One of the most common questions when searching for a doctor or cancer treatment facility is the success rate. There are many many variables to consider when we get the information from him. A doctor doesn’t know our daily lifestyle, physically, mentally, and emotionally. He really shouldn’t be telling us what the success rate is, but we all want to know.
We have free will and choices of how we live our life. Take into consideration what else affects the success rate of cancer treatment; delaying treatment is the most common, no response to certain types of chemo drugs, How much chemotherapy and did it do more harm than good?. Physicians cannot help with these things that make a big difference in our health. We influence our results; more than we realize.
Cancer treatment is a partnership, and doctors will work with you as best as they can and should never make promises.
There are other factors such as surgery and the risks, pain medications, and side effects on our organs. There are habits that some people have, such as excess alcohol, cigarettes, emotional and environmental problems at home, or just an overall weaker immune system than others. Our success is also impacted by what we do at home for self-treatment. People experiment with supplements, herbs, and other unconventional therapies that are not covered by insurance or recommended by your physician.
I remember when I had a recurrence of stage 4 breast cancer, and I had metastasis to all lobes of my lungs and bones. Cancer was eating through my sternum and ribs like termites. My oncologist was meeting me for the first time, and he came highly recommended. He sat down with me at his desk and directed my focus to his computer, where he pulled up the information on the mortality rate for stage 4 breast cancer. He talked with me about my age, how common my type of cancer was in women, and the efficacy of treatment options he was offering. What he shared with me was terrifying. In 2010 the statistics of survival overall in America with stage 4 were so low with or without treatment.
As a hematologist and oncologist, he had an arsenal of conventional treatment he recommended, which were hormone blockers, chemotherapy, and radiation on my sternum. He sounded so sensible, smart, and kind. He recommended a cardiothoracic surgeon do a biopsy on my sternum to confirm the lump was cancer and later a pulmonary surgeon to do a biopsy on my lungs to confirm the disease.
I had the surgeries and after the 4th of July weekend as I sat on my bed with family waiting for the results the phone rang and my doctor said he was sorry but that I was stage 4. I felt the blood rush and leave my body. Now what?
Here it is, we’re at the crossroads with a diagnosis, one doctor’s recommendation on our mind, and so many other options. We see different paths to take and have real concerns because what we decide will be the most significant decision we make, and that is weighing heavy on us on how to save our lives. We don’t get a guarantee for any treatment we choose. It fills you with panic and anxiety, not knowing which course to take.
Doctors do not force cancer treatment decisions on us, but they strongly recommend within their legal and medical practice scope. If we go to the oncologist asking, they must recommend treatment every time. It is their obligation to us—alternative or integrative therapies.
It is still our choice, and we can discuss their recommendation and decide whether or not to do the surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or drugs. Many other healing therapies from integrative or alternative doctors are available, but unfortunately, not covered under health insurance. The conventional cancer treatments which are covered have their risks. There are no healing therapies available afterward. There are side effects of nausea, burns, possible infection, neuropathy, hair loss, and so many others.
Chemotherapy and radiation and many drugs can put us at risk for secondary cancer, and with all this knowledge, it feels like we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
The choice is ours, and we will be the ones signing the paperwork to administer the treatment recommendation we decide to do. We sign paperwork freeing the doctor from responsibility if our body does not respond or worsens because of the complications from treatment side effects or infection.
We know this, and we do our best not to think about it. Afterall the resounding message to anyone with cancer is to stay positive. So we try and work on that as best as we can even though we know something is in our body trying to kill us.
The conventional treatment approach is barbaric when a patient goes through chemotherapy and then has no therapy recommendations to restore the immune system, which should be the other half of their treatment and covered by insurance.
I respect every cancer treatment choice, mainly because I have so many family members who have faced these hard choices; Over twenty family members. If we choose standard cancer treatments like chemotherapy, we know it compromises our immune system to kill cancer cells successfully. There are things to consider in the outcome of treatment success; our age will also determine how many fighter cells we have.
My cancer journey started in 2006 when I went to the University of Washington in Seattle, with stage 3 breast cancer. It was estrogen and progesterone positive and HER2 negative and out of all the recommendations, including surgery, chemo, and radiation. I chose only the bilateral mastectomy, which resulted in a severe staph infection.
When I had a recurrence in 2010, I went to a UCLA doctor, and after two biopsies, one in my lungs and the other on my sternum, I did radiation, and before I could finish, I got a staph infection again and was not even a candidate for chemotherapy.
I did not want to quit and started researching other hospitals that would not give up on me. UCLA gave me 3-12 months to live, and I was in denial. I found a hospital with a unique cancer treatment program that would not further compromise my immune system. I felt like it was my last hope, and I had to try one more time.
I was intrigued by CMN Hospital and Dr. Payan’s alternative cancer treatment. Mainly because I was so sick with secondary infection and I needed inpatient care around the clock. I knew I was on the last leg of my cancer journey, and I never had to be so brave. I felt secure knowing there was an emergency room downstairs and an ICU in case things went from bad to worse for me. Sadly, my insurance did not cover one penny of the cost. It came to my friends doing fundraising to get me there and me. They are my angels for sure.
Some of the CMN therapies that saved my life in 2011 are not approved for cancer treatment by the FDA, and quite frankly, they may never be accepted even though they were tested and proven effective at great universities such as Baylor, Stanford, and the University of WA. Two of the advanced therapies dendritic cell therapy and the autologous bone marrow stem cell transplant are procedures that harness our natural killer cells and use them to fight cancer and strengthen our immune system. No drugs but advanced healing.
When chemotherapy fails for a patient often, they choose alternative therapies. You can imagine how they might be even more frightened and overwhelmed. They are afraid to trust another doctor, especially in another country, because they are still trying to cope with the gravity of their situation. The conventional treatment failed, and now they either have to try a new approach with something like; alternative cancer treatment or give up. Many people have not heard about
We need to do a lot of research on a drug or therapy before taking it. We must look at the pros and cons. If we choose an alternative approach, is it the very best and is it aggressive enough?
We are the decision-maker, and we feel the pressure because the doctors cannot guarantee a successful outcome regardless of the road we choose.
It is up to us.
My post is not medical advice on cancer treatment. Always consult with a physician and do your research before deciding on cancer treatment.