Author: Beth

Time passes

It’s been about a year since I learned I have multiple myeloma.

If I had done exactly as the doctor at Duke wanted me to do, I’d have started either VAD or VDD (clinical trial) back in February of 2003, and proceeded directly to an auto SCT. I would think that my SCT would have been scheduled for June or July, and I’d be pretty close to 6 months beyond it by now.

Instead, I let my fear guide me, and I’m still struggling with the whole thing. I’m still here, and I’m still ok. I have some neuropathy from thalidomide. My IgA is lower than it was a year ago. The thing is, had I just charged ahead, it would be over with now. It would be well in the past.

I think I believed that I was going to be able to avoid any harsh treatments. I thought I was going to have a speedy and complete remission with no side effects. It does happen, you know!

Is this possible?

Vegetables that prevent may ultimately cure some cancers
College Station, Texas
January 6, 2004
Texas A&M University Agriculture Program
Writer: Kathleen Phillips

Broccoli, cabbage, turnips and mustard greens. A dose a day keeps most cancers away.

But for those who develop cancer, the same vegetables may ultimately produce the cure. Research at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station has led to a patent for a new use for derivatives of DIM, or diindolylmethane, a natural compound derived from certain vegetables, to treat cancer.

“We took advantage of a natural chemical, that research has shown will prevent cancer, and developed several more analogs,” said Dr. Steve Safe, an Experiment Station chemist who has been studying cancer for about 10 years.

Safe’s patent has been picked up by Plantacor, a new biotech company headquartered in College Station, and is expected to enter clinical trials soon in collaboration with M.D. Anderson in Houston.

DIM already is commercially available as a natural supplement for cancer prevention and for treating estrogen-related health issues.

“DIM is a potent substance,” Safe said. “But we made it even more potent against various tumors.”

The first development in this research using chemically altered DIM from broccoli came when the growth of breast cancer cells was inhibited in laboratory studies. Subsequent research showed these compounds also inhibited growth of pancreatic, colon, bladder and ovarian cancer cells in culture, Safe said. Limited trials on lab mice and rats have produced the similar results, he noted.

Safe said the research began by considering compounds that protect a person from developing cancer. Journal articles of other researchers are stacked on Safe’s expansive desk, extolling the scientific evidence that cruciferous vegetables prevent cancer.

His team wondered whether the similar compounds could be developed for treatment of cancer. They looked at the mechanism – how the compounds block cancer cell growth – and found that they target PPAR gamma, a protein that is highly active in fat cells. However, this same PPAR gamma is over-expressed in many tumors and tumor cells and is a potential target for new drugs, he said.

Safe’s lab chemically modified “natural” DIM to give a series of compounds that target the PPAR gamma and stop the growth of cancer.

“One of the best parts is that this treatment appears to have minimal or no side effects, in the mice trials; it just stops tumor growth,” he said. “The hope now is that the patented chemicals can be developed into useful drugs for clinical trials and then be used for cancer treatment.

“It looks promising in cancer cells and animals at this time. We need future studies in humans to see if it is beneficial with people as well,” he added.

News release

Blood glucose level

From my recent experience with testing my blood at various times of the day while on dex, it looks like the best course of action for me is to stay away from carbs. I already don’t use sugar, but one thing that’s easy to forget is that carbs turn into sugar. Simple carbs, like white rice or potatoes are merely one step away from eating pure sugar. Complex carbs don’t spike blood glucose levels as severely, but they still do a number, and I need to avoid them when on dex. This morning when I woke up, I tested before having breakfast and taking my dex. My blood glucose level was 95 mg/dL. Not bad. After having an omlet with 3 eggs, cheese and onions with salsa on top, my level was 96 mg/dL. Still ok! So I will stick with low carb/no sugar. It will be like being on an Atkins diet for 4 days. Tolerable, even though I am a carb junkie! I’m interested in seeing what my blood glucose level will be like the day or two after finishing dex. That’s when I suffer from pretty extreme fatigue. If my blood sugar is low, I’ll be able to have some complex carbs and fruit juice to boost it.


My doctor said that Revimid ( will soon be approved for use with Myelodysplastic Syndromes. This means that it can be prescribed off label for MM patients, just as Thalomid now is. Revimid works in much the same way as Thalomid, but without the PN and constipation. There are other side effects though. He told me that it can cause thrombocytopenia (platelets are tiny cells which circulate in the blood and whose function is to take part in the clotting process) and neutropenia (reduction of the number of neutrophils, white blood cells that are first line of defense to fight infections), which usually shows up in people who already have low platelets and neutrophils. It’s also known for causing a rash, that will most likely resolve after an adjustment period.

So it looks like soon, there’ll be another drug for use against MM without having to be enrolled in a clinical trial.

New Labs, Blood Sugar, etc

I have some new labs uploaded: The IgA has gone down a little, and the IgG has gone up! I’m getting close to normal!

I bought a blood glucose monitor today. My monthly random blood glucose is always normal, but I’m interested in what dex is doing to my blood glucose. I’ll test several times a day to see how that’s going. I’m guessing that a low carb, no sugar diet is necessary during the 4 days of dex. I’m a carb junkie! It’ll be ok though. 4 days isn’t an eternity. I also need to lose some weight. Since I started treatment, I’ve gained about 20 lbs. I haven’t been skinny since I was 30! Exercise, here I come. I did well today, walking the dog, doing the stairs at work and doing the Nordic Track Ellipse. All I have to do is keep it up and do it 5 days a week. Easier said than done, I know, but completely do-able.

My doctor and I talked about my course of treatment. The Thalomid has caused some PN, so I wanted to cut back. He has me on 50 mg every other day now, and we’ll see what that does when I go back for my next appointment on January 28th. If my IgA goes up, or seems not to improve, we’ll try something else. We didn’t add Biaxin just yet. Maybe if we need to in the future. He said he’s been talking to the people at Cornell about it.

SCT is another consideration. A few people I know have complete remissions now, and that means no more damaging treatments until the MM is once again active. The SCT itself is not without some serious risks though. It’s a tough decision to make. I’ve asked Dr. O. some questions about the best time of year to do it. I would feel better once we’re out of the cold & flu season.

I also need to address the phobia I have called emetophobia. It’s a fear of vomiting, and is one of the things that’s made me fear high dose chemo so much. It might seem silly to some people, but for me it’s a terrible obstacle.

Top 5 Cancers

Female: All Races (total cases = 1,657,563)

1. Breast – 30.7%
2. Lung – 12.5%
3. Colon and Rectum – 12.2%
4. Corpus and Uterus – 5.9%
5. Ovary – 3.9%

Male: All Races (total cases = 1,715,377)

1. Prostate – 28.6%
2. Lung – 16.3%
3. Colon and Rectum – 11.7%
4. Bladder – 6.6%
5. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – 4.2%

For the complete listing of findings, including cancer prevalence by race, please visit:

Source: North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)

I can’t sleep

I can’t sleep lately. I know I need to sleep, but it eludes me. It’s unusual for me not to sleep a solid 8 hours each night, and I’m not sure why this is happening!

IMF Patient/Family Seminar

I want to go to the IMF Patient/Family Seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in January. I’ve made the reservation for the hotel and the seminar. I just have to decide how to get there. I’ll either drive or fly. Flying will be much, much faster. If you’re going to be there, drop me a line!