Cancer


 My husband has been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. He will finish taking his last radiation and chemo Temodor on March 17th, 2008. He will have four weeks of no radiation and Temodor, then start a full dose of Temodor. He is fatigued. Is it because of his low white and red blood counts? If so, can he take all natural iron supplements? I am having a very hard time accepting all this medication is good for him. His Dr.s tell him to eat whatever he wants I disagree. I feel he should still eat a wellbalanced diet. They are preparing us for a very short term life expectancy of 12 months. There are cures out there. Can you recommend a naturopathic doctor in the St. Louis, MO area. Running out of time, please help.

 

I am terribly sorry to hear about you and your husband’s unfortunate health situation.  Hopefully some of the following suggestions will be helpful.

 Often times chemotherapy medication suppress the activity of bone marrow cells.  Because these cells are responsible for making red and white blood cells it is a common side effect of chemotherapy to suffer from anemia and low white blood cells.  A low red blood cell may be a significant reason why your husband feels so fatigued.  Most times, this is not the type of anemia that will respond to iron supplementation.  I find that is more severe cases, the only thing that can help are the pharmaceutical medications for anemia such as Procrit®.  Your supervising physician should be able to select the most appropriate one for your husband’s case.  Many times people will have to discontinue the chemotherapy drug if red or white blood cell levels fall too low which is unfortunate especially if that chemotherapy drug is working. 

Although iron might not be the answer to supporting energy levels there may be some other natural strategies that can be helpful.  The primary one I would consider is acupuncture.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can help to improve energy levels for individuals undergoing cancer care.  In addition, because it does require the individual to take any types of supplements or vitamins most oncologists will not have a problem with patients pursuing it.  

Nutritionally, I agree that what he eats can make a difference.  Now depending on his weight and appetite different nutritional strategies might be indicated.  If he has no appetite and is hardly able to eat anything, it is important to make sure he gets calories in every day regardless of what they are.   Maintaining weight as much as possible is an absolute necessity.

 In an ideal world these calories would be coming from nutritionally rich whole foods low in sugar, additives and preservatives.  The number one rule of thumb for cancer patients is to avoid all white foods.  This means all white sugar, white bread, pasta’s, anything with white flour in it and potatoes.  There should be a strong emphasis on whole grain breads and other whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142).  In addition, all soda’s (diet and regular) should also be avoided.  Lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish should be consumed and all red meat should be eliminated unless it is grass fed beef.  

A variety of vegetables is of the utmost importance as these contain the most amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Incorporating them into soups is a great way to increase digestibility and palatability.  See below for a great soup recipe called the beilers broth.  The key to this recipe is that all the vegetables in the soup are pureed before serving to greatly enhance digestibility. 

Working with a qualified Naturopathic Physician would be a great way to get additional natural strategies to support your husband and you through this process.  Although I do not have a specific recommendation of someone to see, I would suggest you visit our national association’s website at www.naturopathic.org  Click on the “Find an ND” link.  By entering your zip code in the search field it will give you a list of all licensable naturopathic physicians in your area.

*Beilers Broth recipe- Start with zucchini, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, spinach and kale (any other vegetable of choice can be added).  Chop and boil for 20-30 min then blend contents in a blender.  Season with garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper.  Some cooked rice or quinoa can be added to supply starch.  Additionally, chicken broth can be used in place of water for added sustenance. 

My best wishes to you and your husband in this difficult time.

In health, 

Dr. Passero



Back to all Questions     View More by Dr. Kevin Passero

Lead Medical Director

As a certified and fully trained Naturopathic Doctor, Passero has trained and preceptored with some of the nation's leading doctors in the field of natural medicine, working under the guidance of MD’s, Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Acupuncturists. Furthermore, he is currently the Vice President of the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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