise, what cancer cells can possibly survive?! Not mine! This is it! These new drugs just keep getting better and better. As my surgeon said, “You just have to live long enough for the next new drug.” That’s what I’m doing and it’s working!

Yes, I have very high hopes, and maybe too high. So what – hope is what keeps me going. If the Keytruda-radiation-TVEC combo doesn’t quite do the trick, at least I’m that much closer to something that will do it. The trick is staying well enough to make it through all this crap, and the second half of 2015 has been stellar. I feel great, I’m happy, and I’m entering 2016 in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time.

With many thanks to those friends and family who have stayed the course with me! This fight occupies a lot of my time and thoughts, but your prayers, positive thoughts, and pixie dust do a lot to help me keep going. Having a loving and supportive hubby by my side helps a lot! Bill and I appreciate it all!!

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and for a very happy and HEALTHY new year!!

Quick Update for September

During my radiation consult it was determined that radiation was not necessary at this point, especially since I was having a gamma knife treatment scheduled. The brain MRI did show a cluster of small tumors in the same area as the first one, so the gamma knife treatment is scheduled for this week.

The x-rays of my left femur confirmed the sclerotic lesion, and my oncologist has recommended that I begin injections of Xgeva to boost my bones’ ability to fight off any potential bone cancer. We’ll be discussing the pros and cons at my appointment this week (labs, oncologist, Keytruda infusion). I’d prefer to wait till after my next PET scan, but I worry about the melanoma winning the battle with my femur. Discussion will include whether I can stay on the Xgeva short term if the next PET scan indicates it’s no longer needed. That might be a good compromise.

Lots happening this week to beat the melanoma beast!

Summer Treatments

It’s been a busy summer and I just didn’t want to ruin the fun by using up any summer minutes writing about cancer. So I didn’t! Now, so much has happened, that I really need to get caught up here. I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. I’ll begin with a timeline and then fill it in with a few comments.

  • June 8 through June 12 – low-dose radiation treatments to my lungs
  • June 18 – oncology clinic and Keytruda infusion
  • June 20 through June 27 – Topsail Beach vacation!!
  • July 9 – oncology clinic and Keytruda infusion (and James Taylor concert!!)
  • July 11 – 5K (I finished last) and swim party with all the kiddos
  • July 16 – brain MRI
  • July 19 through August 2 – our Alaskan adventure!
  • August 6 – Keytruda infusion
  • August 25 – PET scan
  • August 26 – oncology clinic, femur x-rays, and Keytruda infusion

Coming up:

  • August 31 – brain MRI and scheduling radiation
  • September 1 – scheduling gamma knife treatment (probably)
  • September 16 – oncology clinic and Keytruda infusion (every 3 weeks for as long as it’s effective)

The radiation treatments really knocked me back down to sofa duty, eliminated my appetite, effected my swallowing, and just had me feeling generally sick for a good two weeks. I still had no energy and no appetite at the beginning of our beach vacation, but the ocean and grandchildren have healing powers and I was back to myself by the end of the week. The vacation was fabulous, and so was James Taylor!

My family and a lot of friends did a 5K for melanoma research. I finished last, but I did it – pretty remarkable! It really shows that you have to keep moving, no matter what. I felt the effects for days, but it was worth it.

The July 16th brain MRI showed a new spot in the very same area as the one that got zapped June 4th. The doctor believed it was from the same incident and wanted to wait to see if any others appeared before he scheduled me for another gamma knife treatment. OK by us – it’s not something you want to do more times than necessary.

Our 2-week Alaskan adventure was one of the best trips ever! We saw such amazing scenery and animals/birds/plants and did so much! We had such a blast and, with all the walking we did, I felt stronger every day. On July 31st, I did another 5K, felt so much stronger, and saw a whale just behind the ship (and was NOT last!).

This week’s PET scan had mixed results, but it was an encouraging report overall. The difference in my body’s scan appearance from May 21st to Monday is quite remarkable and gives us a lot of hope! The lungs are much improved, but the pelvis lymph node and the tumor on my lower right leg are still active, and I have a new sclerotic lesion on the head of my left femur (thigh) bone. My oncologist explained that size and activity of metastases will increase as they’re being attacked by Keytruda, so I can expect to see a mixed result. He said that it’s important to stay the course, because he believes the treatment is working! He ordered x-rays to take a closer look at my femur and, after I told him I wanted my leg tumor removed, ordered radiation to attack it. The combination of radiation and Keytruda seems to increase effectiveness.

After Monday’s brain MRI and meeting with radiology, and Tuesday’s meeting to review the MRI results, I’ll know my schedule regarding radiation and gamma knife treatments.

I’m still following a vegan diet as closely as I can, and I have lost more weight (now down 40 pounds and a full dress size or two). I feel great and I love fitting into clothes I haven’t worn for years! Hope is a wonderful feeling!!

We have been through so many ups and downs, but keep each other strong. Thank you for your continued positive thoughts and prayers! They help to keep me strong when I’m struggling to feel well, and keep my hopes and faith high. I’m fighting strong because of you!!

Cancer Fight Update

It seems as though SO much has happened since my last update. I had my PET scan and oncology visit on May 21st. That’s when I learned that the cancer has spread, especially in my lungs. Since it’s on the move, my oncologist immediately ordered a brain MRI for the next day, and also ordered my new treatment schedule on Keytruda (pembrolizumab), and a radiation consultation. The brain MRI showed a tiny (the report actually said “tiny”) 4mm lesion in the right frontal lobe, so a gamma knife treatment was scheduled for yesterday, June 4th, which went just as planned. Zapped and gone! I’ll have another brain MRI July 16th to check on the results.

Radiation will continue next week to treat my lungs. I’ll have 5 low-dose treatments early in the morning Monday through Friday, and that’s it. The only side effect is expected to be tiredness. That’s alright because it’s very temporary and very doable.

I had my first Keytruda infusion last Friday, May 29th. Although the infusion itself only takes about 30 minutes, the entire time spent in the infusion chair is about 2 hours. No pre-medication is needed, and I felt (and still feel) great. I’ll continue with this treatment every 3 weeks. The expectation and hope is that I will experience no side effects. Keytruda can be a long term treatment as long as it has a positive effect, even if that’s just keeping me stable. I’m glad for that since this is the last FDA approved treatment available to me. I’ve done them all, starting with intensive interferon in May 2008. From here it’s a matter of exploring additional clinical trials, especially from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. I’ve looked at the trials there, and they’re all a bit nasty, but nasty is fine as long as it works! There are also international possibilities, and our passports are ready.

The vegan diet has been a bit of a challenge, but not as much as taking so many supplements. I’ve never been a good pill taker, and I continue to struggle with it. I’ll figure it out eventually and it will become easier one of these days. I’m certainly NOT going to give up on it.

What I need to make the vegan diet more successful is consistent meal-planning, of which I’ve done none. I thought I would do it Memorial Day weekend, but then spent the entire time playing outside. Then I thought I would do it last weekend, but, guess what – spent the time playing outside. I can’t help it! I LOVE being outside working in my flower beds. So, I’ve promised myself to begin tonight while it’s still cool and cloudy so I can once again play outside this weekend (oh darn, the sun came out!). The stack of recipes is already sitting beside me waiting. The Block Center offers some resources. I also have a collection of blogs to check out, and want to narrow down my choice of cookbooks so I can order one to help my planning efforts.  There are so many from which to choose! I really need a few go-to recipes that both my hubby and I enjoy. At the moment, I only have two: spaghetti (brown rice pasta) with meat sauce (meatless meat and organic, no-sugar marinara), and tacos using Tofurky, chorizo style. I also love grilled cheese sandwiches using Daiya cheddar cheese substitute, sprouted whole grain bread, Earth Balance butter substitute, and a thick slice of tomato. However, the Daiya cheese doesn’t seem like the healthiest thing I could be eating. I’ll figure it out. If you have any go-to recipes and/or meal plans and/or cookbooks and/or recipe blogs, I’d love to hear from you! I used to just come home from work and cook. I can’t do that yet on my new diet. I don’t love beans, although I’ve learned to enjoy black beans. I also love hummus. Lentils are just alright, but I love barley. I’m semi-warm on couscous. I need to learn how to roast and grill veggies.

Weight loss – I can’t end this post without mentioning the weight loss I’ve experienced. While I did lose some weight in January with the pneumonia, and a few more pounds in February through April with all the surgeries, I’ve continued to lose weight effortlessly on my vegan diet. No food goes into my mouth without thought. I’ve emptied my pantry and replaced only those items that fit into my diet. I haven’t had a glass of wine since April 30th (shocking!), but have had a few dark beers. It’s easier with beer since I can open a bottle and drink one glass, but cannot open an entire bottle of wine since that’s a lot more than one glass (except with my special Tervis wine glass!). I need single-serve red wine bottles! So, I’ve lost 26 pounds since December. I’d like to lose about 40-50 pounds total, keeping on 10-20 pounds extra since 20 is the most I’ve lost on some of the more severe treatments. Being 20 pounds overweight is a lot better than 60 pounds overweight!

Exercise – what a struggle! Till I get home from work each night, my energy has been drained. It’s all I can do to make dinner and then make a beeline for the sofa till bedtime, which is usually early. My strength has also been zapped, and I really noticed it when I tried to swim laps – I barely swam one. So, a lot of work needs to happen in that area. I’m thinking my lunch hour, which I never take, is where some of my exercise needs to happen. Anyone interested in making me walk at lunchtime? My hubby and I have signed up for a 5K on July 11th, so we both need to work towards that. It’s always helpful to have a goal date! I have a set of great arm exercises with weights and bands that I’ve abandoned since I’ve been back at work. I’m thinking I should add it to my morning routine every other day. Thoughtful friends had a yoga DVD delivered to my door and I haven’t had the energy to give it a try yet, even though I really enjoyed my first yoga experience with my DIL. I’ll make a goal of tomorrow morning – yoga before I’m allowed to go outside and play! I know it will make a great start to the day. If I alternate yoga and my arm exercise routine in the mornings, I’ll be off to a good start.

So, I’m doing all I can to fight cancer on all fronts – supplements, diet, exercise (eventually), and treatment. I feel wonderful, and some days that’s half the battle. I receive so much support from so many, and it’s greatly appreciated. Of course, my hubby is THE BEST! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Please keep the prayers, good vibes, and pixie dust coming! I’m extremely grateful for all the positive thoughts and prayers!

The Block Center visit

After much research, we decided that the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment was a center we needed to visit. Dr. Keith Block wrote Life Over Cancer, which I’ve now read twice and it has become my cancer “bible.” We drove to Evanston, IL, last week for my appointments on April 30th at the Block Center. We were there all day with appointments with a medical assistant, dietician, biobehavioralist, medical oncologist, and finally with Dr. Block. They took lots of blood for extensive lab work, and I’ll have a consultation regarding those results in two weeks. In the meantime, a lot of change is happening:

  • My diet is now a vegan diet (no dairy, no meat except cold water fish).
  • I need to emphasize whole grains and limit refined grain and white flour products.
  • I need to get my protein from plants such as legumes, soy foods, seitan, deep-ocean cold-water fish, and organic eggs.
  • I need to replace all dairy products with soy, rice, almond, or oat equivalents.
  • I need to limit my fat intake and choose healthier fat sources such as ground flax seeds, walnuts, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
  • For sweeteners, I need to switch to agave, rice syrup, barley malt, or stevia.
  • I’m gathering recipes, and the Block Center keeps adding new ones on their FaceBook page and the Life Over Cancer Blog.
  • If I divide my body weight in half, that’s the number of ounces of fluids I need to drink each day, including green tea, filtered water, and herbal tea.
  • I take a long list of supplements every day:
    • ArcticBlox – The Block Center’s highly concentrated omega-3 fish oil inhibit some steps in the carcinogenic process, which helps maintain the noncancerous nature of human cells and tissues.
    • Curcu-Essentials – Curcumin is derived from the Indian curry spice turmeric which possess potentially powerful antioxidant capabilities.
    • D-Essentials – Essential for the development of a healthy bone structure, and can aid in cancer treatment.
    • Essential Whey – This protein is a rich source of the essential amino acids needed by the body. It contributes to general wellness and provides immune support. I add this to my morning smoothie.
    • Maximum C – This time released vitamin is a very powerful antioxidant.
    • Melatonin PR – I’m taking this to try and resolve my fitful sleeping, but it also supports normal immune function.
    • Nutri-Essentials – This contains a wide range of ingredients that support the body’s natural intake of nutrients.
    • Pantothenic Acid – Vitamin B-5 is a coenzyme that plays an important role in energy production.
    • Probiotic Essentials – Used for gastrointestinal health.
    • Resveratrol – This compound, found primarily in red wine, has important functions of antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. It is strongly associated with inhibiting tumor growth.
    • Turbo Greens – This is a powerful green food supplement made with primarily organic vegetables, and provides a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, essential amino acids, and many other important phytonutrients. I add this to my morning smoothie.
    • UBQH – CoQ10 provides immune support.
    • Ultra Reishi – This supplement is a combination of green tea and Chinese medicinal mushrooms, intended to enhance immune function. One dose has the medicinal effect of 46 cups of green tea stripped of its caffeine. Green tea has antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties and has been shown to induce chemical changes that could potentially cause harmful cells to commit “suicide.” The mushrooms, Red Reishi and Chaga, are both known as possible immune boosters.
  • I need to adjust my bedtime routine to turn off all electronics 1 hour prior to bedtime, have the bedroom temperature a steady 68 degrees, and have the room completely dark. I also need to set a bedtime and rise time that I can stick to most days of the week.
  • I need to be sure that I get the three essential components of physical fitness: cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility.
  • I need to use meditation twice a day to relieve daily stressors.

Dr. Block agrees with my oncologist’s plan for my next treatment (Keytruda). He is available for a consultation if anything changes to discuss my options. He suggested that I keep track of the clinical trials for melanoma, and not rely solely on my oncologist. For example, he gave me the contact information for a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health. I’ve already been in contact and have completed the in-take form. If nothing changes I’ll have another round of lab work and a consult in August~September.

These are a lot of changes, but I’m motivated to do them all so I can finally get back into remission and beat this. Bill is open to trying anything with me, and we’re already on our way.

Thanks again to all the support we continue to receive from our friends and family! It means SO much and helps me to remain strong!

note: The info about each supplement above came from Dr. Block’s information sheets provided for each supplement I’m taking.