Keith’s Perspective

1 May

Other than Pam’s two perspectives, the only other contribution so far, not written in my own hand, was from my brother-in-law Pip “Can Cancer be Fun”. Now, it’s my brother-in-law Keith’s turn to give his professional perspective. I have no words to thank these two incredible human beings:

 

Shortly after Martin’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Sheila and I flew to Israel, painfully aware of the dire situation and the grim prognosis. The initial ultrasound assessment had showed a possibly benign cyst in the pancreas, but the MRI scan was far more sinister – highly suggestive of an invasive pancreatic cancer.  A diagnostic laparoscopy confirmed the worst–adenocarcinoma of the pancreas with multiple metastatic deposits in the peritoneum.  Aggressive treatment with radiotherapy and gemcitabine chemotherapy was started the day following his laparotomy. Within days Martin was gravely ill, primarily as a result of side effects of his treatment regime.  We arrived to this awful scene, finding Martin severely weakened and exhausted.

I needed to spend time with Martin and Pam at the hospital during his treatments. Sheila took to spending hours researching conventional and alternative treatments for pancreatic cancer.  Just prior to flying out, we had become interested in the growing movement showing various health benefits to a low carbohydrate/ gluten free diet. Surprisingly, some of the research Sheila was investigating showed this approach might influence tumor progression and growth.  Unfortunately no well- researched studies have ever been done in this area, so we had to be guided by the basic science and our instincts. There certainly was evidence that individuals with metabolic syndrome, elevated blood glucose and diabetes were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.  Martin’s blood testing had revealed glucose intolerance.  The basic science also made sense – pancreatic cancer cells lose the ability to switch to metabolize ketones instead of glucose – an ability normal, healthy cells retain. The theory was simple and compelling – decreasing the amount of glucose available to tumor cells would choke their growth and lead to cancer cell death. This is the metabolic approach to tumor genesis, known as the Warburg hypothesis (proposed by Nobel Laureate Otto Warburg).

Could a simple dietary intervention be effective in treating such an aggressive cancer? What other safe interventions looked promising?  The research showed Curcumin (an extract of tumeric) effective as a synergistic agent with standard chemotherapy, resveratrol as a powerful antioxidant with activity against tumor cells, and metformin (a glucose lowering drug used for diabetes) to be the prime candidates. How though to convince Martin to embark on this restrictive diet and multiple supplement regime, with a dearth of scientific evidence to back it up? Well-intentioned oncologists and nutritionists were treating him with intravenous glucose infusions and encouraging him to eat ice cream and sugar in order to “gain weight”!

Somehow Martin found the strength to live up to the challenge, and became the most compliant and faithful “patient” I have ever seen! Since hearing the theory and explanation, he made his decision to embrace the diet and supplements and has stuck 100% to a ketogenic lifestyle subsequently.  His blog attests to the remarkable progress he has made. At the time of writing, his disease remains in a stable remission, he has done numerous overseas trips (including a fantastic visit to us in Canada!), plays golf regularly and for the most part has good energy and no pain.  There have been various changes in his chemotherapy regime, which can be read in his blog.

There is no way of telling what factors have led to such a remarkable outcome. Perhaps it is a combination of medical therapy, diet and genome.  It is highly unlikely that a good double-blinded study will be done soon on the ketogenic diet effect on cancer. Rather than wait for that day, Martin has made a lifestyle switch, which seems to have had a very positive effect on his condition. He has by chance or fate become part of the “paleo” movement, which sees the modern Western diet as the source of many chronic diseases and he has shown that eating a more “ancestral” diet can be a healthy and possibly therapeutic choice.

We pray that our “experiment” will go on for many, many years!

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6 Responses to “Keith’s Perspective”

  1. fightingpancreaticcancer May 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Brothers, and sisters-in-law. Where would we be without them?
    How blessed we are … tfu tfu tfu. Pam x

  2. Tzippi Sha-ked May 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Really amazing and inspirational – ayn milim….this should be re-posted on Pancan.org asap for all to read.

  3. Micha May 3, 2012 at 5:29 am #

    Hi Martin – first of all I like to mention that I am a quiet follower of your blog for quite some time now and hopefully for many more years to
    follow. While reading this latest entry I started getting goosebumps when I read about the mentioning of Noble laureate Warburg. You may recall my earlier post in which I mentioned my two doctor friends who treat patients
    through alternative approaches and when explaining their way of trying to help cancer patiients mentioned to me Warburg as a person who had already many years ago found a solution as to how to overcome cancer. Should Keith be interested I would be happy to establish the connection between them. Both will be coming to Israel again this month to participate in the convention of “Integrated Medicine” in Jerusalem. Take care – Micha

    • fightingpancreaticcancer May 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for being such a faithful and supportive follower. What better incentive could you have given me than a wish to continue following for years! Amen to that. I’ll certainly make sure Keith is updated about your doctors.

  4. My Homepage May 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

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