Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Cancer, white cell deficiency and life on Mars


Life on Mars by Donna Williams

Life on Mars by Donna Williams

I have my schedule now and chemo starts on Thursday. I’m starting on steroids tomorrow to counter any autoimmune chaos and even better, guess who surprised us all by having a NORMAL white cell count!!! Yup, it was in the normal range. I haven’t seen a normal white cell count since 2009 when the immune deficiencies stopped being nicely in remission and came back and bit my bum. So finally, something good happened!

And it wasn’t just because of surgery (surgery can raise white cell count) as the inflammatory markers would have indicated that. So maybe it was the 2 months of intensive daily cycling of astragalus, propolis, echinacea, pharma vit D drops, spirulina etc etc that I was on to try and kick butt re increasing apoptosis (killing off damaged cells in the body) which is what my white cells had failed to do in letting cancer proliferate. I have taken these on and off as and when in my pre-cancer days but never so intensively as once I had the diagnosis, so, if nothing else it may have helped raise my white cell count. Did taking this cocktail of Pubmed-backed gubbins known to do what my white cells hadn’t re new cancer cells just maybe, maybeeeee kick started my spleen/bone marrow to do its job for a change?

My last white blood cell count before this one was by the immunologist in May three months ago. I’ve been white cell deficient all my life but first learned about it when I was 17 around 1980 (I asked why they were worried and kept taking more blood and the nurses told me they’d gone through 3 slides of blood before they could find a white cell). I had my first remission from white cell deficiency in 2001 (when I went completely gluten free) but it crashed again in 2009 (when my diet was mostly legumes) and never came back up until this test by the oncologist in August (3 months after going legume free). So something changed between May and August.

In May I came off all soy, peanuts and legumes because of the IgE blood test the immunologist did. He told me I was allergic to soy and peanuts (both legumes) and likely had been all my life. Until May I had never been off these foods long enough to ever clear my body of the constant impact of foods that put my body into an inflammatory state. One of the causes of immune deficiency is unaddressed food allergies. It may be the reason why my white cell count was finally normal.

What this means is that if my white cell count stays normal, that I might be able to keep it that way just by staying off all soy, peanuts, legumes (I’m already GF, off all cow’s milk products and off sugar). I did notice that once I came off the soy, peanuts, legumes, that I was suddenly able to cope with salicylates which I’d never been able to (been low salicylate since 1988), and to digest sheep and goat milk products (been casein free since 1988)… so I knew it had dramatically changed something in my immune system, but I didn’t dream in my wildest dreams I may have set straight my white cell deficiency. Sure, I discovered the cancer 4 weeks later, but that had probably developed whilst I was on foods I was allergic to.

So what does this mean?

It could mean

a) it may be my white cell count stays stable, maybe even permanently once I’m out of chemo
b) that my rate of recurrent secondary cancers may reliably be only 10% once I do chemo (not twice this due to the context of immune deficiency)

So, who knows why the white cell count is normal, but it may well be that it stays that way. If so my future may more or less well end up having as good a chance as that of someone without immune deficiencies. Gotta say that sounds like the best trip to Disneyland to me.

I’m really chuffed… I have the power!!!! er… ok, I’m not a god yet, but I am really excited I didn’t even need to start with the Neulaster (injections to raise white cell count). And yes, we will be monitoring my white cell count because we know my body is from Kmart (sorry Kmart). And even better, we weighed me this morning and I ended up having gained 4kgs in all! That’s 4kg I can afford to lose if that happens… yay!!! And the oncologist says I can take supplements if I feel that will help me with symptoms just be sensible about it and run it all by him. So with decades of experience treating all the fall out of my immune deficiencies guess who feels pretty empowered ? yes, Moi πŸ˜‰

And I’m back on the prophy antibiotics (to fight bugs before they establish themselves) so these are low dose but may stop me falling over re the IgG2 deficiency and if/when the white cell count crashes (he says it will by week 3 of chemo but then it should climb back… I’d say I might need to help it back up the hill but at least I have some idea how now). I’m not too worried about Candida, with IgA deficiency I’m sugar free and take probiotics daily (yes, 2 hrs apart from the antibiotics!) and if anyone can fight Candida, then I have a degree in doing so and watch this space πŸ˜‰

So now I’m ready for Mars. I’m not too scared. I did ask if people ever die from adjuvant chemo. Apparently very rarely and far less than those who die from not having it.


Donna and her team of Martians *)

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.