I'm Melinda Restrepo, and I need your help to fund a proven technology for the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney for one of cancer treatments' worst side effects: Oral Mucositis.
On the 3rd of March 2022, my life changed forever. For over five months, I had a mysterious chronic cough which multiple doctors failed to diagnose. Finally, doctor # 4 found a tumor the size of an orange in my chest. It was cancer. What followed was the most arduous journey I’ve embarked on in my life.
Feeling fresh for now... Little did I know what lay ahead.
The treatment involves six grueling cycles of chemotherapy. When they doubled the chemotherapy dosage on cycle 4, I was knocked out. My white blood cell count was reduced to zero. This meant I had zero immunity, which landed me in hospital for seven days with a life-threatening infection and oral mucositis.
Oral mucositis is the most painful condition I've experienced in my entire life. My mouth, tongue and throat swelled up, and I developed the most excruciating ulcers. I couldn't eat, drink, swallow or speak. I lost 5 kgs and became underweight.
I needed a blood transfusion, IV hydration, a liquid diet and opioid-based painkillers. It was horrific!!
What is Oral Mucositis?
Oral mucositis is a common toxic inflammatory reaction to chemotherapy, affecting 40-76% of chemo and radiotherapy patients.
It is also one of the most severe bottlenecks in cancer treatment, placing patients at extreme risk of infection and sepsis. It causes long delays in treatment which may lead to adverse outcomes, even death. Some patients drown in their saliva because they can’t swallow.
Treating Oral Mucositis with Photobiomodulation
Out of desperation and after extensive research, we discovered Photobiomodulation - this NASA-developed technology
is being used in hospitals overseas to prevent and treat oral mucositis. Photobiomodulation is a low-level laser or red light therapy which stimulates our cells' mitochondria to produce more energy. This promotes healing, reduces pain and inflammation, and can be used to treat several conditions, including oral mucositis.
Photobiomodulation is a photochemical reaction, similar to how plants in sunlight get their energy via photosynthesis.
We consulted the oral surgeon at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, who uses this technology daily in a clinical setting. She encouraged us to invest in a Photobiomodulation Technology
from THOR Laser
out of the UK. THOR Laser is the only medical device registered in the US, UK and Australia for treating oral mucositis.
Thankfully we were able to purchase the device, rushed it from London to Sydney and successfully self-treated my condition at home.
I kept a journal to document the difference the treatment made between chemo cycle four and five. The THOR Laser significantly reduced the incidence of oral mucositis, kept me out of hospital, and allowed me to eat solids. I maintained my weight and avoided painkillers, from panadol to opioids.
Mission Possible: Spare Cancer Patients the Pain of Oral Mucositis
We are on a mission to:
- 1. Create awareness amongst doctors and patients on how they can prevent and treat oral mucositis using photobiomodulation technology; and;
- 2. Purchase a THOR Laser LX2 Photobiomodulation machine for the Royal North Shore Hospital Cancer Center and/or Cancer Ward.
THOR Laser LX2 Led & Laser Therapy System
While there is much evidence on the benefits of photobiomodulation on oral mucositis, awareness of and access to this technology is very low.
In Australia, only the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, the Sydney Adventist Hospital, and a small handful of health practitioners have this technology.
Let's change this!
4 out of 10 Australians will face a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives. Of these, at least half will fall prey to oral mucositis.
By donating to this cause, you will endow the first public hospital in Australia - the Royal North Shore Hospital - with photobiomodulation technology for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis.
Please spread the word and donate to this cause. You will help spare a lot of suffering and contribute to a better quality of life for cancer patients.
Melinda & Andy