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Sunday, January 24, 2010


Sorry we haven't posted much this week. (Dave tells me he likes to check the blog to see how he's doing!)

Another weekend has come and gone. We still have plenty of visitors that come by which is awesome, however Dave occasionally has a hard time staying awake. (I just want to remind visitors not to come by if you're sick, but wait until you're healthy. Chemo affects the immune system and it's harder for Dave to fight off colds/flu.) The main side effect of chemo is fatigue. Dave has gone past the point of being tired, to being exhausted, and just falls asleep whether he wants to or not. (So we apologize to visitors that he's fallen asleep on!) Often he just needs a catnap and he's good to go again, but in general he needs regular naps throughout the day. Unfortunately he still doesn't get a good nights sleep and finds himself awake numerous times through the night.

The past 3 or 4 few days haven't been great for Dave. He also seems to have a lot of  pain at the site of the feeding tube. It felt better for a few days after they cauterized the opening on Monday, but then it started to hurt again. Today was a little better, but in general - he's just not feeling great anymore. He was feeling so good until this past week that it's hard not to get down a little, but I have to say that he bounces back quickly and is usually laughing at something in no time!

We've become very interested in Wheatgrass and/or Barley grass juice. (The first time anybody mentioned it to us was the IV nurse at St Joe's that put in his PICC line. She credits it in part for her husband being alive today after he was diagnosed with inoperable, untreatable bowel cancer and sent home to die. See this post from Jan 4th - click here. Since then we've heard about it repeatedly and are becoming very interested in starting to grow and juice this ourselves. (It takes just over a week to grow from seed to harvest.) You can buy it frozen from health food stores, but it's quite expensive and not as good as the fresh stuff. Yesterday morning a friend (thanks Don!) introduced us to some people that grow it themselves and they showed us how they grow it, and juiced some for Dave & I. (Here is the wikipedia link about wheatgrass.)

The nurse also mentioned a wellness center they went to in the states, and gave me this website, www.creativehealthinstitute.com. This place doesn't sell you anything - they just train you how to eat a vegetarian raw food diet, teach you how to grow & juice wheatgrass and help you to heal your own body. We are considering going to this place for a week. It's in Michigan and is about a 4 hour drive - 90 minute past Detroit. We're still a little undecided as Dave isn't feeling great, and heading to the USA may or may not be a great idea while he's doing chemo. We're just thinking the sooner he starts on this the better. I spoke with them on Thursday and they seem very sincere and genuinely just want to help. Please continue to pray to help us decide. (FYI. Right now Dave isn't on a vegetarian diet as I don't think it's wise to jump in without knowing what you're doing. He has cut back a lot on his meat & carbs and eats them with a lot more fresh fruit & veggies.)

My initial response to all of this (raw vegan & wheatgrass) was uncertainty, but in the last 3 weeks our eyes have opened a little. And our prayer life has opened a lot. The reality is that all 3 oncologists we've seen have given Dave a very poor prognosis. I haven't really mentioned this in the blog before, but on December 21st & 24th Dave was told he had 3 months without treatment, and 6 to 18 months with treatment, and to put his affairs in order. I've researched a little further myself and the best 5 year survival rate I've found for Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer is less than 3%. There is no Stage 5. My intention here is not to frighten or depress anybody, but just to clarify that what traditional medicine is offering, is just to buy a little more time at best. We would be foolish not to pursue alternatives.

And this is where our frustration with traditional medicine begins. Despite the fact that they told us Dave's cancer was caused by chronic acid reflux, which is caused by food, they REFUSE to consider diet in the treatment. The reality is that MANY cancers could be prevented by a healthier diet, and it's just not being discussed as a complementary treatment. It makes no sense. If you don't change anything - why would you expect anything to change? I think I've mentioned this previously here, but any hard core cancer survivors that have beaten crappy to no odds from their doctors seem to have a common thread. That thread is a 180 degree change in their diet and often wheatgrass juice has been a factor. We saw a well recommended naturopath last week and we believe we're on the right path here.

I'm going to steal a Mark Twain quote here. "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics." Fortunately for us, statistics exist because there are variables. The variables here are that every cancer is different for every patient, and every patient is different from the next. Dave has a lot in his favour. He is younger than the typical EC patient and otherwise healthy. Despite my complaints we have immediate access to a great Cancer Hospital. Dave has a fantastic attitude and a huge number of friends praying and supporting him. Most importantly he has a renewed faith in Jesus Christ. Thankfully God is in control - not the doctors!

Thank you all for your concern, and for following our journey. I hate to sound like a broken record, but just knowing that so many people care and are praying is a constant morale booster. Thanks so much!



Anonymous said...

Hi Val, Dave and Cale: Just getting caught up on your blog. It is a lot to take in but I know what it feels like. I have not been able to sleep at night either. I really can't remember how long it has been. It was great when I was in the hospital, all the meds helped me sleep and i had no hot flashes... which was wonderful. It did not take long though, the sleepless nights and extreme hot flashes, awful!! Anyway, I tried Melatonin 5mg. it is produced in the brain, naturally and sometimes we don't produce enough, so I tried it and for the last few nights it has worked!! It might be worth a try for Dave. Here is hoping that it works. Also, if you decide to go to Michigan and you need a lay over, you are more than welcome to stay here,just let me know...take care my thoughts and prayers are with you always. Char, Wes, Solange, Shane and Chad xoxoxoxoxox

Anonymous said...

Val, just found a new link should read it. There is so much to read. Website is, Cancer Fighting Strategies.com. Some very informative stuff... Char

Val Richards said...

Thanks Charlene!

Good to hear from you. A friend actually dropped some sublingual Melatonin off, and our naturopath suggested it as well. Dave tried it, but didn't find that it made a difference. I think it's the 5-FU he's on that is keeping him awake. He was able to sleep OK before he started chemo. I'll encourage him to try it again for more than one night this time.

Thanks so much for your support! Hope you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh Val, though I know it is the reality of the situation (the ‘infamous’ statistics) I am feeling some sadness in your update? I can’t imagine this is easy for you and having to stay positive all of the time. Please take comfort in that Dave is an anomaly to these statistics and try to see them for what they are… numbers that are given when a Doctor has nothing else to offer. Remember these stats were not for an early 40 year old, who is in good health, who is seeking alternatives to traditional medicine… who has 200 people praying for him at an exact moment in time !!! I cried and I prayed for you both all the way home from work today (after I read your update). God’s will… I haven’t picked up my bible in a few years and it was the first thing I did when I got in the door to find something/anything to inspire Dave… take note not what I am doing for Dave but what Dave is doing for me (and many others) !!

Psalm 71:14 (New International Version)
But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more

Much love and HOPE,
Auntie Jeannie

Garnet & Jessica said...

Hey guys,

Thinking of all of you a great deal lately.

If you decide to attend the place in Michigan and need a place to stay, let me know. My place is about 30 minutes away from the border and you guys would more be more than welcome to stay the night to break up the trip - we have lots of room.

With love,

Anonymous said...

Hey Val and Mr. Richards,
I have a free car rental for this weekend and if you guy's are planning on going to Michigan you are welcome to it.
Andrew Thompson

Val Richards said...

Awww Jeannie. Sorry we made you sad. Seriously we are not moping around here feeling sorry for ourselves! Those stats are numbers we were given a month ago. We have long gotten over the fact that that they're just numbers. We are confident that Dave will beat this and be an awesome testament! Right now he feels crappy because of chemo mainly, and that's just the reality of chemotherapy.

Thank you for the verse and we certainly do have hope! Keep prayin'!


Val Richards said...

Hey Garnet!
Good to hear from you. Thanks for the offer. I think we're OK, but you never know! I'll have to get your info if we do go.

Hope you're doing well!


Anonymous said...

Alternative ideas....

bobbyb55 said...

Hi guys. Its been a while since we've spoken but it seems Dave, that you still have your amazing sense of humour! Mind you I'm not surprised that you are still cracking jokes every chance you get! Val you are a trooper and Dave is very lucky to have you in his corner. Alot of people just do what the doctors say and thats unfortunate because it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease!! You are in charge not them so keep up the good work!!
I believe you are on the right track with the diet changes. Not sure if you have had time or even have heard about the website icurecancer.com. There are plenty of good alternative treatments out there. Not sure if this will give you any new ideas but its worth a try.
The Harrison's all send their best to you and your family. Keep up the good work Val and Dave you listen to your wife!!!
Lots of Love and Prayers to you Dave.
Michelle and Jeff

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, Val & Cale; It's been a few since I've written but you are all constantly in our thoughts and prayers. I have never been a good sound sleeper & wake up often in the night and like others that have written I also am taking it as a queue to pray for you all.I remember my surgeon telling me that all the patients that the specialists see are the people that are suffering with their disease; they don't see the ones that are well and survivors. He said your family doctor has a more balanced picture and that was an encouragement to me as I believe it is true.
Just a note of caution re crossing the border - Because you had the bone and brain scan your body is radioactive somewhat and the scanners at the border will pick you up right away while in the car line-up and you will most probably be surrounded. It could be quite amusing and good for a laugh and you will be the centre of attention :-) but I suggest you take a note from your doctor - especially in these days of heightened security.(It happened to my neice.)
Our love & prayers Barb& Chuck

Anonymous said...

Hi! It's natural in any life crisis to move some steps forward and some steps back. Keeping in mind the strength of the chemo finally feeling its effects is so part of it. Let yourself flow Dave with what your body needs at the time. Be nice to yourself(listening to what it needs)not something I have ever been good at. You both are doing so awesome at handling this difficult chapter in your lives. I read just today that goat's milk helps with acid in the stomache. Love Aunt Lynne

Anonymous said...

Please ask your naturopathic Dr about Eissac and what effects is has for cancer patients.I heard that its amazing. It 's worth a try.
praying for you all.

Anonymous said...

Dave and Val, I am just getting caught up and home for one day and then back on the road. We are thinking of you and Ange said it was good to see you at the rink last week. Good to hear the appetite is good - donut vs the hole - I agree and have not let too many donuts get by.
We learned some hard lessons with Taylor and found out that doctors have the right to "practice" medicine - this is "game time" and you need to pullout all the stops - look at everything.
See you soon.

Brad and Angela

Val Richards said...

We've read about Essiac and it's a very interesting story. (See www.essiacinfo.org) We will be trying it after chemo. (Heard it can interfere with chemo and make it less effective.)

Thanks all! Good to hear from you.

wheatgrass benefits said...

I believe you are on the right track with the diet changes. Not sure if you have had time or even have heard about the website icurecancer.com. There are plenty of good alternative treatments out there. Would you like to consider visiting this site?