The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part III: Chemo & Holistic Oncology Approaches

Mindy: Though Tom’s surgery was very successful, nine of the 21 lymph nodes removed for testing during surgery contained malignant cells. For this reason Tom choose a six month course of chemotherapy to prevent the possibility of metastasis from any of the lymph nodes not removed in the surgery.

Tom: Traditional allopathic treatments for cancer focus on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but they offer nothing to support the cancer patient’s immune system or physical body. Some 40% of cancer patients die not from cancer but from the starvation that results from a loss of appetite and the lack of proper nutrition. And because chemo and radiation attack both cancerous and healthy cells, these treatments seriously weaken the patient’s immune system, so many other patients die from opportunistic infections that a strong immune system would have prevented.

Mindy: With these things in mind, Tom went to get advice from a Naturopathic Physician at Namaste Health Center in Durango, a clinic well versed in Cancer treatment and recovery. At the end of June 2014, Tom began a very disciplined regimen changing to a ketogenic diet (high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrates) supported by systemic and digestive enzymes, vitamins and supplements. He also began weekly intravenous infusions of high dose vitamin C, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and B vitamins and nutritional supplements to help those medicines be most effective.

Tom: In addition to a proper diet and supplements, it is also important to do aerobic exercise because tumor cells do NOT thrive in an oxygen rich environmnet. With that in mind at the end of June two months into the six month Chemotherapy regimen, we decided to hike up to Ice Lakes just outside of Silverton. We had hoped to make the climb all the way up to Ice Lake at 12,257 feet. It is a very steep hike beginning at 9,850 feet. As we climbed the steepness became very daunting, but we pressed on. And when my body didn’t think it could go further I pushed myself up to the lower basin at 11,600. So we had a great aerobic climb of almost 1800 feet! We didn’t get to Ice Lake, but I got to feel the exhilaration of climbing and being in an incredibly beautiful place with my sweetheart. Sharing such beautiful experiences is one of the rewards of loving and being loved. And the love and care given to my body gave me physical stamina not often seen in people undergoing Chemo.Part-III Pix

“To fully thrive, we must not only eliminate the stressors but also actively seek joyful, loving, fulfilling lives that stimulate growth processes.” (Dr. Bruce H. Lipton) So love is good for your health, and fear and stress are bad for it. Fear and stress put the body into the fight, flight or freeze mode where blood flow is diverted away from digestion and your internal organs and into your body’s extremities.

Mindy: In early August, Tom began to experience such severe swelling in his left arm that he could barely bend his arm enough to touch his face. We went to the emergency room, where an ultrasound discovered that he had a clot in a vein in his left forearm and another in his left Jugular vein. He was given a shot of a liquid blood thinner and a prescription for another six syringes of the same.

A few days later we had already committed to be volunteers to help our local public radio station with a music concert in one of Durango’s public parks. We were making an effort to continue enjoying life by participating in Community events. Tom’s sister was visiting and she had also agreed to join us as a volunteer. On the day of the concert we weren’t sure if Tom would be physically able to work as a volunteer, but in his usual energetic way, he worked through his three hour shift with me and then all three of us enjoyed the remainder of the concert dancing on the grass in front of the bandstand.

Tom: This was one of the most significant problems that I experienced during my six months of Chemo. My mainstream Oncologist wanted me to take Halfway Through ChemoWarfarin (rat poison) to thin my blood to prevent further clots and perhaps to help these two clots dissolve. My Naturopath prescribed Vascuzyme, a supplement which contains nattokinase that is a natural blood thinner and does not poison the body. I chose the latter because the former requires weekly monitoring and in my view was much more dangerous. I was also able to use one of my Energy Medicine protocols to help my body absorb the clots.
It is unfortunately that the expense for most of what I have to do to stay healthy now that I have finished Chemo is NOT covered by Medicare or by my Medicare Supplement provider. This is not an uncommon experience for cancer patients in this country, because Medicare is set up to pay primarily for surgery (and an associated hospital stay), chemotherapy and radiation and anything that might happen along the way – like infections and blood clots – both of which I had to deal with. It also pays for periodic blood tests and imaging like ultrasound, CT and PET scans. Anything else – like proper nutrition and critical supplements – are considered by Mainstream medicine to be unnecessary. There is nothing in their regimen to directly support the immune system or to assure proper nutrition.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part II: Surgery & Who I am

Mindy: One of the things that I admire about Tom is his ability to recreate himself and pursue in great depth very diverse interests. Tom, once a vegetarian on Wall Street from 1974 to 1997 (such an oxymoron!!), had recreated himself and established a thriving Permaculture Center in Durango, Colorado. A number of years later, Tom discovered Donna Eden and her brand of Energy Medicine. He subsequently pursued a three year study and certification program with Eden Energy Medicine (EEM). He had just completed the first level of certification a month before his surgery at the end of February 2014. He was able to use this advanced medicine on his own body before and after the surgery and was released in record time (just five days) from the hospital and was hiking in a week- all this after more than five hours of surgery that essentially restructured Tom’s digestive organs.

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You might be wondering how I got from Wall Street to Permaculture and EEM. I had been an organic farmer in the early 1970s while I was finishing graduate school. Later in the 1970s I became a vegetarian and became very aware of what I was eating. In 1999 when I retired in Durango, I began once again to garden. In the fall of 2000, I discovered Permaculture and decided to use Permaculture principles on my land. I became very excited about Permaculture, and I wanted to share what I was learning with as many people as I could. That desire led to Oakhaven Permaculture Center and three big summer festivals at Oakhaven where I invited my community to come and see what Permaculture looked like. I was one of five people in my community recognized as Bioneers of the Animas Valley for 2004.Tom: Yes, at age 76 no less, I was the first patient released in just five days after undergoing a modified Whipple procedure. I had requested that one of my EEM teachers work with me the day before the surgery and two days after. Her work in those two sessions plus the cumulative effects of doing my Daily Energy Routine really paid off in my rapid and unique recovery.

By 2006 I had pretty much realized my goal of using Oakhaven to demonstrate to my community what Permaculture could do, and I decided to focus on my role as one of the founders of the newly created Sustainability Alliance of SW Colorado This left a bit of a vacuum in my life, and it was not until the Spring of 2008 when I went on a 10-day vision quest that I began to connect with my inner self. Later that summer I began to study Shamanism and my inner world began to grow. Shamanic healing drew my interest because I was fascinated by how it worked. Then in 2010 I discovered Donna Eden, and I took her 5-day Basic Energy Medicine course and began doing her Daily Energy Routine every day. As an engineer and techie, I was very skeptical at first, but within the first six months, I was surprised to see the shift which occurred in my life. I felt empowered, a new ease, and a joy that permeated my life. In 2011 I took a 4-day advanced training with Donna, and in 2012, I began the two year certification program which I completed just a month before my surgery.

That same year I also began the Foundation for Shamanic Studies three year program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing.

During a series of Shamanic journeys in the Fall of 2012, I got the very strong message that Love is all there is. I experienced the knowing that Love (or the lack of love) motivates everything that we do. That was just two-and-a half months before Mindy and I were introduced by a mutual friend. Over the last three years, I have experienced that power of love with Mindy. I have let myself feel the vulnerability of loving someone unconditionally. It has not always been easy, but the reward to each of us has been the joyful feeling of being so loved in return.

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The Story of Tom, Mindy & the Pancreatic Tumor Part I: The Diagnosis & Pancreatic Cancer

Mindy: Tom and I were blessed to find love again, meeting each other as mature adults. And in our first year of loving and celebrating life, we got a shocking diagnosis that Tom had Stage ll Pancreatic Cancer. His Doctor was telling him ‘that he was so very sorry’ and our honeymoon period of new love crashed into the new reality of dealing with cancer. After much research and soul searching, Tom decided that he would go through the Whipple procedure surgery to remove the tumor.

Tom: When I was diagnosed with a tumor on my Pancreas in December of 2013, I knew in my heart that I would survive the ordeal physically. I did not think then that surviving it physically would become a threat to my financial health, but that is what has happened. I discovered at the end of 2014 after I had spent nearly $14,000 on holistic healthcare treatments, that NONE of those expenses would be covered by Medicare or my Medicare Supplement insurance. It is highly unlikely that I could have gone without that support and be as physically healthy as I am today.

I was very fortunate that my tumor was caught at an early stage while it was still operable. Deciding where to have the surgery was not easy. The first place we explored was the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. When we met with the surgeons there to discuss the procedure, they were not very forthcoming with answers to our questions.

This led us to seek a second opinion. We spoke with the head of outreach at the Colangiocarcinoma Foundation (At that time the tumor appeared to be on the Common Bile duct.) She gave us the name of an oncologist at the University of Southern California (USC). We made a trip to California and spoke with him and met Dr. Yuri Genyk, the head of transplant surgery there. We were impressed with his willingness to give us in-depth answers to all of our questions, and at that first meeting we decided that he would be our surgeon.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more deadly forms of Cancer. The five year survival rate for all patients is only 6%. I was fortunate that mine was discovered early enough that I could have surgery. A 2003 study reported in the Annals of Surgery found that pancreatic cancer patients over the age of 65 who had surgery to remove their tumors had a 3-year survival rate of 35%. And for patients who had their surgery in a teaching hospital (mine was at the Keck Hospital at USC) or had Chemotherapy that rate went up to 41%.

It is now 20 months since my surgery – the mean survival time in this study. I am by no means out of the woods. It is critical that I continue these holistic healthcare treatments to prevent metastasis and to keep my immune system strong.

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“Saving” for your Golden Years

Saving for your Golden Years has very little to do with money and everything to do with Saving — that is taking care of — the beautiful living vessel gifted you at your birth in which your soul lives out this current incarnation — otherwise known as your body.

I have just come out of major surgery — five hours on the table — following a modified Whipple procedure in which about a quarter of my pancreas was removed along with a tumor that sat on its head, my gall bladder, and my duodenum — the first twelve inches of my small intestine. All the loose ends — pancreas, bile duct from the liver and the remainder of the small intestine are joined just below the sphincter of the stomach to restore the integrity of my digestive system. I am 76 years old, yet I was released in record time — only five days — because of my rapid recovery. What’s going on here?

What’s going on — and is still going on — is 30 years of yoga and 40 years of aerobic activity 2-3 times a week plus 35 years of eating a strictly organic (or local when I know the farmer or rancher) diet and almost no processed foods. As Michael Pollan says, “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” It has also been 40 years of NEVER saying to myself “I’m too old to do that.” So I continue to do my yoga — which has kept my spine and all of its intricate muscles balanced and active and allowed my breathing to be deep and even. During my short hospital recovery the medical staff were amazed at my ability to draw such a large quantity of air in a single breath — 3500 on a scale of 4000 only a few hours after my surgery. This is also a tribute to 40 years of aerobic activity — running in the 70s, biking replaced running beginning in the 80s, cross-country skiing beginning in 90s and African Dance and Nia beginning in 2010. All  of these continue today, and they are something that money cannot buy. You will only have this kind of Balance in your Body’s Saving Account if you dedicate your life to staying healthy.

You may well ask that if I was so healthy, how did I end up with a tumor on my pancreas? I cannot say exactly why I got the tumor. I can understand how and why it might have arisen, but the more important question is that If I were not so healthy, I would have had a much more difficult time dealing with and surviving it. And surviving is still and always a question. And the best way to prepare yourself is to STAY HEALTHY.

And to Stay Healthy you have to be your own advocate, and stay away from the Cornucopia of prescription meds offered by Big Pharma. I am such a rarity — imagine that I don’t take ANY prescription drugs! The Corporate Media have become so overreaching and so brimming with false information and outright lies, that you have to do your own research, ask your own questions, and experiment. Simply buying some food like substance that is advertised as “good for you” or “low fat” is not going to get you where you want to be. Neither is using Statin because your doctor says that it will reduce your high cholesterol. You must be skeptical of all claims. You might want to read “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by Bowden and Sinatra.

I began cooking my own meals when I was just 20 – from scratch. In the 80s I discovered Rudolf Ballentine’s book “Diet and Nutrition” which exposed the false claims about saturated fats and many other food issues. Then in 2003 I found Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.” I made my own bread for thirty some years, and today I make cheese from raw milk and kefir using grains. I’ve made tofu and Seitan and sauerkraut. You will need to cook most of your own food — and that means from scratch — not just warming up some food like stuff that you bought at the supermarket.

How do you know who to believe? You may not always know. You have to continually question and look for other authors or research that may support or refute someone else’s claims. YOU have to decide, and you have to always be proactive and exploring. Start with the some of the books I described above. Read Michael Pollan’s books “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” and check out his recent book “Cooked” which explores the four different modes of preparing food.