Cancer: now it’s personal, part 2 of 3
It turns out T&H loves books like I do. Loves words. Walks up to me and says a word he just learned. We climb an old cannon turret dripping with the morning’s rain, explore a church and a graveyard (a weird pastime of mine wherever I travel). There are all kinds of treasures like this just a 15-minute walk uphill from the clinic. A little further and there are ranging goatherds, and forested views. A crazy-beautiful place.
I can curl up with him, with my book, looking out at the rainy sky over the mountains, and anytime I come to a word I don’t know, I can ask him and he can define it. This may sound weird, but here it is anyway: that makes my heart race. Men who know words are sexy as hell.
He’s funny and sweet and has lived an epic life with all kinds of adventure—world travel, business ventures, fast cars, three glamorous ex-wives, competitive sports, lots of stories. He pulls my chair out for me.
(Is this where GSG gives men another chance? Sigh. Unlikely. Too much raising kids and and insane travel and work schedule. This does, though, put some of my broken-eggshell Humpty Dumpty pieces back together.)
T&H is emotionally connected, and smart, and “into” all things holistic and nutrition-oriented.
I’ll leave out the PG-13 or R-rated details. This is a FAMILY BLOG! His European lack of machismo, his tendency to be very verbal, his softness with me, and being so much older than I, make him radically different from any man I’ve known before.
But the point of this story is this:
T&H is dealing with prostate cancer. (Had a lymph node removed in 2009 and was told he had Stage 4 cancer.) He never had any chemo or radiation. Four years later, he works out every day and has good quality of life. He eats high raw and applies great nutrition principles. He doesn’t let the C Word dominate his thinking. He’s positive in his outlook and intentions. Healing is currently his full-time job and he’s doing it big.
But his sexual health has been damaged by testosterone-blocking hormone drugs. And he’s seriously underweight.
The night before I flew home, Dr. Petra Wiechel asked an M.D. colleague of hers to drive up to Paracelsus to meet with T&H.
Dr. Herbert Bliemann is a urologist, and T&H asked me to talk with him. This doctor’s native language is German, and his metaphors about what’s wrong with the treatment of prostate cancer in the U.S. (and most of Europe’s practices, too, and Canada) mostly flew right over my head.
But he told me that American medicine is treating prostate cancer all wrong. We have a machine-gun approach, he said, nuking everything in sight. (See? I’ve mixed my metaphors there. Machine guns and nukes in one sentence!)
I believe it, and can give a number of examples unrelated to oncology, such as what we’ve done with antibiotics—one size fits all, nuke everything that even MIGHT be bacterial, even if there’s only a 20% chance it’s not actually viral. Within the cancer realm, how about the fact that thermography can detect breast cancer far earlier than mammography, and without radiation exposure—but almost no oncologists use it, and insurance companies don’t pay for it. Billions of dollars in infrastructure are in place to support mammography, despite clearly documented risks to patients. Which is, again, not in patients’ best interests.
Dr. Bliemann told us that there is a simple DNA test that could ascertain whether T&H’s prostate cancer even needed treatment in the first place. As you may know, most prostate cancer is in older men, and so slow-growing as to be virtually irrelevant to their overall health.
Many who have studied the data say, “You’re going to die of something else, not prostate cancer.”
In younger men, some forms of prostate cancer can be much more serious. T&H doesn’t know what kind he has. He isn’t particularly trusting of the medical monopoly. In fact, he co-owns a business in Boulder, Colorado catering to the Crunchy crowd. (I think the whole town is “crunchy,” in Boulder.)
So the urologist consulting with T&C and Dr. Wiechel said to me that IF prostate cancer “needs” radiation, it’s entirely possible to do it in a very targeted way, without collateral damage. Not American-style, “blast everything in sight and see if the host organism survives it.” He also ranted against the totally pointless PSA number (the man who “discovered” it has stated that it isn’t the cancer marker he thought it was). I’ve written about this previously HERE.
(Some American oncology techniques have gotten less toxic, less systemic, and more targeted. Many, however, are identical to what oncology was doing in the 1970’s. Simply put, oncology is still, in most cases, scratching its head with no idea how to help fewer people die of the treatment, let alone “cure” the disease.)
This doc told me that the way men are treated with prostate cancer in America borders on criminal.
Hormone therapy results in hot flashes, decreased sexual desire, loss of bone density, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, anemia, and memory loss. Muscle loss is replaced by fat.
Radiation causes difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, constipation, swelling in the rectum, pubic hair loss, digestive system damage, and higher risk of other cancers. It causes impotence in 7 of 10 men caused by damage to nerves that control erection! In one study, 76 percent of older men treated with radiation for prostate cancer had problems with erections SEVEN years after treatment.
Surgery has major side effects too, virtually guaranteed, and is used only when the cancer isn’t thought to have spread outside the gland. Those effects are being unable to control urine, and being unable to have erections. I read an online article explaining that nearly 1/3 of men after surgery wear pads for urinary leakage. I read about “condom catheters” and other “incontinence products” like briefs, bulky undergarments, bed pads, absorbent mattress covers.
The rest of this story, next.