Jackie and John, date night 12/5/21
The answer is simple: a chance to live.
Three weeks ago, I could not eat. I had the equivalent of labor pains all day long. Our oncologist gave us devastating news then tussled my hair and left John and me sobbing and holding each other in the room. I guess these moments are awkward for the doctor too, even after 40 years, telling 80% of his patients similar news. He tussled my hard-won, newly-grown, post-first-line chemo hair. In many ways, it was the most useful news we received in 2 years. We knew we had to move on.
I endured “gold standard of care” surgery and chemo in the US, April through September 2020. My doc transferred from University Hospitals of Cleveland to the Clinic over the last 2 years, so I can testify, the treatment is the same. Adjuvant/integrative advice made chemo as tolerable as possible. We found all of this advice on our own, consulting countless experts. We had to separately check blood markers, find supplements, understand deep nutrition, detox the chemo, detox from mold, settle mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), etc. None of this is part of the gold standard. I finished with markers out of range so worked a wide range of nontoxic, anticancer therapies diligently for months afterward, likely buying healthy-feeling time. But we always knew I was in danger. It was also exhausting, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Then, I started feeling unwell. Fluid accumulated in places it shouldn’t. My energy plummeted. My appetite went away; then it became painful to eat. Running 3 times a week, rock climbing, weights, yoga…became walking around the block. Then, not even being able to do that. Poor Rocky languished at my feet. Treatments can be brutal, but so can aggressive cancers.
So, we went to work again, because acceptance of a dire fate didn’t feel right, yet. Our daughter has always had faith we’ll figure things out because we healed health issues for her. Our son explained that his mom dying too young just doesn’t feel like part of his story. John did what he always does. He dug in. They literally kept me from giving up. I’m a fighter, but severe pain has its way with a person.
I’m 2 years into this battle and starting treatment again weaker than I did in the beginning. Still, there was hope here in Turkey. There are many reasons to be positive in Istanbul. We’ve been here 3 weeks and completed one full cycle of treatment, out of several. I can now tell you exactly what’s different. It’s truly empathetic care.
“By the time you think of what you need, we’ve already given it to you.” Dr. Abdul Kadir Slocum, Chemothermia, Istanbul, Turkey
Can you imagine how restful that is for John and me, finally? So far, everything he’s said has been true and every problem has a solution. The treatment cycle is very different and all-inclusive of the many proven therapies for my cancer. Chemothermia’s published case studies speak for themselves, as do former patients enjoying remission. What I’m experiencing is not experimental; it’s just not available in the US, for many reasons. None of them are patient-centric or reasonable. That is, if our goal is to cure people and give them more years of quality life. Isn’t that our goal?
As a published scientist with too much experience on this end of cancer treatment, I’ve been both fascinated and encouraged by how the 10-day cycle goes:
Days 1 and 8: Start with an 18 hour fast to lower blood sugar and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to stress cancer cells and protect normal cells, insulin injection to lower blood sugar further (insulin potentiated therapy/IPT – glucose tested at 65 before starting chemo), low dose chemotherapies (a cocktail proven in vitro to attack my personal cancer – John LeMay verified that fact through testing done at the Nagourney Cancer Institute), high-dose vitamin C infusion, lunch w carbs (whatever I wanted! With pomegranate juice (yum!); B vitamins infusion (to prevent neuropathy and more), more chemo, iron infusion (to cause ferroptosis and based on my blood work), more chemo, antioxidants, more chemo, local hyperthermia (1 hour), more chemo, then whole-body hyperthermia w chemo on board (2.5 hours). That’s the hardest part. Picture being in a 112-degree sauna WHILE taking chemotherapy. At least I’m used to saunas. I hope John’s memory of the raging bitch I become toward the end will be as short as mine of the suffering. Thanks to friends for the audiobook and funny movie recommendations that provide some distraction. Then, a saline drip to re-mineralize and rehydrate, and the chance to go home. 8:30am-5pm. A good day’s work. All in one place and the managed transitions right on time. The staff is very nice and attentive. The nurses place IVs in one, relatively painless stick. It’s all just very thoughtful
Days 2-7, 9-10: more HBOT and local hyperthermia, nutritional infusions/shots/tinctures titrated to my bloodwork, usually including vitamins (e.g., B’s, high-dose C, D+K), high potency antioxidants (e.g., DMSO), and immune support.
10 days off – including a small handful (~6) of supplements and pharmaceuticals, proven to fight cancer and treatment side-effects…which their pharmacy dispenses before we leave the clinic. No guessing. No chasing. No hassle.
Repeat 4 times
Check scans and markers
Repeat 5 more times, if needed
Stability, and if I’m lucky, finally remission.
My symptoms aren’t gone yet. I’m exhausted a lot of time. The treatment days are brutal….BUT I’m more alive than dead now, and that’s saying a lot.
We went out to dinner Sunday night! It was the most normal thing we’ve done in literally 2 years. Date night with my honey. Most importantly, I can eat without much pain anymore. I have not left this apartment other than to go to the clinic or downstairs for breakfast since we arrived. So, it was a bit of an effort to get out, but totally worth it.
Where did we go and what did we eat, foodies among you want to know? Here you go:
Vogue Restaurant and Bar, Istanbul. Let’s start with the VIEW! Click the link below to take a look at the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara. You can glimpse the Hagia Sophia toward the end (our daughter’s namesake).
The food was outstanding: tender and delicious tuna sashimi (keeping low carb and gluten-free to fight cancer otherwise I would’ve gone crazy with the sushi); Vogue salad which was very fresh, beautifully composed, and quite large. I’ve taken enough food home for lunch. I had black cod, One of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten – buttery and sweet. The preparation was very subtle which was appropriate because the fish was so flavorful, substituting sautéed spinach (low-carb,), but the pickled vegetables were a highlight for me. There is a Chaldean dish we make called Turshi which my dad and I love, and these were similar. We may have split a glass of dry red wine, again something we have not done in two years and it was so delicious to both of us in every way. John had grilled Seabass over fennel confit. Then we ordered two desserts. One a San Sebastian cheesecake. I just tasted but that was very satisfying. Best. Raspberry. Sauce. Ever. We also had decaf lattes, and John had the bread pudding. We took a taxi there and back. It’s only about a 10-minute ride. The neighborhood was happening! We can’t wait to try the other two restaurants recommended by a new Turkish friend. I’m not in the habit of taking pictures of food, but next time I’ll try to remember!
My job now is relatively simple: eat, rest, and heal. I have quite a ways to go but I am resting in the arms of the Chemothermia team, and of course, John. I’m grateful that he too, can finally get some rest.
Continued thanks for your encouragement and love. One big blessing in all of this is the chance to see so much good, poured out to both of us and our children. I get choked up just thinking about it.
Much love, Jackie
Thanks to Lisa Levine and Coach Erdem Can, her friend and colleague from the Utah Jazz for the wonderful restaurant recommendations!