Friday, October 31, 2014

Managing Stress

All the brain tumor and stroke victims I know are grappling with stressful issues. These are not “I can’t balance my checkbook” issues, they’re issues like, “I’m prone to seizures” or “I just found out that my Mom/wife/college friend has a brain tumor.”

From personal experience, I believe that the amount of stress you or your loved ones have is geometrically proportional to the “Grade level” of the tumor. So, to my way of thinking, that means if you have an Grade II tumor, it is four times as stressful as a Grade I. A Grade III tumor is nine times as stressful, and so on. Call it the Kerastas “Oh Shit” scale, or “KOS” scale for short.

So what can we do besides running around screaming and kicking things and curling up into a little ball while sucking our thumb and waiting for our chemo, radiation, surgery, or some intriguing herbal solution to solve everything?

Unfortunately the “waiting” bit can be almost as mentally traumatic as the treatments, which is why I’m sharing this link from a recent Chicago Tribune article entitled “Nip illness in the bud by de-stressing.”

Yes, there’s nothing in this article about seizures, strokes or brain tumors I to IV. On the other hand, anything we can do to “de-stress” has, in my opinion, got to be helpful.

If you have other ideas or have done something that works, let me know.


PS – Yes, I’ve already heard from the folks in Colorado.

Copyright: <a href=''>yanlev / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Monday, October 27, 2014

Berries = Better Brains

Usually the stuff I love to eat isn’t healthy to eat, like ice cream. But I love berries, all kinds of berries, and this article by Beth Fontenot in the Atlantic, which I originally read on the Facebook site, says that “Berries may provide protection against Alzheimer's as well as age-related memory loss and other types of cognitive decline.”

The article goes on to say that “Marshall G. Miller and Barbara Shukitt-Hale, researchers with the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, reviewed cellular, animal, and human studies on berry fruits and the aging brain and found strong evidence that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and other berry fruits have beneficial effects.

They found that berry fruits protect the brain in several ways. They contain high amounts of antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Berry fruits also change the way that neurons in the brain communicate, and this may prevent inflammation in the brain that can damage neurons. Components in berries also improve cognition and motor control.”

For me that means on thing, “BERRY BINGEING!”

And here’s a link to the abstract in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” -

PS - Yes this is a bad pun that probably only works in English. 

Copyright: <a href=''>subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

“Current therapies for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are not effective”

That’s the lead sentence of a recent abstract on My gut reaction was something like, “No shit!?”

GBM has struck hard and close to me lately with a close friend from college and a close friend-of-a-friend about a block from our house being diagnosed with Glioblastoma. Emotionally, I just feel like I’ve been hit by a MACK truck.

If you are new to brain tumors, here’s a quick and bleak primer on GBM from “Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary malignant tumor of the central nervous system. GBM advances rapidly and tends to recur after treatment, resulting in severe disability and death. The 1-year and 2-year relative survival rates for GBM are 29.6% and 9.0%, respectively. Only 3.4% of patients with a GBM diagnosis survive more than 5 years, but life expectancy for GBM in the United States has been increasing. Early identification of the tumor, surgical resection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy improve the prognosis for GBM.”
So the study’s title, “Apoptosis-inducing effects of Melissa officinalis L. essential oil in glioblastoma multiforme cells”, grabbed by eyeballs and yanked them into the rest of the abstract, which says, “Current therapies for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are not effective. 

This study investigated the activity of the M. officinalis essential oil (EO) and its major component (citral) in GBM cell lines. Both EO and citral decreased the viability and induced apoptosis of GBM cells as demonstrated by DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 activation. Antioxidant prevented citral-induced death, indicating its dependence on the production of reactive oxygen species. Citral downmodulated the activity and inhibited the expression of multidrug resistance associated protein 1 (MRP1). These results show that EO, through its major component, citral, may be of potential interest for the treatment of GBM.” See

Since I don’t understand almost everything in this abstract, I’m not totally sure what it means, but it seems to provide a flicker of hope.

Of course this just begged another question, “What are essential oils?” So, being the Googler I am, I zipped over to and learned that “Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, is using a plant's aroma-producing oils (essential oils) to treat disease.” (See for more info).

Somehow, that didn’t make me jump for joy. This doesn’t sound like a miracle cure for GBM.
Having said all that, “Essential Oils” are a hot topic on’s Inspire website:

At this moment, color me yellow for curious and hoping, just hoping, that we’ve found a new weapon to use against this monstrous disease.

Copyright: <a href=''>eraxion / 123RF Stock Photo</a>