January 27th, 2009: The past days have been dense and complicated since Eileen and I visited with Dr. Greene. I’ve felt a lot of disappointment and grief that my belief Western medicine could cure me has not been realized with the chemo treatments. I haven’t blamed myself or the medical community, but I have felt a loss of my hopes. However, a friend urged me to check the web site of the Optimum Health Institute, a facility in San Diego (there’s also one in San Antonio) that offers dietary healing as well as post-chemo cleansing to get rid of the toxins that have accumulated during treatments.
After reading their material, the hopes of getting relief from the rigors of chemo as well as a place to totally focus on my health and well-being sounded like a great idea. Plus, I am currently on the upswing from the last chemo session so I feel increasingly good in my body and am able to get around with good energy reserves through the day. I am not decimated by nausea or fatigue. Given these physical pluses, it seemed like an optimum time to attend this three week course.
This decision meant that I would not be in town for the fourth round of chemo as I had discussed with Dr. Jahan. I wrote this letter to the doctors on my team at UCSF.
After talking with you and Dr. Greene last week, it has become clear to me that the three courses of chemo I've taken have done good work to stop the tumor growth and even shrink sections of the pelvic and lung tumors. However, I needed much more shrinkage to merit surgery. Specifically, it would have been helpful if the lung tumors had disappeared entirely and if the pelvic tumor had also unraveled from much of its invasion of the densely packed tissues and organs.
It's been difficult to accept the results of the scans because I feel physically fine. The shrinkage that has occurred has given me a great deal of ease during walking, sitting and all the motion that used to cause pain. Even the pain medication has dropped because of less physical complaint. However, the scans themselves are relentless. There's a big mass in my pelvis and surgical intervention would be at best debilitating. None of us want that.
Also, I have used up three of the maximum six courses of chemo that are recommended. If I take the next three courses of chemo over, say, the next six months, then I am left with tumors that would probably be smaller than today. However, I have also exhausted my medical defenses. With no more chemo allowed, the tumors would basically have nothing to stop their growth. Plus, I am more exhausted after three more chemo treatments.
Rather than pursue more chemo, I am going to request a halt in our plans. I would like to take a break from the schedule we've discussed and do something different. I have set up a three week stay at the Optimum Health Institute in Southern California to help my body release toxins from the first three rounds of chemo. Through a mix of diet, cleansing and meditation, this program supports the body to lead the cancer fighting effort. I plan to be at this facility from mid-February through the first week in March.
This is a difficult decision because I have enjoyed working with you very, very much. Your enthusiasm has been infectious in the best senses and you have certainly inspired my willingness to give the chemotherapy a chance. My body has responded well but more was needed in my case. I walked into your office with some major metastases and the chemo has not been able to reverse those.
I am as hopeful for this new course of treatment as I was for the effectiveness of chemotherapy. I would appreciate continuing to be in your practice since I will still need scans and observation to determine the effectiveness of this alternate path. Additionally, I still have the port installed and I would like to leave it intact since I may need it in the future.
As always, I will listen to you carefully and with consideration. If you have questions or comments about my decision, please do not hesitate to let me know. Again, I want to thank you for the all the good work you have done for me and I look forward to seeing you again.