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Archive for September, 2017

Woman detained at passport control because no one believes how old she is

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

NATALIADZENKIV/INSTAGRAM 

Delays at passport control are normally irritating.

But it might not feel as insulting if the stoppage was thanks to you looking too damn good to even be legal.

That’s what happened to Ukrainian singer Natalia Dzenkiv, a 41-year-old who has surely topped the pride over-25s feel when they’re asked for their ID in the off licence.

At passport control, border guards allegedly did not believe she was 41, because she looked ‘too young’.

Perhaps you can see why her age was in doubt.

Natalia says that airport staff believed she was in her 20s.

She told Lad Bible:

When I found out the reason for my arrest, I even started laughing as it was the age in my passport.

I am already used to compliments about the way I look, but I couldn’t have imagined that it might be a reason for detaining me.

If you need another reason to be jealous, know that Natalia was only allowed through passport control once her fame came into play.

According to Natalia several passers-by recognised her from her band Lama, and asked for her autograph.

Henry Sapiecha

ENZYMES FROM PINEAPPLE THAT DESTROY CANCER CELLS

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

So what is this secret weapon?

Enzymes.

Dr. Wright explains that cancers are smart.

It’s because they’re experts at hiding for long periods of time. Most don’t need oxygen to live. And even when we “kill” cancer with conventional treatments, if just one cell survives…

It’s likely to start the disease process all over again.

As Dr. Wright explains, cancers are “built to survive.”

You see, cancers are able to hide because they have a secret “cloaking device.” It’s called fibrin.

It’s the same stuff scar tissue is made from. And cancer cells are covered in it.

Think of fibrin like a shield of armour.

This armor protects the cancer cells from anything that tries to destroy it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your body’s natural defenses (like natural killer cells or white blood cells) or chemo drugs…

That fibrin is like a fortress, keeping cancer-killing soldiers out.

Fibrin is a sticky protein that forms a web of scar tissue around injuries. And that’s a good thing if you have an injury.

But here’s the problem: Inflammation causes your body to OVERPRODUCE fibrin in a big way

Check out the research published in the journal Medical Hypotheses:

“The tumor dons a ‘coat’ of the host’s own protein on its cell surface. The coat is composed of fibrin and of a polymeric form of human serum albumin (HSA)… Such a coated tumor appears as ‘self’ to the immune system, and thus is not detected as a tumor by the immune system…

When tumors are prepared for in vitro assays against drugs, they are routinely treated with proteolytic enzymes… which dissolve the protein coat, exposing the tumor cell surface to the drug.”

The reason why some cancer drugs may appear to work in laboratory testing and then fail to work in real people may be due to the cancer shield — it’s broken down with proteolytic enzymes during the lab tests but not in the real world, unless, possibly, the patients happen to be taking proteolytic enzymes.

Enzymes have been used in studies of cancer treatment before.

***In 2007, an animal study published in the journal Planta Medica found that

In 2007, an animal study published in the journal Planta Medica found that bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple cores, treated cancer better than a chemotherapy drug — without toxic side effects.

Your Best “Weapon” to Fight Inflammation

The “proteolytic enzymes”  are your body’s MOST POTENT WEAPON against chronic inflammation.

And the chronic inflammation that proteolytic enzymes fight are also behind many of today’s most dangerous diseases, including:

> Various forms of cancer

> Heart disease

> Arthritis

> Alzheimer’s

> Chronic fatigue  

> Allergies  

> Fibromyalgia  

> COPD  

> Multiple skin diseases

And many more!

The proteolytic enzymes have even been shown to help heal varicose veins… keloids… other scar tissue… age spots… and much more!

Now this isn’t because it’s some “magical cure-all.”

It’s because proteolytic enzymes are produced naturally in your body and are designed to do the “pain-stopping, disease-fighting heavy-lifting”…

But the older you get, the more DEFICIENT in these proteolytic powerhouses you become.

Henry Sapiecha

How an Australian man poisoned himself with apricot kernel extract

Monday, September 18th, 2017

A study reveals how a Australian [Victoria] man poisoned himself after taking home-made apricot kernel extract and a fruit kernel supplement for five years.

A Victorian man who gave himself cyanide poisoning from an apricot kernel extract highlights the dangers of some supplementary medicines, doctors say.

The 67-year-old was found to have 25 times the acceptable level of cyanide in his blood following routine surgery in 2015, a study published in the BMJ medical journal reveals.

He told doctors he’d taken two teaspoons of home-made apricot kernel extract and three Novodalin, or herbal fruit kernel supplement tablets, daily for five years.

The study’s lead author and anaesthetist at Melbourne’s the Alfred Hospital, Dr Alex Konstantatos, said this added up to 17.32mg of cyanide a day.

Cyanide interfers with the body’s ability to use oxygen and is marketed for cancer prevention but there’s no proof of this, he said.

“(The patient) believed very strongly that the kernel extract was going to prevent a cancer … from coming back,” Dr Konstantatos said.

“It’s not known what the effect of having a level of cyanide that’s not enough to kill you suddenly, but (is) still quite high – we don’t know what the long-term effects of it are.”

The patient continued to take the extract and supplement until recently, when he was blocked from buying raw apricot kernels or importing the tablets.

But Dr Konstantatos said his case highlighted a broader problem with these kinds of supplements.

“We went to all the trouble to measure it, confirm it and to publish the study to show that this gentleman’s probably just the tip of the iceberg, he said

“People who take medicines like this, in this unregulated way, do not know how much, exactly, they’re taking.

“That’s exactly what makes it so dangerous.”

Henry Sapiecha

SOME GREAT THINGS TO SAY ABOUT TUMERIC TO FIX PAIN & CURE DISEASES

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Turmeric is one of the world’s most revered spices. Its praises are sung from the rooftops by herbalists. Entire books have been written extolling its magnificent virtues. Revered in the orient for centuries if not millennia, it has even been called “the world’s most healing spice” and hundreds of scientific papers and other reports have been published attesting to its healing benefits for all manner of conditions including cancer, ulcers, arthritis, alzheimers, cystic fibrosis, hemorrhoids, arteriosclerosis, inflammation and liver diseases.

As you might expect, we have some pages focusing on turmeric and here are some of them:
http://www.herbs-info.com/turmeric.html – our full page including herbal uses, history, claimed health benefits and scientific reports.
600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb
Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs

What’s the best way to use turmeric? Essentially, the way that is typically suggested is to simply incorporate it into the diet – using up to 4 grams per day. The taste is strange and unique – difficult to describe. It is not particularly fiery in the manner of for example cayenne or ginger, and personally I really like it, though it may take some getting used to. The best possible way to eat it – as with so many things – is fresh, raw, organic. I do this and simply chop or grate some very small pieces and sprinkle them on top of salads; or (my favorite) on top of my morning eggs on toast – along with organic avocado, heirloom tomato, olives and raw pumpkin seeds… ?

Fresh organic turmeric may prove to be a challenge to find (though worth the effort) and so you could resort to the powdered version (typically found in with all the other spices at the supermarket). It is also possible to obtain turmeric in capsule form, so that you can get it down you in a regulated manner without worrying about the bizarre taste or the fact that the amount of powder for optimum health benefits may be more than that which you might sprinkle on to your recipe otherwise.

Another thing to note about turmeric (powder or whole fresh) – it will stain plates, fingertips and work surfaces a bright saffron-yellow color! This will generally come out after a few washes but it’s not a good look to give guests stained plates – and so you may wish to designate specific kitchen utensils / tableware for your turmeric experiments. ? I would also counsel against chopping turmeric directly on a marble countertop!

Close up turmeric powder on grunge wooden background.

TUMERIC PAIN RELIEF TEA BELOW

Ok here’s the link to the full turmeric tea tutorial: http://knowledgeweighsnothing.com/how-to-make-turmeric-pain-relief-tea/

Henry Sapiecha

 

Men Shouldn’t Ignore these 10 Warning Signs Of Prostate Cancer

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Cancer is a disease that can affect almost every major organ in the body – from our skin to our liver. However, prostate cancer affects more men than any other cancer type apart from skin cancer. Based on data between 2010 and 2012, the NIH estimates that an astonishing 14 percent of the male population will be diagnosed with some form of prostate cancer in their lifetime. An estimated 220,800 cases were reported in the USA in 2015, with deaths at 27,540. By 2012, there were almost 3 million men living with prostate cancer in the US. It’s important not to live in fear, but the statistics should concern you enough to be more vigilant regarding your health and the health of your loved ones. Remember, the biggest fight against cancer starts with prevention.

Getting To Know The Prostate

The prostate is part of the male reproductive system that is found just underneath the bladder. Roughly the size of a walnut, this gland produces fluid that supports the sperm used for sexual reproduction. The prostate grows naturally throughout the lifetime in two major “growth spurts”. The first obviously happens during puberty and the other during a man’s thirties. The weight of the gland grows from about 20 grams during adulthood to double its weight by time a man reaches his 70s. [2] However, the sudden growth of the prostate can put pressure on its surrounding organs and tissues and cause pain and problems with urination and bowel movement. Learn about these warning signs and symptoms of prostate cancer below.

#1: Painful Or Difficult Urination

Dysuria is a term that means painful or difficult urination. With this symptom, you may find it difficult to urinate even if your bladder feels full; or be able to urinate but with mild to severe pain in the pelvic or perineal area (but note that a burning sensation in the urinary tract is usually due to a urinary tract infection). Dysuria is a cause for concern because it can indicate that something may be pressing against your urinary tract (the tract that allows urine to flow out from the bladder) most likely an enlarged prostate, a symptom of prostate cancer.

#2: Frequent Urination

Frequent urination can also be a sign of prostate cancer. When the enlarged prostate or tumor compresses the bladder, it reduces its capacity to hold urine – ergo, more frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate. This can also lead to a feeling that your bladder isn’t fully empty even after repeated urination. [3]

#3: Very Weak Urine Flow

Slow or reduced urine flow usually accompanies the previous symptoms mentioned above. When something is blocking the urinary tract or bladder, the urine flow is greatly reduced, often to a mere dripping or dribbling. This also makes it hard to direct the stream of urine, even with a lot of force being made by the abdominal muscles during urination.

#4: Hematuria

Blood in the urine or hematuria is a cause for worry for anyone – male or female. In the case of prostate cancer, blood in the urine can indicate that the tumor has damaged the urethra or bladder – causing bleeding.

Bear in mind that severe problems with urination are late symptoms of prostate cancer – usually occurring when the prostate gland has already reached a large enough size to disrupt the normal function of the urinary system.

#5: Blood In Semen And Painful Ejaculation

As with hematuria, there should be concern if blood appears in semen. Vascularized tumors are prone to bleeding, which can be the reason why blood-tinged semen is considered a sign of prostate cancer. The tumor itself can be bleeding or damaging surrounding prostate tissue to cause bleeding and pain.

#6: Swelling Of The Legs And Feet

There are two ways wherein prostate cancer can affect the lymph nodes – the first by compressing them, affecting the flow of lymph fluid in and out of the nodes and the second by metastasis to the lymph system. When the ducts that lead to and from the lymph nodes near the pelvic area become blocked, it causes a build-up of fluid in the lower extremities. This can cause mild to severe edema in the ankles and feet, or even the entire leg. However, lower extremity lymphedema usually happens after surgery and therapy but there is still a risk of it occurring prior to the start of treatment, depending the stage of the tumor. [4]

#7: Pain In The Hips, Back, Or Chest

When prostate cancer has reached the last state (stage four), it has usually spread or metastasized to other parts of the body. The most common place where prostate cancer metastasizes is bone. This is why pain in the hips (pelvic bone), back (spine), and chest (ribs) are indicative of widespread bone metastasis in cases of prostate cancer. In a study on prostate cancer in 2000, 90 percent of autopsies done on people who died of prostate cancer revealed bone metastasis. [5]

#8: Urinary And Stool Incontinence

When metastasis has spread to the bones in the spinal column, it can start to affect spinal tissue as well. Because the spinal cord is a part of the nervous system and contributes to the control of the muscles of the bladder and the rectum, metastasis can lead to problems with urinary and stool control, manifesting as incontinence. This can start as feeling the urge to urinate and defecate but never making it to the bathroom on time, eventually leading to full incontinence. [6]

#9: Erectile Dysfunction

While many people believe that erectile dysfunction only occurs after treatment for prostate cancer has started, science begs to differ. In a 2015 study on baseline erectile dysfunction and diagnoses of prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction was present in more than half (53 percent) of the total number of subjects, with severe ED occurring in roughly half of that number (24 percent). This demonstrates that baseline erectile dysfunction is a prevalent warning symptom of prostate cancer. [7]

#10: Weight Loss And Fatigue

Unexplained weight loss and fatigue is common among all types of cancer. When any kind of tumor develops, the body basically “feeds” it which causes it to spread and grow. The nutrients sent to the cancer cells starve the healthy cells, leading to weight loss and easy fatiguability. This is actually one of the earliest signs of cancer, with affected people only noting weakness at the beginning stage of the disease to severe fatigue and weight loss as the staging of the cancer progresses. [8]

Your Number One Tactic: Prostate Cancer Screening

Here’s the truth: most of these signs and symptoms only occur when prostate cancer has already progressed to later stages. More often than not, men with the early stages of prostate cancer are asymptomatic – meaning they don’t feel any different or don’t manifest any signs and symptoms of the disease. This is where screening comes in. You may not know it but you maybe be at risk for prostate cancer.

The three most common methods for prostate cancer screening are:

1) digital rectal exams (DREs)
2) prostate-specific antigen (PSA) detection in the blood and
3) checking for the presence of the protein Engrailed-2 (EN2) in the urine.

The first method allows the manual palpation of an enlarged prostate, raising the alarm for the performance of other screening tests to fully assess the condition. The second is also able to detect an enlarged prostate through PSA levels in the blood, which is useful if the prostate cannot be palpated through a DRE. While the ability of these tests to actually detect prostate cancer is not 100 percent, they are very valuable in detecting abnormalities with the prostate and have positive effects on mortality rates beyond 7 years. [9][10]

The EN2 test is based on relatively new research and reported to be not yet available. A laboratory test currently identifies EN2 in urine, and a simple home test kit is envisioned which will be similar to a home pregnancy test strip. [11]

But remember this: Not all enlarged prostates are cancerous.

An enlarged prostate is not always a cause for concern. In fact, this condition is very common in older men – occurring in about 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s. Hyperplasia or the enlargement of the prostate naturally occurs as a man ages. When this growth doesn’t stop, it can develop into BPH – which stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is not at all cancerous and is generally regarded as not requiring any form of treatment – unless there is great difficulty in urination. However the urinary symptoms of BPH are similar to prostate cancer, which makes adequate screening even more important. [11]

Note: As with the rest of this website, this article is not medical advice nor a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. We do not advise self-diagnosis or self treatment. If you believe you have the symptoms mentioned or are concerned about your health, please schedule an appointment with your doctor / healthcare advisor.

References:

[1] National Institutes of Health. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Prostate Cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html

[2] Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria, Australia). Prostate gland and urinary problems. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/prostate-gland-and-urinary-problems

[3] National Institutes of Health. Prostate Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/moreinformation/prostatecancerearlydetection/prostate-cancer-early-detection-symptoms-of-prostate-cancer

[4] Rasmusson, E., et. al. (2013). Low rate of lymphedema after extended pelvic lymphadenectomy followed by pelvic irradiation of node-positive prostate cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842657/

[5] Bubendorf, L., et. al. (2000). Metastatic patterns of prostate cancer: An autopsy study of 1,589 patients. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0046817700800350

[6] Alizadeh, M. & Alizadeh, S. (2014). Survey of Clinical and Pathological Characteristics and Outcomes of Patients With Prostate Cancer. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/gjhs/article/view/38296/22260

[7] Ong, W., McLachlan, H. & Millar, J. (2015). Prevalence of Baseline Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in an Australian Cohort of Men with Localized Prostate Cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25847707

[8] Langer, C., Hoffman, J. & Ottery, F. (2001). Clinical significance of weight loss in cancer patients: Rationale for the use of anabolic agents in the treatment of cancer-related cachexia. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900701800010

[9] Mistry, K. & Cable, G. (2003). Meta-analysis of prostate-specific antigen and digital rectal examination as screening tests for prostate carcinoma. http://www.jabfm.org/content/16/2/95.short

[10] National Institutes of Health. Prostate Cancer Screening – for health professionals. http://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/hp/prostate-screening-pdq

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostate

[12] Roehrborn, C. (2005). Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: An Overview. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1477638/

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Protein converts pancreatic cancer cells back into healthy cells

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Scientists working in the area of pancreatic cancer research have uncovered a technique that sees cancerous cells transform back into normal healthy cells. The method relies in the introduction of a protein called E47, which bonds with particular DNA sequences and reverts the cells back to their original state.

The study was a collaboration between researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, University of California San Diego and Purdue University. The scientists are hopeful that it could help combat the deadly disease in humans.

“For the first time, we have shown that over-expression of a single gene can reduce the tumor-promoting potential of pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells and reprogram them toward their original cell type,” says Pamela Itkin-Ansari, adjunct professor at Sanford-Burnham and lead author of the study. “Thus, pancreatic cancer cells retain a genetic memory which we hope to exploit.”

For their research, the scientists developed pancreatic cancer cells with heightened levels of the E47 protein. They found that the protein then controlled genes responsible for growth and differentiation. It halted the cancer cells in the growth stage and caused them to revert back to acinar cells, the healthy cells that produce pancreatic juice.

The researchers also conducted in vivo studies where the reprogrammed cells were introduced into mice. They found that the animal’s propensity to form tumors was substantially less than those with regular pancreatic cancer cells.

“Our next step is to test primary patient-derived tumor tissue to determine whether E47 can produce similar results, potentially providing a novel therapeutic approach to combating this highly lethal disease,” says Itkin-Ansari. “Additionally, we are screening for molecules and potential drugs, that can induce over-expression of E47.”

The research was published in the journal Pancreas.

Source: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Henry Sapiecha

Draining Your Lymph Fluids is easy & Important

Friday, September 8th, 2017

The lymphatic system plays a very important role in the human body’s fight against disease. It’s largely made up of a network of thin tubes (filled with clear lymphatic fluid) and lymph nodes. The thymus, spleen and bone marrow also all play vital parts in the function of the lymphatic system.

The lymph nodes house the lymphatic fluid which contains lymphocytes and other white blood cells, vital components of our blood that fight infection and cancer.

If our lymph fluids get backed up in the nodes or if there are problems with our lymph ducts, it can cause the nodes to swell and become inflamed, on top of compromising the body’s immune system. [1]

White blood cells are the primary reason why the lymphatic system is so important. If your blood is drawn during a medical checkup, WBC levels are one of the things your doctor will look at in determining if you have an infection. When pathogens invade the body, white blood cells exit the lymph nodes and enter the bloodstream to fight the infection – this is characterized typically by two things: a fever and a high WBC count. Low WBC counts in the presence of a fever can signify a problem with your immunity. [2]

Unlike the cardiovascular system however, the lymphatic system is not a closed system – and in humans it does not have a pump. This means that the movement of the lymph fluid relies on the physical movement of the body in order to circulate and prevent the nodes and ducts from becoming blocked with dead white blood cells. Without adequate movement of the fluid, lymph nodes can become infected and disturb the normal homeostasis in the body’s immune and vascular systems. In the brain, a lack of lymph drainage can damage memory and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. The same thing happens when the lymph nodes near our major organ systems don’t flow and drain effectively – it can cause widespread organ dysfunction

Lymph node word cloud concept

Certain kinds of movement and exercise are regarded as beneficial to the lymphatic system as they assist the movement and drainage of the lymph.

Natural Drainage Of Lymph: 3 Methods

#1: Massage

This method is one of the most popular ways to manually drain your lymph nodes, particularly in areas like the breast and armpit. When massaging the breast, gently make circular motions that lead away from the areola and towards the armpit, then downwards. This promotes drainage of the lymph fluid away from the nodes of the breast and axilla to the body’s vasculature. You can also apply this technique to other lymph nodes of the body.

#2: Exercise

Another way to effectively get all your lymph nodes properly drained is to exercise! Moderate exercise that helps improve vascular circulation also promotes adequate drainage of lymph fluid, about two to three times better than not doing any exercise at all. This is because lymph flow in and out of the nodes is increased during exercise. You can try jogging, walking, cycling, or other similar exercises for at least 30 minutes, three times a week to promote proper drainage of your lymph nodes.

#3: Rebound Therapy

This last method is technically a form of exercise but warrants its own special focus as a unique and valuable drainage method. Rebound therapy is slowly gaining recognition for a variety of health benefits that range from physical to emotional. Have you ever wondered why kids instinctively want to bounce – on anything from a bouncy castle to your newly made double bed? There might be something to it… it’s really good for your health!

Through gentle bouncing or rebounding on a trampoline (or similar surface), circulation and lymph drainage is improved, aside from promoting an increased state of wellbeing. The science behind it lies with the lymph ducts’ valves. In this regard, bouncing can be likened to a more intense form of walking. When pressure is placed on the lower extremities (when you prepare for a bounce or take a step), the valves in the lymph ducts close and open when the pressure is released. When you bounce, the valves close and open more fully than walking or jogging, promoting better lymph fluid evacuation.

Many people who are into this exercise obtain a special rebounding trampoline – a portable 36″ (or similar size) mini-trampoline that allows them to get in their bounce time. It’s a great form of exercise and lots of fun – just put on your favorite music and bounce to it, what could be more awesome than that? ? Here’s an example of a rebounding trampoline on Amazon that got TONS of great reviews if you want to learn more: Stamina 36 inch Folding Trampoline

References:

[1] National Institutes of Health. Lymph system. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002247.htm

[2] National Institutes of Health. WBC count. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003643.htm

[3] Weller, R., Djuanda, E., Yow, H. & Carare, R. (2009). Lymphatic drainage of the brain and of neurological disease. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00401-008-0457-0

[4] Estourgie, S., et. al. (2004). Lymphatic Drainage Patters From the Breast. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1356216/

[5] Lane, K., et. al. (2005). Exercise and the Lymphatic System. http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200535060-00001

[6] Zimmermann, B. (2014). Flush Out Body Toxins Through Rebounding Exercise. http://beyondgoodhealthclinics.com.au/flush-body-toxins-rebounding-exercise/

[7] Rennie, J. (2007). Learning Disability: Physical Therapy Treatment, A Collaborative Approach. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dueeIxJ3ilkC&oi=fnd&pg=PA249

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Rare cancer diagnosis after teen’s complaint about leg pain

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Few parents would assume it was cancer when a sporting 16-year-old boy complains of swelling and pain in his calf.

Paddy O’Brien had finished playing in an all-schools water polo championships in Sydney when he had a crippling cramp in his right calf like a huge knot.

He attributed the pain and swelling to growing pains – maybe even a pulled ligament – similar to one of the many injuries he had acquired playing rugby, cricket, swimming and hockey.

When his usual physiotherapist massaged his leg, it caused such excruciating pain that Paddy was referred for an X-ray which, in turn, raised enough alarm that he was referred for an MRI.

But he had to wait two months because of the lack of services in rural areas.

It was May 2013, and Paddy was in Year 11 in Tamworth. Great things were expected of him in the HSC, so he tried to concentrate on his studies, but the pain was constant.

“I was in agony, I couldn’t sleep, it was debilitating, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk. I told mum that my leg was in pain,” he said.

His mother called the doctor, asking for an urgent appoint to request an MRI as soon as possible.

As they arrived, she said, “This better be bloody serious”.

It was.

“I was in maths, fifth period, and the principal walked into class, and said he needed to see Paddy,” recalled Mr O’Brien of the next day when he was told he either had Ewing sarcoma or osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone).

A few days later, he was diagnosed with Ewing, and the lump in the head of the fibula of his right leg was a malignant tumour.

 

It is very rare: only about 50 children on average each year are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in Australia, less than half of these diagnoses are in the 15 to 19 age group.

It is the same cancer that teenager Hannah Rye died from in August. Hannah’s school formal was moved forward so she could attend with date Trent Hodkinson, a Newcastle Knights NRL player.

Mr O’Brien was among the first patients in Australia to be treated using the approach that is now being trialled in “Ewing 2008” around the world, including Australia and New Zealand. It increased the amount of chemotherapy by 50 per cent, lifting the amount to 14 intensive cycles of three days each. Half of the chemotherapy occurred before surgery to remove his fibula and a nerve – and the balance of chemotherapy after.

Despite “massive chemo brain” – difficulty forming sentences resulting in “massive grammatical errors”, vomiting, lethargy – Mr O’Brien decided to continue at school, determined to finish the HSC with the friends who he had started school with 12 years earlier.

He had phantom pain and remembers that the chemo “massively screws up your bowels, your taste buds, your senses”. His fitness went out the window.

A “very small silver lining” was that some of the pressure of the HSC was reduced. Although he ended up missing 60 per cent of the next year of school, he did well in his HSC and is now 21, and studying at Macquarie University.

He lost his hair each cycle, only for it grow back in fluffy tufts, and then to disappear again during the next round of chemotherapy.

“It is quite cool and weird from that sense,” he said. “I lost all my hair – in my ears, eyebrows, underarms, eyelashes, everywhere. You wouldn’t think eyelashes are that important but they definitely are.”

Another silver lining, he added, was that he saved on shampoo.

“You have to have a humorous outlook on the whole situation, especially in hindsight. If you look back at it with resentment and a dark patch in your life that held you back you will never progress or move on.

“It is quite horrible, terrifying of course, but it dramatically shapes and changes you for the better. You discover new limits for your human body, specifically the interdependence of the body and mind. You also really get to discover who cares and who doesn’t,” he said.

While the survival rate for younger children with this cancer is about 70 per cent over five years, the rate is 60 per cent for young adults such as Mr O’Brien, said Vivek Bhadri, a medical oncologist at Lifehouse Cancer Hospital in Sydney, who treated him.

Nobody knows why the survival rate differs. And Dr Bhadri said the rate had not budged much since the 1980s, and experts hope the Ewing trial will improve outcomes for young people such as Mr O’Brien, who is cancer-free despite a few scares.

About a third of Ewing’s sarcoma occurs in the leg, and in other long bones like the arms, that are rapidly growing in teenagers, said Dr Bhadri.

“That’s when things can go wrong, and cancer can occur,” he said.

Dr Bhadri said another reason why these cancers are not diagnosed faster is that injuries and growing pains are so common in teenagers that very few parents or experts would think the pain and swelling was caused by a cancer.

Henry Sapiecha