Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good X-Ray Report

At my last doctor visit I mentioned a slight ache in my left upper arm, and the oncologist ordered an x-ray just to rule out a plasmacytoma, which can surprise any myeloma patient at any time. The results are in: NO PROBLEM. That's a relief, and it helps with another decision.

I have a tooth that's rather iffy - hemi-section and root canal years ago, and now starting to get weak at the root. My dentist has suggested it's time to take it out. No pain, though, and no relation to myeloma.

EXCEPT: myeloma attacks bones, and that usually requires treatment by bisphosphonate drugs such as Aredia (pamidronate) or Zometa (zoledronic acid). These are the heavy-duty cousins of Fosamax (alendronate) and similar drugs used to treat osteoporosis. Aredia and Zometa can help rebuild the myeloma-weakened bones, but they can also cause a serious side effect called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a very unpleasant and somewhat dangerous condition. ONJ often starts when a person taking Zometa or Aredia has dental surgery.

I've been holding off the removal of that bad tooth while waiting for these x-ray results. If the x-ray had disclosed a problem in the bone, I would have been headed for heavy-duty bisphosphonate treatment and would not want an open hole in my jaw. But with this all-clear signal, I'm going to get that sucker out and get the jaw healed right away.

Hearty dinner
Free-range bison, no-hormone no-antibiotic beef, organic sweet potato, organic carrots, onion, organic catsup. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 6.

Next-day's lunch:
Lunch of leftovers
"Take and Bake" organic honey whole grain bread, cold roast free-range bison and anti-biotic-free hormone-free beef, organic bread and butter pickles, organic nectarine, organic cashews. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 7.

Busy bee on the Garden Tour.
Bee on duty

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Family Means Garden Tour

Every year an organization called Family Means in Stillwater, Minnesota, organizes a "garden tour" of several local prize gardens. I had a little fun taking some pictures on the tour and made a slide show of them.

Click on the photo below to go to the slide show, then click "start" at the bottom of that page.
All-flower slide show

Friday, July 13, 2007

Too Many Food Pix

Either I'm eating too well or not blogging enough, because there are too many food pictures in the queue. So here are a few, just for no reason at all.

Bratwurst lunch
Chicken/feta/spinach bratwurst, whole wheat bread, Roquefort mustard, blackcurrant jam, organic plum. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 7.

Jim's beans with watermelon
Jim's super-fresh beans, watermelon, half of a chicken/feta/spinach bratwurst. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 2.

Blueberry snack
Blueberries, orange, leftover July 4 party brownie ("No Pudge" fat-free fudge brownie mix plus organic yogurt, Hershey's chocolate chips, vanilla extract). Estimated Weight Watcher points = 3.

Spaghetti dinner
Organic whole-wheat spaghetti, grass-fed bison & spiced ground hormone- and antibiotic-free pork, organic spaghetti sauce, organic parmesan cheese, jumbo olives. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 7.

Salad with fresh bread
Organic romaine lettuce, organic cucumber, organic celery, Danish blue cheese, avocado, organic strawberries, raspberry vinegar, "Take and Bake" organic honey whole grain bread. Estimated Weight Watchers points = 3.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two Weeks on Curcumin

So far so good. No problems, and in fact I can't really tell that I'm taking it. Some people have reported that it fixed symptoms other than the myeloma, but so far it hasn't cured my plantar fasciitis or my chronic headaches.   :-)   I still treat those in other ways.

I have gained a little weight, maybe two pounds, but I can probably point at the plantar fasciitis as the culprit because I can't run and therefore don't get quite as much exercise.

I ramped up rather quickly on the curcumin: two days at two grams, two days at four, three days at six, then eight grams, all the while looking for problems and finding none. The recommended ramp-up is much slower, taking three weeks. Some people take the whole 8-gram daily dose at one time, though, and I take only two grams at a time, four times per day.

Test results in about six weeks; appointments for labs and doctor are not made yet.

Tonight's dinner:
Tilapia with mango salsa.  Click to enlarge
Farmed pan-fried tilapia (Honduras), broccoli, "mango salsa" including organic apricot, organic plum, mango, watermelon, cucumber, and pineapple, with juice of organic lemon on the fish and broccoli, juice of organic lime on the salsa, a little salt on the fish. Sunshine liked this plate enough that she posted a photo of it on her blog too, with more details.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Myeloma's Relentless March

We stopped thalidomide two months ago, and I have had no treatment since. Blood tests were a week ago, and today I saw my doc, an oncologist/hematologist.

IgG, M-spike, and free light chains were all up from a month ago, though none by a surprising amount. I didn’t get a copy of a B2M result; I don’t yet know if it was done. Actual values from key tests are displayed graphically in the charts and numerically in the test result table. In short, it appears that the cancer is still advancing slowly and relentlessly. That’s what it does.

I started a curcumin regimen on June 27. I also asked my doc to think about low-dose naltrexone (LDN) as another complementary treatment, and he agreed to check into it. We both understand that if the myeloma makes a sudden jump, we will probably go back to “conventional” treatment such as Revlimid.

Despite their inexorable climb, my cancer numbers are still so low that it is barely considered “smoldering” myeloma. This is good. Nevertheless, I have recently felt an occasional ache in my left upper arm which I cannot pinpoint by palpation. When I suggested to the doctor that my numbers were too low for that to be a bone problem, he pointed out that a plasmacytoma can occur anywhere. He has ordered an x-ray of that bone.

In one month we will check liver and kidney function, and in two months we will do another full set of tests. Meantime, I figure on living life to the fullest. Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece!

Related links, also listed on the right sidebar:

Ham dinner
Hormone- and nitrate-free ham, organic red grapes, Jarlsberg cheese, Roquefort mustard, Dove dark chocolate. Estimated Weight Watcher points = 8.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Starting Curcumin Regimen

Food Pictures:

You may notice the food pictures on this blog; they're on my running blog too, different ones. I just wrote a post about the food pictures on my running blog here if you're interested.

Curcumin Ramp-up:

So far so good! I've now taken two grams of curcumin for each of two days, and four grams per day for two more days, with no detectable side effects except possibly one (1) hive. Just one place on one shoulder, gone a day later, quite likely not caused by the curcumin, though hives and rash are side effects that have been described by others. Next trick is six grams, which I will do today. If there are side effects I'll back off, otherwise I will hold at this dosage for a few days before increasing to eight grams per day.

I feel good though; a general sense of well-being. That could be in my head, the product of a nice Sunday afternoon heading toward the Fourth of July. But maybe the curcumin plays a part too. It is, after all, an anti-inflammatory and who knows what else. For much more about the benefits of curcumin, in fact ANYTHING about curcumin, see Margaret's Corner.

The Plan:
  • Single dose: Two grams of curcumin and one gram of oil:
    • One gram of "Doctor's Best" curcumin with bioperine
    • One gram of "NSI" turmeric extract with bioperine, and
    • One gram of "Member's Mark" organic flaxseed oil or another beneficial oil.
  • Four of those 2-gram doses per day, between meals:
    • Midnight. I get up a few times in the night for BPH anyway.
    • 5:00 or 6:00 am, before morning coffee or breakfast.
    • 10:30 am, well before lunch.
    • 4:30 pm, well before dinner.
  • Empty stomach when possible. Experts say this works best. Some bottles of curcumin say to take it with meals, however, so I won't be a stickler.
  • If a dose is missed, double up on the next one. Some people take all eight grams at once anyway. I'm spreading it out so that the curcumin is in the blood more of the time, though it might actually work better to take it all at once so that the peak concentration goes higher; I don't know.
  • No aspirin. I have been taking an 81-mg aspirin daily for years, but curcumin thins the blood so I will stop. But if I were taking Revlimid or thalidomide, I would certainly want to discuss this with my doctor.
  • Two brands, an equal amount from each, on the off-chance that one brand is not up to its advertised standards.
  • Margaret also takes quercetin with her curcumin. I don't yet, but may start.
I am not a doctor. Curcumin in these dosages is NOT benign; if it were benign it wouldn't help. No one knows the long-term effects of curcumin in these dosages; I am taking a calculated risk. If you are considering curcumin, please consult with your oncologist or primary physician first, and be sure that you monitor the effects often enough.

The curcumin brands mentioned above are described in greater detail in a previous post. A single dose is pictured below, curcumin 2 grams and flaxseed oil one gram.

One dose (I will take this 4x daily)

Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic nectarine, organic plum, pecans. Estimated Weight Watchers points = 5.
Berry good breakfast