Alexandra Detwiler has many things in her life that she has planned for, worked for, and earned. She and her husband live in Manhattan, New York and she works in television development with NBC Universal. Alexandra also has something that she did not plan for and that no person deserves: A loved one diagnosed with terminal cancer.
She shares that life-altering predicament with millions of people across the globe, and in a recent article for Today Health, she shares her insights and the lessons learned as she and her family care for her mom who is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, a glioblastoma multiforme.
Firstly, maintain your sense of humor. You and your relatives deserve and need as much joy as can be found in every moment.
Find a support group of people who know what you are experiencing because they have experienced the same things. Some friends will want to be supportive, but will not understand your emotions and frustrations.
Be realistic with your expectations for yourself and others. You are not able to dictate how others will respond. Anticipating too much from people will set you up for disappointment.
Traditional forms of cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can be very effective for some patients, although they do have many severe side effects. In addition, not every patient responds well to these treatments, which is why there has been so much research done on various forms of alternative cancer treatment.
The FDA recently granted express approval to a new drug called Keytruda, which is chemically known as pembrolizumab. This powerful new drug treats cancer in a way that’s different from conventional cancer treatments. It actually boosts the body’s natural immune system and readies it to attack the cancer cells.
It’s common for patients receiving chemotherapy to suffer from side effects like nausea, vomiting and hair loss. Whereas in clinical trials, ninety percent of all patients who took Keytruda experienced no side effects whatsoever. The best part of the approval of this new drug is that Keytruda appears to be resulting in much longer life expectancy than other treatment methods. One study of 600 patients resulted in 62% of them making it past the 18-month mark.
Researchers are very hopeful that this is just the start of a great breakthrough in cancer treatment options. It is becoming increasingly apparent that immunotherapy, which is what Keytruda uses, is much more beneficial for patients both in terms of reducing their side effects and improving their overall life expectancy.
Alternative cancer treatments are quickly becoming the norm. It might only be a matter of time before they replace chemotherapy and radiation, simply because they really do work. If you or a loved one is looking for alternative cancer treatments, we would love to help you. Please contact us!
Many alternative cancer treatments are not actually “new,” although their therapeutic value has only recently been recognized by Western oncologists. Acupuncture, massage, nutritional immunotherapy and meditation are just some of the alternative therapies now being employed at university hospitals and U.S. cancer centers that have a long history of successful therapeutic treatment of disease in other cultures.
What’s Old Is New Again
Traditional medicine’s focus on immunotherapy as the future of cancer treatment is another example of mainstream medicine’s belated acceptance of alternative cancer treatment. Genetic and cellular research have added scientific proof to the experiential findings of alternative therapy practitioners who have long understood the critical role the body’s immune system plays in cancer treatment. While many U.S. cancer researchers are heralding immunotherapy as “new,” integrative immunotherapy has been practiced with beneficial results at Issels Oncology Centers for more than 60 years.
Merging Two Approaches
Cancer patients are benefiting from traditional medicine’s broadening view of cancer treatment. When used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments, alternative therapies have been shown to greatly reduce the painful and unpleasant side effects of traditional treatments. More importantly, merging traditional and alternative cancer treatments improves your immune system response and enhances the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
Issels Oncology Centers works with many patients undergoing traditional cancer treatment. Contact us today for information about adding alternative cancer therapies to your cancer treatment program.
A Lancaster, Pennsylvania teen is all smiles these days. Marissa Witmer, a sophomore at Solanco High School, has been selected one of 12 teen semi-finalists in the National Academy Medical School Scholarship Challenge to find a cure for cancer. (Click to watch the WGAL News report.) The teen with the winning idea will receive a $185,000 scholarship to the medical school of their choice.
“I have been motivated to find an alternative treatment for breast cancer,” Marissa said. “All the women in my family have had some sort of cancer, so it’s like my mom and I are kind of next, and it would be kind of nice to figure something out before that happens.”
Traditional cancer treatments attack cancer cells from the outside, pummeling them with chemotherapy or radiation or removing them surgically. While current research has brought the cancer fight down to the cellular level, most new treatments seem to be focused on changing cancer cell behavior by manipulating external cell triggers.
Mining Cancer DNA
Marissa’s proposal would attack cancer cells internally, literally ripping their guts out. The teen wants to develop an alternative cancer treatment that would pull the DNA out of cancer cells, either killing them immediately or at least rending them harmless.
DNA manipulation of cells is already a laboratory reality so there’s every reason to believe that when Marissa is ready to enter medical school in seven years she’ll have the opportunity to make her dreams come true!
Cytokines are certain substances secreted by specific cells in your body’s immune system. These substances carry the signals that allow cells to communicate with each other. Cytokines may be proteins, peptides or glycoproteins and can interact with your immune system in both positive and negative ways.
What Cytokines Do
Cytokines may act to either enhance or suppress your immune system. Their impact on cell function may be felt locally or at a distance in another part of your body. Despite such functional differences, all cytokines share in the direction of your body’s immune response.
It is that ability to impact the functioning of your immune system that makes cytokines such an important factor in cancer treatment. By manipulating cytokines, integrative immunotherapy seeks to modify the dialog between cells. By changing the way cells interact, the goal of integrative immunotherapy is to remove impediments to a healthy immune system and amplify the body’s immune system response.
Using Cytokines in Cancer Treatment
Certain cancer drugs and cancer vaccines have been found to have a noticeable impact on cytokine production. Using vaccines to increase the presence of specific biologic response modifiers such as Interleukin-2 — which the body creates naturally but only in small amounts — floods the body with cancer fighting T-cells and Natural Killer Cells. This sudden influx of immune system-supporting cytokines significantly enhances your immune system’s response, giving it extra power to fight off cancer cells.
Over 60 years of clinical experience, Issels Integrative Oncology has found similar cancer-fighting benefits in other cytokines such as Interleukin-4, which promotes the generation of dendritic cells, and Interleukin-21, which enhances Natural Killer Cell activity. Visit our website for more information.
When the American Society of Clinical Oncology released its Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer last December, the cancer news was good and bad. Advances in cancer research were achieving “extraordinary progress in the fight against cancer,” but budget cuts and years of flat funding were delaying efforts to turn research into effective cancer treatments, Science Daily explained.
Effective Cancer Treatments
ASCO highlighted three cancer treatments at the forefront of cancer news:
Genomics: the use of genetic research to personalize cancer treatment.
The report links the development of cancer treatment techniques and the drop in cancer death rates “to our nation’s investment in cancer research over the past four decades.” Unfortunately, Congressional sequester and mandated federal budget cuts have slowed the pace of cancer research. More than half a million Americans die from cancer every year, but ASCO warns that cancer fatalities could increase dramatically without adequate research funding.
Funding Commitment Needed
ASCO’s plea that “Congress do its part to re-ignite our nation’s commitment to cancer research” appears to have fallen on deaf ears. The National Cancer Institute’s 2014 budget was $4.9 billion, only a slight increase over its 2013 budget. However, as explained by NCI Funding Policy, “this increase only restores about 53% of the sequestration reduction that NCI experienced during fiscal year 2013.”
It is time for the Congress to stop playing budget games that hurt cancer research. As ASCO President Clifford Hudis points out, “Lives depend on it.”