CALMERme - Cancer Advocacy through Lifestyle Medicine, Empowerment and Research


I've launched a new website called CALMERme - an acronym for 'personalized cancer advocacy through lifestyle medicine, empowerment and research.'

It just got started but we have great plans for the future. I hope you'll take a look.

The goal is to support cancer patients through their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery by empowering them to incorporate lifestyle medicine approaches to help reduce treatment side effects, make the body inhospitable to cancer (for prevention and to prevent recurrence), and make the body AND mind and spirit healthy again.

I'll be putting some of the blog posts here too.

Would love to hear your comments.
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Eat with your eyes

When we were on holiday in Mexico a few weeks ago, we had this beautiful outdoor setting for one of our dinners.  I loved the way they had taken individual flowers and arranged them so prettily.


Creating an attractive setting really helps with your enjoyment of a meal.   This is particularly important if you aren't feeling hungry as a result of treatment like chemotherapy or something like that.  If you are in that situation, see if your partner/friend can help encourage your appetite by making things look pretty and inviting.  Even putting a vase of flowers on the table can make a difference, or some candles....

Remember, we first eat with our eyes, then our noses and finally our mouths - so stimulate your eyes first, and the rest will follow!  Make the environment attractive, both the setting and how the food is arranged on the plate.

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Critical Factors in Cancer Care - Chemo-sensitivity Testing

If chemotherapy is being considered as a treatment, it is desirable to know which of the chemotherapy drugs will have a high probability of being effective against YOUR particular cancer, before any toxic agents are administered to your body.  It is equally important to know if your particular cancer cells exhibit extreme drug resistance (EDR) to specific chemotherapy drugs.

Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with CLL

At present, most cancer chemotherapies are prescribed by medical oncologists, according to fixed schedules.  These standard protocols and schedules are developed following lengthy and expensive Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. After so much time and money has been dedicated to this research, many patients and physicians believe that the recommended protocols are the best treatment. Regrettably, average treatments provide average outcomes, with the majority of patients failing to show improvement from these protocols.

Cancer is an individual disease, as unique as the person fighting it.


However, there is another option.  There are several companies that perform chemo-sensitivity and resistance tests on specimens of your cancer to determine the optimal chemotherapy drugs for YOU.  Chemo-sensitivity testing provides custom-tailored assay-directed therapy based on YOUR own tumor response in the laboratory. This eliminates much of the guess work prior to you undergoing the potentially toxic side effects of chemotherapy that could prove to be of little use to YOU.


Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with Pancreatic cancer

At the time of biopsy or surgery, a sample of tumor tissue (or blood sample in the case of non-solid tumors) is sent to a laboratory and they test a number of chemotherapy drugs on the sample, including combinations of drugs.  If your oncologist wants to suggest a drug, that is fine and they will include it.

Typically in 3 - 5 days, you will get results of which drugs your cancer cells show most sensitivity to, and which drugs they show resistance to. This kind of testing can be useful at the time of initial therapy, and in the case of severe drug hypersensitivity, failed therapy, recurrent disease and metastatic disease, by providing assistance in selecting optimal chemotherapy regimens.

Today chemosensitivity testing has progressed to the point where it is 85 - 90% effective.
So why isn't chemo-sensitivity testing used routinely?  How come it is so rarely mentioned?  One reason relates to an older methodology to test sensitivity that was used in the 80's where tumor cells were cloned. This method did not yield useful results and was unreliable.  As a result of several influential editorials and articles in the 80's, all such testing was shunned because of this one unreliable technique.  This method subsequently disappeared but seems to have tarnished the very idea of sensitivity testing, despite the current methods using totally different techniques.  Physicians and oncologists are not aware of the current reliable methods and when they hear about sensitivity testing, assume it is the old unreliable methods.

If you want to know more, read Ralph Moss' book "Customized Cancer Treatment" which is all about chemo-sensitivity testing - and better yet - buy a copy for your oncologist!


Labs performing the test in the US:

The best known of these are Rational, Weisenthal and DiaTech.  Currently, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of this testing. Check out the websites for published research and more information.
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Reducing nausea associated with chemotherapy

I had a call from a friend this weekend who was looking for some ideas that may help his friend who is suffering from severe nausea associated with chemotherapy.


Sadly, nausea is an all too common side effect of chemotherapy. There are medications available that may help and you should be sure to talk to your doctor about how to prevent nausea and/or vomiting and treat it.   Here are some general tips on how and what to eat that you might also want to consider:

  1. One of best things that can help with nausea is ginger. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the health benefits of ginger and included a few recipes that you can try - especially the ginger glycerite recipe.  But eating ginger anyway you can may help reduce nausea, from ginger cookies, to ginger tea to tinctures to..... Try different things and see which works best.  You can also get ginger capsules to take twice a day.
  2. Other herbs that might help are catnip, peppermint, chamomile and red raspberry.  You can try these as teas - and why not combine a few.  I often add a few different flavored tea bags to a big jug of cool water and get the combined benefit all at once.  Try ginger, peppermint and chamomile - I bet they'd go nicely together.  Use iced, cool, room temperature or warm water - not hot.
  3. Try drinking 1/3 cup of warm water with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp honey.
  4. Pumpkin seeds and squash seeds help nausea.  Just plain, raw seeds.
  5. Eat mainly starches like rice, crackers, dry toast, oatmeal, etc.  The food should be low fat and bland.  Cooking should not create lots of smells as this can make the nausea worse.  Don't get too concerned about balanced nutrition at this time, the goal is to get rid of the nausea and eat something.
  6. Eat cold or room temperature foods. Hot foods create more odors which is often a big cause of nausea.
  7. Eat and drink slowly.
  8. It often helps to put some dry toast or crackers at your bedside at night and eat a little of this before you get out of bed in the morning.
  9. Eat small amounts, frequently.
  10. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but not during meals.
  11. Try drinking through a straw.
  12. Fruit popsicles are often easily eaten and enjoyed.
  13. Don't try cooking or eating one of your favorite foods. The body may come to associate it with nausea and you'll no longer enjoy it.
  14. If you need to rest after eating, make sure you keep your head higher than you feet.

It's a matter of trying different things and seeing what helps most for you.  And don't forget to tell your doctor that you have been experiencing these side effects as he may have other options and ideas.  

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Health benefits of ginger

I am a big ginger root fan.  I just love the taste of it - warming and a little spicy.  I could add it to most things - sweet or savory - and frequently do.

It has many health benefits, as well as tasting yummy.  Here are some highlights:

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

  • Anti-inflammatory - ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce both pain and inflammation. In a study published in the Journal of Pain, arthritic patients were given small amounts of ginger daily for three months. The majority of patients had significant improvement in pain, swelling and morning stiffness by eating ginger daily.  In another study, ginger was found to be superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Tylenol or Advil because NSAIDS only work on one pathway in the body.  Ginger, on the other hand, blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds prostaglandins and leukotrienes and also has anti-oxidant effects (greater than Vit E) that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the body within the joints. 
  • Digestion - ginger balances COX-1 - an enzyme responsible for the gastric mucosal integrity, and is an antispasmodic. Thus is very effective for gastrointestinal disturbances, alleviating nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, IBS, loss of appetite, heartburn, bloating, ulcers etc.   I remember my sister always used to have ginger biscuits in the car when her boys were younger and whenever they felt a little car sick, they had a ginger biscuit and felt better. Similarly, my mother-in-law always used to eat a chocolate covered piece of ginger after dinner every night to help her digestion.  
Photo by Huffiz

..... and more.  The range and severity of conditions that ginger can help is stunning - and the research continues.


Here are a couple of ways to use ginger:
Ginger Tea:  Peel a 1 inch cube of ginger (the easiest way to peel it is to use a spoon, rather than a knife).  Slice it thinly or grate it.  Boil in 1 and 1/2 cups of water for about 10 minutes.  Add lemon/lime and/or stevia/honey, as desired.  Pour into a cup, relax and enjoy. More beneficial than ginger tea bags.

Ginger soak for aching muscles: Grate 4 teaspoons of ginger and seal it in a cotton/muslin bag.  Place the bag under running bathwater and then soak in the bath so as long as you want!

Ginger Glycerite: 1/4lb fresh ginger.  Chop the ginger roughly and place it in a food processor.  Add 1 cup food grade vegetable glycerin and process until the ginger is nearly incorporated into the liquid. Place mixture in a pint canning jar, mark with the day's date and leave on the counter for two weeks, shaking the jar every other day or so.  After two weeks, strain the mixture through muslin or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the ginger.  The glycerite will now keep for 6 months.   Mix the glycerite with water, sparkling water, tea, or use as desired.

Grate or chop and use in soups, smoothies, salad dressings, marinades, yoghurts, and just about anything else!

What's your favorite ginger recipe?  How will you get your next healthy dose of ginger?
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What's in a name?

"Tickety-boo Health Coaching".

You may be wondering what 'tickety-boo health coaching' means....what is this blog is all about?   Well, allow me to elaborate.

Tickety-boo is a British word - now also commonly used in Canada.  It means things is going along just fine.....things are all tickety-boo. I think it has a nice ring to it and a sense of fun and ease.  It's a happy little word that makes you want to smile.  It doesn't mean everything is perfect, just that you have found a way to enjoy the positives in life.

So what about the "Health coaching" part? What is that all about? Health coaching is a way of guiding others to find the motivation to make changes that will improve their health.  The relationship between a health coach and their client is a supportive partnership where we can discuss topics such as:what is troubling most about a certain health condition; what would the person most want to change; what support do they have; what obstacles are there, etc, etc.  Health coaching focuses on the special issues and concerns unique to the individual person that are preventing them from leading a healthier life.

The simple goal of Tickety-boo health coaching therefore is to help you feel tickety-boo!


In my area of health coaching, I specialize in helping people with cancer and helping people improve their lifestyle to prevent cancer.  This includes diet (e.g. what should you eat during chemo or radiation therapy), what foods help with side effects of cancer and therapy, what exercise is good, ways of relaxing, guided imagery, biofeedback, spirituality, etc etc.

As my blog progresses, I'll tell you more about how we can work together and how tickety-boo health coaching can help you.  I'll be coaching people one on one and also running a variety of educational community programs.  I will also implement an e-coaching program too, for people who don't live local to me in Northern California.  All this to come soon.

But for now, take two minutes and watch this little video to help you understand just what feeling tickety-boo is all about. I bet you'll be singing along by the end of it!   It features Danny Kaye singing a song entitled "Everything is tickety-goo" from a movie called "Merry Andrew". 

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