Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What you need to know now: Does a Virus Cause Breast Cancer in Women?

What You Need to Know Now: Does a Virus Cause Breast Cancer in Women?

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Yesterday on my show, Survive and Live Well, on W4CS, Dr Kathleen Ruddy spoke about a breast cancer virus that might be involved with 40-75% of breast cancer.  She also discussed a preventive vaccine developed at the Cleveland Clinic by Professor Vincent Tuohy that is ready for safety testing in women and may also be effective against the viral form of breast cancer.  Unfortunately, both the virus and the vaccine have received little attention and scant funding.

The virus in itself is not news to me or others; Kathleen and I spoke about this a year ago, and it received national attention via a video Dr. Ruddy made that was nominated best short film of the Breast Fest Breast Cancer Film Festival 2010. However, what amazes me is that in addition to the paucity of attention about the virus, there is equal disregard for the first preventive breast cancer vaccine that Professor Tuohy developed, for he has yet to get the funding for clinical trials to test its efficacy in women.  So why is it that there is not funding for trials?  If not for lack of awareness, what is it? 

Many people are not aware that this vaccine is at the trial phase; it just needs the funding and we could likely prevent and possibly cure millions of breast cancers.  It saddens and infuriates me that greed and ignorance may be getting in the way.  In fact, there is a prominent member of the breast cancer world who likely has the power to garner the funds needed, but instead seems to want to wait until 2020 for the magical end.  Shame on those who are holding us back; how can they say they are out to make change, to end breast cancer. Let’s end breast cancer now; why wait?  If you would like to be part of this initiative, please contact Dr Ruddy.  If you have something to say regarding this topic, please let me know, you just might be invited to share your thoughts on the show.

I posted on this subject back in July of 2011…to read this post and a repost on Dr Ruddy’s site:

The following is a plea written by IBC survivor Cindy Sullivan.  Thank you Cindy, for helping to get the word out on the need for funding; we need to get this vaccine to trial.

To read another great post on the subject by Susan Beausang:

“His vaccine is ready to be tested for safety in humans, but guess what. Komen has turned him down for funding 3 times and Avon has refused to even consider it. Hmmmm…. Maybe Mr. Tuohy scared the queens of pinkwashing when he said, ‘If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental. We could eliminate breast cancer.”

I would now add that the NBCC is looking to end breast cancer in 2020; the rest of us are in a bigger hurry.  Likely they could be added to the list of “queens of pinkwashing”, but that is my opinion. Why is it that they are not supporting a vaccine ready to go to trial now?

For more information on Professor Tuohy’s vaccine:

 Elyn Jacobs

 Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit, Tuesdays at 1pm (est).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New To Caregiving? How Will The Doctors and Nurses Treat...You?

Today I would like to share a guest post by Rob Harris.  Rob is an accredited Human Resources professional (SPHR). He specializes in assisting corporate executives and all others with their strategic and day-to-day human resources needs; but more importantly, he is a caregiver to his wife, a two-time cancer survivor (Lymphoma, Sarcoma).  Rob tells me the experience of caring for her over the years has enriched his life beyond imagination.   So thank you Rob for sharing this most valuable advice with us! My best to you and Cindy!
After receiving shocking and/or devastating news, the human body likely goes into “fight or flight” mode. At that time, emotional confusion abounds. No, I am not talking about the patient. My reference is directed toward the newly-anointed caregiver.

Fear, anxiety, confusion and even panic are a few of the emotional reactions likely to bombard you all at once.

Face it, one day you are leading a fairly normal, routine life, and the next you are entering a world that is, in all likelihood, completely foreign to you. While you did raise your hand and voluntarily step up and state, “I will be the caregiver,” the reality is you probably had no idea what it was you were agreeing to do.

Unfortunately, most caregivers are ill-prepared for what comes next. Yes, you can anticipate that your life will change for an undetermined period of time. You will soon meet more doctors, nurses and medical staff than you had thus far in your lifetime.

Of course, it’s easy to rationalize your current state of affairs with, “That’s no big deal. I’ve been seeing my own doctors and their nurses my entire life. How much different can this be?”

If those are your beliefs, you are in for a rude psychological awakening.

When you are the patient, the medical community acknowledges your existence. However, when you are a caregiver, in the eyes of most, you become invisible and irrelevant.

Be prepared to be treated like a second-class citizen. In most cases, you will be ignored and even disrespected by your patient’s doctors and nurses. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you may have accomplished in life. The bottom-line is that the reaction you will receive will be distressing, depressing and probably unexpected. At the very least, get ready to have your ego bruised.

Personally, I was completely caught off-guard when this occurred to me. More often than not, I was made to feel as if I was a nuisance. My immediate reaction was that my questions and opinions were not valued nor welcomed during any dialogue the doctors or nurses were having with my wife.

My efforts to become engaged in conversations were typically met with tight smiles, frowns, or a complete lack of acknowledgment that I even spoke.

I recalled a phrase my parents shared with me when I was very young, “Some adults believe that children are to be seen and not heard.” In this case, I substituted the word “caregivers” for “children” and had, in my mind, an accurate depiction of how I was being treated.

Though there are a few exceptions, most doctors and nurses focus completely on the patient. They enter your room, say or do what they have to, and move on to the next one. Trying to alter that routine, no matter how skilled you may be at communicating with others, will likely be futile.

As a result, you have two choices: either accept your fate in advance, or vent to family members, friends, a support group or possibly even another caregiver with a sympathetic ear. Hopefully, it will help reduce or remove your pent-up frustration. At best, it may help you realize you are not alone.

There is, of course, a third choice; one I do not recommend. You could confront the offending doctor(s) or nurse(s). However, human nature being what it is, the individual you challenge will likely not appreciate your comments. The one thing that you likely won’t accomplish via an argument is initiate a positive change.

While some doctors and nurses appreciate the role of the caregiver, many do not. Accept it for what it is. Listen intently to what they have to say and learn all you can from their conversations with your care recipient. Take copious notes. After all, the real goal is to get the best medical attention for your loved one…not yourself.

 Rob Harris enjoys writing, blogging, and speaking in front of audiences, but gets the most pleasure from helping caregivers, patients, and those within the medical community. Rob is extremely approachable and available, especially to fellow caregivers, patients, schools, organizations and members of the medical community. He is a regular monthly blogger on the American Cancer Society’s affiliate website, WhatNext, and posts blogs on his webpage. He guest blogs regularly on many other websites, including Leeza Gibbons’ Leeza’s Place, and has been interviewed on radio, video and in well-known publications. His first book, We’re In This Together: A Caregiver’s Story will be launched on July 14, 2012. It can be purchased in print and ebook versions through Rob’s website ( or through Amazon and other literary outlets. An excerpt is provided at: 

My sisters and I were caregivers to my mother during her battle with cancer.  I too, experienced much of what Rob describes.  However, given my nature, I could not help myself and had to speak up. I found a fourth choice; one with much downside, but thankfully worked for me.  I went over the doctors’ head, went right to the top.  The first episode was over a simple matter like the doctor would not make time to talk to me.  She said she had already explained to my mother that her cancer was back, and had no time to explain it to me. Her boss thought otherwise, and the doctor scheduled a call to me. 
Another time I stepped in and saved my mothers’ life.  This time it was over a biopsy.  I not only had to research the options myself, but then went to the top to ask why the less invasive option had not been offered to her.  The answer was shocking.  The adjunct facility was not aware of the procedure; we scheduled the biopsy at the New York facility.  Please know that this is the option of last resorts, but you may find at some point, that it must be done.  I have also had many, many positive experiences as advocate to patients; in each case, the doctor thanked me for helping to facilitate effective communications….so take heart that there are wonderful, compassionate, short-on -time doctors who truly appreciate the help an advocate can provide.  But, as Rob says, if all else fails, remember the true goal; getting the best possible care for your loved one, even if that requires much venting to a friend; just bring the wine.

 Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit, Tuesdays at 1pm (est).

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Today I want to share with you a wonderful opportunity.  Helayne Waldman is offering a fantastic webinar to help you create and maintain a "cancer deterrence" zone. Helayne is a holistic nutrition educator with a passion for helping those with breast cancer.  A faculty member at Bauman College, Waldman is also a columnist, a private practitioner, and a consultant to breast cancer clinics and doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She is also the co-author of The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors, an integrative, whole-foods guide to rebuilding health after surviving breast cancer, and reducing risk of recurrence.  Helayne was also my guest last week on the Survive and Live Well radio show.  Hope you can make it!
My very best, Elyn

 Helayne Waldman, Ed.D., co-author (with Ed Bauman) of THE WHOLE FOOD GUIDE FOR BREAST CANCER SURIVOVRS

In this webinar series we’ll cover three areas that are of critical importance in helping you create and maintain a “cancer deterrence” zone:

Part I:  Adapting an unadulterated, nutrient rich diet. 
This is the first step in your establishing your cancer deterrence zone – being well nourished.  We’ll look at what that means, and how to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to help keep cancer at bay.  We’ll also discuss how to make sure your supplements are doing you more good than harm!

Part II:  Achieving healthy weight, blood sugar and insulin levels.
Much as we try, standard American diets, hormone disruptors, endocrine disorders and other issues make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar.  This program will focus on strategies for losing the fat, lowering the sugar and in the process, creating a lean, mean, muscular body that  is more resistant to cancer.

Part III:  Tips for managing your hormones with food.
Hormones can be your friend or foe.  Find out how to get them working with you and not against you by using food and nutrient strategies that work!  We’ll also leave plenty of time for Q & A on this call.

3 weeks, 4 ½  hours that can change your life.  only
Wed., June 13
Wed., June 20
Wed., June 27
8-p.m. edt;  5-p.m. pdt

To register, visit and click on the Webinar link.  
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, a professional cancer coach, a radio talk show host, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit, Tuesdays at 1pm (est).


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why We Are Not Winning the War on Cancer

Did you know that most people with cancer do not die of their cancer, but rather from the complications and consequences of cancer and its treatment?  And these complications and consequences are often preventable, or can be successfully treated.”
Keith Block, 2012 Annie Appleseed CAM Conference 

After hearing Dr Keith Block present at the Annie Appleseed CAM conference, I knew I needed to interview him, to share with you all that I learned from him at the conference and more.   Thank you, Dr Block for taking the time to share with me your roadmap for surviving and thriving. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the lack of success cancer treatment has had on mortality rates. Unless otherwise noted, the information in this post is derived from his presentation and our interview.
In 1971, President Nixon declared war on cancer.  Forty-one years and billions of dollars later, we have yet to win the war. In fact, mortality rates have declined by less than 5% in the last 60 years! In this same time period, mortality from heart disease has dropped 64%. It’s not that we don’t have new cancer drugs; it’s just that they’re not offering major improvement in survival time. Most often these new drugs have only improved outcomes by 4-16 weeks.  The numbers tell the story:  we are not winning the war on cancer. 

                             “Cancer itself is a disease of defects”  KB

Everyone seeks the infamous magic bullet for cancer, the cure.  But cancer is not an isolated group of errant cells waiting to be annihilated by a wonder drug.  Cancer is not merely a tumor; it is an underlying condition, a disease of defects – in genes, of disruption in the microenvironment where the disease resides, as well as in the personal life of the patient and the family in crisis.
It is based on abnormal patterns driven by genetics and lifestyle.  It reflects changes in your body all the way down to the microscopic and molecular levels, changes that began long before you had any symptoms of cancer—indeed, long before cancer was diagnosed or even detectable. The battle against cancer is not so much against a single defect in a protein or cancerous mutation, it is a war on many fronts; it has multiple targets.  Therefore – with the possible exception of one or two types of early stage cancer, using one bullet to eradicate this disease will almost always fail.
 We need a multi-targeted approach.  Even the latest breakthrough drugs that hit two targets don’t come close to addressing this problem.  In theory, using many more than two drugs to hit many targets at the same time would help, however, the cost and toxicities render this unrealistic. And, keep in mind, that cancer is sneaky.  If you put up a roadblock, cancer will find a way to get around it.  But this is not the case for nutraceuticals, where their combined usage has negligible risk and toxicity; they are able hit multiple targets – and thus can address substitute or compensatory pathways – and are relatively inexpensive.  Plant extracts such as turmeric, lycopene, and green tea can target cancer on many levels; they hit many targets and cut off pathways, and they can address those molecular targets without the toxicity of multiple chemotherapies. For example, crucifers, (broccoli, cabbage and the like) can help reduce adverse effects of estrogen; flax has demonstrated a reduction in ki-67, a marker of cancer cell proliferation; green tea markedly countered the malignant conversion for patients at high risk for prostate cancer.   While no one is suggesting that these compounds will single-handedly eradicate cancer, each provides a powerful punch in addressing various mechanisms that drive cancer, and can synergistically interact to create an inhospitable microenvironment where cancer cells lose ground, toxicity is lessened and treatments work better.

Regarding Chemotherapy….

 Dr Block, how can chemo be more effective and less toxic?
 One of the most powerful ways to improve the response to chemotherapy is to administer chemo drugs in concert with optimal biological rhythms.  With this technique, called chronomodulated chemotherapy, pumps are programmed to deliver the largest dose of the drug at a time when cancer cells are most susceptible, and normal cells are the least vulnerable.  And the timing is unique to each drug.  Think of it like a pointed bell curve (sine wave curve); the drug is at first administered at low dose, slowly ramps up, peaks and then tapers off. The research supporting this unique form of chemotherapy infusion demonstrates a reduction in toxicity, improved response, and improved outcomes and survival in a number of studies. In fact, the literature contains studies showing chronomodulation of chemotherapy can even allow for patients to be successfully re-challenged with the identical drugs they previously received and needed to discontinue, either because they were ineffective, became ineffective prematurely, or were too debilitating to tolerate.
For example, for metastatic colon cancer patients, studies show that administering chemotherapy at the optimal time can halve toxicity and double treatment response.  For advanced metastatic ovarian cancer, a study in the journal Cancer reported that optimal timing of chemotherapy can reduce toxic side effects by 50 percent and quadruple five-year survival.

What about the safety of antioxidants and other supplements during treatment?
 Our published studies have shown that most antioxidants displayed no interfering effect with chemotherapy. In fact, they actually synergistically interact to enhance treatment and diminished the side effects of chemo. For example, it may be possible to mitigate some of the cardiac injury from drugs like Herceptin by taking agents like hawthorne and COq10.  In addition, glutamine, vitamin B6, and alpha-lipoic acid appear to help prevent neuron injury (neuropathy).
Click here to read more on supplementation and toxicity.

                               But the doctor said he “got it all!”
 Cancer is not simply a visible disease.  It’s not just about the macroscopic tumors that can be seen on a scan.  The surgeon saying “I got it all,” while certainly a message to be celebrated, should not signal the end of treatment.  One has to think of the disease systemically, not locally; it is a microcellular condition that is impacted by the extracellular environment that the cells reside in.  The typical gold standard, surgery, chemo and radiation, so often fail to prevent the spread or recurrence of the disease because they often miss picking up renegade cancer cells, miss strengthening the body’s biological integrity, and do not reach all of the underlying molecular accidents that initiated cancer in the first place.  As a result, even if the original tumor is removed, the environment that it resided in – as well as the treatments themselves – can create a biological imbalance for cancer to recur.  In addition, many cancer treatments leave a patient with considerable oxidative stress and inflammation, well known to interfere with treatment, increase various side effects including neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, fatigue and mucositis, and provide the fuel for clonal evolution – increasing the aggressiveness of otherwise dormant cells for their next time around.

 From a logical point of view…if cancer liked my body enough to grow cancer once, why not again…I know that I need to make the terrain less hospitable, to change the environment in which it was able to grow. EJ

 Remember, even when the primary tumor is removed, micro-metastases may already have migrated to and seeded other parts of the body.   In fact, it has been estimated that many cancer patients unknowingly already have metastases, malignant cells that have broken off the original tumor, traveled through the bloodstream to far-flung sites in the body, and begun the insidious process of growing in another dangerous tumor.   Keep in mind that all cancers start with a genetic glitch in a single cell. Conventional cancer treatment does little to prevent cells from regrouping, proliferating, and forming new tumors.  Just because you have achieved remission through elimination of the primary tumor does not mean you are home free.  However, the good news is that cancer cells are remarkably fragile.  Unless they are nurtured and protected by the biochemical terrain in your body, they have a difficult time surviving.  Your internal biochemistry can either nourish cancer cells or make the terrain inhospitable to cancer.

          Walking just three to five hours a week can cut cancer death rates by one-half. KB

 We know that lifestyle is directly related to cancer, and that diet and exercise are associated with lower cancer recurrence rates and longer survival.  Recently, the ACS issued new guidelines urging doctors to talk to their cancer patients about eating right, exercising and slimming down if they’re too heavy.  It’s a start, but not specific enough for most of us, nor is it comprehensive enough to help win the war.  Talk to your doctor – ideally one experienced in integrative oncology – about devising your own personalized plan for wellness.  By combining conventional treatments with a personally tailored regimen of natural agents, fitness regimens, and stress management- strategies, we can support our body to improve the chances of defeating cancer.

One last note, if I may.  While in most cases, cancer does not “just happen,” it is also something for which we cannot blame ourselves.  Cancer is not caused by a “bad” diet or a toxic environment.  Food is not either good or bad; let’s just say that some foods are better than others. However, as Dr Block said, cancer is “driven by genetics and lifestyle”. That said, diet and exercise can have a profound effect on the initiation and progression of the disease.  If a genetic defect occurs, our food choices either support or suppress the development of cancer.  I don’t blame myself for getting cancer, but yet now that I fully understand the power of food, I make conscious food choices to support my body against cancer.  Knowledge is power, and if everything I put in my mouth either supports or inhibits cancer, then now I am empowered to gain control. Joy is also an important ingredient for health; so while we want to make healthy food choices, we also need to remember that occasional indulgences and enjoying meals with friends are good for the soul. It’s all about balance and in giving your body what it needs.  Empower yourself to be an active participant in your healing and an advocate for your health.

 In good health,

Keith I. Block, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in integrative oncology.  In 1980, he co-founded the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois, the first such facility in North America, and serves as its Medical and Scientific Director.  He is the author of Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment.
Dr. Block is the Scientific Director of the Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Education, where he has collaborated with colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Bar Ilan University in Israel.  Dr. Block is also the founding editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Integrative Cancer Therapies (ICT).  In 2005, he was appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query (PDQ) Cancer CAM Editorial Board, on which he continues to serve today.

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, a professional cancer coach, a radio talk show host, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit, Tuesdays at 1pm (est).