Day 3, Thursday, November 5, 2015
Jammed packed day . . .
Today, I’m thankful for my bilingual heritage! While most of the staff can understand and speak English it is nice to just switch to Spanish and have clear concise conversations. There are fully bilingual interpreters at CHIPSA, so at any time if a non-Spanish speaking patient or companion needs help with communication they can ask for any of the interpreters. The two younger doctors have excellent English communication skills along with the head doctor, Dr. Ortuno. Even though Dr. Ortuno is in his late 60s his long history of working with doctors in the US and around the world has aided him to become fluent. Dr. Lopez has good English skills but at times speaking Spanish is definitely an easier option for him. The rest of the doctors also speak fairly good English. I have come to love saying hi and speaking to all the docs as they are easy to talk to and so laid back. The nurses are all wonderful as well. We are very happy with the service and overall care.
At 5am, the nurse woke Ryan up to take 2 pills to prepare his blood for Photopheresis. At 7am, the coffee wake up call came in. Ryan woke up grouchy, to say the least, but made it thru the enema. (Enemas are harder if you are not relaxed.)
After breakfast, the chemist, nurse and doctor came into our room and started speaking fast Spanish as they discussed the best place to insert the needle so they could remove ⅓ liter of blood. Once Ryan was told he needed a new clean line to remove the blood he immediately became defensive and annoyed. He was afraid of another 5 prick ordeal. I had to intervene and let Ryan know that they were figuring out the best strategy so that it would work on the first try. Ryan has an injured left forearm with muscle spasms (from before Mexico) and an I.V. in his right forearm so the thought of another prick on the inside of the forearm was not jiving well with him. The chemist promised he could do it on his left forearm without applying pressure and causing additional pain. Ryan was tense, so the nurse helped him relax. Lupita truly has a gift with patients as she’s been with the hospital many years. We played music and the doctor explained everything in English. Sure enough, the chemist easily inserted the needle and drew the blood out. Easy, peasy! After the process was over, Ryan relaxed quite a bit and his mood greatly improved.
“PUVA PHOTOPHERESIS: Psoralin Ultraviolet A (PUVA) photopheresis was originally approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1980s for the treatment of T-cell lymphoma. Recent improved understanding of its mechanisms of action has allowed its application to other cancers. Importantly, PUVA photopheresis can be used to amplify, and to make more specific, the central mechanisms of Coley Fluid when the two treatments are integrated.” – Reference: CHIPSA website
“This therapy has been tested by time, being used for over 70 years by physicians all over the world. Well over 1 million treatments have been given and no serious side effects are known. BPT (a.k.a. Photopheresis) is a process of exposing blood to ultraviolet light rays. The therapy creates an immune response called an “autogenous vaccine”. This stimulates the immune system to destroy any and all pathogens, no matter if they are viral, bacterial, or fungal.” Source: http://drsubi.com/bpt/what-does-it-do/
I have to stop right here and express true frustration that I feel at times. There are many alternative treatments to chemotherapy and radiation being used all over the world, yet the US is hell bent on only allowing and providing essentially only those two options. Just about every single cancer patient will hear the words “Chemotherapy and Radiation” as the recommendation for treating cancer, yet oncologists are not educated and not even allowed to add alternative therapies that can enhance the health of the patient and sometimes even completely subdue the side effects of chemotherapy/radiation for those that choose the standard route. The FDA has literally blocked the ability for cancer patients to receive these alternative treatments even though some are allowed for other ailments/diseases. What’s even worse is that for those of us willing to go completely alternative routes we have to go outside the US for full comprehensive treatments and American doctors who believe in these treatments face persecution and mockery inside the US. When you personally meet other families, listen to the stories, read the statistics and more, there is absolutely no denying that the US has turned a blind eye. . . Ok, rant over. If I get started on the WHY chemo/radiation is the only go-to standard in the US I’ll never complete Day 3. So forward we’ll move.
After lunch, we headed for Ryan’s 2nd HyperBaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT). Click here for a great article on HBOT, oxygen and cancer. This time I joined the party, er, Ryan. The chamber is quite large and the actual patients wear an oxygen mask while I still get the benefits of pure oxygen just by being in the chamber. One thing for sure, I slept like a baby later that night! (the technician told me I would!)
Immediately after the HBOT treatment we headed to Ryan’s acupuncture appointment. Dr. Fok (aka Dr. Fox), the surgeon for CHIPSA, referred us to Dr. Lira for potential pain management and supplemental treatment. We walked into Hospital Angeles and up the 4th floor we went. Upon arrival we were greeted and taken to Dr. Lira’s office. Immediately, I realized he is a practicing licensed Anesthesiologist and an Acupuncturist! We chatted about Ryan’s conditions, his hopes for the appointment, what Dr. Lira could do, etc. Ryan got up on the bed and Dr. Lira started sticking the tiny, but long needles all throughout his body. I have never seen nor experienced acupuncture before, but Ryan seemed very relaxed and never once twitched or expressed pain throughout the process. While Ryan laid on the table, Dr. Lira and I chatted away like we were long lost friends. We spoke about many things, but one thing stuck the most: he became an Acupuncturist years after being licensed as an Anesthesiologist. He shared his story with me in detail. Seeing so many patients in pain and essentially all the doctors (himself included) could do was treat the patients with more drugs. After years of seeing pain in their eyes and not being able to offer more than drugs he started looking into alternative methods. He quickly gravitated to and immersed himself in Chinese medicine. He realized that Chinese medicine had figured out many natural treatments thousands of years ago, therefore it was an easy decision to go thru school again and become an Acupuncturist. Now, he is able to help patients in many ways. I could see in his eyes the joy that it has brought him to have found an alternative solution. Dr. Lira and I spoke and shared stories until Ryan finally spoke up letting us know he could no longer stay comfortable on the bed as his belly was pressing too much. (There is a large lymphatic malignant mass in his abdomen.) I was bummed to end our conversation as we were really starting to dig more and more into acupuncture and all its benefits. Dr. Lira removed all the needles from Ryan’s body and upon rising we could tell Ryan had better mobility on both his arms. (Fast forward two days: Ryan’s lower back pain has completely gone away since the treatment and his arms have continued to improve in mobility. Big Yay!)
Upon return to CHIPSA, Ryan was quickly escorted to his room as he needed to have the red blood cells put back into his body via I.V. The chemist had separated the red and white blood cells; he will return with the white blood cells in a couple days as this specific type of photopheresis takes a few days.
After dinner, we headed to the first floor for the hydrotherapy hyperthermia with Laetrile (B17) treatment. (To learn more about this treatment please refer to Day 2 Blog Post) Ryan is quickly becoming accustomed to all the therapies and did very well today.
So there is Day 3. Full of therapies and hope. Ryan felt remarkably better tonight.
Since the next week will mostly be a repeat, I hope to dive into specific topics such as my own feelings, the process a family goes thru, the Gerson diet, the effects of emotions and cancer, etc. Please stay tuned and thank you to everyone for all your support and positive feedback. Your encouragement has been felt and much appreciated. This journey is not just ours, but everyone that chooses to take part. Thank you.