Recently Diagnosed or Relapsed? Stop Looking For a Miracle Cure, and Use Evidence-Based Therapies To Enhance Your Treatment and Prolong Your Remission
Multiple Myeloma an incurable disease, but I have spent the last 25 years in remission using a blend of conventional oncology and evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies from peer-reviewed studies that your oncologist probably hasn't told you about.
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“At diagnosis, (of multiple myeloma) quite a few cancer patients spy Eros rushing out the door. I know I did. For some, eroticism vanishes during or after (ASCT) treatment”
Will all three, MM, sex and Autologous Stem Cell Transplant (ASCT), work together? Not all at the same time, no. Induction therapy and an ASCT will probably sidetrack your sex life- for a while. But I will say that there can be a sex life for the multiple myeloma survivor after his/her autologous stem cell transplant.
I was diagnosed with MM in 2/94 at the age of 34. My account, therefore, is from the male viewpoint. One the one hand, my induction therapy, and ASCT crushed my sex life. On the other hand, I was young enough to come back from aggressive, high dose chemotherapy. Let me explain.
As you can read from the second article linked below, an autologous stem cell transplant turns your endocrine system upside down- low testosterone, adrenal insufficiency, and azoospermia to name just the side-effects that I’m pretty sure my sex life required.
And those are just the biological challenges. There is a mind-body side to sexual intimacy that the numbers don’t address. I gained 50 pounds leading up to my ASCT and I lost 70 pounds over the five years following my ASCT. I lost every single hair on my body during my induction therapy. Most of it grew back after the ASCT. Needless to say, my diagnosis, induction therapy and ASCT was difficult for my wife-caregiver.
If you read the “endocrine disorders” study carefully you will see that the study hints at life improving after about a year post ASCT. While I knew none of what the study talks about, I felt much of it. Meaning I felt that my testosterone was low. I knew that my energy was non-existent. Supplementing with DHEA helped. Testosterone cream helped (doctor prescribed by a compounding pharmacy). Exercise helped a lot.
In short, while my wife and I had a lot to deal with in my thirties, I was able to improve my situation dramatically in the years following my ASCT.
“At diagnosis, quite a few cancer patients spy Eros rushing out the door. I know I did. For some, eroticism vanishes during or after treatment. Anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, can afflict both men and women with cancer. We often get more help from one another than from the medical specialists who are beginning to address this challenge.
It can be difficult to experience desire if you don’t love but fear your body or if you cannot recognize it as your own. Surgical scars, lost body parts and hair, chemically induced fatigue, radiological burns, nausea, hormone-blocking medications, numbness from neuropathies, weight gain or loss, and anxiety hardly function as aphrodisiacs…
“Sex and Cancer,” a new book by Dr. Saketh R. Guntupalli, a gynecologic cancer specialist, and Maryann Karinch sets out to help women with gynecologic or breast cancer. Dr. Guntupalli and Ms. Karinch labor mightily to provide scientific evidence for an insight some might consider predictable: “We found that sex was less pleasurable for women after cancer and that all types of sexual activity — oral, vaginal and anal — decreased after cancer.” In patches of ponderous prose, their book describes the ways in which treatment inhibits romance.
More informative are the sections of “Sex and Cancer” in which the authors explain what people can do to ensure that “the emperor of all maladies” will not rule and wreck their relationships. First and foremost, Dr. Guntupalli and Ms. Karinch urge readers not to “slap a ‘dysfunction’ label on your love life just because you read something about what is ‘normal’ or ‘average.’” This is precisely the advice that prostate cancer patients also receive in self-help manuals.
The capacious term “sex” should not be conflated with penetration or intercourse, according to Dr. Guntupalli and Ms. Karinch. “There is no dysfunction if both members of the couple are happy with the level and style of intimacy they enjoy.” Kissing, hand-holding, cuddling, caressing and massaging bond couples by kindling arousal and ardor. The authors do not mention the useful word “frottage” which comes from the French for rubbing or friction; it neatly bundles together many forms of stimulation that prompt tenderness and excitement…
With a therapist or on their own, partners can try “sensate focus exercises” that involve them in exploratory touching without the pressure to achieve a goal like an orgasm. Pelvic floor exercises, vibrators, techniques for dealing with scar tissue and restricted range of motion, dilators as well as lubricants: Dr. Guntupalli and Ms. Karinch tackle these specifics to encourage survivors to redefine sex after cancer as a sensual source of delight in a range of activities…
When Eros disappears, books and conversations can help couples prepare to welcome the god’s return. As the poet Marianne Moore once put it, in an entirely different context, “Whatever the problem, we must elude the sense of being trapped — even if all one can say to one’s self is, ‘if not now, later.’” For many people, better later than never…”
“In this prospective study, we investigated early (at 3 months) and late (at 12 months) endocrine dysfunctions in 95 consecutive autologous stem-cell transplant recipients (47 men and 48 women) aged 16 to 55 years. The functions of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal/thyroid/adrenal/somatotroph axis were evaluated...
Three months after the transplant:
insulin-like growth factor-1 values were below the normal range in 53 patients (56%);
37 of 40 women (93%) of reproductive age experienced precocious ovarian failure;
Subclinical hypothyroidism was found in 11 patients (12%); eight of them had previously received radiotherapy for the upper half of the body.
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