What the Cancer INDUSTRY Doesn’t Want You to Know

This may be as shocking to you as it was to me when I heard about it for the first time a few weeks ago in a cancer-related class I attended.  Unfortunately, it is usually not cancer that kills an individual living with cancer, but long-term effects on the body’s immunity from the treatment they had that kills them.  From a licensed doctor’s post (link below),  he states, “No chemotherapy drug has ever actually cured or resolved the underlying causes of cancer… Chemotherapy and Radiation May Kill Cancer, But They Also Kill You

There are alternative treatments to cancer that don’t make much money.   But you won’t hear about them in a Western medicine office.    The reason I am posting this is to really drive home that there are more options out there for cancer patients than just what we traditionally “accept” as the course of treatment (surgery, radiation, chemo).  In my next post, I will present a conversation between a cancer patient and his doctor, and what would ideally be disclosed during a normal doctor/patient discussion of treatment options.

Here’s more from a doctor who knows first-hand: What the Cancer Industry Does not Want You to Know about Chemotherapy and Radiation

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Lymph…edema

A critical piece of information that most cancer patients and survivors need to have is contained within this post

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I’ll talk about lymphedema, which is an accumulation of fluid in a limb, or even the head.  You might have heard of edema, which is also accumulation of fluid in an area of the body.  However, lymphedema is directly related to a compromise in the lymphatic system– that is, the lymph system not being able to do its normal job and draw fluid out of the limb because one or more lymph nodes is not functioning.  It is extremely important for anyone who has had lymph nodes removed from their body (or damaged due to radiation or otherwise) to understand this risk, and avoid situations that can initiate lymphedema in their limb(s) or head.

Cancer and Lymph Nodes
After being diagnosed with cancer, it is common for a patient to have lymph nodes tested.  The purpose is to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph system and possibly other areas of the body.

What is sometimes not understood, however, is that in order to test, one or more nodes must often be removed.  Commonly, the sentinal or “lead” node that instructs the other nodes is the one that is removed, if only one node is tested.  Also, sometimes, instead of removal, one or more nodes may be radiated.  I had a client who actually had one node radiated, but not removed.

Lymphedema – a lifelong risk after lymph node removal or damage

Lymphedema

Lymphedema in the leg

When fluid accumulates in an area of the body, we call that edema.  When fluid accumulates in a limb because the lymph system was compromised (by having node(s) removed), that’s lymphedema.   For example, if a node is removed in the left armpit, then the left arm is at risk of lymphedema, for the rest of the patient’s lifeThis means that unless you are aware that you are at risk, you will not refrain from the circumstances or situations that can bring on lymphedema.  Also, there are three stages of lymphedema:

Stage 1: Any accumulated fluid can be manually drained by a lymphatic drainage massage therapist or specialist.  At this stage, it can be managed using pressure techniques, but if it is ignored, Stage 2 may ensue.  Tell your doctor right away if one of your arms or legs feels heavy, swollen/tight and when you press on the skin, it leaves a little indentation (pit).  Treatment is extremely important.

Stage 2: The lymphedema is no longer “reversible”.  The tissue has a spongy, harder texture and when you press on the tissue, no pit remains.  Lymphedema can no longer be reversed.

Stage 3: This is the most dangerous stage, because the limb is swollen, pools of fluid remain stagnant, and it is now a breeding ground for bacteria and infections.  This is also called “elephantitis” because the limb looks like an elephant’s limb.  If an area in the limb becomes hot, it is most likely infected, and can be life-threatening even though the patient does not realize it.

Click here if you would like more information on the stages of lymphedema.

Lymphedema Triggers

Lymphedema above the neck.

So, lymphedema does not usually just “happen”.  Somehow, circulation of fluid in the limb gets altered or completely cut off, and that will trigger it.  Here are some examples.

Hanging an at-risk limb over a chair or the bed.  If you know that lymph nodes were removed in the lower right groin area, don’t hang your right leg off the bed at night (or any time, really).  If nodes were radiated or removed in the neck, believe it or not, all the tissue above the neck is now at risk.  So don’t hang your head over the side of the bed, or lay on an inversion table for periods of time.

Massage Therapy.  Massage on an at-risk limb by itself is not risky.  What matters most is that the person who is massaging you knows what to NOT do in order to prevent sending excess fluid to the affected area.  The therapist must have had special training in order to know exactly what he/she can or cannot do for you.  If you have enjoyed deep tissue massage therapy all your life, you will still be able to enjoy it, but not in the quadrant of the body where the nodes are affected.   They should also massage that area for a very short time, and work on that area last, so that the lymphatic system is already pulling fluids into the other nodes, and the therapist can instruct that limb to send its fluid towards a functioning cluster, away from the closest cluster.  I have had specialized training for this, so please contact me if you have any questions or are seeking massage by a qualified therapist.

Sitting on your hands, carrying a heavy bag with an affected arm, or crossing your legs.  Fluid constriction is now a concern– so whenever you consider performing an action with that limb, ask yourself if you are in any way restricting the flow of fluid.  I heard about a woman who was very aware of the risk of lymphedema, and had been extremely careful to prevent it, for years.  One day, while attending her son’s football game, her hands got cold sitting in the bleachers.  So she decided to warm them up by slipping them under her thighs on each side.  Sadly, she left the game and a few hours later, she had full-blown lymphedema. “When in doubt, don’t.”

Sitting in a sauna or hot tub for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Exposure to cold where the limb must then “defrost” itself.

The best defense is KNOWLEDGE.  For even more information on risk reduction, please click here.

Next Post: Patient Education – Beyond the doctor’s office

What IS Cancer?

Image from National Cancer Institute:  T cells (blue) can be genetically reprogrammed to recognize an antigenic marker on a cancer cell and mount an attack on that cell.

Image from National Cancer Institute:
T cells (blue) can be genetically
reprogrammed to recognize an
antigenic marker on a cancer cell and
mount an attack on that cell.

What really IS Cancer?
What we label as cancer is actually normal body cells whose DNA have the genetic POTENTIAL for abnormal growth patterns. Cancer starts as just a normal cell. Due to environmental or other factors, that normal cell’s “genetic potential for cancer switch” gets activated and the cell mutates… and mutates again, and after about the 10th time, that cell begins to multiply.

Once the cancer is activated, the cell may continue multiplying without limits– while a normal cell would have died by now and probably been replaced. The divided cells may stay where they were generated, or migrate (metastasis) to another organ. For example, a common location for breast cancer to metastasize is in the liver. The abnormal cells literally follow a biochemical trail from one organ to another, and that is how cancer spreads. But truly, these are STILL simply cells that are part of the body. A healthy immune system can detect these abnormally growing cells and attack them; the lymphatic system is doing its job of cleaning up the body, and may even eliminate these unusual cells before we are aware of their presence… IF we have a strong immune system.

So, cancer really is a cluster of cells that we do not know how to control. They are cells that do not behave in a way that we are comfortable with, and they have the POTENTIAL to cause harm. Just because you have cancer in your body does not necessarily mean any harm has been done.

See this expanded explanation on the National Cancer Institute web site: What is Cancer?

People often talk about cancer as “the ultimate enemy” in our bodies, using warlike terms, such as “I’m battling cancer”, or, “I’m in an all-out war”, or, “She’s fighting the fight.” So if these truly are normal cells simply behaving differently than we are comfortable with, why do we speak about them in such horrifying terms? Why does someone who receives a diagnosis get thrown into a particular paradigm of what they THINK will happen and what they THINK they will have to do to “Win the fight”? Why the overboard drama?

Let me just suggest that we step outside of the West for a moment, and travel over to Europe– the UK, to be specific. Here is a link to a charitable cancer research site that has something to say about how we talk about cancer…

How to make sense of mixed cancer messages  (according to Cancer Research UK)

Think about this: if you are in a situation where the perception created by society is that this is an emergency, and that you are in serious danger that has to be stopped NOW, then you will feel immense pressure to make a move– NOW.   So, there is a perception in our Western society that all cancer is horrific, that it must be treated as the enemy, that it must be extinguished immediately and that everything possible must be done to reduce the chance that it will come back a much as possible. IS THIS REALLY THE CASE?

If I may be so bold, what I humbly propose, is that if you or a loved one are ever diagnosed with cancer, to consider approaching the news with a less-traumatic response, and to remember that although these cells may be behaving in way that is not understood by us, and we are not comfortable with it, that they are still cells, and they are created inside the body.

You may decide to remove the cells, and that may be the right thing for you to do.
You may decide that you also want to boost your immune system to help it fight any remaining cells that linger behind.

Is radiation right for you?
Perhaps.

Is chemotherapy right for you?
Perhaps.

Before you can make those decisions, please be sure you have ALL the information you need to consider before you know if it is right for YOU.

Surgery, lymph node removal, radiation and chemotherapy are OPTIONS to kill/eliminate/go to war with/annihilate (you get the idea) cancer. There are also options available to “take care of” the cancer — you may approach it with respect and take an action because it exists, but choose to combine mental, emotional AND physical components that nurture you and strengthen your immune system rather than attack it.

In a 3-day class about complementary therapy for cancer, I learned that the highest rate of survival with cancer occurs when allopathic (medicinal treatments) and complementary (acupuncture, massage, meditation, etc.) are used in conjunction because they address the entire body. Cancer does not just affect the cells of the body, it affects the mind, the emotions, the psyche and overall well being of the individual. Cancer deserves respect and attention, but it may not require the warlike approach we hear about as the norm. I hope this blog helps to open your mind to the possibilities that are available, and to bring awareness to the language we use to talk about it.

May you be well and thrive.

Next post: Why are lymph nodes often removed in cancer patients and what does it mean in the long term?

Previous post: Cancer Awareness – Introduction to my Blog

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