Couple discuss options with doctor

Do You Know Your Options to Treating Cancer?

Did you know that there are 3 different options to treating cancer? They are alternative, conventional, and integrative–we have all seen these terms on the Internet and in marketing, but what do they really mean? While the terms used often mean the range of health care approaches with a history of use or origins outside of mainstream medicine, they are actually hard to define and may mean different things to different people. Alternative refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine. The conventional treatment is the mainstream approach using surgery, radiation, and chemo. Then there’s the integrative approach, which generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine.

I’d like to begin talking about the one alternative approach to treating cancer that I know of and it is the Gerson Therapy. Please keep in mind when reading this article that Answers for Angels is not trying to sway your decision one way or the other. The treatment that you decide on is a personal choice and our nonprofit is here to support you with financial assistance in the form of a grant.

Alternative Treatment
Dr. Max Gerson developed the Gerson Therapy in the ‘30’s in Germany approximately 85 years ago. He initially created it to treat his own migraines, and eventually as a treatment for degenerative diseases such as skin tuberculosis, diabetes, and most famously, cancer. In 1938, Dr. Gerson passed his boards and was licensed to practice in the state of New York. For 20 years, he treated hundreds of cancer patients who had been given up to die after all conventional treatments had failed. In 1946, Gerson demonstrated recovered patients before the Pepper-Neely Congressional Subcommittee, during hearings on a bill to fund research into cancer treatment. Although only a few peer-reviewed journals were receptive to Gerson’s then “radical” idea that diet could affect health, he continued to publish articles on his therapy and case histories of healed patients. (A few years before the Subcommittee hearing, our US government and medical team were experimenting with mustard gas. See conventional treatments below.) Dr. Gerson died in 1959 and his daughter Charlotte, and grandson continue his work. Together the 2 of them founded the Gerson Institute in San Diego, California; in addition, they’ve a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico and one in Hungary.

The Gerson treatment consists of each cancer patient consuming about 23 lbs. of organic fruits and veggies per day plus any supplements that are deficient in their body. How does a cancer patient eat 23 lbs. of food per day? They juice it! Every day they receive 13 cups of juice, plus breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dr. Gerson’s Therapy is inspired by the philosophy of the physician, Hippocrates, ‘Let medicine be thy food and food be thy medicine.’ It’s an all-natural treatment, which activates the body’s ability to heal itself through an organic, plant-based diet, raw juices, coffee enemas, and natural supplements– with no damaging side effects. But wait! Go back! Coffee enemas? Why coffee enemas? The enema has a very specific purpose and that is to lower toxins by releasing them from the body. From the patient’s point of view, the coffee enema means help from depression, severe pain, and many other symptoms. Dr. Gerson understood the 2 principle causes of disease are deficiency and toxicity.

(FYI–The Northern Baja Gerson Clinic won’t treat children unless the US oncologist signs a release form. Also, as far as I know, insurance doesn’t cover the Gerson Therapy. If you’re considering the Gerson Therapy, please see Answers for Angels’ guidelines for applying for a grant to help with expenses.)

Conventional Cancer Treatment
Early in the 20th century, only cancers small and localized enough to be completely removed by surgery were curable. Later, radiation was used after surgery to control small tumor growths that were not surgically removed. Finally, chemo was added to destroy small tumor growths that spread beyond the reach of the surgeon and radiotherapist.

The history of chemo began with the first clinical trial investigating the use of mustard gas conducted by 2 pharmacologists Dr. Louis Goodman and Dr. Alfred Gilman in 1942 approximately 73 years ago. The clinical trial involved a patient, identified as J.D., diagnosed with advanced lymphosarcoma who received the first therapeutic trial with nitrogen mustard in low doses. To everyone’s amazement, the tumor regressed considerably but the effects were not permanent, J.D. died 6 months later. In the late 1960s, with the introduction of combinations of chemo agents like nitrogen mustard, vincristine, methotrexate and prednisone (MOMP protocol) more and more patients had longer remission from cancer, allowing it to be conceived as a curable disease, particularly for diseases like lymphomas and leukemia. Many other cancers can be controlled with chemo for long periods, even if they are not cured.

(FYI—this is the cancer treatment that children are required to take in the USA. If you’re considering the conventional treatment for cancer, please see Answers for Angels’ guidelines for applying for a grant.)

Integrative Treatment
The third option to cancer treatment is the integrative treatment, which generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine. There are several integrative approaches to treating cancer but I will only touch on 3 of them. One is Dr. Burzynski, in Texas; second is Dr. Block, in Illinois; and lastly is the Cancer Treatment Centers of America with several clinics across the USA and one in Illinois.

For approximately 38 years, Dr. Burzynski’s cancer research and care is inspired by the philosophy of the physician Hippocrates to “First, do no harm.” True to this philosophy, his approach to treatments is based on the natural biochemical defense system of our body, capable of combating cancer with minimal impact on healthy cells. The Burzynski Clinic is located in Houston, Texas and was established in 1977.

The treatment options consist of identification of genetic markers enabling their medical team to assess a patient’s response to different medications and select the most optimal treatment. They use approved targeted medications, which are drugs that selectively block the growth and spread of cancer without affecting the healthy cells. Targeted therapies interfere with cancer cell growth differently than cytotoxic chemo and at various points during the development, growth, and spread of cancer. By switching off the signals that make cancer cells grow and divide uncontrollably, targeted cancer therapies can help stop the growth of cancer cells. Targeted medications may be easier to tolerate than standard chemo and radiation. Several targeted therapeutics are approved by the FDA and are available for treatment at the Burzynski Clinic.

(FYI–The Burzynski Clinic treats children. Also, as far as I know, they accept some insurance.)

Dr. Keith Block, M.D., founded the Block Center in 1980 approximately 35 years ago. They’re located in Skokie, Illinois. Dr. Block is an internationally recognized expert in integrative oncology. Referred to by many as the “father of integrative oncology”, Dr. Block combines cutting-edge conventional treatment with individualized and scientifically based complementary and nutraceutical therapies.

To best serve their patients, Block Center combines state-of-the-art conventional cancer treatments with scientifically based integrative therapies including:

• Targeted molecular therapies
• Personalized nutrition and supplements, using organic fruits and veggies
• Access to clinical trials
• Supportive mind-body or bio behavioral strategies
• Advanced laboratory testing
• Chrono modulated chemo
• Physical exercise regimens
• Diverse chemotherapies and immunotherapies; experimental and off-label treatments

The Block Center accepts a wide range of insurance plans.

(FYI–I’m not sure that The Block Center treats children in their facility.)

Last but not least, there’s the Cancer Treatment Centers of America located in Zion, Illinois founded in 1988 approximately 27 years ago.

Richard J. Stephenson, following the death of his mother, Mary Brown Stephenson, from cancer, founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). After his mother’s diagnosis, Richard and his family searched for the most advanced and effective cancer treatments available. They were disappointed to discover that world-renowned cancer hospitals were not focused on providing their mother with the comprehensive care and advanced treatment options she needed. Sadly, Mrs. Stephenson passed away before she could watch her grandchildren grow and mature.

To keep his mother’s spirit alive, Richard vowed to change the face of cancer care. He created a new model of care that changed the way oncologists, surgeons and other clinical professionals treat patients with cancer. This whole-person cancer treatment approach combined with a compassionate, nurturing environment is now known as the Mother Standard® of care and provides a patient-centered approach to cancer treatment.

Their cancer experts are committed to bringing the latest technologies and advanced treatment options to patients sooner. At the same time, they support the patient with therapies to reduce side effects, boost energy levels, and keep the patient strong during treatment. The patient’s dedicated team of doctors and other clinicians will take time to understand their unique diagnosis and needs. Then, they’ll work together to develop an integrated cancer treatment plan tailored specifically to the patient.

At each appointment, the patient’s medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic oncology provider, and nurse care manager come to the patient. By meeting with the cancer treatment team in one room, the patient gets answers to their questions and enjoys greater comfort, convenience, and privacy.

To prevent treatment delays or interruptions, the patient receives integrative oncology services to help them stay strong, boost their immune system, combat side effects, and maintain their well-being. They’ll receive nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, oncology rehabilitation, chiropractic care, mind-body medicine, and spiritual support.

CTCA accepts a wide range of insurance plans.

(FYI–I’m not sure that CTCA treats children in their facility.)

So there you have it! A little history on some of the different cancer treatment options in addition to their unique treatment methods available. A lot more can be said about these options, but…If ever you’ve a question please ask me.


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Our nonprofit offers a unique grant that promotes the physical, emotional & mental health of the cancer patient consulting with integrative/complementary oncologists while following conventional methods or who are seeking alternative cancer treatments that many health insurance policies don't cover.

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