Cancer Dialogue 2.0
remarkable stories of hope for cancer patients
- In September our editor met with Prof. Daniel Weber, the Australian authority in integrative oncology. This resulted in Cancer Dialogue
- Soon after he went on a search for those who have had the benefits of Prof. Weber’s expertise
- New cancer cases are increasing globally and straining even the best health systems in the world. In South Africa, there were 114,091 new cancer cases and 58,237 deaths in 2015
- Cancer patients are increasingly seeking professionally supervised alternative treatment regimes
- From a long list of beneficiaries of Prof. Weber’s formulations, our editor brings you three personal testimonies of South African cancer patients who have found some success using alternative natural remedies
“Some people want to know right away about the chances of surviving. They begin talking to their loved ones and health care team about life expectancy during treatment. Some will focus on quality of life issues instead of cancer treatment. Still, others choose never to talk about these things with anyone. You have the right to discuss or not discuss the issue of life expectancy. You also have the right to decide when to do this.” LiveStrong.org
For the millions of people diagnosed with cancer every year, their single most important question is, how long will I live? To estimate the life expectancy of a patient, an oncologist considers several variables, for example, age, functional ability and genetic markers. But several studies have suggested that doctors don’t always get cancer prognosis right.
When a Durban resident Merle Preller, 74, was diagnosed with melanoma, her doctor warned she only had a few months left unless she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. That was nearly fifteen years ago.
I have often wondered how I would spend my days if I knew I only had one or two months to live. Unlike being on death row, which affords exhaustive legal appeals, there’s rarely a relief for terminal cancer diagnoses. In many Africa cultures, discussing a person’s coming death is taboo. Not long ago my own father terminated our telephone conversation when I broached the subject of my ‘living will’. “It’s not your place!” he thundered before ending the call.
Why are we comfortable talking about the how, what and why, and not the when of our deaths? We need more conversations about death. Perhaps the full-bench of the North Gauteng High Court would have been more accommodating when the matter of the late cancer patient Robert “Robin” Stransham-Ford was taken to them on appeal prompting the overturning of the earlier high court decision that had allowed him to die in and with dignity.
Preller knew first-hand what cancer does to a person. She had witnessed both her parents’ battle with cancer to their deaths and she decided to choose quality and not the quantity of life after her own diagnosis.
She found quality of life through natural remedies formulated by Australian Professor Daniel Weber of Panaxea International and distributed locally by Wings Herbal Synergy. The natural remedies gave her a new lease of life.
Subsequent tests returned negative for melanoma. However, Preller’s fate changed on 29 October 2011 after surviving a savage criminal attack that left her traumatised. A few months later there was a monstrous cancerous growth on her neck that has refused to go away.
“My spirit is unharmed. It is my body that is full of this nonsense, but I have found ways of coping. I have tried to love this strange aperture that I am growing. A Buddhist teacher once said to me; if you have pain or anything that is unpleasant in your body, welcome it. Don’t fight it. Welcoming it helps you to cope with it.”
“I feel that if there is any way I can help anybody cope with this problem I would go out of my way to do so. It is a hell of a journey and when you travel that journey alone, it is full of hiccups and boulders and loneliness,” she says.
“You can overcome anything. You have the ability. Your mind is a very powerful organ and it can change the way you live and think,” she says.
According to a new study of 32 cancer groups in 195 countries, cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease globally. There were 114,091 new cancer cases in South Africa and 58,237 deaths in 2015. However, these figures might not include the rural population with limited access to healthcare as well as the inadequacies of the Death Notification Forms (DHA-1663). The study notes there were 17,5 million new cancer cases worldwide and 8,7 million deaths, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Johannesburg, cancer sufferer and urologist Dr Marian Tupy is baffled that medical aid schemes are willing to pay for costly conventional (orthodox) cancer treatment, but not for alternative and natural regimes. Tupy knew all was not well when his skin and eyes started turning yellow and his urine darkened. He consulted a colleague who sent him for tests to confirm what he already suspected – that he had pancreatic cancer.
The specific tumour for Tupy’s cancer, CA19-9, was recorded at 670 instead of the normal ranges of between zero and 37. He turned to natural remedies and within two months, his CA19-9 had dropped to normal and the scan showed that his tumour was melting away. Having gone through his various diagnostic reports including blood tests and scans, what his gastroenterologists had described as “cancer of the head of the pancreas” had miraculously disappeared within two months of being on natural remedies also formulated by Professor Weber.
Five years ago Steven Bertie-Roberts thought he was the most unlikely candidate for cancer. As an avid athlete, he frequently exercised his body and mind and could take minor symptoms of illness in his stride. But when he experienced persistent pain in his throat, Bertie-Roberts knew he needed to see a specialist.
“I went to an ENT specialist who examined me and said there was nothing wrong with me, that maybe I thought my brain was telling me there’s something wrong with my throat,” narrated Bertie-Roberts.
But he was certain something was wrong, and so he sought a second opinion from one of the best ENT specialists in Cape Town. The top gun delivered similar diagnosis: there’s nothing wrong with you; it’s all in your head. Your brain is lying to you.
Six months later, and after trying myriads remedies for his throat, Bertie-Roberts remained in pain. Without warning, the glands under his jaw swelled. There were times he couldn’t talk. It was as if something was slowly eating his voice box. “I researched my symptoms online and I was almost sure I had cancer that specialists had failed to diagnose.”
His fears were confirmed at Tygerberg Hospital. A throat scan and biopsy revealed he had Stage Two throat cancer. After the diagnosis, Roberts reckoned there wasn’t time to mope. The next decisions he would make were to be the keys to his survival.
“Luckily I am quite resilient. When I meet a problem I attack it, deal with it and move on,” he told me.
Roberts applied that approach to deal with the illness. He accepted the cancer, changed his lifestyle and chose alternative medicine for treatment.
He went to see his long-time biker-buddy whom he knew as Panaxea’s local agent. Having lost trust in the orthodox medical specialists, he believed that his hopes lay with ancient Chinese herbal-based medicine. He found Dr James Laporta (who has worked with Professor Weber since graduating from the medical school) to prescribe appropriate natural treatment protocol.
A good diet is important for cancer patients, yet not all of them seem informed.
“People don’t understand that if you go for chemotherapy and radiation and you don’t back it up with drastic lifestyle changes, it is useless. You are a different human being after all this and you have to make a permanent change of some sort.”
Bertie-Roberts did everything by the book – low carb, low sugar anti-cancer diet, exercise and a strictly prescribed regime of natural medicines. Six weeks after the first biopsy, a scan revealed that his previously Stage 2 cancer had dropped to Stage 1.
“I was booked at Tygerberg Hospital for chemotherapy and radiation and they performed a scan. To the doctors’ amazement, I seemed to be better. They didn’t seem to really comprehend when I told them about the alternative treatment regime I had been on. In their narrow minds, there are only three ways to treat cancer – chemo, radiotherapy or sometimes surgery.”
In retrospect, Bertie-Roberts says he should have ignored Dr Laporta’s advice to also have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“There were times I would sit here in silence because my voice was gone, eaten up by cancer. I was getting better due to the alternative treatment regime. My voice box had rebuilt itself and the cancer cells had been replaced with healthy cells. Nevertheless, I agreed to the chemotherapy and radiation.” Says Bertie-Roberts.
Chemotherapy took its toll on his body; fatigue, weight loss, loss of taste and pain. “Everything tasted like cardboard and the food made me ill because it tasted like cardboard,” he says.
Bertie-Roberts continued the alternative treatment protocol during and after the chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He is now faring much better, albeit frustrated by the slow uptake of integrative oncology and the lack of proper dietary information for cancer patients in South Africa.
He wondered why kiosks within cancer units at Public Hospitals stock potato chips and soft drinks containing “a shit-load of sugar”.
“I am almost better largely because of a lateral thinking doctor who has embraced alternative medication for treating and managing cancer.”