Cancer Cure or Toxic Herb?

A friend of mine recently emailed me a report regarding a little known Chinese Herb called Artemisinin which promises to kill 98% of cancer cells in 16 hours. The report looked promising, and after reading it I was ready to go out and buy the herb. I was planning on giving it to my mother, whose breast cancer has returned for the third time. Artemisinin is easy enough to find. A simple google search produced many options of where I could purchase it. Although before buying it I decided to do some research on it, to find out the dosages that should be taken as well as any side effects it might have. What I found on the web has led me to have more questions than answers. It appears the report first came out in 2001. I think that if it were a miracle drug that kills cancer that it would be much more known by now. Further research found this herb being called “toxic” and that it should not be taken long term. But yet another website showed a forum where people were talking about the herb and how it prolonged the lives of their animals. A couple people said their cancer was cured just by taking this herb.

Ultimately, I decided against purchasing the herb for my mother. I do not want to be responsible for doing more harm than good to her. I am putting my trust in her doctors that they will do everything in their power to give her the drugs that will help fight her cancer and will give her a quality of life worth living.

Research Shows Curry Kills Cancer Cells

The BBC has released an article claiming that an extract in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric can kill cancer cells. The yellow pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. Curcumin helps the body destroy mutated cancer cells, so they can’t spread through the body.

Studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast cancer. Research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help to slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice. In this study, published in ‘Biochemical Pharmacology’, human breast cancer cells were injected into mice. After the cells formed into tumors they were removed from the mice, to simulate a mastectomy.

The mice were then divided into four groups. One group received no treatment. Another group was given the cancer drug Taxol, the third group received curcumin and the last group was given both Taxol and curcumin.

After five weeks, 75% of the mice that received Taxol alone and 95% that received no treatment developed lung tumors. But just half of the mice in the curcumin-only group and only 22% of the mice in the curcumin and Taxol group had breast cancer that had spread to the lungs.

The Last Day Of Radiation For Breast Cancer

52 days ago I thought today would never get here. I had already been through so much, a cancer diagnoses, lumpectomy and chemotherapy. My next course of treatment was 38 sessions of radiation. I was scheduled to go Monday through Friday at 7:48am. My insurance is through Kaiser and the location of their treatment center was 45 minutes away. I was not looking forward to battling cancer AND Los Angeles traffic but knew I had no other choice.
Monday July 8, 2009 was my first day of radiation. I pretty much kept to myself the first few days. I noticed there was always a man waiting by the elevator doors. We would say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ as I walked by him each time. By the end of the week he learned about my breast cancer and he told me about his fathers voicebox cancer. What a great son to be driving his parents to radiation treatment everyday. His name was Al and we parted with a hug on my tenth day of treatment. Although I was very happy about his dad finishing his radiation I was also sad that I wouldn’t see Al’s smiling face everyday.
During that second week of radiation I was walking toward my treatment room when I overheard a man talking about the burning he was having on his treatment area. I tried to find him on my way out but he was already gone. The next day I noticed him in the waiting room so I sat down next to him. I reached into my purse and brought out a small bottle of aloe vera gel. “Put this on everyday after your treatment and at night before you go to bed. That is what I have been doing and it seems to be helping me”,  I said. He smiled and thanked me. We had nice conversations every day for five weeks after that. He knew I was house hunting and one day he brought me a magazine of houses for sell. His name was Mr. Sanajelo and I said goodbye to him almost two weeks ago. He came back last week to say Hi to those of us still in treatment. He was as disappointed as I was that he couldn’t say goodbye to Ron.
Ron was a very nice man in his mid-seventies. He had lost all of his siblings to cancer when they were in their 50′s. He felt very privileged and lucky to have dodged cancer until now. The doctors scheduled him to do chemo and radiation at the same time. After his first week of chemotherapy he was put into the hospital due to complications. He was in the hospital for a week. I met him when he returned for radiation. He would show up two hours early for his treatment in hopes that they would call him early one day. They never did. I smiled everyday as I was walking away and I heard him say “she’s such a nice young girl”. I’m sure the others in the waiting room got sick of hearing it, but I never did.
When Ron was on his second round of chemo he had some awful side effects. I was so proud of him for still making it to his radiation appointments every day. I clapped for him that Friday when I knew it was his last day of chemotherapy. I was so happy for him! He had gotten through it and only had two weeks of radiation left.  I told him to have a great weekend and that I would see him on Monday. I never saw him again. Every day I look at his parking spot and see another car parked there. I stare at the empty seat in the waiting room where he always sat and I wonder about him. I hope that where ever he is, he is in a better place. I only wish that I could have said goodbye.
Mrs. Martinelli is an older lady. She had a mastectomy a year ago and thought cancer was all behind her. Then in April of this year she discovered another lump in the spot where her breast is suppose to be. Who know you could get breast cancer even after having a mastectomy? Two days ago she asked me about my side effects from radiation. I told her that they really weren’t so bad. I itched for a week and my skin turned red and that was about it. She showed me a large lump on her arm and told me it hurt when she touched it. She was hoping that I would tell her that was normal. Instead, I told her that when she goes in for her treatment to ask to speak to a doctor. The doctor has scheduled a biopsy on it. I pray that the results will show it is nothing but a cyst.
Today is my last day of radiation. I know that as I have missed others, I will also be missed. Though we are all such different people, cancer has brought us together. In seven and a half weeks I have gotten to know and care about so many people who are going through the same battle as I am. I hope that Mrs. Martinelli bonds with someone else for her last three weeks of treatment. I hope that the other people I have met will finish their treatments without any problem. I hope that those who come after me will never have to look at an empty seat and wonder what happened to their new friend. And as much as I have come care about these people, I hope that we never meet again.