dr. phuli's blog

I’m back….and we have a lot to catch up on

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Happy to say I’m back to blogging and there’s a world of info to catch up on…

I’ve been through breast cancer and my daughter had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) so the last 2 years have been about that, immunotherapy, dendritic cell vaccine, and much more.  I have been absorbed in this and have a lot to share.  Happily we are both well.  More on how we got well later.

First, how did I and my daughter get cancer, at the same time, and what did we do?

When we last connected I was just getting back to work from my journey through Lyme. Life was great off antibiotics but in April 2014, my last blog date, I visited Florida for a little R & R. Who knew that April was sand flea season there? Who knew that sand fleas carry many Lyme co-infections, including bacteria (particularly Bartonella), viruses, and Rickettsia (germs that are somewhere between a virus and a bacteria)- all carried by ticks, fleas and other creepy crawlies. Sand fleas must have entered me through my bikini top as I awoke with 60 (yes sixty!) sand flea bites to both breasts. Breasts only. My daughter had many bites too, not as many as me but at least a dozen.

I don’t want to freak the internet out by suggesting that flea bites will give you cancer but it is a freakish coincidence that several months after this we both developed cancers. I developed 2 cancers on my right breast, she had cancer in her bone.

I do not believe the bites CAUSED our cancers but I see illness in shades of gray and there is usually a “perfect storm” that happens to take someone down and give them a severe illness like Lyme disease and cancer. Many people are bit by ticks and sand fleas and other nasty insects but never get sick, but there is the small percent that do. I believe that’s because they had a combination of factors, say a recent infection, stress, genetic tendency, previous infections or medications that just helped the invading insect (who carry a multitude of bacteria and viruses) take down the immune system and whamm….Lyme, Fibromyalgia, MS, even cancer can happen. Do I think the sand flea bites contributed to my breast cancer? I don’t know, but in light of what has happened to me and my daughter how can I not wonder?

As many of you may be aware, viruses have long been linked to cancer. Viruses have been shown to cause breast and osteosarcoma in animals, and a 2013 publication from the International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that 18-20% of cancers are caused by viruses, so it is not far fetched to reason that the flea bites, coupled with my genetics and immune issues from Lyme, may have been my “perfect storm,” predisposing me to breast cancer.

At the end of the day it does not matter why we got cancer, we did. What I am really excited to share is how we both got better. It was not easy and we both used immunotherapy to get here.

More on that to come.

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