80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:
Last week, in my sepsis-induced stupor, I dragged myself to an afternoon appointment with a new doctor, an integrative MD. Although my temperature was 102, I wasn’t about to call it off; I’d already put down a $150 deposit on my credit card. As I told you last time, the visit was exorbitantly expensive and not covered by insurance. So was it worth it in the end?
The short answer- yes and no. Hey, I never said I was good at making a decision. In all fairness, I felt like a pile of dog crap in the middle of the interstate that had been sitting in the sun all day and had been run over hundreds of times, so I probably didn’t get as much out of our talk as I otherwise might have. I think my opening line to the doctor was “I just want you to know that I’m not going to be my usual animated self today. Do you have any ibuprofen? Or…is that a no-no here?” Thank God he wasn’t above ibuprofen. It saved me from lying on the floor during our consultation.
My appointment lasted over 2 hours. Brownie points for him. He asked me what my main concern was in coming to see him. Well, um, let’s see, there’s THE CANCER! Yes, but what did I hope to accomplish? Perhaps strengthening my destroyed immune system, finding a way to deal with the sudden and unwelcome death of my ovaries, and, I don’t know, preventing a recurrence of THE CANCER! Yes, I’m a smartass. It’s kind of my thing.
First, we went through all the usual review of systems. How’s your diet? Do you drink? What other medical issues do you have? What medications are you taking? What’s your family history? Then he wanted to see my supplements, which I had brought in a grocery bag. I felt like kind of a weirdo or a super-healthy bag lady dragging that in from the car. He laughed, “Oh, that’s nothing. People come in with suitcases full of pills”. Ok, so as supplement junkies go, I don’t qualify for rehab just yet.
He carefully examined each bottle, after which he told me that he approved of the combination I was taking but would add a couple more, namely DIM and quercetin. He also suggested that I change my co-Q10 to a 100mg gel instead of a capsule. I thought he would frown on the Nature’s Valley brand that I use for a few of the more common nutrients, but he didn’t judge. In my opinioin, Vitamin D3 is not going to change much over brands, but something like coQ10 or echinacea can vary widely in quality, so I go for high quality on those.
Next, I asked his opinion about my upcoming radiation. He didn’t outright tell me that he wasn’t a fan. I’d say he hedged his bets. “It works well for some people, but not for others.” Thanks. What a relief! Not. He did say something interesting, though. Keep in mind that this is an MD educated at Cornell, so he has to be careful in his assessment of his colleagues. “I will tell you that the radiation guys tend to sugar coat the side effects more than any other doctor involved in cancer care. Even more than the chemo docs. I would be very aggressive in getting your questions answered so you feel comfortable”. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Next, we turned to the evil menopause monster. I say that, but truly the symptoms come and go. The hot flashes at this point are annoying but not unbearable. The worst ones are those that happen in my sleep. I sometimes wake up soaking wet, freezing, and I have to change my shirt. Thank goodness that isn’t every night. My mood is also undpredictable. Some days I feel fine, although a sappy commercial will make me cry. And some days I just want to run away and start a new life somewhere.
Dr. Cornell pleasantly surprised me on this front. He said that he would be very comfortable prescribing estriol, the weakest and most beneficial estrogen. He is familiar with the work of Jonathan Wright, MD, and even produced a copy of his book, “Stay Young and Sexy With Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement”. I was impressed. He told me that he wanted to do a little more research on using it instead of/with Tamoxifen and we would discuss it further at my follow-up visit, which is in mid-October. I may never use it, but it’s so nice to have options and not to be looked at like I have 3 heads.
Finally, I asked about diet in relation to breast cancer, fully expecting to hear, “You have to go low-fat vegan immediately. No dairy, no meat, no sugar, kale out the wazoo, etc.” I braced myself. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. “I believe that you definitely should be eating as much organic produce as you can, and, of course, grass-fed natural meats.” What? Hold the phone. Meat? Could it be?
“You mean I don’t have to become a vegetarian?” I asked, afraid I had misunderstood. “No. I believe diet is only one piece of this puzzle. Look how many variations of diet there are in different cultures and in different parts of the world. Many of these people live long, healthy lives with very low incidence of disease. If it were that easy, we could all eat one diet to avoid cancer. That isn’t the case.” Finally! Someone has ideas that are in line with my own on the subject. Do I believe I need to seriously increase the amount of vegetables in my diet? You bet! Do I also believe that I can never have a piece of meat or cheese again? No way.
So did I learn a ton of new information from my visit? Not really. I’m still waiting for the practitioner who will blow me away with a wealth of knowledge. Maybe I sell my own knowledge short. I guess I really do know a lot about health. I did, however, find someone whose views resonate well with my own and who doesn’t think I’m completely off my rocker for not wanting to just go along and shut up.
Like that was ever going to happen!