Chemo Brain in Breast Cancer

Whether memory problems/cognitive disfunction/chemo brain/chemo fog, etc.  stems from the stress of dealing with cancer or from the toxicity of conventional therapies, or even from the cancer itself,  the fact is that breast cancer patients and survivors experience problems with their cognitive function.

The important thing for chemo brain suffers is to understand that they can heal brain function. How? While my cancer was not breast cancer, I underwent a great deal of chemotherapy (autologous stem cell transplant) and let me assure you, chemo brain is real. While my brain function will never be like it was when I was in my 20’s, the therapies listed below have improved and continue to improve my memory, facial recognition, attention, and many other brain deficiencies.

  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Brain Games

I am am both a long-term cancer survivor and cancer coach. If you would like to learn specific therapies for your specific situation, scroll down the page and post a question or comment. I will reply to you ASAP.

Thanks and hang in there,

David Emerson

Director-PeopleBeatingCancer

Exercise improves memory in breast cancer survivors

“…In the study, more physical activity was associated with higher levels of self-confidence, lower distress and less fatigue, which in turn is associated with lower levels of perceived memory impairment.

“We found moderate to vigorous physical activity actually benefits women psychologically and that, in turn, helps their memory,” Phillips said.

Breast cancer survivors who had higher levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity — brisk walking, biking, jogging or an exercise class — had fewer subjective memory problems. Subjective memory is an individual’s perception of her memory….”

Posted in non-conventional therapies, nutrition, side effects ID and prevention Tagged with:

Allogeneic BMT in Multiple Myeloma

Hi David,
I am almost 3 years post allogeneic transplant (matched sibling) for 17 del, IgA kappa myeloma, stage IIA, no bone lesions, only anemia. I have had mild gastrointestinal graft versus host disease (GI GVHD) (on sirolimus for that) and I have slowly added back in my supplements as the GVHD is resolving.

I take BCM95 curcumin, green tea, resveratrol, fish oil, grape seed extract, vit.K2, calcium & magnesium, vitamin D3 and boswellin for GI (I have history of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I was taking Wobenzym early on and I may add it back in. The enzymes were upsetting my stomach. The green tea and resveratrol I just added back in this week. I noticed that the curcumin and resveratrol lowered my siromilus levels, so I backed off after transplant.


My latest blood work finally shows normal free-light chain levels (they have been below normal) and ratio. No M spike. I am told that I am in complete remission (CR). My concern is trace amounts of IgM and lambda paraproteins now showing up in my blood. I had IgA kappa myeloma. My oncologist doesn’t have an explanation and my transplant doctor thinks it is a temporary anomaly, it has shown up once in October blood work and again a week ago. Have you ever heard of this in other patients?

My oncologist suggested going back on Revlimid but my transplant doctor thinks it is unnecessary. He said that if I was developing another form of myeloma it would be IgG or IgE, it would not likely be IgM. Any ideas?

Susan


Hi Susan-

Let me begin this reply by saying that I am impressed with your therapy. An allogeneic transplant for MM is relatively rare. Three years of complete remission is excellent. Congrats.
I take many of the same supplements that you do. I have no experience with IBS. Or GVHD. Again, you are a champ. Regarding your question about trace amounts of IgM in you blood while in CR,  I am not sure what to tell you.
I wish I could be more help. Let me know if you have any questions.
Hang in there,
David Emerson

Thanks David for your reply. 

My latest blood work came back absolutely perfect except for the trace paraproteins. I believe that the fact that I was young and healthy (vegan/raw foodist) at the time of diagnosis, and that I consulted with a Naturopath as to what supplements to take while going through therapy (ignoring my oncologist’s advice to avoid all supplements) made a tremendous difference. I had no major side effects from either the chemo nor the transplant. I would have loved to have gone to your doctor,  but being a single woman with little savings, I had to go where my health insurance dictated and pray for the best. It’s a sad commentary on health care in our country. 

Thank you for your site.  You are an inspiration to all of us.
 

 Susan


Hi Susan-

If it is okay with you I would like to post our email exchange on PBC. You include specific details about both conventional and non-conventional therapies that I am confidant that site traffic will search and benefit from your experience.
Regarding Burzynski and antineoplaston therapy (ANP). Like any form of chemotherapy, toxic or otherwise, there is risk that a patient does not respond. Since you have responded so well with a difficult form of MM (chromosome 17 deletion), I think you made the best choice for you.
I think you can maintain CR through diet, frequent, moderate exercise, supplementation, etc. I am going to put your email address on the list of cancer coaching clients so that we stay in touch. Again, if that’s okay with you.
Thanks,
David
Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies, side effects ID and prevention Tagged with:

Pediatric ALL and Chemobrain

Pediatric cancer patients are living longer. This is great news. It is important, however, to understand that toxic chemotherapy helping patients live longer causes collateral damage aka side effects. Much of this collateral damage is long-term or late stage. Damage to a cancer patient’s brain, heart and muscles and other major organs are probable. I should know.

While I was not a pediatric cancer survivor I am a long-term survivor of a blood cancer. I underwent a great deal of toxic chemotherapy including an autologous stem cell transplant from ’95-’97.

The issue is not the toxic therapies that oncologists use to treat cancer. The issue is to identify damage and undergo those therapies to heal this damage.

I can’t say that my chemobrain is completely healed. After all, I continue to age like everyone else. What I can say is that the “cognitive training” cited in the study below works. And this training is a lot easier, more fun and cheaper than other therapies I undergo to heal other long-term and late stage side effects.

BrainHQ gets it. Brain games (cognitive training) are posted in my computer’s inbox five days a week. I spend 15-20 minutes daily playing games that boost the problems caused by toxic chemotherapy. BrainHQ keeps track of everything so I can see how I’m doing.

I am both a long-term cancer survivor and cancer coach. To learn more about cancer coaching scroll down the page, fill out the form and I will reply to you ASAP.

Methotrexate exposure impacts cognitive processes cancer survivors need to multitask

“Investigators also reported that brain imaging showed that higher blood levels of methotrexate during treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were associated with anatomical and functional changes in regions of the brain involved with mental flexibility, planning, reasoning and other skills related to executive functioning…

This study is the first to show a clear dose-response effect between methotrexate concentrations in the blood during treatment and executive functioning in survivors

Higher concentrations of methotrexate and homocysteine were associated with lower scores on measures of executive function, including mental flexibility, verbal fluency, working memory and processing speed

“While physicians may look for opportunities to reduce concentrations of the drug in the future, interventions are already in development to enhance executive function in patients on therapy as well as long-term childhood cancer survivors.”

For example, Krull is principal investigator of a pilot study into whether electrical stimulation of the prefrontal cortex combined with cognitive training will enhance executive function in adult survivors of childhood leukemia.”

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Oncotype DX, Ki-67 and early stage Breast Cancer

Subject: My cancer diagnosis

Hi David,
I am dealing with breast cancer. To date, I have had surgery only. According to my pathology report I am on the cusp of early stage 1 or 2A; i.e., I had a 2 cm tumour with clear margins and clean lymph nodes.

However, my tumour was a grade 3 and I was to be set up with preventative chemo. I did a lot of personal research, along with watching 14 hours of video time on The Truth About Cancer. I did not think I needed the chemo. I was led to the Oncotype DX test which analyzes 21 genes, paid by Medicare; it determines the probability of recurrence as low, intermediate or high risk.

Low risk does not require chemo. I told my oncologist I wanted this test. She didn’t even seem to be aware of it, and did not think I would be a candidate regrading a grade 3 tumour but I assured her I had the requirements which did not include tumour grade. I will say she looked into it and said okay. It came back with a low RS.

Personally, I SAVED MYSELF from drinking the kool-aid.

Upon researching further, I find that older women (I am 75), with Luminol A breast cancer can do slightly better with hormone therapy alone. I thought Great. My naturopathic doctor has already told me she can spare me tamoxifen by lowering my estrogen level by natural means.

I looked up Luminol A cancer and found out that apart from not knowing my Ki67 percentage I am in that category. Continued research enlightened me to the fact that a low Ki67 percentage is good; it means the cancer cells are less prone to spreading. I also found out this percentage should be noted on my Oncotype DX test, so I called the secretary of my oncologist to ask her if they have my Ki67 value listed.

Next thing, I am connected to the oncologist who tells me in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t care HOW low my Ki67 is, I am required to have radiation. End of discussion. Since then, I have called the Genome place who tested me in California and this is confidential info.

I have emailed my family doctor to see if he can obtain this information, along with sending him an explanation of what has transpired and my Internet findings. Still awaiting a reply.

My Oncotype DX test of which I have a copy of the summary, states my risk of recurrence (RS) is 8% with hormone therapy alone. I am scheduled for a radiology consult Thursday, June 9th and my only hope now lies with hearing something positive from my GP or the radiologist, and/or my oncologist who said, once I assured her I would explore every avenue to get a Ki67 value, that perhaps she could get me the info but it would take time . . . time which I don’t have.

To do more personally is to beat my head against a brick wall. I am not secure enough to go with a gut feeling alone regarding no radiation. Even my naturopathic doctor is on the fence about the radiation, though she was not promoting chemo. I am aware of the risks of radiation and don’t want to have it unless it is really necessary; conversely, I worry there may be a few malignant cells floating about following surgery that can cause recurrence.

I am grateful if you can offer an opinion. I am a person who puts all the facts together and I rely totally on myself to make a final decision and have gladly signed the disclaimer below.
Sincerely,

Betsy


Dear Betsy,

I have to begin by saying that your email is one of the best cancer consultation emails I have read. Your thinking, reasoning and research is spot on. I am dismayed (to say the least) that your oncologist told you:
 “Next thing, I am connected to the oncologist who tells me in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t care HOW low my Ki67 is, I am required to have radiation. End of discussion.”
It is NOT the role of an oncologist to require patients to do anything. They can recommend, advise, encourage, even beg, but NOT require any therapy.
Having said this I can only tell you what the research says. Radiation lowers the risk of relapse by a tiny amount. Yes, it causes side effects. Yes, if you have radiation to your left breast you may incur heart damage. My mom had early BC in her early 70’s, had an aromatase inhibitor, local radiation and now, at 87, lives with chronic a-fib.
My opinion is to agree with your naturopath. No chemo but I am on the fence as to the need for local radiation. I am a product of the research I read. There are many non-conventional therapies that reduce your risk of relapse. And at the age of 75 it is important to consider your life goals.
I am sorry I can’t be more specific. Let me know if you have any questions.
Hang in there,

David Emerson
Multiple Myeloma survivor
Director, Galen Foundation


Posted in Newly Diagnosed, side effects ID and prevention Tagged with:

Chemotherapy causes Neutropenia

Neutropenia is a serious side effect of chemotherapy. Most people know this. So is peripheral neuropathy. So are many other adverse events of toxic chemotherapy.

What if you could have all the benefits of toxic chemotherapy without any of the side effects? What if you told your oncologist to lower the dose of chemotherapy? He/she would probably have a fit. Ask your onc. what he/she would do if you where experiencing a stage 3/4 adverse effect. Your oncologist would probably suggest reducing the chemo dose rather than discontinuing it altogether.

The study linked and excerpted below simply tells us what we already know. Revlimid can cause neutropenia. The two studies linked and excerpted below explain that integrative therapies curcumin and omega 3 fatty acids enhance the efficacy of revlimid (lenlidomide) therefore allowing patients and their oncologists to REDUCE the dose of chemo, therefore lowering the risk and severity of possible side effects.

I am both a long-term MMer and an MM cancer coach. Scroll down the page to tell me about your myeloma, side effects and ask me any questions you would like.

thanks,

David Emerson

Neutropenia or neutropaenia, is an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the blood.[1] 

Neutropenia Common in Lenalidomide/Dexamethasone-Treated Myeloma – 

According to an observational study published in the American Journal of Hematology, about one-third of patients being treated with this drug combination will experience grade 3/4 neutropenia

Leleu and colleagues also identified several characteristics that were more common in patients who experienced neutropenia such as lenalidomide exposure reduction, use of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, unplanned hospitalization, and outpatient clinic visits.

Curcumin enhances the cytotoxic and chemo-sensitising effects of lenalidomide in human multiple myeloma cells

Conclusion: Curcumin exerts a cytotoxic effect additive to that of lenalidomide on H929 myeloma cells, and it also enhances the chemo-sensitizing effects of this agent.”

Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA induce apoptosis and enhance drug sensitivity in multiple myeloma cells but not in normal peripheral mononuclear cells.

“Our study suggests that EPA and DHA induce selective cytotoxic effects in MM and increase sensitivity to bortezomib and calls for further exploration into a potential application of these n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the therapy of MM.”

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Posted in non-conventional therapies, side effects ID and prevention Tagged with:

Bone Marrow Transplant for Multiple Myeloma

The standard-of-care for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) patients who are eligible is a Hematopoietic stem cell transplant. In MM most people have an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). Meaning the stem cells come from you.

The Pubmed article linked and excerpted below is important for two reasons. First, the article lists ten of the most important questions to ask your oncologist before you have an ASCT. Secondly and most importantly is the fact that ASCT procedures do not increase overall survival (OS) or average length of life. ASCT can increase your event-free survival (EFS) or how long your remission lasts before relapse.

Treatment of autologous stem cell transplant-eligible multiple myeloma patients: ten questions and answers

Overall, 7 randomized studies have compared ASCT/HDT to conventional chemotherapy.3 While EFS was superior with HDT/ASCT in 5 of 7 trials, OS was significantly prolonged in only 3 trials. These results were confirmed by a meta-analysis that showed a significant benefit for HDT/ASCT in terms of EFS but no benefit in terms of OS...”

The cancer coaching exchange linked below is import because Susan, the MM patient, has undergone an allogeneic stem cell transplant meaning that the stem cells for her transplant came from her sibling. Further, Susan chose to take evidence-based supplements because she believes the supplements enhance her chemotherapies while reducing their toxicity.

If you are considering a stem cell transplant, novel chemotherapies and/or evidence-based therapies proven to be cytotoxic to MM scroll down the page and fill out the form. Tell me your MM stage and symptoms and tell me what’s on your mind. I will reply ASAP.

thanks,

David Emerson

Long-term MM Survivor and MM Cancer Coach

From: Susan 
Subject: significance of paraproteins in blood work, not related to my form of myeloma (post transplant)


Hi David,


I am almost 3 years post allogenetic transplant (matched sibling) for 17 del IgA kappa myeloma, stage IIA, no bone lesions, only anemia. I have had mild GI GVHD (on sirolimus for that)and I have slowly added back in my supplements as the GVHD is resolving.

I take BCM95 curcumin, green tea, resveratrol, fish oil, grape seed extract,vit.K2, calcium & magnesium, vitamin D3 and boswellin for GI (I have history of IBS). I was taking Wobenzym early on and I may add it back in. The enzymes were upsetting my stomach. The green tea and resveratrol I just added back in this week. I noticed that the curcumin and resveratrol lowered my siromilus levels, so I backed off after transplant.


My latest blood work finally shows normal free light chain levels (they have been below normal) and ratio. No M spike. I am told that I am in complete remission (CR). My concern is trace amounts of IgM and lambda paraproteins now showing up in my blood. I had IgA kappa myeloma. My oncologist doesn’t have an explanation and my transplant doctor thinks it is a temporary anomaly, it has shown up once in October blood work and again a week ago. Have you ever heard of this in other patients? My oncologist suggested going back on Revlimid but my transplant doctor thinks it is unnecessary. He said that if I was developing another form of myeloma it would be IgG or IgE, it would not likely be IgM.

 Susan

Hi Susan-

Let me begin this reply by saying that I am impressed with your therapy. An allo transplant for MM is relatively rare. It seems as though your all transplant went very well. Congrats.
 
I take many of the same supplements that you take. I have no experience with IBS. Or GVHD. Again, you are doing well. Regarding your question about trace amounts of IgM in you blood while in CR, I have heard anecdotal  accounts of trace paraproteins but nothing specific.
 
My thinking is that you are going above and beyond to manage your MM, both conventionally and non-conventionally, and you will have to be satisfied with that. I am more cynical about MM oncology than you are I think. I believe you know more about your situation than your onc.s do at this point.
Let me know if you have any questions.
 
Keep in touch,
 
David Emerson

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Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies, nutrition, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Bone Marrow Transplant for Multiple Myeloma

If you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM) and your oncologist is encouraging you to have a bone marrow transplant there are a several important issues for you to understand. First and foremost, your goal is to cure your MM. Since your oncologist has told you that MM is incurable you have to think about reaching the longest, deepest remissions possible. You want to bet on a therapy plan that will get you the longest overall survival with the fewest short, long-term and late stage side effects aka the highest quality of life.

While the “standard of care”in MM is an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT), you may or may not believe that an ASCT will get you the longest OS with the highest quality of life.

Remember that according to the American Cancer Society the average life expectancy for MMers is 3-5 years

I am a long-term MM survivor and MM cancer coach. I went through an ASCT in December of 1995. I failed conventional therapies by 1997, underwent an alternative therapy, reached complete remission where I remain today. I live a non-toxic yet evidence-based anti-MM lifestyle including anti-MM supplementation, anti-MM nutrition, anti-cancer lifestyle therapies, bone health therapies and mind-body therapies.

If you would like to learn more about ASCT’s please fill out the form below with your stage and MM symptoms and ask me any and all questions.

Thanks,

David Emerson

Cure vs. Control in Multiple Myeloma

Experts Disagree on Role of Transplant in Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma – Survival Rate Statistics by  Hospital

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Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies, nutrition, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Spiritual Support for Cancer Patients

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, any cancer, you’d be normal if you asked “Why me God?” This may be one of many questions that cross you mind. At least I asked myself lots of questions. In my head of course.

Of course you will never get a real answer to any of your questions. But I think it is healthy to think about life’s great questions. As the study linked and excerpted below explains, spirituality may be tied to easier cancer course.

I’m not saying that you must be a church-going cancer patient or a follower of one religion more than another. The study below cites a “sense of connection to being larger than oneself” may help.  I consider, and many studies find that spirituality, religiosity is a cancer therapy.

I am both a long-term cancer survivor of an incurable cancer and a cancer coach. If you would like to learn more about cancer coaching and receive the Introduction my e-book “Curing Cancer-If I Knew Then What I Know Now…” for free,  please  use the form below to tell me about your diagnosis and tell me what’s on your mind. An experienced cancer survivor and cancer coach can help.

Thank you,

David Emerson

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Spirituality may be tied to easier cancer course

“Cancer patients who report more religiousness or spirituality may also experience fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment and more social connection, several new papers suggest…

The new analyses reviewed previous studies of spirituality involving more than 44,000 cancer patients altogether. The studies varied in many ways, but religion and spirituality were associated with better health regardless of specific religion or set of spiritual beliefs

For the impact of spirituality on physical health, the studies included more than 32,000 adult cancer patients with a range of cancer types and stages. Higher religious or spirituality scores were generally associated with better overall health…

A sense of connection to a being larger than oneself was associated with better physical function and fewer, or less severe, symptoms of cancer or treatment, according to patient reports…

Actual practice of religion, like church attendance, prayer, or meditation, was not related to physical health

 

Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies Tagged with:

Multiple Myeloma Survivors

If you’re reading this post I have to believe that you are looking for information about people who have lived with multiple myeloma (MM) for a long time aka multiple myeloma survivors.  I’ll cut to the chase…

I’ve been sharing and lurking in MM forums for over 10 years now. The longest living MMers that I know of are both from Cleveland, Ohio. They both underwent autologous stem cell transplants (ASCT) at the same hospital, Univerisity Hospital’s Ireland Cancer Center overseen by the same ASCT oncologist, Dr. Hillard Lazarus.

Jim Bond was first diagnosed with MM in 1992 and I was diagnosed with MM in early 1994.  Jim Bond is the poster child for conventional MM therapies and I am the poster child for non-conventional MM therapies. When Jim’s MM levels got too high he has undergone chemotherapies, high dose or otherwise, that put him back into remission.

I had an ASCT in 12/95, reached two remissions, had two relapses and was told “there is nothing more we can do for you.” My onc. told me that in 9/97. I underwent a quack cancer therapy from 11/97-4/99, reached complete remission where I remain today. I live an anti-MM lifesytle through evidence-based, non-toxic MM therapies including MM supplementation, MM nutrition, MM bone health therapies, anti-cancer lifestyle therapies and even evidence-based mind-body therapies.

So there you have it. Two MMers who have survived more than 20 plus years in totally different ways. Your oncologist can explain conventional therapies to you. If you would like to learn more about non-toxic therapies support by research, fill out the form below. I will reply to you ASAP.

thank you,

David Emerson

MM Survivor and MM Cancer Coach

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Multiple myeloma clinical trials saved my life: James’ story

“…Test results showed I had a mysterious lesion on my spine, broken ribs from sneezing, and a skull that looked like Swiss cheese – all caused by multiple myeloma, an incurable form of cancer with very few treatment options.

Over the next decade I received a variety of chemotherapy drugs and three stem cell transplants at UH, under the care of Dr. Hillard Lazarus. After the third transplant, my disease was gaining ground. By 2002 it was raging….”

Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies, nutrition Tagged with:

Multiple Myeloma Information

Every article that talks about multiple myeloma (MM) explains everything but what MMers really care about. The single most important thing about MM is that conventional oncology considers MM to be incurable. If you pursue conventional oncologic therapies exclusively, you will probably relapse multiple times until your onc. tells you that “we can do nothing more for you.”

The problem with the usual Multiple Myeloma Information given by conventional oncology is that I have lived in complete remission since 1999. I underwent an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in 12/95, went into remission twice, relapsed twice and was told “there is nothing more we can do for you.” I underwent a “quack” cancer therapy, reached remission and have remained in complete remission by living an evidence-based anti-MM lifestyle.

I am both a long-term MM survivor and MM cancer coach. To learn more about those evidence-based, non-toxic MM therapies that keep me in complete remission, fill out the form below with your situation and questions and I will reply ASAP. Thanks.

David Emerson

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I found WebMD’s multiple myeloma to be a good explanation of the basics:

What Is Multiple Myeloma?

“In multiple myeloma, a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell multiplies unusually. Normally, they make antibodies that help fight infections. But in multiple myeloma, they release too much protein (called immunoglobulin) into the bones and blood. It builds up throughout the body, causing organ damage. 

The plasma cells also crowd normal blood cells in the bone. They release chemicals that dissolve bone. The weak areas of bone created by this are called lytic lesions.

As multiple myeloma gets worse, those plasma cells begin to spill out of the bone marrow and spread through the body. This causes more organ damage…”

Symptoms

“Early on, multiple myeloma may cause no symptoms. As time passes, you may have:

  • Bone pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss”

Diagnosis

Your doctor may test you for multiple myeloma if a blood test reveals:

  • Too much calcium in your blood (your doctor may call it “hypercalcemia”)
  • Anemia (too few red blood cells)
  • Kidney problems
  • High protein levels in your blood combined with a low albumin level (your doctor may say you have a “globulin gap”)

If your doctor thinks you have multiple myeloma, he’ll test your blood, urine, and bones. Some tests he may order include:

  • Electrophoresis, which measures immunoglobulins (something your body makes when it’s fighting something)
  • Blood urea nitrogen, also known as BUN, and creatinine — to check how well your kidneys are working
  • A CBC, which stands for complete blood count, which measures and counts the cells in your blood

 

Posted in Newly Diagnosed, non-conventional therapies, nutrition Tagged with:

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