Wim Hof

Okay, so I’ve had metastatic breast cancer for five years now and I am definitely #BusyLivingWithMets.  I was diagnosed with both primary and secondary at the same time (de novo).  I did have a relatively healthy lifestyle, apart from the odd glass of red wine!  I’m not about the #blamegame, as I think cancer appears for a whole host of environmental and genetic factors.  I am the perpetual student and now spend quite a bit of time trying to work out how I can improve my survival odds by reading lots of cancer research.  I now know a lot about different conventional medicines that I may be able to get in the future if we get better #drugaccess.  But, I want to explore whether any alternatives can potentially improve my odds.  The median life expectancy for metastatic breast cancer is 2-3 years, which I have already exceeded.  But, I cannot scientifically say this has anything to do with the various alternative therapies I do.  As cancer patients, we are often told to #bepositive or about various crazy ideas that will cure us (frozen lemons anyone?).  In this series of blogposts I am going to ask – is there any truth behind any of these headlines or therapies?

A couple of years ago, my husband sent me a video link of the Ice Man aka Wim Hof https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUQwFZ_xFdM

Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Hof 

My immune system was taking a battering from the drugs, and my neutrophils were often too low to start on the next cycle of ibrance.  He came across this technique when researching methods to improve my immune system (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/iceman-wim-hof).  I have now been doing this technique on and off for two years.  So, what is the science behind this technique?
Wim Hof developed the Wim Hof Method (WHM) which is a method of daily breathing, gentle exercise and cold water exposure.

I do a gentle approach: 1) Wim Hof breathing exercises on my bed; 2) a gentle yoga stretch; and 3) a dip in a cold shower (where you can often hear me yelping with the cold).  It certainly wakes me up, and I am left feeling mentally more alert and positive (the mental rigours of cancer are phenomenal).  Cold water therapy has been suggested as a method to help with depression (van Tulleken, C., Tipton, M., Massey, H. and Harper, C.M., 2018. Open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Case Reports, 2018, pp.bcr-2018.).  However, before embarking on taking dips in your local river please seek medical advice.

Beth Roberts