Important: This information is not to be construed as medical advice. It is one family's experience and it is sourced and referenced with additional information. For legal reasons the names of the child and parents have been changed. Some doctor's names have been abbreviated.
Lisa Eastleigh was a red cheeked, athletic eleven-year-old when she complained of feeling unwell in late November 2002. She had been robustly healthy all her life, and had never experienced any serious illness. She was born and raised near Gloucester where the family has a farm. Lisa enjoyed helping her parents with gathering eggs, planting organic vegetables and tending to the cows. Her father, James, worked at the nearby mine to supplement the family income and her mother Elizabeth attended to Lisa and her five siblings at home. Lisa's grandparents lived on an adjacent parcel of the family landholding near a scenic river frontage, where Lisa, her siblings and their cousins were frequent visitors. The older children spent enjoyable days swimming in the river, and helping their grandmother with chores including homemade butter making. The extended family formed a close and cooperative unit that gathered regularly. At those times Lisa's favourite activity was babysitting for the younger cousins while her parents, uncles and aunts spent the day pitching in with some of the heavier farm chores.
Every Parent's Nightmare
Lisa was normally a lively girl with a keen sense of fun, but on November 23, 2002 her parents became concerned that she had seemed unwell over the previous few days. Late that evening they noticed a lump in her upper abdomen and James decided to take her to the local hospital some distance away while Elizabeth planned to stay home with the other 5 children. By the time preparations were made, Lisa was asleep. The next morning the lump was still there and James took her to Gloucester hospital where the family doctor examined Lisa. He thought it was her bladder but catheterisation did not alleviate the problem. James was advised to take Lisa to Taree hospital some distance away where blood tests were taken. The duty doctor returned to tell James that the tests indicated 11 year-old Lisa was 14 weeks pregnant. James, the father of six children, thought this was not the case for a variety of reasons, and told the doctor that he had never seen a pregnancy originate from "so high up in the abdomen". He gave permission for further tests including a Doppler test to check for a foetal heartbeat and an abdominal ultrasound, scheduled for the following day. The doctor however was so convinced Lisa was pregnant that he had already contacted the local office of DoCS, the Department of Community Services (child protection). He was determined to question Lisa about sexual matters. In the interim, the Doppler test revealed no hint of a foetal heartbeat. Meanwhile, Elizabeth had arrived at the hospital, and with both parents present, Lisa underwent an abdominal ultra sound the following morning, when a tumour was found. James had refused to allow the staff to question Lisa about sexual matters until more conclusive tests could be done, but they had questioned the child anyway. It is not known what effects this added stress had on the child. She had by that time undergone a number of uncomfortable procedures and was faced with a serious, possibly life-threatening diagnosis. To Lisa it would have appeared that her life had taken a turn toward uncertainty from the relatively carefree life she'd had on the farm.
Shaken to the core, but struggling to remain calm for Lisa's sake, James and Elizabeth drove their daughter to John Hunter Children's hospital in Newcastle. The next morning, following a CT scan, oncologist Dr. A. and surgeon, Dr. Cassey, told Lisa and her parents that urgent surgery was necessary to remove the tumour. James and Elizabeth agreed and signed the consent form after Lisa told them she "wanted it out".
Dr. John Cassey finished operating on Lisa at 3pm on Wednesday, November 27th. The tumour had been the size of a small football and extended the height of the abdomen from the pelvis to the diaphragm. Dr. Cassey removed the mass, along with the left ovary and four lymph nodes. He explained that Lisa had felt off colour because the mass had cut off its own blood supply and was breaking down. He reassured James and Elizabeth that all went well even though they were alarmed at the length of time Lisa had been in recovery after surgery. Both parents were momentarily relieved and felt Lisa was in good hands with Dr. Cassey.
Three days later the John Hunter Children's oncologist, Dr. A. told the family that the histopathology report had returned. The result indicated a rare ovarian mixed germ cell tumour consisting of various types of malignant cells, resulting from cancerous changes of various ovarian cell lines. These cells secreted hormonal substances and tumour markers into her bloodstream. He expressed concern about any residual tumour cells and told James and Elizabeth that their daughter would die with certainty if she did not receive chemotherapy. With chemo, Dr. A. claimed, Lisa had an "85% chance of being cured". They asked the doctor how chemo worked. James reports, the doctor "could not describe it as anything other than deadly poison and that it was indiscriminate in the way that it killed both cancer and healthy cells." Dr. A. recommended three chemotherapeutic agents to be given over three days, bleomycin, carboplatin and etoposide. This was to be repeated four or five times at 21-28 day intervals.
Impossible Choices - "For my eyes only"
Lisa and her parents returned to the farm to reunite with the other children and their grandparents. Meanwhile Lisa, clearly delighted to be back home, made a remarkably quick recovery surrounded by her family. Before the next visit to the hospital four days later James and Elizabeth studied as much information as possible about chemotherapy.
They discovered that Chemotherapy originated from mustard gas from which the first family of cytotoxic (cell killing) drugs were synthesized. Nitrogen mustard is still listed on schedule one of the Chemical Weapons Convention. (1,2) Since then, many other equally toxic chemical agents have been developed and used as chemotherapeutic agents. Because of its high toxicity, staff using protective clothing, goggles, boots and specialised rubber gloves administers chemotherapy. The floor below the preparation area and intra venous stand is protected from accidental spills, as just a few drops of concentrate are so corrosive that it can damage surfaces and cause chemical burns to human skin. An accidental spill kit is located on the wall of chemotherapy rooms. Staff mopping up spills carefully handle the hazardous material and dispose of it as toxic waste. The chemotherapy is infused into the patient and it immediately kills fast-dividing cells including cancer cells, but also cells forming bone marrow, immune system, digestive system, hair follicles and reproductive cells of the testes and ovary. It also kills healthy cells throughout the body, including liver, kidney and brain cells. Parents of children having chemo are cautioned to wear gloves when bathing their children or coming into contact with their urine. The chemicals saturate the body tissues, killing red blood cells, which carry oxygen to body cells. This causes fatigue, anaemia, and shortness of breath. Low white blood cell count occurs due to the death of white blood cells, the cells responsible for fighting infection. The patient develops a severely compromised immune system incapable of fighting off infection. The immune system's natural killer cells are destroyed by the chemicals, and unable to continue seeking out and destroying cancer cells. Platelets are destroyed and with them the body's blood clotting ability. This causes nosebleeds and the potentially fatal risk of haemorrhage into lungs, intestines, brain or other organs, depending on how low the platelet count falls. Most patients retch, vomit and experience diarrhoea shortly after chemo starts. In some cases chemotherapy has to be stopped or the patient will die. Three percent of patients die from the therapy. Many others die later from longer-term complications, when the deaths are attributed to cancer and not to the treatment. Some 67% of people who do not survive the course of treatment die because of their weakened immune system's failure to overcome infection, directly attributable to the chemotherapy. Those that survive the treatment often experience longer-term sequelae. Chemotherapy drugs are often in themselves carcinogenic chemicals that break and damage DNA. This creates a seed for a new cancer that may emerge years later as a direct effect of the treatment. The most common cancers that are caused by chemotherapy are leukaemia and lymphoma. Apart from the relatively temporary effects of hair loss, this type of therapy most often causes permanent damage to ovaries and testes causing sexual dysfunction and permanent inability to have children. Considering the significant risks of chemotherapy, this treatment would be expected to deliver considerable efficacy. However, according to U.S. physician and author Dr. Cynthia Foster MD:
"Cytotoxic chemotherapy kills cancer cells by way of a certain mechanism called "First Order Kinetics." This simply means that the drug does not kill a constant number of cells, but a constant proportion of cells. So, for example, a certain drug will kill 1/2 of all the cancer cells, then 1/2 of what is left, and then 1/2 of that, and so on. So, we can see that not every cancer cell necessarily is going to be killed. This is important because chemotherapy is not going to kill every cancer cell in the body. The body has to kill the cancer cells that are left over after the chemotherapy is finished. This fact is well known by oncologists. Now, how can cancer patients possibly fight even a few cancer cells when their immune systems have been disabled and this is yet another stress on the body, and they're bleeding because they have hardly any platelets left from the toxic effects of the chemotherapy? This is usually why, when chemotherapy is stopped, the cancer grows again and gets out of control. We have now created a vicious cycle, where doctors are trying to kill the cancer cells, and the patient is not able to fight the rest, so the doctors have to give the chemotherapy again, and then the patient can't fight the rest of the cancer cell, and then the doctors give the chemotherapy again, and so on."
James and Elizabeth went on to research the three cancer drugs the oncologist intended to use and discovered a number of facts they had not been told. Bleomycin is a toxic agent that is known to cause permanent lung damage and precludes the medical use of oxygen. This side effect would make any future resuscitation attempts or anaesthetic increasingly likely to cause severe, permanent and possibly fatal lung damage. The other chemotherapy drugs were Carboplatin and Etoposide. The former has a high incidence of causing deafness in children. In recent studies it was found that hearing loss was found in 79% of patients treated with Carboplatin. (3) Etoposide is known to be associated with further cancers including leukaemia following its use. Both chemicals are also toxic to bone marrow, kidneys, skin and liver. Platinum containing chemotherapeutic agents are known to leave residual platinum in the body for years. The long-term toxicity of this substance is unknown. And according to the manufacturer's instructions, none of the three chemicals have sufficient information available to recommend their use in children.
The family then researched other cancer therapies and found a number of wholistic treatment approaches conducted by researchers both in Australia and in the UK. They came across Professor C. who conducted interesting work using bioenergetic medicine, oxygen therapy and other immuno-supportive treatments. The Professor was a scientist but not a medical doctor, however he worked with a medical team in Melbourne. The other interesting work James and Elizabeth found was that of Dr. Kenyon of Dove Clinic in UK, who used intravenous natural anti cancer therapies and nutritional support on cancer patients with encouraging results. In principle James and Elizabeth preferred treatment modalities that aimed to support the immune system in order to strengthen the body's ability to scavenge the cancer cells. They were keen to preserve Lisa's quality of life instead of risking her death from the effects of the treatment alone. However, they still needed to know more about both chemo and other treatments before they could make a firm decision.
The family returned with Lisa to see Dr. A. on Tuesday December 3rd, for blood tests and a check-up. James asked the doctor about the possible causes of their daughter's cancer, as the diagnosis had seemed at odds with their healthy lifestyle. According to James, the doctor could not give an answer as to the causes, but told the parents he wanted to start the chemotherapy on Lisa in the first weeks of January, some 5 weeks away. That would give her time to recover from the major surgery she had just endured. James and Elizabeth asked about any alternatives to chemotherapy and reported the doctor told them nothing else "has ever worked" and he "would not consider using anything else". It seemed the parents' line of questioning appeared to irritate the doctor. By the end of the consultation he displayed a sudden change from his previous position. Now he told them it was imperative to start chemotherapy in the next five days, before he departed on his trip to the US, or Lisa would die.
The doctor expected them to consent to chemotherapy. Still actively researching the various treatment options, James asked for evidence that such treatment would work. The doctor left the room and returned some time later with about six papers. James recalls the doctor said; "This is all I have, you will have to accept it." James asked him for a copy of these studies, to which he recalls the doctor replied, "They are for my eyes only."
The parents wondered why there was so much secrecy about the treatment if it is purported to "cure" Lisa. Dr. A, clearly annoyed, mentioned that if James and Elizabeth didn't go along with his treatment "things could get quite messy." In most cases parents caved in when oncologists mentioned the mere hint that their children would be taken away from them. Around that time most parents dispensed with any more enquiries and signed the agreement form for the child to commence chemotherapy treatment. James and Elizabeth, however, were the rare exceptions. They wanted the evidence.
Two days later the family flew to Melbourne to see Professor C. The Professor showed them his statistics on survival rates following his treatments, which included vitamins, minerals, ozone (oxygen therapies), and bioenergetic treatments. The parents concluded on the evidence that Professor C had something to offer with his non-toxic, wholistic approach. This treatment was commenced, with Lisa's enthusiastic co-operation for two weeks. Lisa's subsequent blood tests indicated the tumour markers had dropped dramatically since starting Professor C's treatment.
Conundrum in the Medical Profession
"ů the NCI (National Cancer Institute) has effectively blocked funding for research and clinical trials on promising non-toxic alternative cancer drugs for decades, in favor of highly toxic and largely ineffective patented drugs developed by the multibillion dollar global cancer drug industry. Additionally, the cancer establishment has systematically harassed the proponents of non-toxic alternative cancer drugs.---Professor Emeritus, Dr. Samuel Epstein
Elizabeth and James wanted to be supported with the best possible medical care for their daughter. They sought the advice of two more doctors. One, an oncologist, agreed with Dr. A, but could not give a reason for his views. The other doctor agreed to support them in their choice of Professor C's treatments because he was familiar with his work, but he warned he would disavow all support if the matter went "legal". The reason? The orthodox establishment was powerful enough to cost a doctor his licence even when there is evidence for the treatment's efficacy. If labelled "strictly alternative", it was a hot potato no matter what the evidence. James and Elizabeth soon realised that the treatment of cancer was thick with politics. They thought they could decide what was best for their daughter, by merely pursuing the truth, but now they had to tread through a minefield replete with hidden agendas that posed new dangers they had not considered before.
They noticed cancer doctors were divided into different camps: Orthodox oncologists were utterly convinced, even passionately in favour of chemotherapy and those few who were not convinced of its curative properties refused to admit this in public. Orthodox doctors regularly accuse wholistic doctors of not practicing evidence-based medicine even if studies support their treatments, while wholistic doctors question the validity of some of the mainstream medical "evidence". To complicate matters further, the two groups are often at odds with one another. James and Elizabeth had not yet met a doctor with the courage to speak out in public.
A notable exception came from cancer biostatistician Dr. Ulrich Abel, of Heidelberg, Germany, who reviewed the scientific literature for cancer statistics in 1990 after he'd become alarmed that the cancer death rate was escalating despite almost every patient receiving chemotherapy before dying. He wrote:
"Even though toxic drugs often do effect a response, a partial or complete shrinkage of the tumour, this reduction does not prolong expected survivalůSometimes, in fact, the cancer returns more aggressively than before, since the chemo fosters the growth of resistant cell lines. Besides, the chemo has severely damaged the body's own defences, the immune system and often the kidneys as well as the liver." (The Cancer Chronicles, December, 1990.) (4)
75 percent of oncologists said if they had cancer they would not participate in chemotherapy trials due to its "ineffectiveness and its unacceptable toxicity. - Dr. Abel.
And just a few of many other sources:
"For the majority of the cancers we examined, the actual improvements (in survival) have been small or have been overestimated by the published rates...It is difficult to find that there has been much progress...(For breast cancer), there is a slight improvement...(which) is considerably less than reported."---U.S. Federal Government General Accounting Office
"As a chemist trained to interpret data, it is incomprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good."---Alan Nixon, Ph.D., Past President, American Chemical Society.
Out on A Limb
"I look upon cancer in the same way that I look upon heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, or even obesity, for that matter, in that by dramatically strengthening the body's immune system through diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise, the body can rid itself of the cancer, just as it does in other degenerative diseases. Consequently, I wouldn't have chemotherapy and radiation because I'm not interested in therapies that cripple the immune system, and, in my opinion, virtually ensure failure for the majority of cancer patients."---Dr Julian Whitaker, M.D.
At the same time as they came across such astonishing information, James and Elizabeth were starting to feel that they were out on a limb. But by then they had to accept what was rapidly becoming self evident to all who saw Lisa. The parents decided to continue with Professor C's treatment after they noticed a striking improvement in Lisa's general health almost immediately after she'd started treatment. For the time being Lisa ate more than her father and her hearty appetite led to her regaining the weight she had lost while in hospital. Soon she had once again reached her usual weight of 40 kg with a bit of help from grandma's homemade butter, bread and jam. James and Elizabeth regularly took Lisa to the local medical centre for blood tests to determine the level of tumour markers. In January they returned to see Dr. A. Still feeling like Lisa could use extra support, James asked the doctor if he would be willing to monitor Lisa's progress on the current treatment modality with scans and blood tests, considering her obvious good health and their apparent success so far. (Low levels of tumour markers further supported this). James reported that Dr. A refused strongly. He had consistently refused to consider any other but his own treatment recommendations and refused weeks earlier to send Lisa's pathology report to Professor C and Dr. B. in Melbourne.
With no hope of support from the oncologist, James and Elizabeth decided to continue treatment with Professor C, his team in Melbourne and their GP at Gloucester. They resolved to add another local doctor to the team as soon as possible to monitor Lisa's progress. Meanwhile, after consulting with Lisa, the three of them decided not to see Dr. A at the Hunter Children's Hospital again.
Their decision, however, was slipping from their hands, since Dr. A was already set to start a series of events that would draw in government instrumentalities; the same department that had been told by a doctor weeks earlier that Lisa was "pregnant" when he'd jumped to the wrong conclusion. Dr. A was as good as his word. Things were already on their way towards getting "very messy".
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