My Cancer Journey
– I Think I Had COVID –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

September 12, 2021

 

The media has dubbed this latest wave as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. However, like with most things in life, it’s not exactly black and white. I am unvaccinated, and I’d like to share “WHY” with you.

  1. In 2016 (which was about two years before I was diagnosed with cancer), I received the seasonal flu vaccine for those 65-years-old and older (Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent). Surprisingly, I developed a severe neurological reaction one week later. I can’t prove that it was caused by the vaccine, but my physician suggested I not take any flu vaccine in the future.
  2. My oncologist explained that a research paper published in April 2021 showed that the COVID vaccine given to patients like me who have a malignancy of bone marrow plasma cells responded with reduced immunity.[1],[2] The vaccine would give me minimal benefit, and I would have to deal with the potential risks.
  3. One rare side effect of COVID vaccines is possible neurodegenerative consequences. Since my adverse reaction to the flu shot several years ago consisted of neurological and cognitive symptoms, I was not willing to risk potential neurological damage from the COVID vaccine.

Without the vaccine in my body and with my potentially compromised immune system from bone marrow cancer, my goal was to recreate a robust immune system as best as I could. My Unconventional Cancer Protocols assist my immune system to make it efficient and responsive.

 

The Perfect Storm

As you may already know, I was receiving a monoclonal antibody (Darzalex) monthly to assist my immune system in killing malignant plasma cells. This immunotherapy is not chemotherapy. It has been a part of my Protocols since November 2019. However, I think my last dose of Darzalex on June 22, 2021, weakened my immune system leading to my symptoms.

 

My Symptoms

In June, Darzalex was administered as a subcutaneous shot to me by a nurse in the Cancer Clinic Infusion Center. This monoclonal antibody is not injected into a vein; it is deposited into the soft tissues. The location of the shot was about 3 inches to the left of my belly button.

While this shot was supposed to be in the soft tissues only, the nurse must have injected it into a vein. I developed a 5-inch diffuse bruise that lasted about 5 weeks.

But that was not the worst of it.

About 5 days later, I suffered what I would consider a perfect storm. I had side effects that were severe. And I never had these reactions since starting Darzalex. Here’s what happened to me …

  • I gained 9 pounds of water weight
  • I had diarrhea.
  • I had acid reflux.
  • I had a headache and severe muscle aches. I was a mess.
  • I could hardly walk down my driveway to get the mail before feeling completely exhausted and needing to lie down.
  • I had occasional coughing.
  • All the previous symptoms progressively got worse which finally improved by the end of another 4 weeks.
  • Early on, I had some upper respiratory congestion and throat soreness, which I treated with nebulized 0.1% hydrogen peroxide saline starting when the symptoms began. The inhaled mist stopped my upper respiratory issues within 2 days.

After two weeks of these symptoms getting progressively worse, I called my oncologist to let him know of my awful several weeks. Since my diagnosis in 2018, I have never felt as weakened and exhausted. My oncologist suggested new blood work in 2 weeks and to stop future Darzalex treatments. That suited me just fine.

After recovering from all these “side effects”, I returned to my energetic self. No more severe muscle aches, no more headache, no more exhaustion, no more diarrhea, and no more acid reflux. I lost the 9 pounds of fluid and felt great.

 

COVID Testing

When I returned to see my cancer doctor on August 31st, I posed these two questions to him …

  1. Was it possible that the effects from the Darzalex injection could have weakened my immune system enough to contract COVID?
  2. Do you think that my symptoms were a combination of Darzalex and COVID?

My doctor ordered a COVID antibody test, which was drawn that day in the Blood Lab.  It took 7 days to get the results. Now, here’s where it gets interesting.

The antibody test may not come back positive until several weeks after the viral exposure and the test is only accurate 90% of the time. Interestingly, the antibody test may not be sensitive to the different proteins in COVID variants of the virus. [3]

In addition, the test results may have provided a “false negative” for me since my malignant plasma cells are not producing normal antibodies. There is also evidence that Darzalex, which is a monoclonal antibody immunotherapy, may have competed with the antibodies that the COVID antibody test was supposed to register. So, while my test was negative, there are still many variables at play.

The COVID antibody test does not identify possible T-Cell Immunity, which is sensitive to all proteins in the virus and lasts longer than antibody immunity.

The T-Cells of the adaptive immune system become activated first as a virus attacks the body. These T-Cells stimulate B-Cells in the bone marrow to become plasma cells, which produce antibodies that attack specific proteins in the virus. The COVID antibody test only measures antibodies produced by plasma cells. However, in March 2021, the FDA approved a test that could identify T-Cell Immunity.

The test is called T-Detect, which can be ordered online and is more accurate than the COVID antibody test in identifying previous COVID infection. It is accurate 95% of the time.[4] Unfortunately, it is not easy to get this test today. But as soon as I can, I will be tested and will report the results later.

 

My Takeaway

My intention is not to tell you whether the vaccine is the right choice for you or not. By sharing my story and vulnerability, I hope to empower you to take control of your health by building a robust immune system.

There is not much information presented to the public about the critical importance of a strong and efficient immune system to fight internal and external infections. When people with a compromised immune system are exposed to viral infections, they can develop severe respiratory infections and distress. Severely infected individuals who are metabolically inflexible, overweight, and eating innutritious foods may need hospitalization and could die from such a viral insult. Our population must take responsibility for its health. No government program, no pill, and no shot will improve our immune system and overall health.

We must be proactive and take control of our destiny.

 

[1] https://www.healio.com/news/hematology-oncology/20210416/covid19-vaccination-appears-less-effective-among-patients-with-active-leukemia-myeloma

[2] https://www.ashclinicalnews.org/multiple-myeloma/older-patients-myeloma-may-suboptimal-response-covid-19-vaccination/

[3] https://www.t-detect.com/covid-19/for-patients/

[4] https://www.t-detect.com/covid-19/for-patients/

 

Check out my training on the Better Belly Blueprint! You can watch it HERE.

 

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