FAQ45: XRT & Chemo - from the Aloe Vera Kid
Chemo generally works by getting into the more rapidly growing tumor and killing it before the chemo kills all of the cells around it -- with the major tumor now gone, there isn't much of a target to hit. AND chemo is toxic -- it really wrecks your kidneys, and liver.
XRT is generally used to get any remaining cancer cells which are sub-visual during the operation. It is 'just in case' thing. Many on this list never had radiation after their surgery - I didn't because I had my lifetime dose before surgery.
And, now I go into my general rap about Aloe Vera the MIRACLE DRUG FROM HEAVEN.
Many real scientific peer reviewed studies have shown that Aloe Very really works in many areas. Keeping your throat less sore, helping it heal faster, and boosting your immune system (particularly by forcing it to make a chemical that helps kill tumors before they get large enough to hurt you).
You need to know a few things about Aloe Vera.
You find it generally in health food stores.
You should get it in brown glass bottles because light and air destroy many of the active chemicals in it.
You need to be sure that it is meant for internal use, and is not part of anything else - like hand lotion, other skin care product or mixed for used other than internally.
It can be a very powerful laxative. It is still an ingredient in many over the counter and prescription medications which have laxative effects. Until the 1950's it was THE laxative of choice.
The laxative effect, just like the healing effect is dose dependent. That means that it varies by how much you take, the more you take the better it is, but also the more you take the more likely it is that you will move from firm stools toward diarrhea.
I generally tell people to start out using ONE liquid ounce in the morning, another at noon and another at night. Try that for a couple of days, and then try TWO in the morning, one at noon and one at night. If that is OK, then try a 2-1-2 dosing.
I prefer the aloe gel to the aloe juice. Particularly during my radiation. I could put an ounce of chilled Aloe Vera Gel in my mouth and let it dribble down my throat, gently, slowly covering the walls of my throat. It really does work wonders.
There are a couple of major national brands out there. I preferred Lilly of the Desert Brand of Aloe Vera - but a close second is the one with a yellow label and green print on the label. These two companies take care not to cut too deeply into the plant layer right under the leathery skin of the plant - because THAT is the layer that has a milky white substance which carries the chemicals which cause it to act like a laxative. The less you get of that chemical, the more of the 'meat' of the plant you can tolerate.
You can put in ON the neck too during radiation - but AFTER the radiation is done. NEVER put anything on the neck during radiation because it blocks the radiation. Aloe Vera is so well known as a burn agent that it is used in many sun screens as well as in many prescription burn ointments.
Because it has been shown to lessen the formation of scar tissue you can wipe a little around the stoma every day - or a couple of times a day and it will help your stoma from forming scar tissue. This is good because scar tissue is the way your body closes holes in the skin. And it does this by pulling the edges together. This can, and does, happen to your stoma - it will shrink over time - the work of scar tissue.
The formation of scar tissue is one reason your doc may be having you wear a trach tube all night long.
To make that experience a bit easier make sure you have a silicone rubber trach tube (you can get them from InHealth by prescription - and have your doc give your refills on your script in case you lose the tube). Lose the strap on the tube, use, instead, two short lengths of string and tape the string as close to the tube as you can. The anchors it in place more securely, reduces its movement, and thus decreases the irritation. It also keeps you from coughing it out at night.
So - the XRT is to catch any stray cells, and chemo won't work because it targets larger masses of tissue than is in the body right now. AND chemo really can destroy your kidneys and liver.
So - XRT is 'standard' treatment, though we all did not have it after surgery. To combat the most common problems associated with radiation burns use Aloe Vera- I recommend the gel as outlined above - for internal use - and using it on the neck really and honestly will help too.
For food and flavor - think strong - as in crab, salmon, tuna, lamb all stewed and in a blender. Use fresh herbs not canned - and add them right at the end - it will release the oils into the back of the nose so they will give even more flavor to the food.
Think of your blender as your best friend for the next month or so - and remember that ice also helps cool down a hot throat. So you can mix ice and fruit to make 'slushy' drinks. Real ripe cantaloupes - not from Chile because they use a pesticide that isn't good for you, and you also probably would like to stay away from strawberries to - even those grown in the US because they fumigate the soil with a very strong chemical and the strawberry stores this chemical in the meat. So strawberries are OK if you find some frozen organic ones. The freezer section of your supermarket will become very familiar. I have found that blackberries and raspberries don't taste as good because of the seeds - but if you can strain them out before adding them it's fine, but one step too much for me. I just stayed away from them and used melons and peaches and blueberries, etc., - things without much seed mass to them.
Good luck! It is hard to have a total and THEN have a sore throat - heck your throat is sore enough afterward anyway! - but that's the way it is sometimes.
PS: Aloe Vera really does work. Honest. It isn't just hippie medicine. It is real life medicine
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