A day in the life of Bad Salzhausen (and what is the plan?)

Yesterday morning I woke up, gave myself a skin brush, meditated (thank you Transcendental Meditation!), and then walked to the clinic for my local hyperthermia.

Every day (except for holidays and Sundays) I lay on a water bed underneath a dessert plate sized arm with a water balloon underneath it. While I am on the table I receive vitamins, homeopathic detoxes, or homeopathic support in the form of infusions through my port (which is a titanium disk under my right clavicle).

I listen to Amma's BhajansDr. Carl Simonton's Visualizationsthe Rose EnsembleHildegard von Bingen, the Bhavagad Gita, and Krishna Dass on my ipod and I let it play on shuffle as I visualize the heat doing all sort of good things...

(and now I will take a break to explain what hyperthermia does to cells courtesy of my friend BH who has a PhD in this good stuff)

"cancer cells live in a low oxygen (hypoxic) and acidic environment and heat treatment of cells that live in that environment is cytotoxic. There are also other effects such as heat-induced alterations of the tumor microenvironment and synergism of heat in conjunction with chemotherapy (and radiation, but you aren't having that treatment). It is thought that there is induction of heat-shock proteins (HSP) which help to regulate apoptosis (i.e. cell death - in cancer cells, apoptosis doesn't occur)."

(and this is more research about hyperthermia and chemo for those of you who like data)

"There are a number of German clinics, such as those operated by Dr Wolf in Hanover or by Drs Herzog (this is where I am!) and Douwes, that practice the use of hyperthermia in combination with more ´orthodox´ therapies.

The use of hyperthermia with chemotherapy, according to one report in the Lancet, seems to significantly increase 5-year survival rates and chemotherapy success. Another report in the Lancet reviewed various studies in USA and Europe and reported that response rates for chemo and hyperthermia combined are 70%, whilst hyperthermia alone gives a response rate of 15%, chemotherapy can give results of 5 - 60 per cent depending upon the drug, and radiotherapy alone about 35%. Hyperthermia also appears to allow very high doses of chemotherapy to be administered more successfully and sometimes without significant side-effects.What seems to be the case is that hyperthermia overcomes tumor resistance to chemo and radiation; that it can help the performance of some chemo agents and that it helps destroy cancer cells in especially resistant phases of cell division."

There you go, more information about hyperthermia than you may ever have wanted to know.

So after my 60 minutes on the water bed of hyperthermia, I went directly into the Magnetic Field Therapy which is supposed to innervate one's mitochondria and generally be a good thing. While I was there I read my lesson in A Course in Miracles, which I am LOVING. I also took the Procarbazin and the Prednison because I was day 4 of my second cycle of BEACOPP.

(once again, an opportunity to take a break)

When we got here, we were thinking that it would be a 3 week stint with some low dose chemo because that is what I had read that one could do with hyperthermia. But when we spoke to the MD he offered us a choice between palliative and ameliorative - and we choose to go with ameliorative. Here is a quote from my beloved husband explaining this to his family.

"The main decision was if we should try full chemotherapy with the goal of eradictation of the recurrent Hodgkins or treat more for debulking/palliation while taking less risk of encountering toxicity.  Her limited symptoms and focused areas of disease (R arm pit, near her liver, and in her lower mid-chest) make treating to eliminate very tempting.  Also her labs are the best they have looked in years.

We have opted to start down the road of more intensive treatment with a full dose regimen of BEACOPP chemotherapy. The main question will be if her bone marrow can tolerate the medicine - her lab tests and how she feels will let us know in the weeks to come."

So what is modified BEACOPP and what does this mean? (note I am reading from a page written in German).

  • Day 1 - full body hyperthermia with Cyclophosphamid, Adriamycin, Etoposid (plus TONS of other goodies infused), oral Procarbazin
  • Day 2 - local hyperthermia with Etoposid, oral Procarbazin, oral Predisone
  • Days 3 through 7 - local hyperthermia with oral Procarbazin and oral Predisone (with infused homeopathics to help and amino acids for energy)
  • Day 8 - local hyperthermia with Vincristin (with infused homeopathics to help and amino acids for energy) - (we decided not to do Bleomycin, because I had that one before and I had lung issues)
  • Days 9-14 - local hyperthermia, Vitamins, homeopathic detox, etc (this was when I was sleepy for the first run through, will see how the 2nd cycle goes)
  • Day 14 - depending on my White Blood Counts, Red Blood Counts, platelets etc - we can do the whole thing again
  • Rinse, repeat 6-8 times depending on how my body reacts (read 3-4 months)

What in the world is involved with a Full Body Hyperthermia? Well, this is the COOLEST thing ever! First of all - the night before and that morning I get a LOT of liquid because they want to give you a real fever with lots of good sweating. You walk to the basement of the clinic and get onto a thin hammock between two sets of very big lights. You strip down, get onto the hammock and within 5 minutes are zonked out on anethesia and lose 4 hours of your life. During the first two hours they gradually raise your temperature until you get nice and hot (105 is where I have landed the first two times, ideally you can get to 106, but I am a lady who sweats - thank you crew and Bikram).

Once you get as hot as you can, you are kept at the temperature for an hour - while they monitor your blood acidity level, your liquid level (never again will I tease my husband about wanting a catheter while watching TV), and your temp. Then they cool you off, wrap you in a blanket, and off you go to pass out in your room for the rest of the day.

It is, without a doubt the best chemotherapy experience I have EVER had. No nausea, no wooziness, no feeling that my arm has been stung by a million bees. I have a good sweat, go to bed, have a good appetite for dinner, and then sleep through the night. Absolutely amazing.

I had thought that I would not be allowed to do the full body more than once a month, but so far I am able to handle it every 2 weeks - which is one of the many reasons that I am so excited to be here and receive the chemotherapy here.

(okay, back to my day)

Breakfast of beautiful fruit (I have eaten more kiwi in the past 3 weeks than I have EVER eaten in my life), a walk to Nidda for apothecary supplies and a visit to the health food store for no sugar Almond Butter, lunch, emails/Real Time Farms work, a walk around the inhalatorium, a drink from the LithiumQuelle, afternoon meditation, dinner, and now this missive.

(the almost final break! to talk about Bad Salzhausen)

Bad Salzhausen has been a mineral spa village for over 150 years (they used to make salt here from the mineral water). As such, there are several fountains with water one can drink from, a thermal bath area where you can bathe in the water (and a sauna area where we learned that bathing suits are not encouraged), and an inhalatorium where you can breathe the salt water brine. So everyday I drink the Lithium Wasser (because it is supposed to help with the White Blood Cells, and what is FASCINATING is that when I got here it was the saltiest/rustiest thing ever - since I have started chemotherapy - it just tastes like water) and I walk 10 times around the Inhalatorium.

So far the Universe has sent us about $6000 towards being here. I am so so grateful to everyone who has helped out. Thank you thank you thank you!

(the final break)

So what is the plan?It totally depends on my blood counts and what makes sense - at the moment I am here and I don't see myself getting on a plane anytime soon.

Hugs and love, Corinna