Symptoms and Solutions for Intestinal Distress

Gastrointestinal cancer patients, and the public in general, are often caught in the dilemma between eating a healthy diet and suffering from the pain, bloating and associated distress that accompanies many common foods.

These problems may be exacerbated for cancer patients, especially following surgery and/or chemotherapy treatments.

In today's article we are providing concise general information regarding common complaints among our fellow gastrointestinal cancer patients. Consult with your healthcare provider regarding your specific personal needs

High fiber foods: intestinal cancer patients may experience difficulties in digesting a high fiber diet and should consult with their physician before adding or deleting foods from their meal plans.

Patients affected by Celiac Disease may be unable to consume whole grains.

High fiber foods include:
Apples, Artichokes, Asparagus,
Beans, Bran, Brussell sprouts
Cabbage, Carrots, Celery
Peas, Pineapple, Whole grains, etc.

Laxatives should only be used after consulting with a physician.

Bulk forming laxatives are taken with water, absorb water in the intestine and make the stool softer.

These laxatives may interfere with the absorption of some medications:
Citrucel, Metamucil, Konsyl, Serutan

Stimulant laxatives cause intestinal rhythmic muscle contractions:
Correctol,Ducolax,Feen a Mint,Purge,Senokot

Stool softeners add moisture to the stool and may be prescribed following surgery:
Colace,Dialose,Mineral Oil

Saline laxatives draw water into the colon for easier stool passage:
Citrage of Magnesia,Haley’s M O,Milk of Magnesia

Diarrhea may occur following gastrointestinal surgery and may accompany chemotherapy.

Foods and beverages that may aggravate diarrhea:

High fiber foods
Milk based foods
Raw vegetables
Strong tea, etc.

Foods that may ease diarrhea:

Toasted bread

Medication to combat diarrhea:


Gas Producing Foods

Confused about gas producing foods? The following foods may be some of the “culprits”!

Bagels, Beans, Bleu Cheese,
Bread, Broccoli ,Brussel Sprouts
Buttermilk, Cabbage, Corn Flakes
Peanuts, Potatoes, Ranch dressing

For more information about Diet, Nutrition, Malabsorption and intestinal distress, visit the NUTRITION link at

Articles posted in PMP Pals and on are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional legal or medical advice. Each patient’s case is unique therefore patients should seek their own counsel from a licensed healthcare professional. PMP Pals’ Network: Worldwide Resources, Referrals and Solutions.Copyright© 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network. All rights reserved.
Couple Copes Using Love and Laughter

 We asked our PMP Pal Couples to share their “tips” for coping with the strain that cancer can place on a marriage. “Pals” Brian and Linda came forward to share their suggestions with us this week! About this couple:

Brian, the “PMP Pal” patient and Linda, his wife, have just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary! Their marriage has been punctuated by a series of challenges to Brian’s health, including the diagnosis and ongoing treatment for Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.

In today's, article, Linda shares their “secret” of combining love and laughter, as coping tools in their arsenal against cancer!

“I speak from the role of the caregiver. After 50 years of marriage to my husband, the patient, I feel I can speak fairly confidently for him. During more than half of our married life, we’ve faced medical challenges that could have brought us to the brink of utter despair. My husband has had five brain tumor surgeries for a persistent meningioma and two operations for Pseudomyxoma Peritonei.

Perhaps the most difficult time through all of these events was the clinical depression that followed my husband’s second brain tumor surgery in 1997. My usual easy going, positive outlook mate became an entirely different person. It was as if a complete stranger was living in my house or that some alien being had taken over his body. I don’t know what we would have done without our close family, and our church family that simply surrounded us with love and support.

The medical “experts” have all told us that my husband is somewhat of a miracle in regards to his survival of all the brain surgeries. I think that “miracle” is comprised of love, support and the excellent surgeons and medical care he has received along the way.

There is one more factor in his survival, and that is the outlook we choose to have; somehow through all of this, we haven’t lost our sense of humor! Mark Twain said: “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

There just may be some people who are predisposed to humor and staying “upbeat, and that is a saving grace. Maybe those people have not truly faced difficult situations in their lives. Perhaps however, they have, and rather than letting those situations pull them down, they choose to find ways to move forward through the pain and look for the opportunities that can arise from the challenges they face.

In 2007 when my husband’s surgeon told me that Brian has Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, I remember thinking “OK God, what is this new challenge we have to face now?”

We faced it and worked through by it still finding humor in the little things. Abraham Lincoln said “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I would surely die.”

Last year when my husband and I were at M.D. Anderson in Houston for a check up following his second surgery Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, we had some free time. We discovered a “Laughter Yoga” session that was open for patients and their families. We had absolutely no idea what this class was about, but being our usual open minded and adventurist selves, we decided to go!

We enjoyed an invigorating hour doing something completely crazy and fun! While we were laughing in this classroom with 20 complete strangers, I realized that my mood lifted exponentially and I was thinking about nothing but laughing and the fun I was having!

Humor and laughter have always come fairly easily for both my husband and I. During our most challenging times, it has been harder to find that humor, but somehow we’ve managed to pull it out just when we need it the most.

Now, back at home in our own city, I have become a Laughter Yoga instructor, and have added this new vocation to my existing real estate career. I enjoy helping others find some time to move away from their troubles for a short period with an hour of laughter!

Faith, hope, love and laughter…these are the things that have brought us through fifty years of marriage and a long battle with cancer!

Articles written in PMP Pals and posted on are written from the perspectives of patients and their families and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional legal or medical counsel. Each case is unique, therefore patients should seek the advice of their licensed healthcare professionals. Copyright ©2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network.

Visit us on the web at We have HOPE for YOU!
How Much Money is a Cancer Patient’s Life Worth?

Question: Should MediCare Spend $90,000 for Chemotherapy for an 80 Year Old Prostate Cancer Patient?

San Francisco radio talk show host, Gene Burns, says

“No! Spending $90,000 for an 80 year old patient, whose cure is not guaranteed, is not a wise use of the taxpayers’ money.”

Cancer patient and advocate, Gabriella Graham, says

“Yes! If the patient is willing to accept chemotherapy, then, by all means, allow him to receive it, with MediCare picking up the tab. He’s paid taxes all his life and may very possibly have his life extended, as a productive citizen, through chemotherapy. Who says an 80 year old patient is not viable?”

Gabriella’s argument:

“I am an incurable cancer patient, who has survived during the past 12 years, with an estimated $1.75 million of medical care. Approximately 80% of my medical care has been paid for my MediCare, while I have paid the balance, out of pocket.

This care has consisted of six very challenging (yes, grueling!) palliative surgeries and 2.5 years of experimental chemotherapy. There has never been any guarantee that I would be cured; my particular case is considered incurable.

Yet, through the Grace of God, and the skill of my amazing surgical oncologists, my life has been extended by more than a decade! I have greatly outlived my original 18 month prognosis. My prognosis in 1998 was so grim, that I was advised to make my funeral arrangements (which I did, and which are now paid in full, in advance!)

The most expensive surgery, cost more than $335,000, lasted more than 18 hours and took place at the USC Norris Liver Transplant Center in 2000. It's safe to assume that surgery would cost much more today! I had both lobes of the liver, and the pancreas resected, due to cancer metastasis…one decade ago! My choices were surgery or hospice care. I took a calculated risk and chose an expensive surgery. Have ten years of my life been worth $335,000?

I have had three more surgeries and "experimental" chemotherapy since then. My tumor markers (lab tests) were checked last week, confirming that my cancer continues to grow.

During the past 12 years that I have been living as an incurable cancer patient, I have been referred to hospice care at least four times. Each time, after much consideration, I have opted for another very challenging surgery and experimental chemo.

Additionally, during that same time period, I have used my "bonus time" here on earth to develop an international volunteer program assisting other "incurable" cancer patients in 47 countries.

Our youngest patient in our volunteer program, passed away within one year of his diagnosis; he was only 19.

Our most senior patient (who was diagnosed fifteen years ago and who is also “incurable” like me) is now a vibrant 91 years of age. She is not cancer free, yet she remains a very active participant in our volunteer program!

Yes, a great deal of money has been spent on our medical care, but I believe, as do the thousands of families that I worked with since 1998, that the money spent on our medical care has been worth every penny!

If we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars keeping preemies alive in NIC units, then why not spend $90,000 for a senior who has likely contributed much to society, and who could very possibly live many more years?

"Incurable" cancer patients are more than a statistic. We are individuals. Each case is unique.

Cancer treatment is changing rapidly. By the time statistics are published, they are out of date.

We all have hope for the future, regardless of the cost in dollars, regardless of our age, regardless of the "statistics!"

Give this “senior” patient a chance!

Articles published in PMP Pals and on are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed, professional medical or legal advice. Consult with your own healthcare professional regarding your specific needs. Copyright © 2010 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network. All rights reserved.
Families Cope with Cancer: A Teen Son Grows During Dad’s Cancer Treatment

“Don’t give up; invest in yourself now and forever.”

This week’s article in our series “How Families Cope with Cancer” was written by Chad, now 27, but who was 17 when his father was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei ten years ago. Chad was one of three teen sons in his parents' home, when their father was diagnosed. Chad shares his unique perspective of changing from a carefree teen, to somber son of a cancer patient, to a hopeful and celebratory young man today!

Chad’s father, Ken, is a longtime participant in the PMP Pals’ Network and serves as a Pal Mentor to newly diagnosed patients today!

Chad shares his experiences as follows:

“I was half way through my senior year of high school in 2000, and just like everyone, I was looking forward to be free from school and experience that first sense of independence from the parents. I was invincible and had no worries. Life was good and nothing could bring me down, until I got the worst news I could ever receive. After school, my mother greeted me at the front door in tears. She hugged me said, “Your father has cancer!” From then on my freedom was the last thing on my mind.

While having surgery to remove a pre-cancerous polyp, the surgeon discovered that 47-year-old Dad had a very rare form of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. This cancer begins as carcinoma of the appendix and spreads to other organs. The prognosis was not good. The doctors told him that he had three months, or perhaps, maybe a few years to live. He needed to find a doctor who knew how to treat this cancer. Several doctors turn him down, including the National Institute of Health (NIH) because his disease was too far advanced. He began seven months of systemic chemotherapy. The doctors said there was little to nothing that they could do to help him.

Following intensive research, he found a doctor who aggressively treats this extremely rare type of cancer. During his first long surgery they removed the stomach, 15% of small intestine, his colon, rectum, spleen and gallbladder. At this point, he was given a thirty-five percent chance of survival after one year.

How could I face this news as a teen? All I could think about was how could there be any kind of future now?

No one teaches you how to deal with such tragedy. The only way I could express my feelings at the time was through music. I chose some lyrics from Hey You by Pink Floyd,“Hey you, don’t let them bury the light, don’t give up without a fight”.

In tears, I ran away from my problems. I graduated early from high school to stay home for a while. I still attempted to go to college, but in my thoughts, there was no such thing as the future. I didn’t go to class and I partied as if the tomorrow was the last day. After many days of depression and anxiety, I dropped out of school and moved back home.

I became closer to my parents than ever before, but I still couldn’t handle the pain. It took Dad having another surgery, and a year to go by, before I could fully deal with my grief properly. All together, Dad has had four surgeries.

Somehow, my father recuperated and his doctors began to be optimistic about his future. Lance Armstrong is my father’s idol, and being a great cyclist himself before the cancer, my father had the drive and mindset to overcome the terrible odds to be there for his family.

After many months of rehabilitation Dad got back on the bicycle and built the necessary muscle to keep him alive. Then he celebrated the birthday that doctors said he would never live to. He was in the best shape he could be after all he had gone through. I eventually went mountain bike riding with him for the first time in years, and he kicked my butt. That gave me the motivation to quit smoking cigarettes! This was the first sign for me that there really was a future!

By spending so much time with my parents the years after high school, I got to know who they really were. I learned they are not just the parental units of authority; they are people just like me. I love them more than life itself. I learned that no matter what state your relationships with your families are in; love them dearly, because you never know when they could be taken away from you. I also learned how to live well and look forward to the future.

Luckily, for my family, it has been nearly ten years since Dad was diagnosed. He is a prime example of how anyone can beat the worst odds. Dad reminds us “Don’t give up; invest in yourself now and forever. Experience life mindfully.”

View Chad's father's "Pal Profile" (see "Ken") at

Articles posted on and in the PMP Pals’ Network Newsletters are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended as a substitute for licensed, professional medical or legal advice. Patients should seek the counsel of their licensed, healthcare professionals. Copyright © 2011 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved
During recent years, Drs Jesus Esquivel and Paul Sugarbaker have been instrumental in the development of HIPEC treatment programs throughout Mexico.

This endeavor has required Drs Esquivel and Sugarbaker to commute from their established practices in the USA, to personally instruct their colleagues in Mexico, in the administration of HIPEC treatment.

Additionally, Drs Esquivel and Sugarbaker have coordinated several international conferences in Mexico, for the treatment of peritoneal carcinomatosis.

Dr Jesus Esquivel summarizes, "We coordinated one conference in Oaxaca in 2009, one in Yucatan in 2010. We held the most recent conference in Toluca earlier this year."

The conferences provide healthcare providers with the opportunity to exchange life saving information for state of the art medical treatment options.

Dr Paul Sugarbaker says, "These treatments are not only an excellent option but also a cost effective one. This is particularly important in countries where resources are more limited.

These surgical oncologists are now providing HIPEC treatment care throughout Mexico:

Dr. Rolando Garcia-Matus

Dr. Pedro Luna-Perez

Dr. Juan M. Medina-Castro

Dr. E. Guillermo Flores-Ayala

Dr. Enrique Vaca-Perez

Dr. Luis Dominguez-Parra

Dr. Horacio Lopez-Basave

Bienvenidos a todos!

Click here to contact these, and other, HIPEC specialists