Normally, I try to be very positive, but please bear with me today because this is a full blown rant.
“BROCCOLI CURES CANCER!” When I saw this online today I wanted to physically reach through my computer and slap the person who posted it. I’m mad. I’m so sick of misinformation and people taking advantage of cancer patients and capitalizing on their fears and taking their money.
Every day people are diagnosed with cancer, and every day a journey of desperation fueled by fear begins. Many are told they have cancer on day one, get a port on day 2 and begin chemo day 3. It is a whirlwind, with little time to process emotions and a deluge of cancer information.
Sooner or later, the patient or well meaning loved ones will turn to the internet in hopes of finding information that can help make sense of this devastating diagnosis. The Internet is a wonderful resource; I love the Mayo Clinic site! But beware, because it is also a place where dishonest people post things that are not true, and some of them are really, really convincing.
Cancer is unfair. It targets the rich, the poor, all ethnicities, fat people, skinny people, and even people who eat only organic foods and run 5 miles every single day. There is no logic to it, and it makes everyone feel completely helpless when they hear those words, “You have cancer.”
When your doctor tells you that you need chemo, they also tell you that there is no guarantee the chemo will work, because everyone is different. They talk to you in percentages and averages. Before you begin chemo, a nurse will go over all the possible side effects and reactions that you may have and one of those “reactions” is death. Although this rarely happens, it’s just like when you go in for surgery, they have to tell you and you have to sign a little paper releasing all your rights. If you aren’t genuinely terrified at some point, you are the exception.
Which brings me to the point, and yes I do have one, Snake Oil Salesmen are alive and well in 2014, and are ready and willing to take all of your money with false claims and promises.
There is a local, “Dr.” of nutrition who charges $150 an hour for a consultation with cancer patients. She is very smart and also makes it very clear she is a Christian. She carefully will explain to you that it is the environment and all the chemical additives in our food that caused YOUR cancer. If you buy her oils and supplements this can cleanse your body of these toxins and can empower your body to fight the cancer on it’s own without chemo. In fact, she will tell you, chemo does so much damage to your body that it will kill you before the cancer does.
And furthermore, she promises, she has a whole line of products of things that have been used successfully in Japan and Europe to cure cancer, but no one knows about them here in the USA because Big Pharmaceutical companies are in bed with the FDA and they conspire to keep us all from knowing about them.
Conspiracy theories are a Snake Oil Salesman’s best friend. Take a person who is desperate for answers and watch how easily they believe. How do I know this? Because my sister Karen bought it all hook line and sinker. She spent more than a year’s salary in 3 months with this “Dr.” because she didn’t want to take chemo again.
A tumor had returned and I was sitting right beside her when she told her oncologist she wanted to try this “natural,” method for 3 months before trying chemo. He told her clearly that she didn’t have 3 months to wait it out. The cancer was in a microscopic form invading her body and it would metastasize in multiple locations without immediate chemo to try and kill it now at this stage. He looked her straight in the eye and told her taking chemo now was her only hope of a cure.
Then we talked to her radiologist. He told her that there was truth to the chemical thing, but within limits. He explained to her that his family only ate organic things too, and he was vigilant with lifestyle choices… but while these things were good, her body would NOT be able to cure itself without this medical intervention.
I will never forget the day we stood outside OHA and she explained to me the whole Big Pharmaceutical/FDA conspiracy theory. My educated and intelligent sister told me how her nutritionist friend had prayed with her about it, and she believed her life was worth spending all that money on this alternative method to cure her cancer. “I know it’s a lot of money,” she said, “but she’s giving me a discount.”
She refused the chemo.
I told her I completely disagreed with her, but I would support any decision she made, because it was her life, and her choice. I cried all the way home.
For three months my sister juiced greens, drank oils, took supplements, and used her Chi energy machine to move her body like a fish to cure her cancer. She also had some kind of dome thing that she had to put over her head every day, a couple of times a day. During this time she also went to a Shaman near Indy, and somewhere in Kentucky to visit an Amish man who sold her a healing herbal treatment.
With 100% of her being, she believed this was going to work. And then came the 3 month scan. Her cancer had metastasized in her bones, lungs, lymph nodes, and adrenal gland. She was considered terminal. She had gambled and lost.
She did not call me with the results. I saw her post on Facebook, “I have underestimated my biggest enemy.” Then came the text: “Please do not call or come over, I need space, I need time to process this.”
Karen started chemo almost immediately after that, but this time it was not to cure her, it was to try and keep the cancer from growing. The plan was now to take chemo the rest of her life.
She responded well to the chemo, and we were blessed to have her for two more years before cancer finally took her. She no longer believed in the FDA conspiracy or the herbal cure when she died, although she did continue to eat healthy and buy organic foods.
I know cancer is scary. I know chemo is terrifying. I know that the fear of leaving your loved ones and dying is overwhelming. I know we don’t make the best choices when we are operating on fear.
But please, I beg you, trust your oncologist. If you don’t like him, get a different one, or a second opinion. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Herbal products are not regulated by the FDA and can promise you absolutely anything, it does not have to be true. There is no Big Drug Company Conspiracy. Sugar does not “feed” cancer. And sadly, just because someone prays with you, it doesn’t mean they really have your best interest at heart.
Thanks for listening.