Fasting and Chemo

Originally Posted to Facebook Jan 2014

I’ve had 4 rounds of chemo so far, and have one week until the next round.

So far I’ve been doing super well,  I have almost zero side effects (though you may get to find out what I look like with no eyebrows or eyelashes very soon). Fasting seems to be a good thing. Though my oncologist doesn’t think it does  what it’s supposed to do –  keep my white blood count from dipping dangerously low, and to help it rebound faster. In fact even taking the super expensive drug, neulasta, (that’s supposed to increase my white blood count), my blood work has shown my white count to be super low. Which seems surprising – to my oncologist.

I stopped taking neulasta after the next blood draw. The side effects were horrible, and my blood work was AH-mazing!

But not to me (I’m a bit of a nerd and spent a lot of time researching fasting prior to trying it, I even contacted Dr. Valter Longo  – and was THRILLED when he responded). I keep saying I think the blood work is inaccurate. (okay, just hear me out) You see, they keep checking my blood work after I’ve been fasting for 36 hours. In a (very small) human trial, fasting has shown a significant reduction in white blood count, in a large study on mice, the results were even more pronounced. During a fast, white blood counts bottom out.

So why would I fast if studies show fasting does the opposite of what I want? Because once I begin eating again, food is supposed to ‘reboot’ my stem cells and increase my white count, cause a rebound much better than the drugs (neulasta) have managed to do.

So not only is fasting supposed to protect my regular cells from the effects of chemo, and cause the chemo to better target the cancer cells (thus become much more effective), but it’s also supposed to prevent the need for all the other drugs for side effects. (Though I’m having a difficult time convincing anyone that not taking them would be a good idea).

But on Friday – 4 days earlier in the cycle than I’ve previously had my blood work drawn, I will have my white blood count levels checked  while I’m actually consuming food. I’m excited to see what happens. So far I’ve had to postpone chemo once and almost a second time b/c my white blood counts have been so low (my blood work has consistently been drawn at 36 hours into my fast or later).

This brings me to another problem. I want to continue fasting for chemo – but the drugs they have me on for side effects must be consumed with food (they insist these drugs are necessary, but so far I’m not sure why). And since the chemo I’m on now is harder than the first type, according to ‘them’ (so far each round has been better than the one before, instead of building and getting worse each round, I feel better, and more normal each round). I am supposed to take the side effect drugs more often. So instead of having a bit of food the morning of chemo, I’m supposed to have a bit of food twice a day for 2 days before chemo.

It isn’t a lot, but when the goal of fasting is to shut everything down, a bit of food could be too much. So I have another plan. The Ketogenic diet. Which sounds really yucky if I had to do this for more than a day or two – I mean, I LOVE food! A LOT! Ask anyone who knows me lol

But a ketogenic diet for a few days before my ‘fast’ begins will begin the process of switching my body from using sugars as energy to using fat as energy – and begins the ‘starvation’ protocol the body goes through. But b/c I’m getting enough calories my white blood count will not drop to the super low levels I see while fasting. So this should not affect my blood draw on Friday – but it’ll allow my body to more easily enter the fasting state even with the ketogenic snacks I eat to prevent the side effect drugs from causing side effects that are really bad.

*If anyone is interested in hearing more about fasting and chemo/cancer please let me know. I can give more specific information about what I’ve done. *

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