Friday, March 26, 2010

more on food

After that little blurp on the Johns Hopkins stuff, I've been looking into diet. Since I'm lactose intolerant, I've been drinking soy milk for several years now. More and more studies are showing that's a big mistake. The article I just read is way too long to put in here, but if you're interested in learning some more about soy products, just click on the link.

Among other things it mentions is that it can lead to breast cancer! and pancreatic cancer. So much for my soy milk. Interestingly, the health food store fellow I met several weeks ago had suggested I give it up too, and gave me another article to read. I actually quit, after finishing the carton I had at the time, and tried Rice Milk.

It's absolutely tasteless to me, and now I read that it too is a waste of time, because it has way too much sugar and total carbs and almost ZERO protein. Why bother?

I've now heard of another alternative that I'll give a try - assuming I can find the stuff. Supposedly there is a new 'Coconut Milk Beverage' seen recently in grocery stores.
It seems to differ from the "coconut milk" that you see in cans in that it's diluted down more than canned coconut milk, so it's not such a thick coconut cream.

Coconut fat is one of the healthiest fats - it is saturated fat, but research has proven that it's a very healthy form, made mostly of medium chain triglycerides, including lauric acid, which supports a strong immune system.

The only problem is that the unsweetened version (1 gram of carbs) has only 1 gram of protein too. The solution is to get a good quality vanilla whey protein, sweetened with stevia, mix 3-4 scoops of the whey protein into a half gallon of the coconut milk beverage in a blender. That provides a milk alternative that's high in healthy fats and quality protein, with only 1 gram of sugar per 8 ounce serving.

Now, if I can just find 'coconut milk beverage'!!!


I visited with my Radiation Oncologist this week. Went in with a positive attitude (positive because I didn't want to have radiation as well as chemo, and the chemo doctor had told me that I wouldn't need it because of...a whole list of criteria!).

Yeah, well apparently the criteria have changed, and the radiation doc says I should, in fact, take the radiation treatments too. She'd been to a recent conference where they laid out new guidelines based on many studies, and the results are so much more positive with radiation treatment than without.

Back to my pathology report. Each doctor looks at different items, and neglects to point out others when explaining their own point of view. My report listed my biggest tumor as 3.5 cm, about the size of a golf ball - grade III/III, poorly differentiated, meaning it was extending its little tendrils looking for expansion, meaning little pieces could be off wandering around anywhere - there was lymphovascular invasion present, meaning it had metastasized to the lymph system - and the lymph nodes showed focal extracapsular extension, meaning the cancer showed signs of spreading into the adjoining ducts, meaning, again, it could be anywhere.

All those stats mean radiation is recommended. She described chemo vs. radiation as whole body treatment vs. localized treatment. The chemo looks to poison cancer cells throughout the body, while the radiation is directed at the original location to get the specific strays before they can latch on somewhere and cause more destruction.

The literature she gave me on the recent studies showed the following:
  • Patients can be divided into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups on the basis of axillary nodal status (how extensively it has spread into the lymph system), estrogen receptor status (mine is only 30% receptive, which is a lot lower than they would like), lymphovascular invasion (mine shows positive for invasion), and age at diagnosis (I'm high range for age). I am rated intermediate-risk.
  • With Postmastectomy Radiotherapy (PMRT), the intermediate-risk group shows a 99% rate of 'probability of local-regional control' at 5 years, meaning an extremely low risk of recurrence at the original site. 85% for those who have no PMRT.
  • With PMRT, the 'probability of being metastasis free' (that it won't have spread) is 87% at 3 years, 86% at 5 years and 80% at 8 years. 81% at 5 years for those with no PMRT.
  • With PMRT, the 'probability of overall survival' (nice term, but at least the patient is still alive) is 90% at 3 years, 87% at 5 years and 79% at 8 years. 82% at 5 years with no PMRT.
All in all, those are pretty positive stats. I'm withholding a decision until later in the course of chemo, to see how I'm doing. The radiation treatment would be every day (Monday to Friday) for six to six and a half weeks. The time frame is based on the fact that I'm one of those 'big-breasted women' - meaning there is more coverage area, and lower daily doses are shown to be better tolerated. There is a standard regime, a certain quantity to do the job - so lower doses means a longer time frame to deliver the set standard treatment.

Minor little side effects - my skin will look badly sunburned, and is damaged such that it loses its softness and elasticity, making reconstruction difficult.

On that cheery note, I'm going to take a drive and try to find some of the incredible wild flowers that are out there this spring!

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