Cancer does not discriminate—it can strike anyone. There are more than 200 different cancers, which can attack any of more than 60 organs of the body. What all cancers have in common is uncontrolled growth and abnormal division of cells, which populate and spread, causing growth of tumors.
In 2004, the total cost of cancer treatment was estimated at $72.1 billion, and between 1995 and 2004, this amount increased by 75 percent. It is estimated that these costs may rise more quickly than other medical treatment expenses.
A Different Approach
The biggest difference between how conventional and complementary medical disciplines view and treat cancer is the way each defines the disease. Conventional medics view a malignant tumor as cancer, and the treatment aims to destroy that tumor through surgical removal, radiation, or chemotherapy. By contrast, complementary medicine sees a malignant growth as a symptom of cancer and endeavors to discover what is causing the cells to mutate in a reckless and renegade fashion.
What defines a true pioneer is the sustaining passion in one’s vision and work, as well as fearlessness to break new ground, often tolerating barbs, jealousy, and intolerance in one’s professional community for thinking so uniquely. The proposal of a radical or new way of thinking can isolate the pioneer, who doggedly carries on and thus makes a difference, to eventually be accepted and followed by others.
In addressing the treatment of individuals with cancer and exploring the nature of cancer itself, the field of complementary medicine and dietary supplements has several brilliant minds who have made their mark—giving many individuals with cancer renewed hope and life.
Rene Caisse, RN
A Canadian nurse with quite a reputation and following in the early to mid twentieth century, Rene Caisse created a botanical formula known as Essiac (her surname spelled backwards). Contributing much meticulous research and wisdom, she never asked for monetary compensation for her work.
While working at the Sisters of Providence Hospital in northern Ontario, Caisse encountered an elderly woman with breast scar tissue, the remnants of breast cancer. The patient told Caisse about meeting an Ojibway medicine man who said he could cure her cancer with an herbal formula to drink as a tea. Caisse wrote, “She was nearly 80 years old when I saw her, and there had been no recurrence of cancer. I was much interested and wrote down the names of the herbs she had used. I knew that doctors threw up their hands when cancer was discovered in a patient; it was the same as a death sentence, just about. I decided that if I should ever develop cancer, I would use this herb tea.”
Her first success came in treating her aunt who had stomach cancer. Given six months to live, the aunt lived for another 21 years—with no recurrence. The word spread among physicians, who would turn to Caisse and her botanical tea for cases deemed hopeless. A consortium of eight physicians signed a petition to the Department of National Health and Welfare in Ottawa requesting that Caisse be accorded facilities to embark on researching the botanical constituents of her formula. Instead, the department dispatched two of its physicians to arrest Caisse on grounds of “practicing medicine without a license.” Caisse was not arrested, however, as they found that the nurse was giving her formula only on physician request.
“This was the beginning of nearly 50 years of persecution by those in authority, from the government to the medical profession, that I endured in trying to help those afflicted with cancer,” wrote Caisse. “I never dreamed of the opposition and the persecution that would be my lot in trying to help suffering humanity with no thought of personal gain.”
From 1934 through 1942, Caisse ran a cancer clinic, with the blessings of the town council of Bracebridge to whom she paid a lease of just $1 a month. She administered Essiac, both as inoculations and in tea form, to hundreds of patients, thus helping to stave off mortality for many people. In 1938, a bill was presented to the Ontario legislature to authorize Caisse to practice medicine in treating cancer—the bill had more than 55,000 signatures, of which 387 were patients. It failed by three votes. Caisse wrote, “The Cancer Commissioners, backed by certain medical groups, were deaf to the appeals and used the same biased interpretations of data as have been placed on other treatments indicated for cancer, unless limited to their approved surgery, radiation, and toxic drugs.”
Caisse never offered Essiac as a cancer cure but rather as a tool to manage the condition. Essiac is still available in both liquid and powder.
Max Gerson, MD
A German-born physician, Max Gerson, MD, initially developed a diet to prevent his own migraines. His diet therapy was then used successfully to treat skin tuberculosis; a clinical trial of this diet showed recovery of 446 out of 450 skin tuberculosis patients. Dr. Gerson began practicing medicine in 1938 in New York, where, for more than 20 years, he treated hundreds of terminal cancer patients.
The Gerson therapy is rooted in encouraging the immune system to heal cancer and other diseases. The diet offers an exceptionally potent daily intake of fresh nutrients (enzymes, minerals, phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants) derived from organic juices, a detox program, and enemas to assist in removal of toxins from the liver.
While his concept and research showing that specific diet principles can affect cancer were considered highly radical, Dr. Gerson continued to publish in medical journals, and in 1958 published a monograph of 50 case studies. His friend, Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, MD, said of Dr. Gerson, “I see in him one of the most eminent geniuses in the history of medicine.”
Proponents of the Gerson therapy point to its 60-year history of success. This program supports the body with nutrients from almost 20 pounds of organically grown fruits and vegetables daily. Most of this quantity is in the form of fresh raw juice, one glass every hour, 13 times per day, along with raw and cooked solid foods. As the diet increases blood oxygen levels, supplements, including thyroid, B12, and potassium, stimulate metabolism. Gerson’s system advises avoiding heavy animal fats, excess protein, sodium, and other toxins.
Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD
After receiving his medical degree in 1983 from Cornell University and completing fellowship training with immunologist Robert Good, MD, PhD, then president of Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York, Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD, became intrigued by the work of Scottish embryologist John Beard, who used pancreatic enzymes to treat cancer. He also met William Donald Kelley, DDS, a Texas dentist who had been administering comprehensive and complex nutritional and metabolic therapy, based on the theory of an enzyme deficiency, to cancer patients for many years. The American Cancer Society blacklisted Dr. Kelley’s therapy, and the man was derided by authorities on all levels, often called a quack.
Dr. Gonzalez spent several years reviewing approximately 1,000 of Dr. Kelley’s patient records and evaluated more than 400 patients who were diagnosed with advanced cancer, subsequently compiling a monograph on the subject. Dr. Gonzalez and his colleague Linda Isaacs, MD, published a pilot study of 11 patients with inoperable stage II to IV pancreatic cancer to assess survival rates with treatment of high doses of pancreatic enzymes, other supplements, an organic diet, and detoxification, from January 1993 to April 1996. By January 1999, the authors reported that nine patients survived for one year, five for two years, four for three years, and two were still alive at the time the study was published. The authors concluded, “These results are far above the 25 percent survival at one year and 10 percent survival at two years for all stages of pancreatic adenocarcinoma reported in the National Cancer Database from 1995.
This pilot study suggests that an aggressive nutritional therapy with large doses of pancreatic enzymes led to significantly increased survival over what would normally be expected for patients with inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma.” Recent research supports this finding. A 2004 study showed that pancreatic enzyme extracts significantly prolonged survival and slowed tumor growth in mice with human pancreatic cancer cells.
The Gonzalez regimen can be broken down into the following components: diet, supplements, and detoxification routines. Patients also take pancreatic enzymes orally throughout the day.
Caisse, Gerson, Gonzalez—all gifted with single-minded devotion and the absolute belief that their nutrition modalities help improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Their work should inspire current and future generations of dietitians, oncologists, and researchers to pay more attention to the links among diet, supplementation, and cancer.