Lucy, after recurrence of her ovarian cancer, still insisted on forgoing chemotherapy. She had her reasons for refusing the invasive treatment. She had seen her friend suffering a relapse even after undergoing the treatment . Her father died after two cycles of chemo. It is difficult to convince a person with such experiences to go for chemotherapy! So Lucy came to seek our help and took herbs. She promised to change her lifestyle and diet.
Over a period of a year, I got to see Lucy thrice. Below is our conversation on 2 August 2012 – almost a year after her first visit.
- To know her progress, Lucy on her own initiative, went to do an ultrasound. The tumor had shrunk by more than 20 percent. From the original 5.8 cm it decreased to 4.5 cm.
- Lucy clarified that last year (2012) before our therapy, she had gone to three doctors and all of them confrimed that the tumour was 5.8 cm in size. All the doctors she consulted with had urged her to undergo chemotherapy, warning that without chemo her condition would deteriorate. Lucy refused chemo and told the doctors that she would go for herbs.
- After about a year, in August 2013, Lucy went back to one of the doctors who had treated her and had kept her previous records. He did the USG and the tumour was 4.5 cm in size. Lucy reminded the doctor that originally it was 5.8 cm and that the tunour has shrunk and she was taking herbs not chemo. After hearing that, the doctor warned Lucy that the result of the USG that he had just done was not accurate! He insisted that Lucy go for chemotherapy! Why do you believe in herbs? Lucy replied that it was doing her good, that is why she believe in it.
- Unfortunately Lucy was not easily “cowed.” She was brave enough to challenge her doctor. If the result was not accurate why do you charge me RM 70 for doing it? Lucy asked for a print out of the result. The doctor replied, I had deleted it. Is this not shifting the goal post?
- Lucy was not ready to give up easily. She has a mind of her own. Lucy immediately went to another doctor and did another USG. The result was the same, 4.5 cm. And she was given the print out of the result without any fuss.
- Without doubting the result of her present condition, Lucy told her doctor that all the more she felt she was on the right tract by refusing chemotherapy. Her logic was simple: Why do I have to undergo all the sufferings? This past one year, Lucy was living a problem-free life. She was able to travel everywhere she wanted. She spent time in Shanghai, China. In addition she was able to continue with her teaching job. The only problem she faced is having to wear a sanitary pad everyday due to her discharge.
- Lucy asked her doctor if chemo can cure her. The doctor dared not answer that question. This was exactly what happened to professor Michael Gearin-Tosh.
- To justify their advice, Lucy was told by her doctors that chemotherapy would kill all the cancer cells in her.
Of course if you are living in your own world oblivious to the progress around you, such advice appears attractive. You would swallow that wholesale! But that idea is now outdated. Read below my short review of the medical literature understand what I mean — chemo DOES NOT and CANNOT kill all the cancer cells.
- Lucy was also told that in the event that chemo did not cure her, at least it kept cancer at bay and not spread. This again is not true. This is a recycled argument fed to naive cancer patients. The truth is chemotherapy SPREADS cancer and can even make the cancer more AGGRESSIVE. Read more below.
To be fair to Lucy, we have warned her on the day when she first came to seek our herbs that we could not promise her a cure. After a year, her conditions did not turn any worse. In fact it seems to be encouraging. The turmour shrunk. She started to discharge smelly, rotten “minced-meat” everyday. There must be a reason why this happened after she was on this therapy.
Lucy told her doctor, Don’t worry, I shall you see in six months!
Let’s see if Lucy can repeat the feat of Ella of Melbourne. Ella too had surgery of endometrium cancer and was asked to undergo chemotherapy. She was told by her surgeon, Based on my experience, If you don’t do chemo, you have only three months. If you do chemo you have two and a half years. Ella as of today (almost FIVE years) is still living a healthy and adventurous live. Yesterday, we received a card from her, sent from Pearl Beach in northern Australia. She and her husband took off for some months driving around the country enjoying the wilderness and outback of her beautiful country. (More on this story, https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/01/28/cancer-of-the-endometrium-no-chemo-you-live-only-three-months-with-chemo-two-and-a-half-years-with-herbs-she-is-still-having-fun-after-more-than-three-years/)
What You Need to Know About Cancer and Chemotherapy
Is our present-day outdated cancer treatment effective?
Robert Weinberg of MIT and world’s leading authority in cancer biology wrote (in The Biology of Cancer):
- Most of the anti-cancer treatment in widespread use today were developed prior to 1975, at the time when the development of therapeutics was not yet informed by the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis.
Heiko Enderling of Center of Cancer System Bioogy, Tufts University School of Medicine, 736 Cambridge St., Boston, MA, wrote:
- Standard treatment options share the philosophy of delivering the maximum tolerable dose to inflict maximum gross tumor reduction. When the tumor shrinks below clinical detection complete response or complete remission is declared.
- Often the tumor has been eradicated and treatment indeed was successful; in other cases the tumor will grow back more aggressively than the primary tumor, thus worsening patient prognosis.
Karen Weintraub reported in the Boston Globe:
- Chemotherapy and other traditional cancer therapies do a great job of shrinking most tumors. But some cancer cells manage to escape and seed new tumor growth — a problem that has vexed scientists for years.
Heterogeneity: Cancer cells are not the same
- Many tumors are composed of mixtures of distinct subclones rather than being monoclonal.
- Tumors originate from a single cell. Yet, at the time of clinical diagnosis, the majority of human tumors display startling heterogeneity in many morphological and physiological features, such as expression of cell surface receptors, proliferative and angiogenic potential.
- Cancers are not static entities: they start from a genetically normal cell and conclude with billions of malignant cells that have accumulated large numbers of mutations in “driver” and “passenger” genes.
Cancer scientists led by Dr. John Dick at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have found a way to follow single tumour cells and observe their growth over time.
- By tracking individual tumour cells, they found that not all cancer cells are equal: only some cancer cells are responsible for keeping the cancer growing.
- Within this small subset of propagating cancer cells, some kept the cancer growing for long time periods (up to 500 days of repeated tumour transplantation), while others were transient and stopped within 100 days.
- They also discovered a class of propagating cancer cells that could lie dormant before being activated. The dormant cells were not killed by drug treatment and became activated, causing the tumour to grow again.
- They found that genetic mutations, regarded by many as the chief suspect driving cancer growth, are only one piece of the puzzle. Biological factors and cell behaviour – not only genes – drive tumour growth, contributing to therapy failure and relapse.
For over a century, scientists have known that circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, are shed from tumors and move through the bloodstreams of cancer patients.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine led by Stefanie Jeffrey, MD, professor of surgery and chief of surgical oncology research, took a look at so-called circulating tumor cells one by one, rather than taking the average of many of the cells. These are what they have found:
- The cells that slough off from a cancerous tumor into the bloodstream are a genetically diverse bunch. Even within one patient, the tumor cells that make it into circulating blood vary drastically.
- Some have genes turned on that give them the potential to lodge themselves in new places, helping a cancer spread between organs.
- Others have completely different patterns of gene expression and might be more benign, or less likely to survive in a new tissue.
- Some cells may even express genes that could predict their response to a specific therapy.
- The diversity means that tumors may contain multiple types of cancer cells that may get into the bloodstream, and a single biopsy from a patient’s tumor doesn’t necessarily reflect all the molecular changes that are driving a cancer forward and helping it spread.
- Moreover, different cells may require different therapies.
One reason certain tumors can be hard to eliminate is that they contain a variety of different cells.
Cancer Stem Cell
Nicholas Wade reported in the New York Times:
- Many researchers believe that tumor growth is driven by cancerous stem cells that, for reasons not understood, are highly resistant to standard treatment.
- Chemotherapy agents may kill off 99 percent of cells in a tumor, but the stem cells that remain can make the cancer recur or spread to other tissues to cause new cancers.
- Stem cells, unlike mature cells, can constantly renew themselves and are thought to be the source of cancers.
Dormant Cancer Cell
- Increasing evidence suggests that tumor dormancy represents an important mechanism underlying the observed failure of existing therapeutic modalities to fully eradicate cancers.
- In addition to its more established role in maintaining minimal residual disease after treatment, dormancy might also critically contribute to early stages of tumor development and the formation of clinically undetectable micrometastatic foci.
- There are striking parallels between the concept of tumor dormancy and the cancer stem cell (CSC) theory of tumor propagation.
Joseph Hall reported in the Star:
- Researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have shown that some of the cells that drive tumour growth hide from common chemotherapy drugs by going “dormant” — reigniting the disease when they awaken after treatments end.
- This finding add more depth (and) complexity to why cancers come back, why they recur.
Malgorzata Banys et al from Germany wrote:
- Tumor dormancy describes a prolonged quiescent state in which tumor cells are present, but disease progression is not yet clinically apparent.
- Breast cancer is especially known for long asymptomatic periods, up to 25 years, with no evidence of the disease, followed by a relapse.
- Factors that determine the cell’s decision to enter a dormant state and that control its duration remain unclear.
Naumoy et al of the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, Canada, wrote:
- Breast cancer is noted for long periods of tumor dormancy and metastases can occur many years after treatment. Adjuvant chemotherapy is used to prevent metastatic recurrence but is not always successful.
- Apparently effective chemotherapy may spare non-dividing cancer cells, and these cells may give rise to metastases at a later date. This study has important clinical implications for patients being treated with cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy SPREADS and MAKES cancer more AGGRESSIVE.
Doctors who treat patients with breast cancer have known that tumors that develop resistance to chemotherapy are also more likely to grow larger and to spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy drugs kill by first order kinetics (half life)
First-order kinetics, when applied to the concept of cytotoxicity, means that … a specific dose kills a specific fraction of tumor cells regardless of the population. For example, we could put a person on a course of 3 chemotherapy drugs and kill 99.9% of the cancer cells. This sounds awfully good, doesn’t it? So why isn’t there curing going on all the time? A person that has a disseminated metastatic disease has somewhere in the vicinity of 1 trillion cancer cells (10^12). If one good course of chemotherapy kills off 99.9% of the 1 trillion tumor cells, what’s left? One billion cancer cells left (10^9). Here’s the math:
- 100% – 99.9% = 0.1%.
- 0.1% = 0.001
- 0.001 x 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) = 1,000,000,000 (1 billion)
Historically our problem had been that we had to wait several weeks before the next course of chemotherapy because we were also affecting the normal cells and the person was susceptible to infection and we had to wait for them to recover. In that course of time, since cancer cells grow fast, the tumor would be back up to 10^12 ( 1 trillion) cells before the next course of therapy, which would again, kill 99.9% and they would go back down again. If we keep doing this and can get it down to 10^6 (1 million cells) and hopefully stimulate the person’s immune system to try to fight off the remaining cancer cells, we could get them into remission. That’s the goal. If we could get them down to zero, then we are finally in remission. After 5 years of remission, they would be deemed to be cured. But in reality, that’s not actually true because there have been lots of horror stories of it coming back beyond 5 years later. Why are we only 0.1% away from killing off all the cancer cells? The reason we couldn’t kill all 100%, was because some of the cells were in that dormant G0 phase.
Conventional Chemotherapy Can Do More Harm than Good
From the website of Envita Medical Centers. Scottsdale, Arizona (http://www.envita.com/) Let me repeat, it is from a Medical Centre. It has the following message:
- Chemotherapy agents will destroy cancer cells temporarily, but it is known that there is a rebound “metastasis effect” that nearly always takes place at the same time. A patient may see an explosive growth of the cancer, months later, which was not visible by imaging before. Those new cancer cells would exist in a micro-dormant phase.
- In addition, chemotherapy crushes the patient’s immune system, and can create chemo resistant cancer cells! Typically, a strong immune system would take care of the metastasis, but after conventional chemotherapy a patient’s immune system is so debilitated, it cannot hold them back from growing and spreading.
- If you notice in the clinical studies of new chemotherapy drugs, they may extend life in late-stage cancer for up to two or three months at the most. These drugs will create hundreds of millions in sales. However, for most individuals, the cancer will return more resistant and more difficult to treat. So the question is: Did the new blockbuster drug solve the problem? NO.