Lymphoma — The Patient from Hell: A Review

I decided that I am not going to buy any more books when we were in the US this time. But it was not to be. My daughter drove me to two bookshops in Houston, Texas and Durham, North Carolina. I ended up buying nine books instead of the usual 30 to 40 books while on a trip like this. But I am glad that I did this.

One of the books I bought has an interesting title, The Patient from Hell. This 300-page book was written by Professor Stephen Schneider, Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor of Biological Sciences, Professor (by courtesy) of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Dr. Schneider was the world’s leading expert on climate change and global warming. He had consulted with federal agencies and/or White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton and G.W. Bush administrations.

In 2001, Dr. Schneider was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was treated by Dr. Sandra Horning, a leading expert on lymphoma – “the best person in the world for treating what you have”. Dr. Horning is also from Stanford and is a professor of medicine.

This book gives a blow-by-blow account of Schneider’s journey with cancer. It documents how a great mind – a climatologist, discussed, debated or argued with another leading light of medical science, the oncologist – Professor Sandra Horning. From the questions and answers during their consultation sessions, we can decipher the many truths about lymphoma and its treatment, done at a world-class hospital.

Mantle Cell Lymphoma and Treatment

  • A perfectly healthy Schneider noticed a star-shaped black and blue mark on the inside of his upper right arm while bathing. Further evaluation revealed “a few swollen lymph nodes, and they didn’t really hurt, but I knew I couldn’t continue to deceive myself … (I) was going to be poisoned. And I had agreed to it.”
  • CT and PET scans were done followed by a biopsy of the lump. It was a mantle cell lymphoma. Before chemotherapy, Schneider underwent a bone marrow biopsy to know the extent of the spread.

“Sandra explained that the fact that I had lumps both above and below my diaphragm was a good indication that I had cancer in my marrow and that it was already a stage 4 cancer … for mantle cell, reaching stage 4 is pretty common.”

  • Schneider received the “new” Stanford’s chemotherapy regimen using  CHOP + Rituxan (C = cyclophosphamide, H = hydroxyl daunorubicin or Andriamycin, Oncovin or vincristine and P = prednisone)” This treatment is also available here.

“Before Stanford’s new protocol had been implemented, 50 percent of her (Dr Horning) mantle cell lymphoma patients were dead within two years, and 90 percent didn’t make it past the five-year mark. With the new protocol, however, she hadn’t lost a patient in four years.”

  • After three cycles of chemo, CT scan showed that the lumps had disappeared. Sandra said,” You’re in full remission after only three chemos; it’s a remarkable achievement.” Schneider continued with chemotherapy and in total had six cycles.
  • Although in remission Schneider was told that the cancer cells might still be hiding somewhere in the body – perhaps the bones and behind the eye balls. To be sure, Schneider had to undergo a bone marrow transplantation (BMT).
  • BMT required that the whole body be treated with radiation followed by two lethal chemo treatment using megadoses of Cytoxan and another drug known as VP-16. Then “nearly all my blood would be sucked out … put into a centrifuge machine that would spin it until the medium- to heavy- weight particles were trapped and removed, and then the amount needed to keep me alive would be injected back into me.”
  • “Of course, there was the ever-present concern about what was going to come next, how quickly my cancer was being brought under control, and most important, if I would ever completely get rid of it.
  • Sandra said, “We never use the word ‘cure’ just remission. We’re very hopeful you will have a long and strong remission.”

Final Outcome

I was extremely happy to read this book, especially how the best brains pally against each other. I am seeing experts arguing in a cool and civilized way. What a great treat. I would like to say this to both the medical and alternative practitioners: Let us not insult each other, instead let us try to consult each other for the good of our  patients.

To know what really matters,  I “googled” Stephan Schneider lymphoma, hoping to get the latest updates. It is sad to say that in spite of all the best efforts, Dr. Schneider died on 19 July 2010, after an apparent heart attack on an airplane while en route to London from a scientific conference in Stockholm. He was 65.

In short, Schneider survived for nine years after his cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Did medicine really cure his cancer? Is this not something like people use to say, The operation is a success but the patient died of complications?  “Cytoxan had its dangers; it was known to deteriorate heart and lung condition, the cost-benefit calculus was not going to see me getting away scot-free.” Schneider received a lot of that drug and he knew the odds.

 Comments and Advice

Throughout the book, Schneider expressed his opinions about medical treatments –  based on what he had gone through. Let me quote some of his observations:

  • “ As a patient, I also gained firsthand experience with the system in which these professionals must maneuver, and I learned that the bureaucracy and hidebound attitudes embedded in that system are far from optimal – for doctors or for patients.”
  • “Too often, a patient’s treatments are performed “by the book” rather than being tailored to the patient’s specific needs. To put it more bluntly, much of the care that today’s patients receive is medicine by the numbers.”
  • “Most physicians – and patients – act as if the patient’s role is simply to take orders and be cooperative. Tradition suggests that only medical experts should decide on what treatment course to take; patients are presumed both incapable of material contribution to such decisions … But sometimes the patient knows better, at least about how the patient feels and what the patient needs.”
  • “Medicine entails ascertaining what might happen with or without intervention – what various treatments might do to alleviate certain conditions; what side effects might be generated by the treatments; and how the roulette is set up – that is, what probability of success can be assigned to each alternative.”
  • “It is up to you to decide with your doctors what treatment options are best for you and whether or not the side effects of the ‘cure’ are worth it given the probability of success; it’s not just an expert judgment. “
  • “Let me repeat: Choosing what risks to take is not a medical decision. You will be qualified to make choices about how you wish to face these risks. After all, it is you who, for better or worse, will be cured, become sicker and suffer side effects … That decision should be the patients’ choice because the trade-offs are personal value judgments, NOT medical science. All medicine can do is tell us the numbers – probabilities – but to make the choice is the patients’ right.”
  •  “Many important things in life… are a gamble. I often think of life as a roulette wheel containing both happy and nasty outcomes. No matter what we do, sometimes the roulette wheel presents us with lousy results. While we can’t always prevent undesirable events from occurring, I do think there is always something we can do to narrow the width of the slots that represent poor consequences and widen those that imply good outcomes. “

Our success stories with lymphoma: Click this link:

 1.       Lymphoma Recurred Two Years After Intensive Chemo – Took Herbs and Remained Well

Siew (A948) was 20 years old when he suffered high fevers on and off in 1996. On CA Care Therapy 2002.  As of 2011, in perfect health.

2.       NHL-Kidney: Cancer-free after Six Months On the Herbs

Peter (not real name) shared his story with us in July 2000. He was diagnosed with lymphoma at 50 years old.  He started to take our herbs in 1999, and up to this day (2011) he is still doing fine. He was asked to undergo bone marrow transplantation and he said no! What could have happened if he had the BMT?

3.       The Story of Devi: A lady lawyer about 40 years old, afflicted by Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

(Reproduced from our book:  Cancer Yet They Live).   Devi was diagnosed as having lymphoma. After finishing all medical treatments she came to CA Care on 18 August 1998 and started on the Cancer Care Therapy. It is 2011, and she is in perfect health and still taking the herbs!