Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beriberi and me

Beriberi is characterized by peripheral neuropathy due to thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency. As its symptoms are so similar to the taxol side effects, some people suggest injesting large amounts of B complex vitamins while taking taxol. It is not clear if this is helpful. At anyrate, Vit. B deficiencies are very rare in the US and it is hard to believe that it would develop in 2 days-the time it took for the taxol side effects to rear their ugly heads. Sometimes it is dangerous to take large amount of vitamins while undergoing chemo. One example would be those on methotrexate used sometimes against breast cancer. Methotrexate works by depleting the folic acid that fast growing cells (e.g. cancer cells) are so dependent on. Now if you are ingesting folic acid, a common component of multivitamins, you are subverting its action.

Vitamin D deficiency however is not so rare and seems to be linked to breast cancer. (see: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=89596) Fortified milk is a principal source of Vit. D. However, one only ingests the pro-vitamin. For Vitamin D to form, there must be some exposure to UV light. Vitamin D deficiencies are common even in the tropics when women are forced to cover their bodies completely. Not clear if their breast cancer numbers are higher (negated maybe by high birthrates and short life spans) but they definitely have a higher incidence of rickets. I probably have over-exposed myself to UV light but I don't like milk. Hopefully my yogurt and cheese consumption kept my Vit. D levels high. My bones were dense.

Enough of my lectures. I am just trying to sort out what factors will be important to my survival once I am out of chemo in 34 days. The side effects of my last poisoning are abating and I was able to walk for more than an hour in the sunshine yesterday. Not sure how much UV light my skin was able to absorb as I am so cold intolerant. I had to return to get a warmer hat even though it was 30 deg. My hair in the past kept me warm unless it was below 20. Also my eyes and nose are no longer watering. That must have been due to the Red Devil. I was glad to have the energy to walk. I also have started using handweights.

This Friday, the two local teams Pioneer and Huron play each other at Pioneer. They are raising money for LiveStrong, the organization Lance Armstrong started to help mend those out of treatment. Locally the program is at the Y. You are assigned a personal trainer for 8 weeks who helps you rebuild what was lost during treatment. Two of the Pioneer coaches are breast cancer survivors. Presumably the local newspaper will interview me as representing Huron. I have purchased alot of these t-shirts. So if any of my local friends want to come and see Naomi play and help benefit LiveStrong, I will give them a t-shirt which they have to wear to get in free. So it will be free for you.

A friend and I will go for a walk later this afternoon. Hopefully more ice will melt. Some of my neighbors didn't do their walks and it was slippery. The city did not clear the bikepath, which they generally do so my favorite option was out.

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