Cancer: Chemo vs Natural

The following is a letter that I have sent to local newspapers, The New York Times, ABC news, the Fox Network, Freedom of Speech TV and Point of View. My motive is an attempt to give authenticity to alternative/complimentary therapies, bridge the gap with traditional health care and promote awareness for those of us caught in the middle. There are MDs, PhDs who say the standard of care for treating cancer is barbaric, that there are better ways. However, due to legal restrictions by the FDA, HMO regulations leaves little incentive for physicians to even look at alternatives, much less recommend a better way. Alternatives even in the form of supplements for which there are credentials, objective researchers who have shown credible evidence supporting such have been for the most part ignored as they are not profitable.

Chemotherapy is expensive due to the fact that some of the more potent “cures” despite blatant statistics to the contrary are still considered experimental and as such have a hefty price tag. Being told chemotherapy is the standard of “care” and our best option, one has to wonder if the poor prognosis of ever making it to five years could be any worse without treatment. To further add to what is already a devastating blow, to then have my oncologist whisper in the absence of family or friends that I might “try some herbs or something”. Then left alone to sort through the ‘for profit predators’, and the quite frankly ‘crackpot theories.’ Those, overwhelmed by fear, could very well be facing the final devastation; going from little hope to no hope. If one is persistent though, in the midst of an otherwise nightmare, there can be found well educated, sincere people who motivated by their own health concerns have found what appears to be legitimate means of surviving this beast of a disease.

To have arrived at the threshold of hope again, only to try and in some way legitimize options, to actually access alternative care providers without bankrupting ones family, even the simplest recommendations appear clandestine going against the standard of well-meaning physicians. It would seem that legislation – I believe good intentioned although contrary to a growing segment of popular opinion – intended to protect people has, much like prohibition, only exacerbated the problem. For the most part the forefront of main stream embracing alternatives is only a token gesture, such as the use of massage to soothe cancer patients. Because of legal implications and profit incentives there is precious little research being done into simple, viable alternatives. Thus making it impossible to place it at the forefront of mainstream medicine. Attempts at legislating supplements, as most recently referred to as Codex, would give the appearance of a way to standardize supplements; however, in many circles it is thought to only give decreased control to those who are already not acknowledged by main stream.

For those who, having refused the status quo standard of care and use alternatives as their only option, legislation further restricting access to alternatives only forces them deeper into the shadows. Now out of necessity, rather than a lack of awareness by the public. Creating an underground network only victimizes those who could truly benefit from alternatives. Instead of benefiting a population the alternative health care field will give way to profiteers in becoming the next pharmaceutical industry. In other countries where such laws have been implemented, it has severely limited the access to Vitamin C at any dosage considered viable. This is a step backward when people are dying while we are told “they” will find a cure someday. Another heartache from forcing alternatives to remain on the fringes, those of us trying to find answers that will at least postpone the next catastrophic event like a metastasis to the brain, or the pain from it spreading to the bones are left to contend with conspiracy theories, the dogma about the FDA.

For the most part, I do not ascribe to these theories, I do however believe the cancer industry is out of control and make no mistake it is a money making industry. One would hope that the stories that are told are not true, although there are documented news stories about researchers who find a treatment that shows promising results, give it away for free only have the FDA come in blazing with guns to jail them, or at the least force them to leave the country. It is not hard to believe with all that has been on even the evening news lately about the FDA. The FDA’s own researchers would seem to indicate that profit is more of a priority than quality patient care. It appears that the FDA instead of being a watch dog for our safety is more of a lap dog to special interests. In networking, looking for answers, I belong to several on-line groups, one of which is a stage IV breast cancer support group.

It is heartbreaking to read some of the notes of the women who look like they are primarily using main stream care, having heart and soul trusted their docs who said the only hope was chemo, shaking their head no to even the prospect that lifestyle, nutrition would make a difference. There was recently a news story on Harvard University’s research, singing the praises of early detection and how easy it was to treat. These women were furious. A lot of them had been detected early only to have it recur and even alluding the treatments were easy is just arrogant. It is a further tragedy when grant money even dictates University Studies. It was not all that long ago we heard the sensational headlines on the newscasts stating vegetables do not have an effect on cancer. Taking the time to look at the actual study, the lead researcher herself said the data was flawed, but she was required to report it, I’m sure due to financial reasons. She said the vegetables were not fresh, often times canned and that the participants did not even regularly eat the minimum.

Thought it interesting too most of the participants in the study were health care professionals. It is a tyrannical society when financial interests dictate standard of care for the quality of patients lives. I will spare the rhetoric, although what will it take before the heart cries of young mothers will be heard, those who are agonizing over not being here to care for our children. I don’t think people realize how routinely stage IV patients are given chemo “indefinitely”, with the oncology nurses joking about the patient who said they would not have to come back. I had a well meaning lady tell me that perhaps I just did not understand the physician. With the countless IVs that are started every day for chemo, it reminds me of a cattle lot where people are just run through. At approximately $7000 for each session of an aggressive protocol which includes the additional treatments for blood count support and is another controversial topic.

Is it beyond imagination to think that at least at some point nutritional/supplemental IVs could be given for a fraction of the cost that would actually assist the body in healing rather than destroying it. More outlandish still is the prospect of insurance paying $700 for a week at a facility that offers intense nutrition in the form of juicing to heal the body instead of destroy it. In the process of taking chemo” indefinitely”, or until I am hospitalized with what usually turns out to be a compromised immune system like pneumonia as the cause of death, although the cancer is showing a good response thus statistically proving it works…Having worked in health care for many years, I know that pneumonia is a one of the higher paid reimbursements for those insurance companies who base payments on the Diagnosis Related Group. How appropriate to even die and generate big bucks. There are those that would question even the staging of cancer that lends itself to such a death sentence.

The chemo impairs the bodies ability to fight the cancer on its own and not the least of which is the damage to the digestive system further inhibiting the ability to absorb nutrients, and according to some may be a significant piece of the puzzle that was the culprit in the first place. Furthermore, there are matter of fact chemo therapies that cause cancer as listed as a side effect when signing the consent form.. When treating breast cancer, the chemo does not cross the blood-brain barrier which means even getting weekly treatments there is a high percentage of patients that still get brain cancer. With alternatives there does seem to be better options that are also effective for preventing brain metastasis and not to mention the quality of life. How many people will have to die before physicians are allowed to even consider alternative/complimentary care? Is there not a way to bridge alternative and traditional health care that would hold true to Hippocrates Oath to “Do no Harm.”

Donna Broome