Sunday, March 29, 2009

Roller Coaster ride with Myeloma at the controls

Life has its ups and downs, highs and lows for everyone. Lately we've certainly felt like we've been on one, traveling at breakneck speed, mostly downhill. We had accepted Frank's diagnosis of cancer in February and the change in many life plans that it implies and certainly have faith that whatever happens is the Lord's will. We all will die sometime anyway, right?

We however, are not ready to give in to this demon without a fight--our very best efforts. After the diagnosis, I spent many hours every day researching the internet and reading books about cancer and non-toxic ways to heal. I carry bags of books with me when we travel, I often stay up till 1 or 2am, trying to absorb and retain the mountains of information available. We both feel strongly that since the chemotherapy he had 17 years ago for a previous cancer plus radiation he had received as a "downwinder" growing up in St. Johns were the cause of his present non-curable cancer, we don't want to go that route again if there is another way. We have felt the guiding hand of the Lord in helping to lead us, step by step, to information that has been helpful.

Well, I purchased from various places (mostly online) numerous supplements that have shown through many clinical trials to be effective against cancer in general and Multiple Myeloma specifically. He takes handfulls of pills a day (not his favorite thing to do) and trusts my judgement that they will work. The most promising one, curcumin, took awhile to arrive and since he takes 8 grams a day (8 LARGE pills) I started him on a low dose and gradually built up to full strength. The great news was that none of the many supplements he is taking including the curcumin, have caused side effects and are non-toxic! Yeah!!

A few days later he had his monthly lab tests and then a checkup by his Oncologist. Not good. His white cell count (his immune system) had dropped like a rock. The doctor wanted to start him on chemotherapy immediately, said his genetic studies showed he had an aggressive kind and that the malignant cells were crowding out his good cells in the bone marrow. What a blow! We had really hoped and expected better, not worse results. Well, Frank had taken his day planner and he opened it and showed the doctor his schedule for the next few months and said he didn't have time for that [to spend 4 days a week in Mesa getting toxic chemo plus labs in between]! He had other things to do. The doctor finally agreed that for now he could just take a powerful steroid plus an antibiotic and we would return in one week.

We filled the 2 prescriptions and drove back to Heber. I reviewed the research I had done on Curcumin and still felt good about it. Then I looked up dexamethazone, the steroid, and found some benefits but many serious side effects including lowering of the white count. Great. . .so that's why he wanted Frank on the antibiotic even though Frank told him he felt good. Not only that but in clinical trials, it had worked against curcumin, negating its effectiveness. Anyway, we discussed the whole scenario and decided that he not take the prescriptions and continue the curcumin and other supplements for the next week, giving them more time to work, figuring it might take 4-8 weeks to see a positive result.

The following week was very stressful as we prayed that the regimen I have him on would work and we would be able to continue with our normal plans. He cancelled cataract surgery planned for the next couple of weeks because an eye infection with no immune system could cause blindness. Not a good prospect. Will have to wait till later for that and put up with foggy vision till then. We also increased his curcumin to 12 grams daily.

He held off till the last day to get his labs done then last Friday we returned to the Oncologist. When the doctor came in he looked at the chart and then told us that Frank's white count had greatly improved--by 100% over the week before! [It's still below 4, below normal but not in the critical range] Then he said, "Those steroids really worked!" We looked at each other and replied that he hadn't taken them and explained why. I had brought a stack of papers with much of the research I had done on curcumin and told the doctor he could make a copy. He wrote the word 'Curcumin' down and said, 'No, by next month I'll know all about it.' We wanted to dance and shout at the good news of Frank's labs and also were happy 1)that the doctor didn't throw us out of his office, 2)that he has an open mind and will do his own research, and 3) that he didn't want to see Frank for another month!

Can't argue with success!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday the 13th

Frank was born on Friday, March the 13th, many years ago--68 to be exact. He always considered Friday the 13th to be lucky for him and said that the best birthday present he ever got was when his daughter Kristal was born on his birthday. As I lay hour after hour in labor that day I said, 'what a way to spend your birthday!' and he replied that he couldn't ask for a better present! She truly was a wonderful gift to all of us and was called the miracle baby because we had waited so long for her to come. I wanted to post baby pictures of both of them but my scanner isn't recognizing the computer or vise versa, anyway I can't scan the pictures in so will have to settle for those that are already in. I was going to post 13 nice things about each of them but since Frank decided to go to the Mountain West basketball Conference championships in LV this weekend with his brother and nephew to celebrate his birthday (and left me to the nasty job of getting the inside of the house painted) I didn't have time. So these 13 pictures of them will have to do.
Kristal graduates from Dixie as a Dental Hygenist

Little Celeste Franco with Grandpa 'n Grandma Greer

In Lake Charles after Hurricane Rita went through; Frank and Lance are sharpening a saw to help clear out broken trees from property.

Little grandaughter Kayla with silly Grandpa--peace out!

Grandpa Greer with two precious little grand daughters, Brinley and Regan

Celebrating a surprise 40th anniversary party given by our kids in 2005

Kristal with her two beautiful girls, Regan and Sophie

Kristal and Little Sophie Joy

Kristal, the bathing beauty!

Frank Shoveling snow that came a couple of years ago at this time--typical weather of the day he was born.

Frank with 4 handsome sons and equally handsome grandsons

Cookout at Black Canyon with the grandkids

Coach Frank giving the team the word. Kristal 3rd from left

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring has Sprung or Wind has Won??

At this time of the year, that is always the big question. Am I going to spot the tiny signs of spring as they arrive in my yard, crocuses blooming and tulip and daffodil leaves poking through the dried out ground? Or am I going to vent my frustration at the unending wind and cold without moisture that it brings? Needless to say, the cute little flowers are a very welcome sight and give me hope.

A few years ago I planted tons of showy big purple crocuses like this one scattered throughout the lawn but this is the only brave one to survive, it seems.

Thought this was a cute picture of Frank getting a blood draw before his bone marrow biopsy. There was a time when he had to have this done that his free arm would be raised with a clenched fist and he would say to the Lab Tech, "We're not going to hurt one another, are we?" It has become very routine now (and will continue to be so) and he has become very mellow about it. For the most part, they are very skilled with their needles and he doesn't mind them at all.