Cancer, Chemo…Now What?

I want to start this post by saying there are thousands of people who have been touched by cancer, and I can’t imagine the decisions that have to be made under such circumstances.  Regardless of your stance on standard cancer treatments, there is a huge population of people, our people, that have been through it and deserve to know there are things they can afterwards that will help restore some of the health lost in collateral damage while going through treatment to save their life.  This post is for those people who have been there, done it, can’t change the past, but want to set up the best future possible for their health moving forward.  This is not a recommendation for cancer therapy, treatment, or anything of that nature.  This is the plan moving forward.

Are you with me? 

What is chemo and what does it affect?

Chemotherapy is just the name of drug therapy aimed at killing cancer cells under the premise that they multiply quickly and we don’t want them to spread.  However, it is not selective to cancer cells.  It has a major impact on ALL cells that grow quickly like certain blood cells and especially the cells of the intestines. Chemotherapy drugs and their byproducts are also toxic to these little organelles in our cells called mitochondria.  Mitochondria are responsible for producing cellular energy called ATP.  Now, that’s great, but what does this have to do with me!?  If you have been through chemo, you know these things are happening because the bowel issues that arise, and the fatigue that takes over.  And that’s ok.  You were fighting for your life!  But now we need to nurse those two things back to health if we don’t want recurrence, formation of neuropathy, autoimmune diseases, etc.  There is a chance you will never have 100% function in these areas again, but we can try our best!

How can I start healing my gut?

It’s not really a secret to health professionals that chemo changes the gut, but what I was surprised to find out while researching journals for specific measures of damage is that just one single day of chemotherapy increases the permeability of the intestines by 7 fold.  ONE DAY!  We are concerned about that permeability because damaging the cells in the intestines allows things that should stay in the intestines to get into the blood.  When they end up in the blood, your immune system freaks out and produces antibodies against them…rightfully so.  However, this is how we end up with certain systemic infections, allergies, and autoimmunity that has the potential to damage any organ’s tissue.  If the organ with the most depleted nutrients in reserve is your thyroid, then we may see Hashimoto’s.  If the organ is joint tissue, then maybe Rheumatoid arthritis.  This is an incredibly important issue to address.  Some very basic guidelines as to HOW to address this permeability are:

  • eat gluten-free
  • eat dairy-free
  • eat bone broth daily
  • eat fermented foods or take probiotics
  • consider supplements with growth factors like that signal cell repair like colostrum
  • don’t exercise too intensely
  • reduce stress
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • get in the sun or supplement with vitamin D3
  • sleep 8 hours a night
  • consider periods of intermittent fasting to allow the GI tract to rest from digestion
  • juice fresh vegetables daily

How can I restore my energy?

We have almost all heard that we have 10 times the amount of bacteria in our body than we do cells.  A statistic you may not have heard is that we exponentially more mitochondria than bacteria!  Without these little guys in our cells, they don’t function.  It’s amazing to me that you can pluck the nucleus out of a cell, which contains the DNA, and the cell can still function because of the presence of mitochondria!  However, if you pluck out the mitochondria, it ends in certain, quick cell death.  So, these things are super important and are often the missing link behind conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, fibromyalgia, etc.  Today though, we are talking about how chemo negatively impacts your mitochondria.  Side note that certain antibiotics also have a negative impact on mitochondria…. Ok, back to what to do about it:

  • do burst exercise (it not only improves their function, but causes them to multiply)
  • intermittent fast
  • eat balanced macros (protein, fat, carbs) but try to slowly transition to lower carb for a while
  • eat some grassfed red meat
  • eat lots of organic, colorful vegetables and their juices
  • reconsider the use of statins or supplement with COQ10
  • use saunas
  • consider laser therapy

These are two areas that need your support in order to restore function to the best of your body’s ability.  It is ALWAYS essential to have a plant-based, whole food diet, good sleep, adequate exercise, and successful stress management.  However, those things are hard to implement sometimes without tools and a little direction.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Remember that may mean looking to a different provider.  When we have fires, we call firemen.  When we need the building restored after the fire, we call contractors and carpenters.  Alternative care providers are not experts at putting out the fire necessarily, but they are the expert at RESTORING AND MAINTAINING HEALTH.  There are always additional things that can increase healing beyond basic lifestyle, and don’t be afraid to explore those things either.  Things such as massage, chiropractic, supplementation, infrared saunas, detoxification baths, etc.  They all have a place, and it’s your job to explore and find what feels right and works for you.  I hope this was helpful, although somewhat basic, it gets the basics across. ;)

*This is not intended to diagnose, treat, or direct care for any patient.  Consult your physician for information that would be right for your case.