When to Look For Alternative Treatments…

Based on my September 2 2007 post, titled “Thinking Outside The Box.” A recent discussion on one of the MM listservs gave me some food for thought, and I thought it was such an interesting topic that I would post about it (and then create a page). The issue is: should cancer patients seek out alternative treatments only when they stop responding to conventional ones? Should alternative treatments be a last resort? I think you know what my answer is. ;-)

This reminded of when I was confronted with the decision as to whether or not go ahead with chemotherapy in 2005. My Florentine haematologist (who retired in August 2006) had been urging me since early fall to begin two cycles of Velcade and then do an SCT (stem cell transplant) in the summer of 2006. But I wanted another opinion. So Stefano and I spent a few days in wonderful Turin (northern Italy, a city famous for its CHOCOLATE, need I say more?) to consult with a famous Italian MM specialist who looked over my test results and told me to wait, since I still didn’t have any CRAB symptoms. (My friend Don has a great explanation for CRAB symptoms on his website: http://myelomahope.blogspot.com/). At any rate, I had one doctor telling me to begin chemo, another telling me to wait. What to do? I remember this was a very confusing time for me and my family.

In January 2006, though, I found the curcumin-myeloma studies, wrote to Prof. Bharat Aggarwal at the MD Anderson Cancer Research Centre in Texas, discussed curcumin with my husband and my haematologist, and began the curcumin protocol. After eight weeks, my IgG had decreased by almost 20%. We were all surprised and elated. My haematologist was among the first to congratulate me (he later told me that he had begun sprinkling turmeric over his food, which pleased me exceedingly!).

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that it might be a mistake to wait until you have no options left. Explore your options, see what’s out there. Yes, there are quite a few absurd purported alternative cancer cures out there, but you can learn to distinguish the good from the bad, just as I have (or think I have! 😉 ). If a substance or treatment has no scientific backing, forget it. Period.

My current haematologist recently told me that she always learns something from me. I consider that one of the most significant things she has ever said to me. Conventional doctors know a lot, for sure, but they don’t know everything. We can help them think outside the box.

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