(This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2001 annual meeting of the Kidney Cancer Association in San Francisco, July 22, 2001)
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CANCER WARS
By: Gerald W. White, P.E.
Prior to and in the years since the publication of “Cancer Wars – MAARS Journey” I have had numerous contacts, mostly email, from patients with cancer from all over the world. This experience stemmed from my own successful use of guided imagery to kill metastatic renal cell cancer. I was intrigued by the possibility of a direct neural path to stimulate the immune system in complement to the more conventional endocrinal path. There is a dearth of scientific papers on this modality, which seems strange in view of the fact that it is non-intrusive, patient friendly and costs nothing.
I decided to see what could be gleaned by reviewing those cases wherein I had become more than casually involved with the patients. By this I mean phone calls, letters, emails and in many cases personal visits. I am under no delusions that this work would fit contemporary standards for qualifications for a clinical trial. Most of these people would not have qualified for a clinical trial in the first place because they had all been written off as beyond help and sent home to die. I never seem to get a “fresh” one! When I began to look at the results I was rather pleasantly surprised by what seems to be remarkable consistency. These cases are listed in chronological order.
1) Marlene , a neighbor of mine about 50 years old. Diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Surgery was rather brutal with poor prognosis. She was curious as to how I had managed my program and immediately developed a guided imagery program which she followed faithfully. I visited with her often and actually participated in sessions. Within about three months, she was found to be free of cancer and is still NED. This was in the summer of 1996.
2) Dr. Zelimar Schmidt, Prof of Engineering, Univ of Tulsa, a friend and colleague of mine. We had taught engineering short courses all over the world. “Z” was at the blackboard lecturing in Indonesia one day in the summer of 1997 when he collapsed unconscious. He woke up 2 weeks later in the Mayo Clinic minus about 20% of his brain. Diagnosis was that the cancer was too far gone with two months left at the most. I went immediately to Tulsa and stayed with him for a few days. I got him lined out on a reading and guided imagery program which he pursued diligently. Not only did he not die in August, he lived to resume a light teaching load and actually went on a ski trip the next January. Not willing to stay on the highly focused regimen indefinitely, he opted for the services of a flim-flammer from his native Croatia whose herbal tonic would free him both of cancer and the need for the continued GI regimen. He died the following July. This may not be considered a win unless one can place a value on the extra year of life. It would be nice to get a look at the flim-flammer over the barrels of a shotgun! A year of reasonably productive life seems better than two months of dying.
3) Rose , 35 year old mother of 3 small children from Alvarado, Texas. Pose presented with advanced colorectal cancer at a big Ft. Worth hospital. Surgery and chemo had both failed and she was under a 2 month death sentence. This was in the fall of 1996. My RN daughter examined her and found visible signs of mets. An engineer at a nuclear power plant had told her about me and she immediately drove to see me. A nearby Episcopalian church, by coincidence, was having a biblical healing service that night and I took her. We stayed in very close communication for several weeks and she worked with extreme focus and interest. Her doc thought he was seeing a ghost when she came bouncing in for a 3 month checkup. To make matters worse, he could find no cancer! I have lost touch with Rose but the last time I talked to her, over two years later, she was still NED. She summed it up beautifully by saying “I will never again let anything or anybody take my freedom from me”. This is one of the many bad things that cancer and statisticians do.
4) Sara Meyer, approx 70 year old New York woman. I was surprised to get a call from a famous New York heart surgeon asking me to contact this woman. It seems that he was one of a surgical team operating on this woman for metastatic renal cell cancer. I had many phone and email visits with her and she turned out to be a real fighter. Her determined presence on the ACOR website was a comfort to countless patients for over 2 years We lost Sara around the end of 2000. She was just too far gone but she certainly knew how to put her extra 2 years to good use.
5) William, 72 years old living in Denver. I first got in touch with his daughter in the summer of 1999. She had traveled from New York to Houston to meet with her dad at MDA. He had, unfortunately, been under treatment for a spinal disorder which turned out to be undetected rcc. He was sent home to arrange for hospice care and advised to use his remaining two months as best he could. Instead of dying, he got mad. He started by reading my book and following the suggestions in meticulous detail. His daughter reported to me that they took him to a New York hospital a few months later and he was found to be free of cancer. He still faced a lot of treatment for the eaten up spinal bones and was wheelchair bound but was glad that he would die of something besides rcc. He did die in the fall of 2000 after what must have been a terrible battle. I do not know for sure if the rcc was or stayed in remission. The value of over a year of extra life beyond the 2 month death sentence is, I suppose, a matter for philosophers to debate. It would appear that the patient is the only one to answer that question.
6) Charles , middle aged California man. Charles had battled rcc for over 8 years. Multiple operations and treatments with judgement day pronounced. Charles liked my book and moved aggressively to a guided imagery program under a trained psychologist. Three years later, he has returned to a normal life, NED.
7) Herb, Florida business executive with a story that is closely parallel to Chuck’s. Herb made the intellectual commitment to pursue a program of guided imagery as well as other modalities. He has since attended two of the Simonton seminars. Two years later Herb has the rcc under control and has returned to a normal life. Herb contends that he has beaten the “system”. The cancer being the activation catalyst for the system.
8) Pete and wife Becky. I met Pete for the first time at a KCA seminar 2 years ago.
Pete with rcc and Becky with breast cancer. These people also got started with their program wholeheartedly. They have attended two Simonton sessions and one of Dr. Herb Benson’s Seminars of the Harvard Med School. Becky’s progress has been a thing of beauty. I first met them at a KCA meeting two years ago. Pete is now NED. It seems that in a valiant effort to save his wife, Pete has inadvertently saved himself in a quintessential expression of agape love.
9) Richard , 70, local Texas man. I met Richard at a local KCA meeting. Rcc had already taken one kidney and was threatening the other one. I gave him a copy of the book and recommended he read it while arranging an appointment to have Dr. Novick at Cleveland Clinic do his thing on the remaining kidney. He did and he did. The last time I saw Richard he looked great. Perhaps he shouldn’t count in this survey in view of Dr Novick’s intervention. On the other hand, the perfect use of guided imagery is in combination with the best medical technology available. Guided imagery should not be confused with “alternative medicine”!
10) Al , another neighbor age 70 , came to my house one day in 1999. He was so weak and frail that he had to be helped up the steps. It seems that he had been under treatment for some stomach disorder. When the stomach started to disappear, the docs noticed that it was cancerous. They threw the mets to the other organs in for free and he was not charged for them. Al was my shortest term “patient”, having been given only two WEEKS to live. I spent a lot of time with Al coaxing and coaching. He was a brave man, a victim of incompetence who nevertheless was not willing to give up hope. After a few week of focused determination he was able to take walks and, finally, play a round of golf. He was then able to make a trip to South Carolina where he was able to make peace with some family issues that had troubled for years. Then he made an auto trip of over 6oo miles to Midland to visit relatives there. Finally, after about 4 months, the pain returned and Al died. He was just too eaten up to sustain proper nourishment. I personally consider this one of the best stories in view of what was accomplished, considering the state of things when the effort began. Once again we might well ask how to compare the value of 4 good months to 2 weeks of dying. I daresay the patients answer to that question will be considerably different from the docs.
11) Rod , another neighbor. He presented with advanced rcc at the Oschner clinic in New Orleans in March of 2000. They advised against treatment in view of the progression of disease. They gave him 3 months maximum. Instead of dying, he came to me and I helped him prepare for the fight of his life. He had the diseased kidney removed and has worked the GI program faithfully since then, during which time he has had to fight off disease in his other kidney. Although not completely well, Rod has returned to a good lifestyle with measurable tumor shrinkage. He has recently gone to UCLA for consultation with Dr Figlin about vaccine from mets.
12) Dr. Larry Padgett, a local practitioner. His status is post thorocotomy (March 8, 2001) of the upper right lobe. Pathological cell type was neuroendochrine large cell carcinoma of the lung. Medical treatments include 4 rounds of cytoplatin and taxol. Has developed GI program using tapes of Carl Simonton, Bernie Siegel and Gerald White . A practicing Christian, he sets aside time for prayer and meditation each day. Last week at MDA he was pronounced cancer free. Dr. Padgett is now handing out my book and tapes to cancer patients as a part of the healing program.
13) Me, Gerald White. Modesty forbids that I put myself at the top of the list but that is where this all began as is related in the book. In October of 1993, I presented with an rcc tumor that weighed over 15 pounds. In the summer or 1995 a recurrence in the renal bed was discovered. It was very efficiently removed using the same scar. Two operations-one scar. Six months later mets started growing in the lungs. I experienced 8 months of Il2 treatment, three subQ injections per week without a break. The tumors must have liked it but they continued to grow. During the latter months of this exercise in futility, I read extensively into the literature on guided imagery. I am so thankful that I had the courage to tell the doc that there would be no more treatment of any kind and I was going to bet it all on a regime of meditation, guided imagery and prayer. Three months later, when I unexpectedly showed up for a checkup , this fellow made a remark that I shall never forget. When he put the films up and said “Well, I’ll be a son of a bitch, I don’t know where they went but they ain’t there no more!”, I knew that I had won. I am still NED and enjoying life to the fullest.
There are several possible inferences that can be drawn from these observations. Here are a few.
1) This can all be dismissed as “anecdotal”. This is the research world’s dust bin for ideas that are not familiar. For convenience , anecdotal evidence is assumed to be false. There appears to be no ready mechanism in the cancer wars to answer the question “What if the anecdotal evidence is true?.
2) It may well be that the credibility of one who has actually gone through the experience is enhanced in its effectiveness over one who merely has teaching credentials. Hopefully not, as this would severely limit the number of available practitioners. It is however true that many of the famous works inre guided imagery for cancer were written by people who have not had the disease.
3) Since all but one of these patients initiated the contact, that may also be a necessity. I have had little success in interesting people whom I have randomly contacted. Most seem to regard it as intrusive and this is very understandable.
4) No person should be given up on and sent home to die without being advised of this patient friendly modality.
5) Since no money ever changed hands, financial worries did not act to suppress the immune system. A good research project might well be to study the effect of financial worries on the immune system and the ability of the patient to recover.