Wednesday, July 16, 2008

forget that mole?

I got my histology (or lack thereof) on Friday for the moles I had excised last month: negative for melanoma or cancer of any kind (negative test results are inevitably positive news in the medical world). This includes both the collar bone mole and the widely and long-sus/expected (by everyone but my oncologist) previously-alleged ‘primary tumor’ on my arm.

The one on my leg revealed some maybe potentially pre-cancerous cells, but nothing serious and nothing more. My dermatologist was a bit baffled, but said that it was possible that the moles had gone into complete remission or had never been cancerous in the first place. All three were completely removed along with the adjacent healthy tissue. The search for the primary tumor continues sort of, although no one seems to care too much at this point what started this mess in the first place.

My latest (serious) theory as to the cause implicates my several years of (sporadic, but) excessive doses of supplemental amino acids, specifically lysine and phenylalanine, in times of stress (which was much of the time). Lysine suppresses arginine which “retards the growth of tumors and cancer by enhancing immune function” while phenylalanine “should not be taken by people with preexisting pigmented melanoma, a type of skin cancer.” Oh, that. Now you tell me.

I’ve been taking phenylalanine on a fairly irregular basis for almost 20 years. L-Phenylalanine, as a precursor to tyrosine and hence the three neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, “increases alertness, elevates mood, decreases pain, aids in memory and learning, and suppresses appetite.” All great things (and it actually works)! Unfortunately, “phenylalanine can promote the cell division of existing malignant melanoma cells. If you have melanoma, or any other form of cancer for that matter, avoid phenylalanine.”

After quite a lot of research on melanoma in the past few months, I only stumbled upon this the day before yesterday (and no, it certainly isn’t on the label). I had been taking it in the hospital almost daily and took my last pill as recently as a week ago. I certainly won’t be taking any more. I had plenty left, but gave it to Damien (a professional artist) for (professionally) repainting my radiation tats, along with the above woeful tale of warning, delivered with lots of stern cautionary finger-wagging.

I mention phenylalanine specifically and long-windedly as I’ve noticed a lot of hits from wacky (and you know who you are) countries where I’m sure I don’t know anyone and expect they’re people doing melanoma research. Although my particular set of circumstances may be unusual: avoid both phenylalanine and tyrosine if you have melanoma. This information is not easily come by unless you look for it specifically. I will discuss it with my oncologist when I see her next.

Those two supplements taken concurrently, along with stress, smoking, caffeine and alcohol (not to mention all those steaks, smoked meats and beach vacations) could very well have conspired to make my body ripe for melanoma and cancer in general. Now that I’ve (mostly) eliminated those things from my life, I hope to see a dramatic turnaround ;-)

My platelets are back up to 32 as of yesterday! That’s a whopping 88% (if you had invested: PLT on the PSE) increase in less than a week! My WBC was down to an all-time low of 2.7, which had me whining and whimpering to my oncologist. She managed to calm my fears with a convincing, though incomprehensible, oration in Latin with some numbers thrown in for good measure. “Cave canem,” I said, “And a happy carpe diem to you!” But I’m off the hook blood tests-wise until Monday, when Tim Hanford (my two-time former non-college roommate) arrives for a two-week visit.

‘Kolorsuv’ – that’s how they say it in Ostravian – was an excellent festival music-wise, the often painful-to-look-at crowd and torrential rains notwithstanding; while heated arguments with incompetent (poor excuse for a) ‘hotel’ staff are always better than weak coffee to get the day started with a little bee in your bonnet. I’ll leave you with a picture of the flying bicycle, an Ostravian invention or something:


VMH said...

Glad to hear the platlets are up. Saw some graffiti near Sandra's that looked suspiciously like your radiation tat...hmmmmm a new tagger in the City???

chihuahua lady said...

rock down to platelette boogaloo!!!
great news mikey!!!
sorry for such a hiatus, this is good bloody news!!!

now, some finger wagging, you remember the rules: ned is not to go into the darkroom at valentinos, and ned is not supposed to be taking any tablets that may have contributed to your cancer problem.
take those back, pretending you need to check the dates, and dispose of them in the dod crap bins in reigrovy.

we are still cheering on the platelettes if you can hear us from there..!!!

Martin said...

I like this news! Mike, you have the most fascinating blog on the web. Martin - your fan from Istanbul.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, well you seem to have gotten to the bottom of things. Did you go to Kalovy Vary? Now there is a place ripe with surly hotel staff. Ann

Maie said...

May be of interest to you....

Liz said...

Hello darlink.
I sent you a message but it never appeared in this comments box. Either I was technologically at fault, or personally... do tell which!
Anyway, hoping you're doing well and that your platelets are amassing. I see you're having 'adjustments' today (to the tattoo? to your schedule?) and will be thinking of you in earnest from Monday, while you are lovingly irradiated.
Many good lucks for that.
E xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Mikesh...i just called to say I love you. Congratulations on the good news as of late.
We are rooting for you.

Coal and Mr. Coal Rhinoceros

Anonymous said...

dear mike,
love your apartment - and I saw you steal that poster in Motol!
we're all proud of you -nonetheless.
tim h.