I’ve mentioned that I had no obvious symptoms before that first seizure. But, there it was, a 3.5-4cm tumor in my left frontal lobe – pushing from one side of my brain into the other side. I have an aggressive form of brain cancer – so they guess that my tumor grew in less than a year. They don’t know what causes these tumors, but you can find all kinds of theories. And it’s only natural to wonder. It’s not something any of us should spend a huge (or even medium) amount of time on, because it’s already happened. If someone has built a time machine, THEN we should dig a little deeper. The only benefit of the digging and wondering (and it should probably be done by scientists, not me) is that if we know the cause, we can help others avoid this experience.
Here are some of the theories of cause that I’ve found.
1. PVC exposure. I DID make a marble maze for my son using PVC last summer…but it’s unlikely that cutting one 4 ft piece of PVC pipe into smaller sections would trigger brain cancer. I think they mean PROLONGED exposure. Not likely, then.
2. Tumor Progression. GBM 4 (Glioblastoma Multiforme) can start off as a lower grade tumor. Did I have a lower grade tumor first? And if I did, how long did I have it? Were there signs? What would have happened if there were and we got to it before all this serious business began? We’ll never know and it does no good to guess. Ok, fine.
3. Virus. Some viruses have been loosely connected to Glioblastomas. Cytomegalovirus and SV40 – these are monkey viruses found in humans as well. I should say right now that I have NEVER owned nor fraternized with a monkey. Cytomegalovirus, from what I can tell from the big words used to describe it, is associated with chicken pox and mono. Both of which I had when I was little. It’s true. Both of them. The virus can remain latent and infects 50-80% of people in the US – I read that on the internet, so it must be true. There may be some truth to this one, but if there’s a link, why is a GBM 4 so rare. Hmmm….
4. Alcohol consumption. I do enjoy (or used to) the occasional cocktail and am, by marriage, obligated to know a little something about wine. I would hardly say that my alcohol consumption was excessive or a significant risk factor. If it IS a risk factor then I know any number of people who should be having brain scans right now. I don’t buy this one.
5. Ionizing radiation (x-rays, essentially). I started getting x-rays when I was about 11. I have scoliosis and it was just below the % of curvature where they would have put me in a brace. I don’t remember how regular these were, but I know I’ve had LOTS of x-rays over the years. Was this the cause? In reality, probably not. But I always wondered why the techs went behind a protective wall if x-rays were so safe. Remember that radiation therapy also has a risk of triggering brain tumors – how’s that for irony?
6. Diet. Well, I’m vegan (22 years) and I had already made a very conscious effort to cut out most of the processed food in my diet – which isn’t easy, by the way. I changed other aspects of my diet about 2 years ago (maybe longer) to try and control my psoriasis (yeah, I got that too). I cut out nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers) and some other things – it worked really well for a while. But then it didn’t – such is psoriasis. Those things I stopped eating, interestingly enough are anti-angiogenic. Hmm…could that be it – have I inadvertently fed cancer cells lying in wait in my brain? Could I be doing ‘vegan’ wrong? Should I switch to a Raw diet? Do I need to be juicing? While any of these may be true, we just don’t know. Continuing to look at my diet can’t hurt. There are a lot of great ideas and information out there about the relationship between diet and cancer. Some suggest diet INSTEAD of chemo. I don’t think I should risk that experimentation, but I’m certainly willing to add diet changes into the mix.
The lessons here are that we still don’t know a whole lot about cancer and the internet (Wikipedia, specifically) is largely an unreliable source of information, even if they use big words and sound convincing. We can spend a lot of time trying to guess or we can take a leap of faith and try some things JUST in case they might help – I’m talking about diet, of course. I’d say that it also helps to stay positive (except for the occasional bad day); surround yourself with people who build your hope with love, prayer, healing energy – they all help; believe that you’ll be legendary in your survival; and avoid the statistics you can find online since we all know that we can’t believe everything we read on the internet.