I have been looking forward to today’s treatment (this sounds a lot more odd than it should). I start off in the infusion room with my semi-weekly ozone blood wash. Next comes a high dose iron infusion (this sounds more benign than it should). Cancer cells need a lot of iron to maintain the rapid division necessary for tumor growth. So right about now, this infusion is sounding totally counter intuitive, considering my present state of affairs. Here comes the brilliance. Immediately following the rush of iron, I’m given a lovely Artemisinin cocktail intravenously. Artemisia (annua L), comes from the sweet wormwood plant. It’s been used for thousands of years in herbal Chinese medicine, is eaten in salads, and I recently discovered it as a tasty addition to botanical gin. Can’t be bad, right? It’s actually been used in mainstream medicine as an anti-malarial drug. So, here comes the scientific thinking.
Researchers out of the University of Washington have created an artemisinin compound that is highly specific in killing certain kinds of cancer cells. The new compound has a chemical homing device attached to it… iron. The iron targets the amalgam selectively to cancer cells, sparing the body’s healthy ones. The chemotherapies out there in the mainstream are highly toxic, hence the miserable side effects. To put this in perspective, chemotherapy drugs destroy one normal cell for every five to ten cancer cells it kills. This artemisinin-iron duo kills 12,000 cancer cells for every healthy cell, so side effects are few and far between. Once inside the cell, the iron reacts with the artemisinin to release poisonous molecules (i.e. free radicals). When enough of these accumulate, the cell dies. “The compound is like a little bomb-carrying monkey riding on the back of a Trojan horse.” says Henry Las, UW bioengineering professor and co-author of the study.
The compound is so selective for cancer cells partly, due to their rapid multiplication which requires high amounts of iron, and partly because cancer cells are not as good as healthy cells at cleaning up free-floating iron. So after my iron infusion, cancer cells are now under significant stress from their high iron content and other imbalances mothers artemisinin pushes them over the edge. Lucky for me, I’m able to pursue cancer care in a country willing to embrace alternative treatment modalities. Artemisinin is readily available, however human trials
in the United States are at least several years away. How sad that a compound that shows such promise, and can be cheaply manufactured is not available to me (or all the other thousands of cancer patients) in my very civilized country of origin.
I went straight from my dynamic infusion adventure to my second round of local hyperthermia. Waterbeds are still fun (just sayin’) and they effectively relieve any back pressure. Once the hyperthermia device is perfectly positioned, Dr. Von Brauch covers my legs with a warm blanket and leaves me to my pre-lunch cat nap. My condition is perfectly suited to this modality. It has emerged as a remedy of great efficacy for gynecological malignancies and lymph node metastasis. I could possibly become the next naturopathic super model.
It’s been a full morning. I will ease into my afternoon with magnetic field therapy and then off to the park. Today’s park outing is actually organized by the clinic’s physical therapy department, we’re heading out to Nordic walk for 90 minutes. While I had heard of Nordic walking years ago, it doesn’t enjoy the popularity in the States as it does in Germany. Americans have the reputation for enjoying more extreme activities (extreme cancer treatments are an extension of the mindset). My first experience of Nordic walking was here at the clinic two years ago. I treated myself to a pair of Nordic walking poles upon my return home and have been enjoying them tremendously. It’s a very understated activity. Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning are at the core of the Nordic walking workout. It’s designed to be a distance exercise, working many of the same muscles used in running and cross-country skiing. What I love most is the stability created by the poles allows me to focus my vision ahead instead of down at the ground. The practice of gazing ahead with a soft focus, taking in the entire landscape, is healthy for the spine and soothing to my spirit. “Gazing ahead with a soft focus and taking in the entire landscape”… a mantra worth seizing.