Sunday, 15 March 2020

Apres radiotherapy

Jo Lawrance cartoon
In a previous blog I looked at my experiences of radiotherapy, what happened, side effects and the measures I took to support myself (i). In this blog I look at the couple of weeks since finishing the treatment, how I’m doing and how I am supporting this phase.
Side effects
Radiotherapy machine; Rowan
Well in my "Finishing your radiotherapy treatment’ leaflet it states that "as a rule you can expect side effects to worsen over the week or two following treatment. They will then start to settle down. Fatigue can sometimes take longer…” Do see my comments re side effects previously (i) - it was a rather gruelling last week of treatment and the week after, things did get worse, especially the rectal and bladder inflammation. 

Ultrasound of bladder
I am writing now just over two weeks since finishing and I am delighted that the last week has been almost back to normal regarding the rectum. The bladder, however, is still struggling and I’m woken more than six times every night - and daytimes I often urgently need to go. The flow and intermittence is also poor but the discomfort/pain has lessened considerably. Fatigue is there but hard to assess what is the hormones and what is the radiotherapy. I am due to restart work tomorrow so I will get a better idea about how I am managing.

Card; gift to those having radiotherapy
In terms of the bladder, the Radiotherapy Department do issue a  guidance paper on how to retrain to hold the bladder for longer. This is about delaying the urge to go to the loo or setting toilet times. I find this hard as often want to go just in case….if woken by a hot flush it is hard not to think it is better to go to the loo then than be woken again in a few minutes. Similarly, if making a journey, I need to think about going before we start even if I don’t need to go to the loo. Anyway, I was hoping this overactive bladder effect would lessen but now think I will need to follow advice of Macmillan website where they suggest keeping a record and do the retraining (ii). This all needs taking seriously as the symptoms can last months, years or permanently. 

A friend lent me some of the Men’s Stay Dry pads; at one point was thinking I would need them but have managed to avoid so far. However I have them in the cupboard in case things change again.

Diet can also help; probably reducing my coffee intake might help but I can't take away that pleasure at the moment (iii).

My tip to others here is to reread the info given when you have any side effects or go to a site like prostate cancer or Macmillan (iv). I think I was believing so totally that I would get better in days I did not relook at the leaflets re side effects until the last couple of days - even reading them first time I was thinking I am not getting any of these, why am I reading this!

Post radiotherapy protocol

Well from my reading and talking with a Naturopath and others, a number of possible suggestions were made about how to support this first six weeks after radiotherapy. Again I note this may well be different for each of us as we will experience the radiotherapy differently; do also check everything you take to see how it might interact with medication or other supplements. I have already written about the supplements I am taking (i) and (v) but here is an updated list since ending radiotherapy:

I finished my last bottle of this for a while

Supplements continued

Probiotic x1 (where poss taken with raw veg)

Vitamin D 5,000IUs
Turmeric x2 tablets plus some in food
Selenium x1
Milk Thistle 15drops  x3
Magnesium Citrate

Changes to protocol

Biostrath and Immiflex - I stopped these when I finished them just after the end of radiotherapy
Berberine - a friend said his functional doctor recommended ten days 4x 500mg of Berberine to help with bleeding after radiotherapy - I've taken this before and so I’m just completing two weeks of this. There is some research about this and radiotherapy (vi).

Homeopathy - listed previously - I stopped in last couple of days

D- Mannose I also stopped in last couple of days, but see below re more bladder support. 

New supplements

Solidago Complex - there is some research showing that this herb has a potent antiproliferative effect against human breast, kidney and prostate tumor cell lines (vii). However I am taking it to support my bladder. The Vogel's Solidago Complex Drops (sometimes known as ‘waterfall drops’) are a combination of four herbs which work to strengthen kidney function, detoxify and prevent recurrent bladder infections; Solidago (Golden Rod), Birch, Horsetail and Restharrow. Solidago is basically a kidney tonic helping to combat infection of the urinary tract and remove toxins from the kidneys via the urinary tract. 15 drops x3 per day. I am also told that it works well with Milk Thistle.

UltraInflamX - this is an expensive 14 day course of easily digested powdered mix that provides nutritional support for individuals. The herbal extracts include turmeric, ginger, green tea and boswellia plus bioflavonoids and a full spectrum of nutrients. I was planning to start this two days after radiotherapy finished as I didn’t want to interfere with the treatment, however in the end it was a week before I started. Amazingly the next day after taking this, coincidence or not, I felt a shift in the inflammation symptoms and they got noticeably better. I suspect this supplement played a role in that. 

Making up the UltraInflamX
Uva Ursi - 15drops x3 per day - this is primarily for urinary tract disorders and inflammation. Having stopped the D-Mannase I still wanted to support the bladder (although I have read that you can take both together). The Uva Ursi contains echinacea (viii) which has a role in improving white blood cell counts after radiotherapy. I will also consider taking some extra echinacea depending on how this latest protocol works for me. Certainly in the past I have found echinacea to be very supportive to fighting off infections and building my immune system; this could be just what is needed with the threats of coronavirus adding to the mix.

Chlorella - I had meant to start this powder sooner but my order got held up so only arrived a couple of days ago. Chlorella is a fresh water, single-celled algae that grows in fresh water - it was first around some 2 billion years ago when it was the first form of a plant with a well-defined nucleus. It contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of any known plant and is thought to boost the immune system and help fight infection. It is now used by some as an adjunct supplement during radiation treatment for cancer; it works by removing radioactive particles from the body after radiation treatment (ix). The suggestion is to take for two months and be aware that it can increase iodine levels - this can be good for some and a real problem for others.

Spirulina - while waiting for chlorella to arrive, I had some spirulina in the house and took that instead. Spirulina is a spiral-shaped, multi-celled plant with no true nucleus; it’s blue-green in colour and can grow up to 100 times the size of chlorella. I read that apparently during the Chernobyl disaster, a dose of 5 grams of spirulina for 45 days was used successfully in fighting radiation poisoning (x)! Many articles repeat the suggestion that it could be useful but I have found only a scattering of research to confirm. The good news is that it looks like it will do me good and does have very few side effects. Also like Chlorella it is anti inflammatory and boosts nutritional intake, but it is the chlorella that has the reputation for detoxification (xi).

Other actions and possibilities - rebuilding the gut

Finishing these powders to help rebuild gut
Rebuilding the gut is key in all this as it is ’responsible’ for our immune systems. To this end I have also looked at Intestinu, Immiflex, astragalus, beta-glucans and grape seed extract; but the above is enough to be going on with at the moment. It is also important to note that research shows that people who eat the highest natural fibre diets have the best immune systems. Clearly the probiotic I’m taking is crucial but also the sauerkraut plus very occasional raw unpasteurised cheese and Kefir.

Lastly I am continuing with regular exercise, meditation/visualisation, three saunas a week, shiatsu and healing every three or four weeks and started with my first rectal ozone yesterday since stopping due to the inflammation. I am also continuing with my nutrition protocol, although this slipped very slightly in recent couple of weeks as a sort to celebrate the end of the radiotherapy. I am still on the flaxseeds (taken ground and taken soaked in water), green tea drinks, turmeric, garlic and the ‘Rainbow diet'. 

Celebrating end of Radiotherapy with a serious smoothie!
I am feeling that I will probably also look to do some sort of extra detox soon, but for the moment I am working to rebuild my immune system ahead of seeng my oncologist early April. Although I’m guessing that might change with the coronavirus as already our surgery is only doing telephone appointments.



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