If you are of the human race, there is a good chance you’ve been affected by cancer in some way. Whether it is someone you know personally, such as a family member or a dear friend, or perhaps you’ve been a direct target, the disease (especially in its late stages) rarely hits any high notes, and it never concludes with a happy ending. The closer the relationship you have, the more it hurts to see that person perish in an astonishing and passive way. And when their time comes, their survivors are left with nothing but all the stages of grief and constant interludes of the glory days, where the sun was always shining even on the gloomiest of days.
Every time I accompany a beloved family member to the cancer center to get monthly treatments, the place is always busy. The waiting area is a fairly sizable 20 x 15 room with plenty of pliable loveseats and chairs. As you enter the waiting area, nearly every chair is occupied by people in disquieted states. It’s never an exuberant sight to witness. There is a part of you that wants to comfort them in some way, but being close to people is an extreme risk as there is no way to know if they are sick themselves, ergo, putting your own loved one at risk. Since it would be impolite to ask directly, it’s better to seek for the farthest chair so my family member doesn’t become a cootie victim and put her own immune system in peril.
As we wait for the doctor for a consult, I look around to find patients of all sizes with varying afflictions. Nothing is truly more heartbreaking than walking into the treatment area and see patients wrapped in blankets, either pale or xanthic in skin color, emaciated, and hair that is thinning and/or falling out. They can barely talk. The look in their eyes is indicative of pleas with God to silence their suffering. Nothing I can say or do can alleviate their anguish.
Last month, I noticed the nurses were putting on paper scrubs. This was new to me, so I asked, “Why are you wearing paper scrubs? Is this a new policy?” The nurse responds, to paraphrase, “Yes. We’re now required to wear these to protect ourselves.” She didn’t elaborate further.
However, by “protection,” I secretly knew what she meant. But I wanted to play dumb and pretend all this cancer stuff was new to me, so I asked, “protect yourself from what?” The nurse responds, to paraphrase, “Because we work with chemicals that are considered toxic, the hospital executed a new policy that the nurses now must wear these disposable scrubs.”
At the next appointment, we had a different nurse. I decided to play dumb, yet again, and inquired about the new dress code. So I asked, “Why do you have to wear paper scrubs?” She provides a similar response as the previous nurse, but this time she expounds, to paraphrase, “Due to the toxicity of the chemicals, we have to protect ourselves. If any part of it gets on our skin, it can cause burn damage.”
The nurse sensed my degree of shock by my facial expression. I respond, “And yet you’re putting those chemicals IN people?”
The nurse responds with a hint of remorse with a “yes” indicating she and I were on the same page.
If there is any light to the situation, it’s that sometimes you can sense the level of empathy from nurse to patient. Even they know this level of treatment does more harm than good, with a 95% chance there won’t be a happy ending.
I have been accompanying my family member for awhile. Since 2016, to be exact. As someone who have lost several family members to this disease, I can attest to every detail associated with cancer: from the initial diagnosis, the second opinions, different kind of treatments, the surgeries, the side effects, the emotional and physical toils that affects everyone, and sadly, to the very finish where everyone in the vicinity of the patient is greeted by the Holy Spirit.
There is one thing about cancer you can be certain of: it discriminates NO ONE. It hides from NO ONE. Cancer is the kind of disease that does whatever it wants and arrives whenever it wants. Of all the ailments, cancer is the one of the few diseases that simply does whatever the fuck it wants. Cancer assaults EVERYONE.
The disease affects men, women, AND children. Even pets. Cancer violates and rapes you in ways you wouldn’t even think of bestowing on your worst enemy. This is the kind of disease that pulls the soul right out of you, twists and turns in every direction, and reinserts itself just for kicks. All that’s left are the repercussions that alters the patient into a completely different and solemn individual.
In the current age, society seem to be hung up on expressing outrage for all kind of wrongdoings. Yet, there are crickets en masse in the cancer community. It’s disheartening to feel I’m the only one speaking out against the medical iniquities in the community. What’s more disturbing are the alarming number of people who believe there’s such a thing as a cure for cancer. It doesn’t exist. It never did (For more information, there’s a link to an older post on my blog or simply refer to your Biology 101 textbook).
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what these injustices are: cancer organizations hide under the guise of empathy and concern with their fundraising efforts, where more of the proceeds go to “administrative expenses” than research, and maybe 3 cents on the dollar go to research; oncologists are still profiting from the sick and nearly dead as well as overly-diagnosed cancer patients getting unnecessary chemo treatments; Medical groups who specialize in cancer treatment and care uses aggressive marketing strategies and immoral tactics to lure vulnerable cancer patients with the use of false testimonials and fictitious hopes; big pharma (lobbyists, salespeople) are rolling in the big bucks and laughing all the way to the bank and their Mercedes, and no one (the media, society, and not even victim’s families) is expressing any outrage.
Something is fucking amiss.
Stage 1- Chemical Warfare Begins
Cancer chemotherapy, in its traditional form, is poison. Because there is so much biased information on the internet, it’s hard to differentiate who or what to believe in terms of its intricacies. However, I feel it would be prudent to provide a bit of background, so let’s examine one of the more popular chemotherapy regimen, cisoplatin, which further begs the question: where’s the “therapy” in chemotherapy?
Cisoplatin contains platinum, a metal that is typically found in jewelry and the automobile industry. Cisoplatin is in the family of antineoplastic drugs (any drug that is platinum-based). Essentially, any chemo drug with the “platin” suffix is a drug where platinum is the star ingredient. I was curious about this drug’s main attraction. Platinum, while wonderful to wear on your finger, is toxic when ingested. According to elementsdatabase.com:
“While the metal is non-toxic, platinum salts can be harmful for human health. They can cause hearing damage, bone marrow and kidney damage, cancer, and DNA alterations. Platinum salts also cause damage to the intestines and allergic reactions. Short-term exposure may cause irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes. Long-term exposure to platinum salts leads to skin allergies and respiratory problems. The side effects of platinum should be studied further as the metal is used for the production of different types of implants. These include vascular access ports, joint replacement prosthetics, breast implants, and lumbar discs.”
Obviously, platinum is not used as a primary agent. It’s cleverly reformulated and mixed with other chemicals so it doesn’t kill you instantaneously. It just kills the patient over a prolonged period of time.
How did this type of cancer care come into play? Let’s revert to the beginning. Please take note and consider that these chemicals went through several incarnations before they became the norm for treating the disease.
The era of cancer chemotherapy began in the 1940s with the first use of nitrogen mustards and folic acid antagonist drugs. The targeted therapy revolution had arrived, but many of the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply.
In terms of the success rate, it states the following on its Wiki page:
“The discovery that certain toxic chemicals administered in combination can cure……”
WOAH WOAH WOAH. STOP RIGHT THERE.
First, let’s review the definition for “cure.” Its primary definition, be it in the form of a noun or verb, is to restore to health. That’s never the case with with aggressive forms of cancer. Second, let’s make something clear: this entry came from Wikipedia, and it’s not intelligent. But this explains why the general public would be confused. Allow me to repeat myself: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CURE. NONE. Cancer can go into remission, and the remission can last for a very long time, but once those rogue cancer cells re-emerge, the “cure” turns into a relapse. Continuing on….
“……certain cancers ranks as one of the greatest in modern medicine. Childhood ALL, testicular cancer, and Hodgkins disease, previously universally fatal, are now generally curable diseases….”
“…… In the United States, overall cancer incidence rates were stable from 1995 through 1999, while cancer death rates decreased steadily from 1993 through 1999…”
“… Again, this likely reflects the combined impact of improved screening, prevention, and treatment. Nonetheless, cancer remains a major cause of illness and death, and conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy has proved unable to cure most cancers after they have metastasized.”
Interestingly, the conventional use of chemo is still widely used and still recommended by oncologists as the first course of treatment.
With regard to “improved cancer screening” according to this blog post from Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, MD at Harvard Health Publishing, that subject is still up for debate, making this entry from Wikipedia even more dubious. Even some of the comments are doctors, who remain in a constant flux about what steps to take for a more thorough and logical approach to screening.
With patients entrusting their well being in the hands of generously paid medical professionals, blessed with prime academia in their respected field, this is disturbing on many levels. After all, who are we, as common folk, are supposed to know the intricacies of how the A bone is connected to the B bone? We don’t, and that’s the advantage doctors have over common folk.
Stage 2- The Mindfuck of Chemical Warfare Statistics
I have been trying my best to locate some statistics as it relates to the diagnosis and treatment, and locating such intimate information have been challenging. TINA’s post seems to believe that cancer is on the decline, while the National Cancer Institute, the same government agency that brought us cisplatin, reports that cancer diagnosis are on the rise in the US. Who to believe? Eventually, I came across the below excerpt indicating there may be a reason these stats aren’t readily available. According to Metavivor.com, an organization exclusively focused on metastasized breast cancer and research, writes in the following blog post:
“How many of us are there nationwide? Hard to say. Statistics for our disease are often not collected … or if they are … they are not being made public. In 2005 there was a rough estimate made in the report “Silent Voices” by Musa Mayer and Susan E. Grober that we numbered 150,000 to 250,000. But there is no exact count.”
The stats for breast cancer may be an enigma, but the numbers are in plain sight regarding cancer as a whole: taken from a report from the National Cancer Institute: as of 2008, more than 1500 per day in the US will die from cancer. Throughout their lifetime, one half of men and one third of women will succumb to a cancer diagnosis. On a global scale, cancer is responsible for 7.9 million deaths in 2007 and that figure is expected to increase to 12 million by 2030, per the World Health Organization.
While statistics remain persistently indistinct, the effects of standard chemotherapy are not. In an editorial for the Journal of National Cancer Institute, published on May 26, 2017, decrepitated effects on the neuro and cognitive functions on the human body during and post chemotherapy continue to be as present as ever. In the last 40 years, all cancer types and its treatment regimens were used in these studies, and they all concluded with similar findings. Varying groups were used for these studies over the years, but most interesting were the A and B groups. Group A chose surgery only as treatment, while group B were treated with chemotherapy in addition to surgery. In an editorial from The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, it notes the effects of all cancer types using different treatment regimens.
Overall, these studies have found:
• Within the chemotherapy-treated group, poorer overall cognitive performance correlated with decreased small-worldness and local efficiency, demonstrating potential functional significance of the observed network alterations. Lower estimated premorbid intellect was also related to decreased local and global efficiency and clustering in the chemotherapy-treated group, consistent with prior work suggesting that patients with lower cognitive reserve are more vulnerable to post-chemotherapy cognitive declines.
• in one study chemotherapy-treated patients showed a greater frequency of impairment than those receiving surgery only.
According to the editorial, there is rising evidence in that cognitive and neuro-psychological functions are significantly impaired with those who’ve received the traditional chemotherapy regimen. There have been various studies conducted in the last 40 years, and each study produced very little variance going in the way of a positive outcome.
Stage 3- Greedtherapy
So, with very little impact in the survival rate using traditional regimens, why do oncologists still recommend these treatments that have proven unsuccessful time and time again?
Oncologists who are self-employed or who are not on a fixed income have the luxury of additional monetary incentives by prescribing chemotherapy. In addition to oncologists favoring the monetary incentive of standard chemotherapy, many familiar news sources (of which I bequeath the banal task of searching on your own. I have sacrificed more personal data than I care to admit) have reported the unethical practices by oncologists raking in large profits just by administering chemotherapy in their offices. The cost of cancer “care” have increased significantly over the last 40 years, partly due to new diagnostic and treatment technologies. In a report from the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Medical Oncologists’ Perception of Financial Incentives, “the annual cost of cancer care in the US exceeded $124 billion in 2010, and is projected to be $173 billion by 2020. The purpose of this study is to invoke discussion (and concern) for physicians responsible for the rising cancer healthcare costs in the US. A startling amount of oncologists have reported that their income would increase with giving chemotherapy in office. “In all, 40–50% of oncologists whose income is based on fee for service or consulting services indicated their income would increase when they prescribed chemotherapy….”
The Obama administration have made a gallant effort in curbing the unethical practices of profiting from the afflicted community by instituting its drug payment program by Medicare, which scrutinizes the way doctors receive reimbursement for giving chemotherapy. Surprise, surprise: the program’s loudest opponents of the program are inhabited with soulless, angry, vulturous humans of the lowest grade. This includes representatives of Big Pharma and hundreds of physician groups, some of whom receive funding from drug companies!
(As of this writing, that program is now defunct.)
Much of the challenge to curtail these unethical practices has and always will revolve around one unfortunate roadblock: money. Imagine the abominable breakthroughs that would see the light of day had it not been for the “commanded” seven-figure salaries of the top cancer organization’s CEO’s in the US. Considering the overall cancer survival rate, I’d say that kind of salary is repugnant, unwarranted, and undeserved.
According to Metavivor.org, as it pertains to breast cancer:
“Scientists know that research specifically focused on metastasis is crucial to significantly reduce the breast cancer mortality rate. Metastasis research is challenging for various reasons. However, the biggest obstacle is lack of funding: only an estimated 2–5% of the funds raised for breast cancer research is spent on studies of metastasis.”
Funding for cancer research overall has been stagnant since 2004, with increasing costs of biomedical research taking a large chunk of the blame. Additionally, with President Trump cutting $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute further adds insult to injury. There is, however, a very simple solution: take it from the pocket books of CEO’s making SEVEN-figure salaries.
Withal, many insurance companies mandate poison-therapy before starting any target-therapy treatment. Because target-therapy is still in its infancy in the industry mainstream, there are many areas of research yet to unravel. Immunotherapy research is ongoing, but parts of it is being delayed due to financial constraints .
Stage 4- POISON-therapy
The image of the nurses’ donning paper scrubs just to avoid chemical burn is a memory that will be etched in my mind forever. I can’t stop thinking about what these toxic chemicals are doing, and the mass attenuation that takes hold with no promise of a recovery. If we undeniably have no insight as to how the treatment will progress, why are patients and their caregivers forced to endure and witness these abjections when our loved one may end up dead anyway? Given the aforementioned study and its inferior findings, I fully support targeted therapies now more than ever.
There is no doubt that the promise of targeted therapies for all faces some illuminating challenges, even though the original concept was developed in the 1800’s, and resurfaced again in the nineteenth century by way of serendipity:
William B. Coley, a nineteenth century surgeon at the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (now the Hospital for Special Surgery), developed the first immune-based treatment for cancer at the end of the nineteenth century….
….Despite impressive clinical results first published in 1893, Dr. Coley was viewed with suspicion by the medical establishment of the day; and while Paul Ehrlich would propose the cancer immunosurveillance hypothesis only 16 years later (19), contemporaries didn’t make a connection between “Coley fluid” and the nascent science of immunology….
….His initial observations have in large part led to the discovery of the soluble signaling factors that modulate immune function, the pattern recognition receptors responsible for the detection of infectious organisms (21–24), and the state-of-the-art checkpoint inhibitors that have become the mainstay of modern immuno-oncology
Yet, despite the outsized role that Coley’s discoveries ultimately played, little happened in the field between Coley’s death in 1936 and the advent of immunology’s modern era some two decades later.
(Did you happen to notice a pattern? Whenever there is some sort of breakthrough of treatment and/or justice, outrage always seems to ensue by way of “medical professionals.”)
The other challenging aspects for immunotherapy include:
- Immunotherapy drugs are expensive (My solution: look no further than the cretins at Big Pharma, who is infamous for price gauging life-saving drugs. Regulate the shit out of them and don’t look back). Sound familiar, Epipen?
- Unknown cancer biomarkers and pathways
- Identifying the treatment resistance to stay one step ahead.
- Cancer immunotherapies work in only certain cancers, but not all; unpredictable efficacy
As well as among others that are strictly biomedically related. The truth remains the same no matter the excuse: more money is needed for research.
So many questions, so little time, but think on this: the standard cancer chemotherapy most people are familiar with was developed during World War II and became the standard treatment regimen by the 1950’s. I bet it wasn’t even ten years from the time these toxins were introduced to the time they were approved as treatment for cancer. Remember: psychologists once used SHOCK THERAPY to treat patients with mental illnesses in the 1950’s. That form of treatment is long gone, yet the 1950’s version of cancer care is still in use in 2019.
We have great minds creating technology that turns off our lights, handle mundane tasks by voice recognition, read bedtime stories to kids, online shopping, remotely start engines on a cold winter’s day, and listen and watch anything our hearts desire at any time. Yet, with all this wonderful technology, the medical industry hasn’t been able to catch up.
Here’s a good plan to catch up with the rest of 2019: We need to phase out all toxic forms of cancer treatment in the same manner shock therapy was demolished as means of treating mental illness. Put a stronger emphasis for targeted therapies as well as implement and enforce a cancer patient’s bill of rights.
Between the mixed and biased information coming from doctors, cancer organizations, and the fucking horrible internet, it’s no wonder finding the best course of action is extremely daunting. Here’s a good start: write to your US Senator.
STAGE 5 — THE LONG-AWAITED CURE: LEGISLATION
A. Update Cancer Care for 2019
- Phase out toxic treatments
- Offer surgery and/or targeted therapies as first line of treatment.
- Require ALL doctors to be concise and clear within a few consultations about rates of survival for each recommended treatment.
For many patients of aggressive cancers, the standard care does more harm than good, and more often than not, these patients die from the toxicity than the illness.
(Based on both personal experience and hearsay, doctors will strongly persuade the patient to undergo the standard chemo as a precaution. This shit needs to stop.
- Enforce strict regulation for marketing and advertising campaigns. We need to lay down the gauntlet on the marketers and advertisers who shamelessly rely on false facts and testimonials just to get more business. More regulation is needed to alleviate aggressive advertising done by assholes like the Cancer Treatment Center of America. In terms of diagnosis and treatment, they are no different than any other hospital that provide cancer care.
- BAN THE OVERUSED “CURE” CATCHPHRASE AS IT RELATES TO CANCER — this popular cancer catchphrase has been used as a prop to lure in millions of dollars a year to pay off undeserving CEO’s as well as other insane “administrative expenses.” Just as Susan G. Komen went after smaller charities for using the “for the cure” motto on their marketing materials, the public reserves the right to abolish this type of cancer language altogether after 40-plus years of persistent lies and deceptive marketing practices deployed by Komen and their ilk.
EVERYONE IS BORN WITH CANCER CELLS.
Refer to your biology 101 textbook or scroll towards the bottom of this post. I’m aware I’ve already noted this earlier. I don’t care, it bears repeating.
- COMMAND CEO’S of Big Pharma and Cancer Non Profits to donate more funding to research. Scientists are starving for funding as there is so much to explore and disclose, and possibly life-saving. Mandate cancer organizations to give more to research than “administrative expenses” and CEO salaries.
- Mandate non-profits to be transparent with disclosing the amount of proceeds in their materials. An exact percentage must be disclosed as well as document other organizations who are benefiting from the proceeds.
Fundraisers haven’t done shit for the cancer (especially metastatic, where both doctors AND people rush to judgement in losing all hope for a salubrious outcome) community. I implore society to become more dynamic and freely interrogate any organization that claims to be raising money for cancer research. We are living in the age of suspicion where no entity can be trusted and everything must be questioned (this is especially true of any charity). We, as a society, need to be as vigorous, if not more, as the disease itself.
Of late, I frown upon all cancer fundraisers because I don’t have much confidence in their calls to action. History has PROVEN they make for a good, flashy show and fantastic for public relations, but haven’t done shit to advocate for better treatments. (Enlighten me: how much was paid in advance for the luxury of participating in a Komen walk?) Don’t even get me started on the pink ribbon campaigns, of which I’ve already written a blog post about the ribbon campaign being nothing pukey pink sham of a SCAM.
It is with immense hope that whoever took the time to read this post considers this as a mission of achieving fair and humane medical practices and put an end to evil and greedy practices in this industry. After all, this subject matter affects everyone, and if it hasn’t affected you yet, you’re blessed. I may not be certain of a lot of things, but I can attest to this: cancer hides from no one. Society is going into a deadly downward spiral if we do not speak out against the evils in every capacity. If the aforementioned report about the rising costs and diagnosis proves right in the years to come, you’re going to be BEGGING for anyone to help put an end to these medical injustices.
When it comes to cancer, NO ONE IS EXEMPT.