Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Long Awaited Surgery, A Big Thanks & More Cancer Prevention Consumption Advice

My Upcoming Surgery:
It looks as if I will finally be scheduled for my long awaited surgery. I should know the exact date by the end of this week. The delay in setting the schedule is because two surgeons will be involved. It seems that they can operate on both my lung and my liver at the same time. What an answered prayer! My oncologist at Womack Army Medical told me more than once that the double resection would probably not be possible. I pushed her to send my request for both to be resected at the same time anyway. And as far as I'm told, my oncologist submitted my request as such to the surgeon. My oncologist really is a great doctor. She knew it was the surgeons call and acted as such. If there's one thing I'm learning through all this, is that you have to follow your instinct and not be intimidated to push your requests through, even though the whole process leaves you feeling quite helpless.

The decision to operate now came from results of a CT scan taken about a month ago. The scan showed that the tumors are "relatively stable," meaning that the growth was slight over the prior two months, since the last scan, only about one or two millimeters growth in one tumor. And no measurable growth in the other. Switching my chemotherapy regimen from "Full Fox" to "Full Fury" seems to have worked. It virtually stopped the growth. That's the good news, the very good news, as now I can have surgery. But of course, something else came up....

The UNC doctors had their radiologists analyze my CT scan from last month, and they commented on two spots found in my left lung. They don't know what the spots are; it may or may not be cancer. The spots are about 3 mm in size. The nurse practitioner who I spoke with about it said that she believes the pulmonary surgeon will go through my left lung as well my right lung to take out what was found there, whether it is cancer or not. So my surgery is going to be quite complex, resection in my liver, in both lungs, and once and for all, removing the dreaded bag. After surgery, I should have about 3 or 4 more months of chemotherapy. And if they've removed all the operable cancer with this upcoming surgery and no more tumors appear. And if the chemo takes care of all that is inoperable, then I should come out the other end of this cancer free. A lot of "ifs" so I will need all your continued prayers.

A Big Thanks:
That leads me to the topic of support. I was soooo encouraged last week when I went home to MA for a much overdue visit. I hadn't been home in over two years. My life long friend, Lee Green, decided she wanted to throw a Silpada Designs jewelry fundraiser for me. Even though my medical bills are covered (thank God) through Army benefits, my financial challenges are still great, though my husband may not see it that way. And given my pending surgery(ies), which keeps getting postponed, I've been hesitant to find a new job. (Not to mention my chemo schedule). Now my husband, despite my cancer, has me on a tight budget, and states, "My needs are met." Not to man bash, but the simple fact is that guys just don't get women sometimes. Adding the emotional needs of a cancer patient to the man vs. woman equation can complicate matters or perhaps make them simpler, depending on the couple. Unfortunately, in my case the matter is complicated. But I digress, back to gratitude for my friends. So Lee threw me this fundraiser. I felt the love in so many ways. Thank you to all my friends, old and new, who supported that event. A special shout out to Lee (of course), Marlo White and Lisa Curley who worked behind the scenes to make it a success. For her efforts, Lee got some free jewelry to show at her next Silpada Designs party. For anyone interested in the Silpada jewelry line, visit Lee's website http://www.mysilpada.com/lee.green and contact her at leegreen1965@yahoo.com (a shameless plug for my old friend, lol).

Cancer Prevention Consumption:
I also want to share some news for cancer prevention consumption. Recently, I visited a health food store on the advice of a friend to investigate some supplements. I also got advice about them from my oncologist. Here is what I discovered. Not surprisingly, my oncologist could not recommend the mushroom based supplements, nor red clover, as they might interfere with the chemo’s effectiveness. However, she did say that one of the supplements I discovered seemed benign. That supplement is called "Graviola." The health food store owner who recommended it to me showed me a brochure promoting this supplement for cancer patients who are in the midst of chemotherapy. There's a university in PA that backs this product, and claims Graviola actually makes chemo more effective at beating cancer. I should also note that my oncologist seemed to approve of eating asparagus, as mentioned in a previous post, as well AHCC and Maitake (the mushroom based supplements) and red clover, which are all okay after chemotherapy is done.

Another discovery comes from a bulletin titled "Fire in the Belly" in the June issue of "Men's Health" magazine. It states, "A recent Korean lab study found that the compound that makes chilies spicy, capsaicin, can help kill colon-cancer cells.... The Scoville scale measures capsaicin content; the more capsaicin in the peppers you eat, the greater the benefit (and the hotter the burn)." The bulletin also cites a metabolic benefit. The Scoville scale is as follows:

Type / Scoville Heat Units
Pure Capsaicin 15,000,000
Capsicum Oleoresin (used to make pepper spray) 1,500,000
Bhut Jolokia (hottest known chili variety) 1,000,000
Orange Habanero 210,000
Tabasco (Chili) 120,000
Thai Hot 60,000
Ground Cayenne 40,000
Serrano 25,000
Chipotle 5,000 - 10,000
Jalapeno 5,500
Pasilla 4,000
Tabasco Sauce 3,750
Pablano 1,500
Mulato 1,000
Bell Pepper 0

Now I'm not about to go squirting pepper spray in my mouth, I don't like too much spice. But for the first time ever, I willingly put some Tabasco sauce in my stew last night. I'll see if I can't work my tolerance up the Scoville scale. And yes, since I've posted that email about asparagus, I've been eating that on a daily basis, well almost daily. So if I do beat this cancer, we won't know what did the most good, chemo, asparagus, Graviola, capsaicin, or what. But I will certainly Thank God.

That's all the updates I have for now. More to come once I've met with my surgeon(s).

Much Love,



  1. Stacy, I use this site a lot: earthclinic.com. It is a lot people's experiences with a variety of ailments and solutions they have tried. It has helped me and my family. And since you mentioned the asparagus, mushrooms and capsaicin, I though you might be open to it. Here is the link to the cancer page: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/cancer.html (Stacey Peets)

  2. I'm so grateful there's been some movement in your whole ordeal. We love you and continue to pray for you, sweetheart.

  3. Hi Stacy,
    I'm catching up after being out of the country most of August. You've covered a lot in this post. Congrats on being your own best advocate. That's the hardest part... knowing when to challenge the doctors and when to trust the system. You are amazing. So open with all the details and taking it one day at a time. My prayers are with you!

    As for women's needs.... I recently met a man in the Washington, DC train station. It turned out he was a jeweler, and he and his wife had begun a non-profit service that delivers jewelry to cancer patients in the hospital to cheer them up. It's been immensely successful. Gives them hope and the feeling that they're still women through it all. One of his clients had cancer, and they sent her a special gift. She was so excited that they decided to make it their project.

    So yes, emotional needs are huge and they're very different for women and men.

    Have they done a study on the rate of colon cancer in Mexicans? It should be zero ;-)

    love and hugs,

  4. Thank you for keeping us posted. So glad the surgery is going to happen and of course, we're praying for you. You're amazing. That you're able to even write and share all the while going through this ordeal. Hats off to you! We love and miss you tons!

    P.S. And you are so right: men don't get women sometimes. Okay, alot of the time! :-))