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In July 2012, at the age of 38, I was given the devastating news that I had advanced ovarian cancer. This is my blog and the story of my fight to regain my health. I hope to share with you things that I've found helpful along my journey and keep you posted on my progress.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Enagaged and Stable!

Hello everybody.  A lot of things have been happening since my last update.

One of the main things is that my partner John proposed to me, so we are now engaged!  I must admit I didn’t expect it at all and I was absolutely taken back and surprised.  We’ve been together for about 3 and a half years and getting engaged was my dream.  Well, getting married was my dream, but this is a big step towards it!  I am thrilled that I have on my agenda to organise for us to get married.  We are hoping to plan it for early next year depending on how the organising goes.  Luckily I never wanted a big wedding, so that fits in with not having the means for it!  For me the main thing is that John proposed and that we will be married.  One of my dreams is coming true.

The other big news is that I had my 3 monthly follow up blood test and I am glad to say that my cancer is currently stable.  Following all my most recent treatments, my tumour marker had dropped to 33, in October.  It had risen slightly to 36 a few weeks later but my most latest result was 35 – a drop of one point!  I am very happy about this.  It’s always a nerve-wracking time taking blood for the tumour marker test.  I get very nervous and fearful of the reading.   I don’t think it ever gets easier but I’m trying to learn how to deal with it as calmly as possible.  The doctors also wanted to do a CT scan but I refused as I had a clear scan fairly recently and I am trying my best to avoid further radiation – they only want a CT scan to be able to offer more chemo and I really don’t want that.

Another recent development was a consultation I had with an oncologist who has an interest in alternative methods as well as conventional treatments.  He suggested a few off-label drugs for me to consider.  Off-label drugs are drugs that can have a beneficial in treating medical problems that they were not originally intended for.  One of these was Low Dose Naltrexone.  I’ve been told by a couple of other alternative doctors in the past that this might be beneficial and there seems to be lots of evidence on the internet that it can shrink tumours and help control ovarian cancer.  There are also apparently clinical trials now being conducted with it.  It is something I’ve tried in the past but I thought I would give it another go.    Unfortunately I had to stop it fairly soon as I was getting hallucinations and fears.  I was very disappointed about this as it did sound promising but I tried my best and it is obviously not for me.

Another off-label drug that was recommended to me was metformin.  This drug is normally used for diabetic patients but there are some active studies looking into its use for treating cancer.   It is well known that cancer feeds on sugar, so I can see how a medication that controls levels of sugar in the blood could be a useful aid to fighting cancer.  So, I am in a process of trying to get hold of it.  I’ve been referred to a private clinic that is doing a study on metformin for treating cancer, so this may be an option.

I’m also looking into one other off-label drug that was recommended to me – artesunate.  This is a form of artemisinin - a herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine - and it is most commonly used to treat malaria.  Again, this has been shown to have beneficial effects against cancer and some clinics abroad already offer infusions of this as part of their treatment programmes.  I’ve identified a private clinic in the UK though that may be able to prescribe this for me.

In the meantime, I am continuing the supplement regime put together by the medical herbalist I saw in October and I’ve got a follow-up appointment with him in January.

So, I have few things on the go that will both keep me busy (researching new treatments) and happy (getting married!).

Thank you for reading and thank you for everyone for their onging support with my fundraising appeal.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Clinical Trial Disappointment

I just wanted to do a quick update.

First of all I’d like to express my huge thanks for all the donations that have been made. Thank you for the Rock Choir members who were kind enough to have a look at my blog and generously donate.  I really appreciate it.

I took another blood test on the 20th October and my tumour marker went down to 33, 2 points under the normal limit of 35 that I needed to achieve to qualify for the clinical trial of the new PARP Inhibitor drug.   However, I had one more hurdle to overcome – my blood counts were too low to go ahead and the window of opportunity to start the trial was running out.  I had less than one week left to get my blood counts up.

I agreed to have a blood transfusion over the weekend and re-tested my blood on the Monday.  My red blood cells were now up to the required level, but my white blood cells where still too low.  The doctors gave me one more chance to test my white  blood cells on Wednesday but unfortunately they were still too low.  Nobody can explain why my white blood cells were so low, as my last chemo was 8 weeks ago, so it should have recovered by now, but my view is that it may have been caused by stopping all my supplements (which are prohibited on the trial), as these had been supporting my immune system.

Anyway, I was quite upset at first that I didn’t qualify for the clinical trial, but after a while I accepted that it was just not meant to be.  I’d done everything I could to try to get on to the trial but as I see it now, the universe just didn’t want me to go on that path.

So, what now!  I saw a very experienced medical herbalist few a weeks ago who suggested a completely new supplement regime to support my body’s natural defences.  I’m going to start this and I hope it will make a difference.

The doctors at the hospital have arranged for another CT scan and blood test to check my tumour marker in 5 weeks time.  Although my last two CT scans showed no visible disease and my tumour marker is now within the normal range, it is almost certain that some cancer cells remain and that it will start growing back quite soon.  I’ve been told to expect this to happen sooner than with my previous remission, which was only 7 months long.  However, despite this, the doctors have no other treatments that they can offer me under the NHS until they see the disease on the CT scan, as there are no approved drugs for use in my situation. 

I’m not happy with this watch-and-wait approach, as it seems to me that it is better to try to fight the cancer when it’s weaker rather than wait for it to grow stronger again, so I’m exploring what other private treatment options there are that I could possibly pursue now to improve my longer term prospects.

I am particularly keen on immunotherapy type treatments, which I feel offer more chance of a real breakthrough, rather than simply buying more time.  These treatments do not try to kill cancer cells with toxic chemicals, like chemo, but instead they train the body’s own immune system to fight off the cancer.  There are two different types of immunotherapy treatments that I’m currently looking into:   Dendritic Cell Therapy and Immunepheresis.  I am still in the process of researching these and thinking through what to do next but I do feel that I need to do something fairly soon before the cancer takes over again.  This is where I need your help and your donations to my fundraising appeal will make a difference. 

That’s all from me for now.  I will keep you informed.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Update and Budwig Protocol

Update on My Progress

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for quite a while but I’ve been extremely busy with treatments over the last 6 weeks.  These have all finished now though, so I wanted to share with you what’s been happening and also give you some information about my favourite alternative anti-cancer protocol.

So, where shall I start – there’s quite a lot to tell you about?  I had my final chemo session on 9th September (number 6 of 6) and flew out to Austria the same day to begin several weeks of additional treatment there that I hoped would boost my response and get my tumour marker down into the normal range.  My all important tumour marker, which indicates how much active cancer there is, was 51 at this point.  The normal range is under 35.  If you get under 35 and there are no signs of cancer on the CT scans, you are officially “in remission”.  However, this number has an even greater significance for me.  I have also, been offered the possibility of a new trial drug, which has shown promising signs in early trials, but I can only have this if my tumour marker goes down to 35!  Having come down already from 7,756 to 51, I was tantalisingly close.

My Tumour Marker Chart!
To qualify for the trial drug, the trial doctors also needed access to my tumour sample.  However, when the they went to look for it they couldn’t find it!  I was told by the hospital that they has “exhausted all avenues” to locate it and that they “fear it may never be found”.  You can imagine my disbelief when I found this out.  Not only would this mean that I would not be eligible for the new trial drug that I’d been put forward for but probably also any new trial drugs in the future.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, after several phone calls, emails and a formal complaint, the hospital put in the extra resources needed to carry out a thorough search of the pathology lab and they did eventually find it!  So, after a great deal of anxiety we now had the tumour sample and could go back to focusing on getting my tumour marker down.

Treatments in Austria 

So, back to my treatments in Austria.  The treatment regime there was very intense.  I spent 6-7 hours a day in the clinic receiving treatments every day, except weekends.  The core part of the treatment was various types of hyperthermia, where they raise your body temperature to fever levels.  I also had infusions of high dose vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acoid and taurolin.  It was very tiring but unlike chemotherapy, all of the treatments were safe and non-toxic.  The key thing for me though, was would it get my tumour marker down?  I had another blood test on Monday of this week to check my tumour marker and it had gone down to 37 – just 2 points above where I needed it to be!  I have one more week to go before the opportunity for the trial drug expires, so I have everything crossed that it will go down another 2 points or more before next week.  I then have to hope that I don’t get the placebo, as it is a randomised controlled trial and there is a 1 in 3 chance of getting the placebo instead of the trial drug.  It does seem that you have to have a lot of luck on your side when fighting cancer!

The Budwig Cancer Protocol

Dr Johanna Budwig
I also wanted to write something about the Budwig Protocol which I feel is one of the best alternative cancer therapies that I’ve come across.  Immediately after I was diagnosed in June 2012, Chila, my sister, and John started researching the seemingly endless advice on the internet about alternative cancer treatments and came across the Budwig Protocol.  This seemed to be one of the most established and successful alternative cancer protocols around, so I started it as soon as I recovered from my surgery.

The protocol was developed by a German biochemist called Dr Johanna Budwig, a seven-times Nobel Prize nominee.  She passed away in 2003, at the age of 95, but spent much of her lifetime conducting clinical research into natural cancer treatments based around oils.  Dr Budwig found that by combining flaxseed oil with the sulphurated amino acids found in cottage cheese, the oil would become water soluble and available for use by the body’s cells. This in turn would help carry more oxygen to the cells, helping to fight the cancer.

The protocol she developed involves taking a blended mixture of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese twice a day, together with ground flax seeds.  For lunch a fresh salad is recommended with some cooked vegetables.  For dinner a vegetable soup with spices, especially turmeric is recommended.  A very small amount of ‘healthful’ cheese is allowed during the day, as it contains vitamin K2, which is a cancer fighter.  In the evening a glass of organic red wine is allowed, as it has resveratrol in it, which is a also a cancer fighter.

In addition to the dietary advice, Dr Budwig also advised going outside for at least one 30 minutes walk each day and trying to get as much sunshine as you can.  As well as offering vitamin D benefits, the sunshine interacts with the electrons in the oils to help more oxygen reach the cells.  Furthermore, 20-30 minutes meditation is recommended for relaxation and Dr Budwig recommends regular coffee enemas for detoxification of the liver and to help with pain management.  I will post more about coffee enemas another time as that is a big subject on its own!

There is an excellent internet Yahoo support group for the Budwig Protocol, with over 20,000 members.  This has much more detailed advice on the protocol if you are interested, as well as a very active and helpful forum.

It’s hard to say for definite that the Budwig protocol has helped me, as I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t done it, but I can say that while I was on the protocol I felt very well and full of energy most of the time.  People were also commenting on how well I looked, as it did wonders for my skin!  Obviously for me, this protocol wasn’t strong enough to get rid of my cancer on its own, but there are many people who have healed themselves using the Budwig Protocol alone.

Just a little tip for the Budwig mixture.  Some people find it difficult to take in the recommended amount of oil into their body.  I found it helps to add small amounts of fruit like bananas and berries, honey or cocoa powder.   All of these additions are compatible with the protocol and give it a very edible and pleasant taste.  I sometimes made ice cream from it and enjoyed it as a dessert.

That’s it from me for this post!  I’ll post again when I have some more news. Thank you for all your kind wishes and support during my journey, I really appreciate it.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Causes Of My Cancer

I would like to start this post by thanking everybody who has donated to my fundraising appeal.  I have been touched by the number of responses I have received and by everyone’s generosity.  I really appreciate all the help. 

The amount of money raised up until now has helped me to have 8 days of treatment in Austria at an Integrated Oncology Centre, which I believe offers the best treatment options for me.  While I was there I had several infusions of high dose vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid, and also several sessions of local hypothermia and mild whole body hypothermia.  The clinic has been treating people with these treatments for 23 years with very good results and the doctor in charge has an excellent international reputation, so it really does offer me more hope for the future.This is the video showing some of the treatment undertaken at the clinic:

Unfortunately, the treatment regime involves more extensive treatment in the near future and then after this it is likely that I will need to go back for a number of follow up visits.  I’ll only be able to cover the cost of all of this with the help of the fundraising, so your help really does make a difference. 

I thought I would share with you in this post, what I think were the main causes of my illness.  In future posts I’ll talk more about some of the steps I’ve taken in my battle to regain my health.

I am convinced that the cancer happened to me because of three main reasons:

1. My Diet

I was a sweet addict.  Before my diagnosis I used to eat large amounts of chocolate almost every single day (it was my comfort food!).   I drank virtually no water and instead drank around 2 litres of orange juice a day (yet more sugar!).  My food intake wasn’t the healthiest either.  I didn’t eat that much processed food but I used to cook infrequently and eat the cooked food over a number of days, so it was rarely freshly cooked and the nutritional value of the food probably wasn’t that great.  I didn’t eat very many fresh vegetables and tended to eat meals that required little time in the kitchen!

2. Stress

My stress level was and still is very high - I tend to stress out about everything.  I think this may be my biggest challenge of all. I’ve been like this as long as I can remember.  Lots of studies have shown that stress plays a massive role in the development of cancer.  I am working hard on it though and I am on the road of learning how to manage and reduce my stress level and bring healing to myself.

3. My Lifestyle

I used to smoke and only quit about 3 years before my diagnosis and for the 2 years leading up to my diagnosis I lived in the damp basement bedsit, with very little natural light.  I tended to stay indoors a lot, so didn’t get much fresh air and sunshine.  I did exercise most days on an exercise bike (mainly to burn off the chocolate!) but this tended to be extremely intense exercise, which I now know can lead to a variety of health problems.  I also worked as a dental nurse, so was regularly in contact with mercury and other toxic chemicals, which were probably also helping to overload my body’s defence systems. 

I am in a process of addressing all three of these causes, but I do need time for that.  I started as soon as I got diagnosed and immediately made radical changes to my diet and lifestyle.  I am researching and studying all the time to learn how to manage my stress and I try my best to put this into practice every day through meditation and other techniques.

I go out for walks and fresh air every time I feel strong enough and I am looking forward to start yoga straight after I recover from my treatment.

That’s it for now.  Next time I’ll share with you some of the things I've done to try to tackle my cancer.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Welcome To My Blog

Hi everybody - welcome to my blog!

This is my very first blog post.  I’ve never written a blog before, so please bear with me as I find my way.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Beata and I am 40 years old.  I am originally from Serbia but moved to the UK about 15 years ago and now live in Surrey with my partner John and his two children.

I’m the one in the front!

In July 2012, at the age of 38, I was given the devastating news that I had advanced ovarian cancer.  I was told that I may only have 2 years to live and a maximum of 8 if I am very lucky.  When most people have a mid-life crisis they do something like climb a mountain or maybe start up a new career, for me it’s a very different type of challenge – a mid-life cancer crisis

Throughout my life I’ve faced many difficult challenges but none bigger than this one.  I have fought hard to get here today, so I’m not willing to accept that my life may be snatched away from me so soon.  I am planning to be very, very lucky and live another 50 years but I know I have a very big fight on my hands.

Me with no hair after chemo!

I am starting this blog for anyone who is interested in following what I am doing, seeing how I am progressing and finding out what I have found useful in my battle with cancer.

Since I was diagnosed in July 2012, I have tried many different approaches to fight my cancer and have learnt a great deal in the process.  I want to share some of my experiences here in the hope that it will help others.

There are people who say that cancer cannot be cured unless you address the cause as well as the symptoms.  I firmly believe this.  I am convinced my cancer started because of my unhealthy food intake, my lifestyle and the level of stress I was under; basically I was struggling to control my stress.  Since then I have read masses of books and information on the internet and I have drastically changed my diet and lifestyle.  I now eat healthily and lead a much healthier lifestyle. 

The stress part of my illness is the trickiest one.  I am reading as much as I can about mindfulness, stress reduction, endless quantum possibilities, and meditation and, I must say, at times I feel my stress level is better.  So, I’m sure that if I keep practicing, reading and listening to lectures as much as I can and I will get there.  I will eventually become a little Buddha! 

But I need to gain time to achieve that and at the moment time is not on my side.
From the research I’ve done I’ve found that there are treatments available abroad in specialist cancer clinics that are not available in the UK, as well as additional supplements, which could really help and give me the time I need to become healthy and reduce the stress that caused the cancer in the first place.  But, as all this has to be paid for privately, I can’t afford to do this on my own.  So, I have I have set up a fundraising appeal to try to raise the money I need to fund this.  I know that everyone has their own battles to fight but if you feel you can help in any way that would be great. Here is the link:

Visit My Fundraising Appeal

That’s it for now!  Join me as I journey through the biggest fight of my life and I’ll do my best to share with you what has helped me and what hasn’t.