Natural Cures for Cancer
A few months ago I got a phone call from Donna Tennant, a forty-something mother of three teenagers. She was scared. She was just told she had breast cancer. But it felt more like the cancer had her. Actually it was the cancer industry, not the cancer itself. After a number of conversations Donna decided to follow the non-intensive and holistic route. Just this week Donna wrote the following as a submission to a newspaper. She was responding to an editorial piece that was praising the “western medicine” and questioning the “Traditional Chinese Medicine” and natural cures for cancer.
An important aspect of the story is that Donna is an analytical person, and a skilled researcher. She builds presentations professionally and has a firm grip on how to use data to tell a story. These are her words: My personal belief is that our current health care system is based on profit and feeds on fear. Others may disagree. But think about it – what other things would we endure for a 4% increased chance of survival? Let me explain.
If I promised them a 4 percent better chance of living 10 years from now, would people give up smoking, drinking pop or alcohol? Would they increase their exercise program? I doubt it. And yet, we are putting people through the most horrific ‘health’ treatments for that chance, or less without them even understanding it. (And I can only presume that if this is being done for people facing cancer, it most likely is done in other areas of health care as well – heart disease, stroke, etc.)
Before we compare the “unproven” and presumed ineffective success rate of Traditional Chinese Medicine and natural cures for cancer (or any alternative medicine) to the presumably research-backed high success rate of current Western medicine protocols, let’s make sure we are comparing data that does not misrepresent one system’s effectiveness over the other. [I would call it the apples and oranges comparison.
My concern with your article is your base line belief that information we are provided to make our medical choices and determine our health care protocols are based on a well-articulated and presented ‘application of rigorous scientific data’. Yes, the rigorous scientific data exists, but the information we are given as patients, in often our most vulnerable moments, is often slanted. It presents the rate of success that western medicine provides in a dishonest way. I experienced this first hand in 2012, and have now begun to question the current system and to advocate for change.I received a breast cancer diagnosis last spring and had a successful lumpectomy in July. When I met with the oncologist at Abbotsford Hospital’s Cancer Clinic after surgery to discuss next steps I was recommended to have the ‘most aggressive form’ of chemo treatment, followed by radiation, then 5 years of hormone replacement therapy.
Here is where the problem began – when I asked the oncologist for the stats to validate such treatment – specifically the expected life benefit (the difference between my chance of being alive in 10 years with treatment vs. without without the treatment); I was told “we don’t generally provide that because most women don’t understand it”. Keep in mind; this was at the 2nd largest breast cancer facility in the Province, with a highly trained specialist; in a province that is recognized in Canada as having the best treatment facilities. I assured him; I would understand it and told him this conversation wouldn’t continue without it.
So you might be wondering ‘if they don’t provide women facing highly intensive breast cancer treatment protocols with this information – what information do they give them?’ Women are usually provided the relative risk percentage – always a higher more optimistic number than expected life benefit as it is the percentage that measures the difference between the two compared life expectancy groups. Here is an example:
100 women receive no treatment after surgery
2 out of 100 will die within 10 years from breast cancer
100 women receive treatment after surgery
1 out of 100 will die within 10 years from breast cancer
Relative Risk: 50% (the difference between 1 & 2)
Expected Life Benefit difference: 1% (the difference between 1 from 100, and 2 from 100)
If you were a woman (or any person facing any cancer diagnosis) which number if presented would motivate you to participate in the treatment? Which one would not? Let me repeat that: which sounds better? “Your chance will improve by 50%” or “Your chance of living 10 years will go from 1 to 2, but you will spend a year or more feeling wretchedly miserable, and have a strong chance of radiation damage.”
The reality is (and the scientific research backs it up and I would be happy to share the data that I discovered over the past year) that only 3 cancers respond to chemotherapy with any significant increase in life benefit: testicular (Lance Armstrong), childhood leukemia, and some adult lymphomas. In general most other cancers have on average a 5.5 month (not year) extended life benefit from chemotherapy. And for some, chemotherapy can speed up the growth of a cancer.
Interestingly enough, when doctors discuss potential life threatening side effects or decreased quality of life issues with their patients, the statistics garnered from the treatments are provided as the expected life benefit percentage instead of relative risk because it then reads as a low number, assuring the benefits read higher and far outweigh the risks. That is often not true. And furthermore, when western doctors or researchers present comparison data regarding the success rates of alternative options they provide the alternative in expected life benefit percentages but the western protocols in relative risk, thereby assuring when compared the alternative appears highly ineffective.
For my particular diagnosis the expected life benefit was only 4% (relative risk 25%). (I would be happy to provide the exact paperwork finally provided to me from the oncologist that supports this information.) I need this to be clear because many people when they hear I did not do further treatment believe the doctors thought it was a ‘mild’ case and treatment unnecessary. In the oncologist and radiation specialist mind’s, I was supposed to enter into a one year intensive treatment plan for only 4% benefit.
After the research I did on long term side-effects, those odds weren’t worth it for me – particularly when there is no study out there that gives the expected life benefit differences for women who choose alternative, natural cures for cancer and incorporate various solutions such as detoxification, losing excess weight, meditation & exercise, reducing stress, nutritional supplements, Traditional Chinese Medicine, etc. So how have I tackled this diagnosis? I researched everything I could find about how cancer is fueled and discovered that sugar is a big culprit, as are chemically induced increases in estrogen and inflammation. I researched and chose statistically proven natural methods for reducing estrogen, sugar, and inflammation as well as keeping the kidneys and liver processing to their maximum capacity.
Protocols include: elimination of all processed foods from my eating plan, choosing organic food wherever possible, 95% reduction in white flour and white sugar, natural supplements, eating for my metabolic type (concept that each person’s metabolic system responds differently to food and what is optimal for one may not be optimal for another). I also continued my running and yoga practices, resumed work with an energy healer, and have learnt to say ‘no’.
Without actively dieting, I have lost 20 pounds in 6 months and now measure health and physical beauty from a different perspective. Since declining the three out the four medical options recommended, not one of the breast health medical team has followed up with me with any information on how to monitor breast health moving forward. I have not been given suggested timelines for follow-up nor have I been contacted by any doctor or scientific researcher to be monitored so that I could help provide that important research to prove or disprove the credibility of alternative natural cures for cancer. It should also be noted that I have not cost the medical insurance system the thousands of dollars for treatment they proposed and have added over $5,000 in new debt to assure I had everything I needed to activate a sustainable health plan.