Yes. You heard it here, maybe not first, but you now have the facts.
Of course, I have no facts to support my headline, but P.T. Barnum-esque headlines get more attention.
I am a member of a wonderful Facebook group for those of us with CLL and their caregivers. Most of the members see CLL specialists all around the country (and the globe), from M.D.Anderson in Houston, to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, to the University of California at San Diego, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University, The University of Pennsylvania, all of them, and others, top research institutions for CLL. By extension, that makes all of the patients who see the specialists at these institutions experts, too, including me, I suppose. While this group offers genuine support and empathy for its members, we sometimes stray into useless, even dangerous territory. I have recognized this in myself and now strain at those who offer advice in the useless and dangerous categories. I see it often, though most of it is useless rather than dangerous, thank goodness. Many of the useless things involve diet and supplements.
I have written more than once on the windmill-tilting exercise of eating all the right things, those things that will chase our cancer away and restore our health so that we can swim whiletowing a flotilla of seventy rowboats just like the late Jack LaLanne, a champion of righteous eating. Perhaps none of my previous posts hit the spot like my 4/14/15 entry, Seduced by Righteous Eating. We are easily seduced, and once seduced, can flit about like beetles and bugs drawn to the lights on warm June nights on summer front porches.
A group post just a couple of days ago had valuable information which confirmed the root cause of CLL which all CLL researchers should take note of.
“Diet Coke has Aspartame. I drank Diet Coke and now I have CLL,” said one person.
“Me, too,” said another.
“Therefore, Diet Coke causes CLL,” the conclusion seemed to say of itself, strongly implied through not actually stated, but it may as well have been, such was its immediate import.
There’s lots of reasons not to drink Diet Coke, Aspartame being perhaps the most important one, but there are plenty of others. You can find for yourself all of the myriad reasons that sodas, particularly diet sodas, may have some negative health benefits. So do many other things: bacon, highly processed foods, deli meats, poultry, beef, pork, venison, rabbit, opossum, freshwater fish, saltwater fish, farm raised fish, raw oysters, sashimi and sushi, hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, lard, canned foods, pickled foods, fresh vegetables laced with pesticides, fresh fruits treated with fungicides, GMO grains, gluten, margarine, eggs produced by hormone-laden chickens, seafood tainted with mercury, Atlantic salmon (there is no such thing), salmonella-laced packaged salads, foods with artificial coloring, sucrose, dextrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup, enriched flour, self-rising flour (but not Martha White, the one all-purpose flour), plain flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, white bread, wines with sulfites, red wine, white wine, whiskey, any distilled spirit, factory beers, boutique craft beers (I am almost inclined to agree with that one since anything that skunky is bound to be bad for you), fluoridated drinking water, chlorinated drinking water, untreated drinking water, BPA bottled water, cholera enriched drinking water (OK. I went too far with that one), ad infinitum. There is no end.
As to the effectiveness of dietary supplements: it is the square of ad infinitum. Think about that for a minute.
If I might be allowed to continue in the same vein of thought, allow me to posit the following:
A Diet Coke is one of the great pleasures in my life. Therefore, like the others, I have CLL. My wife now buys me the Diet Coke with Splenda®, which took some getting used to, but I learned to like it just fine. Eventually, I’m sure they’ll determine that Splenda® is just as toxic as the rest of the artificial sweeteners and the sugars we are told that cancer thrives on.
There is more than a little evidence that herbicides containing glyphosphate causes non-Hodgkins lymphoma and CLL. For years I used glyphosphate containing herbicides, therefore I have CLL.
There is evidence that Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation emitted by power transmission lines causes Leukemia. Since building and modifying electrical substations was what I did for a living prior to my retirement, this caused my CLL since I spent thousands of hours in close proximity to transmission line voltages, absorbing all that ELF radiation. I’d already be dead if my proximity to energized transmission lines was too close. ELF also likely was the cause of my brother’s fatal case of Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia (CMML). We both worked on subsations and power lines. We both got a version of leukemia. Hmmmm!
Then, there are people who never drank a Diet Coke, never were around power transmission lines, and never so much as looked at a container of Roundup that have CLL. Perhaps the cause of their CLL is the lack of exposure to these things.
“I never drank a Diet Coke,” may have said one CLL patient.
“Me neither,” said another one.
“That must be why we have CLL,” they said in unison in a eureka moment.
Surely there is a cause of CLL, just as there is a cause of any disease, else we would never get ill. But there are likely several causes, or combination of causes, which trigger our cells to reproduce themselves erroneously, dropping a leg off a chromosome here, or adding one there, our DNA and RNA information software scrambled like a bad file allocation table on a computer hard drive. But it is a problem not so easily solved as avoiding a Diet Coke.
Below is something to ponder, written long before anyone knew what blood cancers were.
All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
I have omitted a few verses from this 9th chapter of Ecclesiastes for editorial clarity, but the message should not escape you. We will not cheat death. We will get diseased. We will diminish. We will decay. We all shall surely die, no matter what we eat or don’t eat. That realization is not morose. It is simply life. Our job is to live it to the best of our ability, while we can, when we can, knowing that there is no promise of tomorrow. We are dealing with a chronic cancer that will kill us, or some complication from it will kill us, or we will die from something completely unrelated carrying our cancer to our graves with our bodies, at least until a cure is found. There is yet hope, for hope is the exclusive domain of the living, and that is us. We are the living. I am nearly certain that no one dead is reading this.
Enjoy your life, and if you want to, have a Diet Coke. I will. I am.
Ecclesiastes is traditionally attributed to King Solomon, though we are not certain who the writer was. And for all you theologians who will clamor to say that King Solomon was in a backslidden state when he wrote Ecclesiastes and it cannot be trusted, I’d be pleased for you to point out where in particular one might decide to throw out a verse or chapter. It is a rich mine full of gems to be harvested for the one who would claim them. It is full of wisdom of the trials and pains that all men face in this life. It is ever cognizant of the one thing that all living men face, the great equalizer.
Mentioning it seems to be bad form.
Having CLL is better than being a thirteenth century survivor of the onslaught of Genghis Khan, or of being exiled to the Soviet Gulags in Siberia. If one thinks of it that way, there’s a whole lot to be thankful for. Even if one does not, there is still a whole lot to be thankful for.
Right now, I am thankful for this Splendaful Diet Coke, and thankful you took the time to read this far.
As an aside: Dr. Gooday, as many of you know, is Dr. Michael Keating at M.D. Anderson, one of the world’s foremost researchers on CLL. Dr. Keating retired from clinical practice last year and we all miss him. He is much loved and admired by all his patients. While he has retired from clinical practice, he is still involved in research, for which every CLL sufferer should be thankful. In the year-end publication of the CLL Global Research Foundation, which Dr. Keating helped establish, he tells us why he retired from clinical practice. We all knew that he would be out for a while for back surgery, but it seems that he suffered a minor stroke during spinal fusion surgery. While recovering from that he suffered a subsequent, much worse stroke. He is still recovering but says it is taking him some time to get used to his “new normal.” We all wish Dr. Keating the best and a complete recovery, sending him all the love and well wishes we can muster. He has made tremendous contributions towards better CLL treatments and is still working to find a cure for CLL which he always said would happen in his lifetime. I pray that his life will be long and his new normal will not interfere with the research he continues to this day. He has devoted his whole working life to treating and researching cures and new treatments for CLL, which has, by extension, benefited every CLL patient alive today. God Bless you, Dr. Gooday.
Life becomes a series of adjusting to “new normals.” There is no escaping that. Well, there is one way, but I don’t like it any more than you do.
©2020 Mississippi Chris Sharp