dr. phuli's blog

I Want My Pink Money Back!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

When diagnosed with breast cancer, I figured the bazillion pink dollars me and my friends had raised over the years would provide me with easy access to clear treatment options and emotional support. Boy was I wrong.

First thing I discovered is that once your doctor shares news of your fate (over my cell phone during a high school meet–thoughtful, right?), it can take weeks and weeks to see a doctor or meet with some form of a consoling medical professional.

After several phone calls to an oncologist I’d heard was good, I was told that I was putting “the horse before the cart.”  I needed to have surgery first and then speak to them.  But didn’t I need genetic tests and an MRI? What options were out there?  I’d seen the  long lasting side effects from radiation, heard stories about missed tumors, and knew of the many debilitating side effects from  “hormone therapy,”  which is now pretty much standard of care for most breast cancer survivors with hormone sensitive tumors like me.

It was going to take several weeks to meet a surgeon.  After much complaining I was granted a phone call with my surgeon’s nurse practitioner.  She informed me that I could wait many weeks or months because my tumor was small.  She described my breast mass as a “poopy tumor,”  that would just need “a little radiation and lumpectomy, and then I could get on with my life.”

It appears that women’s breast cancer options are one size fits all.  No one seemed interested in my immune function, mental-emotional state, past illnesses, genetics, or the fact that my aunt died from her “poopy” tumor.  Despite several requests to meet with a caring, informed professional to help me deal and plan, I was never offered an appointment.

We women walk miles and miles, buy pink T shirts, totes, and kitchen appliances, raising a staggering $6 billion annually to improve the treatment of  breast cancer.  The pink money we raised seems to have bought us McMedicine standards of care that rob women of  individualized care and few good options.

We deserve more.  Way more.  Within days of diagnosis all women should be offered emotional support and enpowered with information, if they want it.  We are not all the same.  We should not have the same treatments.  Decisions are not all about mortality indices and cost efficacy.  The medical world is changing at breakneck speed  and there are many new things to consider.

With my my many weeks to wait, I dug for answers and wow am I glad I did.  Had I followed the “standard of care” offered to me, (lumpectomy, radiation, and hormone therapy), I would have missed a second cancer, not been able to reconstruct my breasts at the time of surgery, exposed my organs and immune system to harmful radiation, and worst of all, I would have been placed on a 10 year medical regimen that could adversely affect my longevity, quality of life, relationships, and sense of well being.

I figured out what was best for me and my cancer.  I researched radiation options, like proton and intra-operative, IOR.  I understood there are dozens of important genetic markers beyond BRCA, and a world of immuno-therapies, such as  dendritic vaccine which I did in Mexico with excellent results.

The billions of pink dollars we raise should be looking at more innovative ways to detect and treat breast cancer.  I do not believe that the current standard of care, hormone suppressing therapy is right for all women.   I’m fairly certain that we can be using lower doses of these drugs that would be better tolerated. Research exists showing cannabis inhibits breast cancer cells, while supporting bone growth and treating insomnia, without getting a high feeling. This could be the perfect adjuvant for the millions of women not tolerating hormone suppressing therapy.  If we raise $350,000 I could run a double blind control study for breast cancer survivors right now in Israel using Cannabidiol.  Dendritic vaccine is important and the future, and is available now in Mexico.  Lets offer some trials for women opting to pretreat before surgery.

That surgical nurse was wrong.  My “poopy tumor” was a big deal.  If I had followed my her advice I would not be getting on with my life happily as I now am.

I hope this will be a wake up call to not throw our money into pink research that is poorly regulated, not well accounted for, and the funds that survive the greed largely fund chemotherapy trials.   Lets take our pink money back and develop better options for women.  Its our problem.

Check out http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/resources/before-you-buy/

3 Comments  |  Permalink  |  Posted in Breast Cancer, Breast Disease


Menopause: Half a Lifetime

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Did you know that women are destined to spend one half of their lives in menopause? And guess what? Contrary to common lore, it’s a time that you can begin to feel your best. No longer are you at the mercy of monthly mood changes, weight gain and all the evils that can accompany rising and falling hormones.

Ancient Chinese sages were among the first experts in menopause. They wrote about a woman’s “tides” shifting, so that a woman was no longer giving out into the world, but rather gathering her inner strength. It is a time of introspection and enhanced intuition.

Menopause is a time to take stock of your life physically, emotionally and spiritually. What are you doing with your time and energy? Its time for you to come first and prepare for the second half of your life.

Its a great time to write the bucket list, prepare a vision board, interview a life coach, create a woman’s group, start a journal, and see an educated anti-aging doctor.

I repeat, see an anti-aging doctor. If you are proactive about your physical and emotional health, you will enjoy your second act much more. Tests can be done at most labs to provide you and your doctor with a comprehensive overview of your health risks and preventive needs going forward. I recommend the following tests:

For bone health: Measure your bone density. Your Vitamin D3 (25 OH) levels should be around 60, but not over 80.

For breast health: I recommend having an annual mammogram, and, because many women are deficient in Iodine (which can predispose to breast cancer), please request a random urine or blood iodine test. I give all of my patients a multivitamin with iodine. My favorite is Nutrient 950 (without iron at our age), by Pure Encapsulation.

For gastrointestinal health: Its important to be up to date with your screening Colonoscopy screenings. These should be done every 5 to 10 years depending on your history. Also if you haven’t had one, have a hepatitis B and C screen.

For heart health: Ask your doctor for a thyroid screen, including measurements for free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and TSH. Your TSH should be between 1.0-2.0. Other important tests to get are: Homocysteine, MTHFR (genetic marker), cardio-CRP, diabetic screen with HbA1c, and fasting lipids.

For overall vitality: Ask for these blood tests:
DHEA-S (see my prior blogs), CBC, red blood cell Magnesium, and IGF-1 (indirect measure of growth hormone).

Many of your questions about all of this are answered in my book, The Natural Hormone Makeover.

Take this blog to your doctor and make sure to follow through after the results are in. Take the time to meet with your doctor to review the results and make a plan. It takes a team and a commitment- after all, you would do a 65,000 mile tune-up for your car. You deserve nothing less.

To your health and a great second act!

1 Comment  |  Permalink  |  Posted in Bone Health, Breast Disease, Heart Disease, Hormones, Menopause, Uncategorized