It’s been close to a year since diagnosis and Brad is doing great, thank God! We have learned so much and much more to come, we suspect. Early on, Brad made peace with it all and let go of the fear. He was really ill, back then. He still has cancer, but he says he is living with cancer; he would rather a little cancer, than a lot. I feel the same way. It’s the glass half full/half empty scenario. We have seen three of our friends pass away, this year, the same age and younger than Brad.When we wake in the morning and I ask Brad how he slept and he says Good! and I ask How do you feel? And he says Good! I take the day and enjoy it, live life as business as usual. In some ways, cancer has enriched our lives more than one could ever imagine living with cancer would. The outpouring of love from all around the globe and strangers giving their time to help and guide us is overwhelming. Brad says he feels all of the prayers and well wishes and they help him heal.
Brad has had so far, a total of 20 rounds of chemotherapy. The first 8 were 3 types, including Oxaliplatin which contains liquid platinum, Herceptin (relatively harmless except for 1/5000 have heart issues, the Dr says). We take Omega 3 to keep the heart strong. 5FU (Folfox) is another chemo which is the take-home for 2 days in a fanny pack/bum bag type of chemo (maintenance). After the 8 rounds, we dropped the platinum one. Currently, one more 5fu to go, a ct scan and hopefully, a 6 week chemo break.
We stand by everything we say regarding chemotherapy. Flush, flush, flush. Brad has all of his hair and a lot of the gray hair has turned brown!. He says it’s thinned a little but I don’t see it. His neuropathy has gone away, another thing said to be impossible to get rid of and he says overall, he feels better than he has, in years. He cycles to and from work, every day. Another note on chemo, we have learned to keep everything sanitized as much as we can and we decided to keep our cat, but found out the hard way that a cat scratch causes bad infection and it totally knocked us off of our treatment tracks. Brad needed to stop treatments and go on antibiotics with an already compromised immune system, healing took longer. We got through it, but took a setback and the lung spots grew in that time. Thankfully, they shrunk, again. It is so hard to keep Leo out of the bedroom at night, but once scratched, twice shy.
We have learned how so important diet is. Even just a little baking soda in water helps a lot. Unfortunately, we have learned that sadly, the Oncology field are yet to be pro-active when it comes to diet. They do science, we are told. I totally get it, now. They do science but that’s all they do and the statistics they give are true...for what they can do but with diet, we can do more than that and bring the statistics way up. As the public has been learning about the “new way of thinking” as our nurse says, the survival percentage for esophageal cancer has gone from 5% chance of living more than a year and a half to a 13% chance of living more than 5 years. That’s quite a difference. We believe cannabis oil and diet, AVOIDING SUGAR is a major factor in this stat upgrade.
We have found out that we are not alone in our success. We know people with success stories, esophageal cancer success stories without operations or radiation, just chemo, cannabis oil and diet. We all abide by basically the same rules even though we never knew each other before and are on opposite sides of the globe. Others have had success with operations, too.
When people ask for proof, Brad is proof. There are 68 people on the trial at the University of Chicago, out of around 14 million people living in Chicagoland. That’s how deadly EC can be. On our side, we know 3 other esophageal cancer patients who are either off chemo totally, off chemo but taking Herceptin or one who still has EC but had a 50% reduction on his 2nd CT scan. He is Her-2 negative so that is even more amazing because he was not a candidate for Herception, which is classed as a godsend, to the AMA, regarding cancer. Since I’ve started this update, we have learned so much more, so there will be another update soon.
Brad is doing fantastic, thank God. They wanted him back on platinum, as a preventative step, last Thursday. We said, eh, lets wait til after the holidays, especially if the doom and gloom from the oncology Dr. is true. Why go sicken a person who only has a so called month left to live? Let me tell you all, he would have had only a month and a half left to live, if we put him back on platinum. Here is my thought...Science is the subject of the known and the unknown. This is what makes science, science. THERE IS MORE TO LEARN. When I see a scientist tell me as a preventative step, they are going to poison something because they believe there is no other answer, then I see a small-minded scientist. I will stand by this until the day I die. Poisoning a person, especially just throwing anything and everything at a person, is not the way to heal somebody. Good diet is the first step. No sugar, no salt, no animal fat (yeah that sucks worse than the first 2) and tons of fruits and veg and tons and tons of love.
Today is our 1 and a half year anniversary since Brad's diagnosis. Now, we can truly say Brad has beaten the odds. Statistics gave a 5% chance of living a year and a half and here we are, enjoying our Sunday, excited to move into our new place and super excited about my new job. Congratulations, Baby!
Brad is an inspiration and I am a lucky gal to call him mine. The past couple of months have been hard for me, worrying if the Dr. was right and the stats and now the Dr. really can't say much. Brad has already outlived the stats by 6 months, even more if we take in the time before diagnosis when he was already having issues swallowing. It is so frustrating to see how the Oncology Dr. refuses to give any credit to our homlistic way. Let me say, there is no way that 40 double chemo's (10 of which were triples, heavy metal chemo added) is the reason Brad feels fantastic. Chemo doesn't make people feel fantastic. When I pointed out how good the blood work looks, the Dr. gave the credit to Brad not doing heavy metal chemo for a year. When I mentioned yeah...and all the work we do at home, he turned his back on me, ended the conversation. He also likes to claim he is the reason Brad swallows when we all know it was the oil before we ever started chemo. I am sure the chemo has a lot to do with maintaining but CO is the bomb and everyone fighting cancer should look into using some form of it.
It has been quite an amazing time and we have learned so much. It is sad to see the hospital (#14 comprehensive cancer hospital in the United States) refuses to stop passing out sugar treats to cancer patients and will not give any dietary advice except eat sticky buns and fatten him up any way you can...ice-cream, baked potato with all the trimmings. I kid you not, that is what the dietician and Oncology doctor told us to do.
When I asked a head nurse the difference between veg and animal protein, she didn't have a clue. One major aspect we've learned is that chemo can be an effective part of the whole treatment, as long as the person flushes their system. Chemo is a killer to deal with and many people are totally anti-chemo. Many folk can't take the side effects. The cannabis oil helps the chemo be more effective. Whenever Brad felt any nausea, a hit off of a vape pen would settle him down, no problem.
What a strange place to be where when a friend told us his girlfriend has Non Hodgkins lymphoma, we were relieved for her, there's every reason to believe that she will be fine. Work the diet, flush flush flush. 5 chemo's and she should be done and on with the rest of her life. Cancer is terrifying but I wish people were given more hope because our little 1 case study has shown how positivity is major to a successful outcome.
The hospital allows us to leave our website cards and we have seen over 200 views on the site since then, so it makes us feel good to know we are helping folk. We've had over 5000 visits on the site. One nurse call us her power couple and many nurses say Brad's story needs to be shared. Up until recently, we didn't understand why the nurses feel this way. Then, the Dr. showed us a graph of a patient similar to Brad. In 2 years, this person had to go through heavy metal chemo 3 times and probably felt like crap for all of it.
Another great lesson we've learned is to not sweat the small stuff. We only have one life and every day is a gift!!
In June, Brad had completed another 6 rounds of oxaliplatin. He was fairly stable. Brad was feeling great. His weight was down but he was working out and doing a few laps in the pool, most days. In hindsight, we should hav been adding carbs back in to the diet to help build muscle. Instead, he was losing muscle content.
Without a break from heavy chemo Brad started taking "Irinotecan" heavy chemo on top of his maintenance 5fu and herceptin. I was against Brad taking it. It is an immune suppresser and totally the opposite of Dr. Lobe's treatments which boost the immune system. I wish Brad's oncology Dr. were an integrative Doctor...a Dr. who considers their patients beliefs regarding holistic's, diet, spirituality, positivity. Brad's Dr. flat out denied that diet has anything to do with healing from cancer. In fact, he told me in an email that people actually live longer if they don't do the healthy diet!! If he were an integrative Dr. he would have let Brad know that this drug was an immune suppressor and the opposite of his holistic treatments. Brad would have had to decide there and then but at least he would have had an informed choice.
The day Brad went for the first irinotecan, his oncology Dr. was out of the country. Brad had found out at his last platinum chemo that there is dextrose- a glucose in oxaliplatin. He was so upset. So, when he was introduced to this new chemo, he immediately googled for the ingredients. He found out that it is a form of salt and the carrier is sorbitol which is another glucose and similar to a baby laxative. He refused the sorbitol and they replaced it with sodium chloride. The nurses kept coming in asking if he felt the need to have diarrhea. Nope! He was fine. The nurses were amazed.
This chemo was the first I had seen where Brad was on his knees in the bathroom. After46 double chemo's, 14 of which included oxaliplatin and 2 in the beginning also included something we don't even know what it was. This chemo took him out at the knees. Within a few days he ended up back in hospital from dehydration. His body was swollen up like a balloon. When the swelling went down, almost all of his muscle content had gone. We were caught off guard, seeing how well he had been feeling, all along.
His tumor marker number was around 700 before this drug was introduced. Again, in hindsight, I wish we never were given those numbers. Nobody told us that 700 was low. We were left to worry the whole way through from when Brad's # started to rise from 27. The solution the University of Chicago had for us was to give Brad the same chemo again but add a steroid. Brad refused and the battle began to get his Dr. to lower the percentage of the drug they would give him.
From that chemo on, Brad's whole temperament changed. Our once sweet, funny, passive, laid-back guy had become angry, aggravated at everything. He would fly off the handle and he realized it himself. This really bothered him. Being a psychologist he knew the chemo side-effects were getting a grip on his psyche.
Around the same time, Brad went for an endoscopy. I was in bed after neurosurgery for a few weeks so I was unaware of the full extent of the exam, that day. The way I see it is...Leave the dead mass in the esophagus alone. If it were alive, we would have known after 2 years. Brad would have issues swallowing at the beginning of most meals and I could tell it made him think maybe it was growing again. I kept insisting it was just scar tissue and that things would continue to get stuck on him and that we should avoid stringy things and dense foods (having him eat a strawberry or blueberry first really helped. We found that letting the saliva glands go nuts first, then eating helped avoid sticking and backing up).
My phone rang and it was U of C saying I needed to go there to release Brad. I didn't understand why until I got there. Brad's endoscopy Dr. came in and said "Mr. Forcier, your endoscopy went great. In fact, the endoscopy went straight down into your stomach, no problem." Brad looked at me like he was in trouble. She then went on to say "I didn't have to stretch your esophagus but I did a little bit, anyway." Again, the look from Brad. I was boiling up. If something ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Then she said she took a couple of biopsies. My head just dropped. I had explained what the dead mass looks liketo Brad, in the past so I asked the Dr. what it looked like and she described it the same way I had, to Brad. She said that it looked like a piece of cauliflower and that stringy things would stick to it and to be careful of what he eats but nothing to worry about.
In late September, Brad went to NE for a birthday party. He had been eating less, drinking less green drinks, taking less supplements, taking less cannabis oil and I was useless to him at that point, dealing with the effects of neurosurgery. Once he was in NE he found it difficult to find any food in his diet that he could eat or wanted to eat and I wasn't there to help him. (We were afraid anything would happen to me with cabin pressure and my head so I didn't go).
I think he believed that the biopsy/stretching had re-activated the mass in his esophagus. His belief of what was happening in his esophagus was as important (maybe more) than the actual reality of what was happening with the mass. He was really surprised the endoscopy day to hear his esophagus was wide open. Once he heard that, he was swallowing again immediately...for a while. He had read somewhere of how after a biopsy or stretching the mass could come back quickly. I think that was in the back of his mind.
With the lack of nutrition needed while on his vacation, Brad ended up in hospital. I was flown in. When I got there, he had been admitted. This hospital made so many serious mistakes, what should have been a quick in-out, turned into 8 days there and then a week in rehab just to fix his digestive system back up and get him out of the bed and moving.
The hospital he went to is a teaching hospital. My Rule #1: WHEN AT A TEACHING HOSPITAL or any hospital, MAKE IT CLEAR TO ASK FOR THE MOST EXPERIENCED DOCTOR AND NOT AN INTERN OR STUDENT.
They did a test on fluid they removed from a sac below Brad's stomach. They said if there was a sign of infection, they would give him antibiotics. The test came back negative but they gave him the antibiotics, anyway. This is when I came into the picture.
Brad was taken in for lack of nutrition and THIS HOSPITAL FORGOT TO FEED HIM. WHEN I ASKED WHY, THEY SAID THEY DIDN'T WANT TO WAKE HIM!! He was sleeping because he was so weak. I was livid.
He was moved twice and it was in the third ward where interns made more severe mistakes and completely shut Brad's digestive system down. They apologized but what good is that? I made a huge complaint and was told, unfortunately, this is not uncommon at this hospital. The antibiotics whitewashed his already tender gut. I was with him 24/7. He was eating small portions, then his gut cramped up like crazy and he stopped eating, again. It turns out, they had been giving Brad oxycodone on an empty stomach with no stool softeners. Oxycodone is an opioid which binds up the digestive system. Who knew a stool softener would be so important?
Another Dr. would enter a few hours later, ask if Brad's gut was in pain and then prescribe him another oxycodone. There were 3 interns and a Dr. overseeing them. They were all prescribing him. Once we realized what was happening Brad put his foot down. He wasn't in pain in the beginning. It was the oxycodone that was causing all that pain. I was massaging his gut trying to get a movement all night long on several nights. He was unable to sit up straight for more than 10 minutes because of being in a hospital bed for so long. He could only walk about 20 steps with a walker.
THIS ALL COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. The nurses were switching shifts to be with us because they were so worried about Brad. Brad went from no stool softeners to 12 pills of either laxatives, stool softeners or diuretics. All of that on an almost empty stomach. It was insane.
When Brad put his foot down and refused the oxycodone, we got Greek Yogurt and after a little while Brad said that the pain in his gut was gone. The nurses and I kept at it every day, working hard and Brad was walking around the ward and eating small portions, again. We were delighted to see Brad's digestive system starting to move again and were relieved. This was the second time doing this but the nurses and Brad and I had a good grip of what should be going on, regarding stool softeners etc.
We were waiting to be transferred to to a Rehab hospital. It took a couple of days. One of those days, another intern came in and "speculated" that Brad's tummy was tender because the cancer could have spread to his intestines and his stomach. At this stage, Brad had been back eating a couple of sausages and a little egg, oatmeal cookies...getting back up and walking around. Then she came and pulled the rug from under him. Needless to say, I think she learned a lesson that day but mentally, Brad was back to square one and started to think his digestive system was blocked up. It was frustrating.
We were both exhausted. Every time I left to eat, when I came back there would be another intern trying to convince Brad to take oxycodone and him saying he wasn't in pain. They would come back several times, then when his parents came by, then all 4 doctors came by to try to convince him to take more. It was ridiculous. I can see why New England has an opioid epidemic.
In the beginning, his oncology Dr. said that if the cancer didn't kill him, the chemo would. Well, the chemo did. It destroyed his lymph glands and fluid pooled around his body. The pressure in his torso made it difficult for him to eat. He then spent a week in rehab where he did bounce back. I am so proud of how hard Brad fought. He gave it everything he had until the fluid took over and made it impossible for him to move around. We spent 2 weeks at Brad's mom's home after his release from rehab. He completely stopped eating. When he said he wouldn't be getting out of the bed again, I knew that was it. I administered liquid morphine every 3 hours for those 2 weeks. It was a long, sleepless couple of weeks. I massaged Brad with ginger essence and coconut oil, every day. He loved it and it was extremely effective in removing the fluid. The hospice nurses were amazed to see it gone. I wish I had known earlier on. The problem with lymph glands not working is that all the toxins remain in the body and there is no way to fight off disease. Brad left us peacefully. As far as I could tell, he wasn't in much pain. We agreed on the last dose of morphine that I gave him, that it as gonna be the last one...and it was. Brad didn't want to take any more and I didn't want to give it to him but there was nothing else to do by then. It is nice to look back as realize that right up until the end, we were together, a team.