“Have you watched this incredible 9 part documentary series called ‘The Truth About Cancer?'” I’ve gotten this exact question (or some variation of it) at least a dozen times in the past few weeks. “It’s got people who were given no chance at survival and cured their own cancer! It outlines the conspiracy of big pharmacy and the evil medical establishment and their deliberate attempts to keep the cure for cancer a secret. You have to watch it!”
No. I haven’t watched it. I haven’t had nine and a half free hours just open themselves up so that I could check out a series of videos which will basically tell me that every decision we’ve made in John’s cancer journey has been wrong. That the caring, compassionate doctors and surgeons with whom we’ve worked are all a bunch of money grubbing, soul-less villains who’s main objective is to keep my husband sick with cancer instead of curing him so they can collect more money from our insurance company. That “big pharm” (one of whom – Johnson & Johnson no less – just covered an $18,000.00 drug that our insurance refused to pay for, releasing us completely from having to pay a dime of the debt) is only interested in slowly killing John by deliberately poisoning him instead of curing him. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this series will help us.
I know they outline some alternative treatment success stories in the series. I’m very happy for those people. But no one is going to convince me that mainstream medicine is out to get us and has no value. I understand that the clinical trial system is stacked against the patients in the trial. They make that very clear to you when you enter a trial. It’s the only way to find cures that will help future cancer patients (and many patients are cured in clinical trials as well). And don’t you think that, if there was an underground cure for cancer, Steve Jobs would have paid for and used it?
Here’s the thing. I realize that by making our journey so public, I open myself up to have people share every potential “cure” for cancer. Every time I post anything about John’s cancer, I get a plethora of links to everything from drops to alkalize his water to proof that human breast milk cures cancer (that one did make us laugh out loud). I’m generally (honestly, almost ALWAYS) gracious as I thank people for the information and promise to check out their link.
The fact that often these “cures” come with a high price tag and are sold by an MLM company in the form of a nutrition shake or supplement also doesn’t surprise me. I’m a well known trainer in the direct sales industry, so it’s only natural that my audience are also in that industry. I know that the products these companies sell are very high quality and do help people live a more healthy life. But I don’t believe that a protein shake or essential oil is going to cure John’s cancer.
Everyone has the answer that will save his life. They all mean well but what I know they don’t understand is that, at a certain point, it becomes really, REALLY stressful for us. When I get this type of advice, it makes me feel panicked and guilty, like I’m not doing enough to help John.
Many people share articles to treatment options that John has already tried with no success. I’ve even had well meaning people ask me “Have you checked out radiation or chemotherapy options?” The sarcastic, exhausted caregiver in me wants to respond, “Oh my gosh! No we haven’t! Are those things options for a cancer patient like John?!?” I haven’t ever done it, but on my worst days the voice in my head literally screams it.
Rest assured, if there’s a medical or holistic treatment option out there, we’ve either heard about it, researched it, or tried it.
John was diagnosed exactly two years ago today. From that moment to today, we’ve been faced with decisions. Every move we’ve made and every treatment option we’ve said yes (or no) to has been researched thoroughly by us. We know more about melanoma, the treatment options for it, and the side effects from those treatments than we ever wanted to. While we are open to lots of alternative treatment modalities (and have tried several things), we’re choosing to rely primarily on the advice of the medical doctors to whom we’ve entrusted John’s care.
Doctors, I might add, who have repeatedly shown how much they care about us, who have given us bad news with tears in their eyes and called us on the weekend to check in or answer questions. They are dedicated and caring physicians. I trust them implicitly and I know that if they could cure John, they would.
We’ve done a combination of traditional and alternative therapies since the beginning. We’ve worked with John’s diet, tried juicing, spent over $4000.00 on cannabis oil, alkalized his water, used essential oils, Black Cumin oil, and probably a few others that I’m forgetting. Nothing, not clinical trials, immunotherapy, oral chemotherapy, radiation, or any of the more naturopathic treatments has cured John. At best, it’s slowed down the growth of his tumors.
Metastatic melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers you can get. Only 10% of those diagnosed as Stage IV live as long as 5 years. There are a small handful of medical treatments for his cancer. He’s done them all (with the exception of TIL, which is basically a stem cell transplant and is too dangerous for him given the numerous tumors in his small intestine). They all have a 50/50 effectiveness percentage and he’s landed on the wrong side of the equation with every drug he’s tried.
My husband is terminal. We are coming to grips with that fact and making difficult plans based upon it. We don’t know how much longer he has and he is still pursuing treatment. Miracles do happen, but time does seem to be running out for him. This is a difficult time for us, for sure.
So I am respectfully asking you all to continue praying for us, to shower us with love and support, to send us jokes that make us laugh, and to keep sharing your own stories of triumph and tragedy. All of those things truly help (especially me) and I don’t know what I’d do without all of you. Just please, don’t send us links about new or alternative cancer treatment options. I promise, we’ve got that area more than covered.