I had bloodwork done two days before Cycle 3 chemo, and when the result were returned, I was way below reference range for both WBC and Neutrophils, the immune system markers. It looked like I wasn’t going to be able to have my chemo. Tanya, my chemo clinic nurse, talked with Dr S, and offered me the following two options.
Option A was to come down to London on Wed evening and redo the blood work on Thursday morning. If it remained poor, I would be denied chemo and asked to wait a week until the following Thursday, putting my whole future schedule back and messing up a whole bunch of plans. Dr S felt that I had a 60-70% chance of passing the tests on Thursday, but that’s still 30-40% chance of failing and doing the 6 hour drive and paying for a hotel room for nothing.
Option B was to simply decide not to try, do labs again next Monday as usual and come down for chemo on the Thursday. This puts me behind on my chemo schedule by a week and messed up my plans for accompaniment, etc. And felt like a defeat.
I discussed it with Mike and his immediate response was that it was entirely my call and that if we drive down there for nothing, oh well. So I made the call to go down and hope for better labs. I spent Wed and Wed night focusing on my immune system in my thoughts and prayers. And had several others sending prayers and good energy my way as well.
Thursday morning, we were at the lab by 7:30. At that point I was 36 hours fasted. It is well-documented that a 72 hour fast can cause your body to cannibalize your immune system as part of the process of autophagy, the cleaning up of damaged cells during a fast. So in the back of my head, I was wondering if I wasn’t helping myself by doing the fast. Would it cause the immune markers to be lower? The great thing about the 72 hour fast is that at the end of it, re-feeding triggers the stem cells to create an entire new fresh immune system, rejuvenating and regenerating the whole thing. So in the end, it’s a good thing, but short term, I wasn’t so sure…
Well, the lab results started arriving about an hour later as we visited with Tanya, our clinic nurse. The results were astounding. In 48 hours, my WBCs and neutrophils had both rebounded, not just into the low end of the reference range, but well up into optimal ranges for both. Holy Mackerel!
So, chemo was on again. Thank goodness! Was the current fasting a factor in whatever brought the immune markers roaring back up again? Is there something about the previous cycle’s fasting or the ketogenic diet that is pushing the expected timing of the immune suppression and nadir (lowest point) of immune markers back in time, delaying the nadir into the third week? I don’t know. There’s no science to support this. The whole issue is too fresh and young. But very interesting questions. I think that I might send an email to Dr Valter Longo at the USCS lab and see if he would be interesting giving me his opinion on this. If I hear from him, I will post it on this blog.