Helping cancer survivors fight neuropathy

One of the rare articles on cancer patients and neuropathy (numbness in the extremities). One of the side effects on intensive or aggressive treatments.

I am lucky in that my neuropathy is mild and does not impede my activities and is without pain, others are not so lucky

Helping cancer survivors fight neuropathy.


2 thoughts on “Helping cancer survivors fight neuropathy

  1. I will warn you right now that this is a lengthy post, but that anyone suffering from peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy and/or diabetes will be glad that they read it as it may allow you to substantially increase your quality of life.

    I became quite sick at the end of August of 2009. I got in to see my doctor on 2 Sept 2009 and upon describing the symptoms he ordered immediate tests and ordered me off work advising that I needed to see a specialist as soon as possible. Because of a clerical error that took until the beginning of October with a colonoscopy on 20 Oct 09 resulting in a diagnosis of colon cancer and the advice to consume huge quantities of fiber.

    I had surgery on 17 Nov 09 to remove the tumor and found out I was at stage 3 with almost 80% of my removed lymph nodes testing positive for cancer. About the end of Dec I started on the Budwig diet after much research in books and some educated thought about what I had read. I was scheduled for an oncologist appointment in mid Feb but was called for my first chemo treatment before that due to “the nature of my lymph nodes”.

    I received my first chemo – 5FU & oxaliplatin on the first Monday in February 2010 and had a CT scan Thursday of the same week. Strangely, the scan showed that all my lymph nodes were back to normal size yet the oncologist continued to give me a high dose of oxaliplatin.

    The first treatment resulted in tingling in toes, fingers and on my face. The second treatment made my feet numb to my ankles. Treatments were on a two week schedule, extended twice to three weeks. Upon complaining of numbness and tingling the dose was reduced from 84mg/sq meter of body surface area to 74 mg/ sq m.

    As the numbness, tingling and eventually pain increased with subsequent treatments my motor skills vanished and my upper palate became numb. As well I experienced what I can only describe as “swallowing a thousand razor blades” when I had a cold drink, loss of grip with my hands, as well as pain that felt like my extremities were frozen solid while in a raging fire. The chemo ended, after twelve treatments, in the last week of July 2010 with one skipped dose and one refused dose of oxaliplatin and several doses reduced to 50mg/sq m.

    On the last day of chemo a pharmacist at the cancer clinic noticed how I was walking and told me that gabapentin would help with the numbness and pain but that I would need to see my regular doctor to get it. I got it the same day (note: gabapentin can cause high blood sugar and after over a year of use @ 3600mg/day I found out that a 300mg dose taken with food was raising my sugar by 15.0 and that it also damages the Islands of Langerhans in the pancreas).

    In Oct of 10 the pain and numbness was still increasing, I was by this time on morphine as well, and I was referred to a neurologist in the emergency department and kept in hospital for four days for immediate testing. I was informed at that time that I had no motor or sensory nerve conduction below my knees in either leg and they could not understand how I could walk at all. I did have to look at my feet to do it and it was a very slow and painful process. The pain reached its’ peak about March 2011 at which time I had been on hydromorph contin and hydromorphone for over two months and was also switched to Lyrica as a pain blocker instead of gabapentin and it was doing nothing for the pain at all.

    The numbness in my legs eventually reached up to my mid thigh in both legs and did cause a lot of cognitive problems(very noticeable to me as MENSA scored me at 141 which is well in to the 99th percentile).

    The neuropathy virtually completely disabled me until the end of January 2012 when I was told that grape seed oil would help. I tried it and it did help. I then found out that they meant grape seed extract so I got some and tried it with equal success. This reduced my need for narcotic pain killers by 50% immediately.

    In April of 2012 my doctor decided I should have an A1C test for diabetes because I had had cancer. The results were strange in that the fasting sugar was higher than the average sugar. On follow up hourly blood sugar monitoring I discovered that gabapentin was pushing the sugars up and I was switched back to Lyrica and put on some diabetic medications. I also started using curcumin to promote healing in my pancreas at that time.

    The resulting moderation of blood sugar gave a small temporary relief from the pain and the grape seed extract continued to provide an agonizingly slow improvement. Then, about the beginning of September 2012 I received an Internet newsletter regarding a body building supplement that listed the ingredients. One of the ingredients was “alpha lipoic acid (ALA)” and on checking it out I found that it would reduce the side effects of oxaliplatin during chemo and cure neuropathy from both chemo and diabetes. Two days later I obtained some and the first dose of 250mg resulted in a noticeable improvement. I am taking 2 – 250mg doses per day and after ten days I was off all prescribed pain killers except the Lyrica. It is now five weeks since I started ALA and I am anticipating going back to work quite soon and have been much more physically active in that time frame seeing a reduction in pain of about 80% over what it was with pain killers before the ALA.

    After four months my blood sugars started acting normal instead of backwards(they were going up with activity) but I am still using diabetic pancreas stimulating medications.

    My doctor agrees that I received an overdose of oxaliplatin due to a number of reasons. First, I am very muscular and so the calculation for body surface area based on body weight would result in a proportionately high number. Second, I had already reduced the cancer in my body with the Budwig diet as supported by the CT scans. Finally, the manufacturers protocol for the use of oxaliplatin calls for discontinuation of administration of it if any tingling, numbness or pain occur and the dose was just reduced regardless of the level of neuropathy.

    I have found a very informative website for naturopathic remedies at “earth clinic”. It is cross referenced by ailment and remedy, has a basic description of each and has posts from all over the world regards dosage, frequency of dosage, and results in positive, negative and ambiguous replies.

    I have also found out that cancer tumors can not exist without a systemic yeast infection in the blood as yeast is required to bind the cancer cells together in to a tumor. Baking soda can kill the yeast in the blood and then attack the yeast in the tumors. The yeast die off can make you sick due to the resulting overload on your kidneys so that would be a good sign. I have also found out that a pregnancy test can diagnose cancer in men and women. Positive results and not pregnant equals cancer somewhere in your body.

    I became pro-active after my surgery and turned to alternative remedies when i did not get results from the doctors. I hope that what I have shared here helps a lot of other people suffering with neuropathy.

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